Created By: Tetraploid on August 20, 2011 Last Edited By: DunDun on April 29, 2013
Nuked

Heteroerotic Subtext

Heterosexual subtext between two homosexual characters.

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Page Type:
Trope

Note: I reworded Homoerotic Subtext for this because they're inversions or at least very closely related, in case you're wondering where you've heard all this before.

Also note: The description needs more help than the examples right now, so after the description gets ironed out enough I'll add the applicable examples (feel free to suggest them anyways, though).

Needs a Better Description; Needs More Examples

Though romance is important in many works, bonds of platonic friendship between those of the opposite sex form some of fiction's most awkward relationships. That is, for heterosexual characters. Between the homosexual characters of opposite sexes, this bond of friendship can form some of fiction's most fabulous relationships. One common method of playing with the latter type of relationship is to portray both the man and woman as overtly camp queens, but for the Straight Gay and Lipstick Lesbian, there's only one way to portray their relationship.

There must be some romantic connection between them. This can be especially confusing when one of them is still in the closet to everyone but their "significant other," which would lead the closeted character to trust the Secret Keeper more than others in the story.

Unlike this trope's inverse, Homoerotic Subtext, this trope is rarely played for laughs. LGBT viewers may see the relationship as wholly platonic or Truth in Television--as the Straight Gay and Lipstick Lesbian pages discuss--while straight viewers may see the relationship as "normalizing" the gay characters.

This trope can also apply to a relationship between one gay character and a straight character, or between two Camp Gay characters, etc.

Contrast Homoerotic Subtext, which is between two straight characters.

That said, this page covers only intentional examples, chiefly those lampshaded by characters, Word of God, laughter, or awkward pauses. It does not cover fans' delight at or tendency to view any interactions as straight. It also does not cover any Ship Teases or actual eroticism between people of the opposite sex, where the characters may indeed be straight or bisexual for each other.

Note that "heteroerotic" is not really a word.

Examples

  • Glee plays this pretty straight with Kurt and most of his female bandmates, but also averts this in early episodes when Mercedes tries to romance Kurt.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • April 20, 2013
    Nakuyabi
    Possible examples:

    • The movie Angel (1984) includes several scenes suggesting what might be Belligerent Sexual Tension between "Mae" the transvestite homosexual prostitute, and Solly, the protagonist Molly's Butch Lesbian landlady, as the two openly call each other "faggot" and "dyke" while exchanging barbs during an otherwise friendly game of cribbage. Solly also ends up trying to comfort "Mae" in his last moments as he lies dying after getting stabbed in a struggle with a serial killer who'd broken into Molly's apartment to try to kill her.

    • In the story "Ghosts of Responsibility" which P.J. O'Rourke published in the National Lampoon, he mentions a second-hand story of Rory, a homosexual high-school teacher, who got drunk at a party one night and started getting flirtatious with the girls around him and finally declared his intention to have his way with the wife of a colleague and left the party to go get her. Some way or other, he got her to let him in and nobody believed her when she called her husband insisting Rory was after her. How everything proceeded next is a bit murky, as P.J. O'Rourke notes: "But Ballow [Jerry Bovim, who was telling this story] was too puffed up with philosophical speculation about Rory's sudden heterosexuality to give me the particulars."

    • In the 2005 version of The Producers, the Camp Gay Roger DeBris gets rather caught up in the moment after his success playing Hitler in the "Springtime for Hitler" play he's directing and kisses the Swedish blonde Ulla full on the mouth, pulling a laugh from the audience as his paste-on toothbrush mustache comes off and sticks to Ulla instead.

    Incidentally, people who detect this kind of sexual tension in certain situations are not as "retarded" as you suppose. Alfred Kinsey himself claimed that sexuality is as "changeable as the weather" and certain further studies have shown sexuality to be malleable and something of a matter of degree. The notion that Everyone Is Bi isn't so crazy as some people seem to think, though years of cultural and environmental influences may very well tend to set people in their ways.
  • April 20, 2013
    DunDun
    Ho Yay and Foe Yay are both YMMV, so I don't think this is "trope" worthy. Heteroerotic Subtext would be, though (where it's intentional; see Homoerotic Subtext).

