“Did you come here for forgiveness?” Tim asks Hawk at one point early on in the series, and it does seem so for the first few episodes. Tim is more affectionate and longs for their relationship to feel real, which doesn’t seem to bother Hawk. But, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that while Hawk doesn’t initially show it, he too is affected by the imposed secrecy their relationship faces. He appeases Tim in small ways, even gifting him cufflinks with his initials, proving he, too, values their bond. To Hawk, these cufflinks are a way for him to let the world know that Tim is his, though it’s more unofficial than an engagement ring. Though they may not be able to exist like heterosexual couples, in Tim accepting this gift to show that he belongs to Hawk, the two can bond even more intimately.
The link between queerness and sex is intrinsic, and the creators of “Fellow Travelers” thankfully wholly understand this. From the first sex scene between Tim and Hawk, where their bodies harshly clash, to later sequences where their skin melds together like liquid gold amongst white sheets, the intimacy here is striking. Unlike certain peers in the queer sphere of cinema and television, the show looks at queerness with unwavering honesty, which makes the sex scenes almost staggering. There’s a brief sequence in episode seven, where Hawk and Tim navigate a gay cruising spot in the 1970s, that fully showcases the care of the show’s creators. As they walk through the trees, glimmers of different bodies peek through the forest, the sun shining through and beaming off their skin as if the two are in a biblical garden.
Each body is displayed as if every blemish is important, as is each conversation between the show’s characters. While some miniseries feel bloated with all they attempt to cover in such short episodes, no minute is wasted here. Even Marcus and Frankie, though they are supporting characters, add emotional weight to the adaptation’s themes of ostracization outside and within the gay community. From bar raids to secrets and deception, each aspect of living in the dark bears a heavy weight upon the shoulders of each character, a weight so burdensome all of them eventually crumble underneath it.