    Since Tropes Are Flexible, you may wish to make it clear whether this trope is meant to cover only homosexual characters of the opposite sex having the implied eroticism or if this trope just needs one of the characters to be homosexual.

    Also, don't say "because humans are retarded" just say "because Viewers Are Morons". It's less rude/offensive to people with mental handicaps.
  • April 20, 2013
    DunDun
    Actually, it'd be far better to say "people may interpret this simply because they want their so-called favorite character to be not 'too' gay."
  • April 20, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Agree.
  • April 21, 2013
    DunDun
    Tetraploid hasn't been around in a while, so this is Up For Grabs? I might as well take this one. (I'll wait at least a day for anyone to say anything, 'cause I've got other projects I should be doing.)
  • April 21, 2013
    StarSword
    ^IIRC the YKTTW is automatically up for grabs after no sign of the OP for a month.
  • April 22, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ ^^ According to Up For Grabs it's two months after the OP's last post. In other words, this is indeed Up For Grabs.
  • April 22, 2013
    DunDun
    Guys, I said I have other projects but would take this if no one else wanted to. That's why I waited.

    I'll be putting out a new draft later today (busybusybusy).
  • April 22, 2013
    DunDun
    Changed the description to be less YMMV and more of a trope. Changed quite a bit, actually. Comments on the description are appreciated.

    Examples needed.
  • April 22, 2013
    Kiereth
    Susan and Justin of El Goonish Shive had a moment during the Birthday storyline.
  • April 22, 2013
    Nakuyabi
    I have my doubts about turning this into a subtext counterpart. Among other things, as you point out, "hetero-erotic" isn't really a word. If we must have subtext, I'd go with just Heterosexual Subtext.

    Then too, maybe we should have the "Het Yay" YMMV in addition to this trope. It is a very real, though more recent, phenomenon that mirrors Ho Yay and Les Yay and other kinds of Yay in that it grows out of many of the same sentiments that first produced them. Les Yay, for instance, often arises from a common male suspicion that gals can't possibly fail to notice and find attractive in each other the same traits that guys find attractive in them. So too, guys often can't believe that any guy, even the ridiculously flamboyant Camp Gay, wouldn't at least swing bisexual for a costar played by an insanely attractive woman. This is also part of how If Its You Its Okay applies in context: "I don't care if you're her fraternal twin brother! I don't care how gay you are or even if you're blind! You can't tell me you haven't noticed how hot she is!"

    Then too, some of this trope (or YMMV idea) hinges on the same sentiments that drive Girl On Girl Is Hot: an inverted fetish that Gay On Girl Is Hot or Guy On Lipstick Lesbian Is Hot or Butch Lesbian On Camp Gay Is Hot. (Role Reversal Is Hot too.) Also, obviously, a Mary Sue character would tend to exploit Het Yay by being the girl so beautiful, Even The Gays Want Her. If Heterosexual Subtext doesn't cover Ship Teases, maybe Het Yay should.

    Out of the examples above, Heterosexual Subtext would cover my example from P.J. O'Rourke (although that stopped being subtext very suddenly, let us note), while Het Yay would cover the other two. (Solly and Mae squabble like an old married couple, and Ulla is so hot that Even The Camp Gay Wants Her.)
  • April 24, 2013
    DunDun
    I used hetero-erotic as the word because I don't want people to confuse this with "the character 'acted' straight" (whatever that even means). Like, Bob doesn't have any gay stereotypes, which is obviously Straight Gay (but ambiguity is bad).

    I felt that the subtext trope should be created before the Het Yay one since the former is more of a trope while the other is more YMMV.

    Also, I would rather get the description out of the way before adding examples, since they may be less applicable as the description gets ironed out.
  • April 26, 2013
    DunDun
  • April 29, 2013
    Nakuyabi
    It does need a better description; something simpler, perhaps. I'll see if I can't come up with something a bit more to the point.
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