Created By: MegaJ on June 27, 2010 Last Edited By: MegaJ on June 27, 2010
Troped

But Not Too Gay

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Well, I think this has gotten as much attention as it needs too. Will launch soon, keep up the feedback.

Hot gay hugging action.

Okay, let say you're done hiding your lesbians and you don't want to bury any gays. You want to feature a gay character on your show or Hell, make him or her the starring character! But what if they get a Love Interest? Will they flirt? Hold hands? Or even get it on? Gay characters enjoy increased visibility in media and numerous positive portrayals. However, there is a bit of a Double Standard regarding gay love portrayals and love scenes and the like.

Rather, the lack thereof.

Homosexuality is still a taboo in much of the world, and while some audiences may tolerate a gay character, they may be completely squicked out by shows of affection and sex scenes with gay and lesbian characters, no matter how tame they may be. So television shows and other media don't push the envelop too much on gay affection. There may be a hug, or meaningful handhold but never a kiss unless it's heavily promoted and advertised. So basically, you can have gay people and gay couples but they can't be shown actually behaving like a couple.

This is a very depressing Truth in Television. Values Dissonance plays heavily into this trope regarding acceptance of homosexuality and it varies from country to country, to decade to decade, even within countries and communities. Gay public displays of affection are not tolerated nearly as much as straight PDA. In some cases, gays and lesbians are attacked for even holding hands in public.

Before you add an example, please think about if it even fits the trope. If you aren't able to really describe an example, it's best not to put it here. Try comparing examples to whether or not the straight characters show their love more, or describing particularly jarring occurrences.

Of course, this is a common source of Unfortunate Implications. See also Get Back in the Closet for media with gay love content, but it is just rated higher than media with heterosexual love scenes and the like. There is some overlap with Hide Your Lesbians. Related to Girl-on-Girl Is Hot. You'll see plenty of lesbian sex these days (see: Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Evidence A), but it was a big deal when there was just a boy-on-boy kiss on That 70's Show.
Anime and Manga
  • Subverted-ish in Sailor Moon with Schoolgirl Lesbians Haruka (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru (Sailor Neptune). Not exactly a strong example of Hide Your Lesbians as they were heavily implied to be lovers, and they did display some affection towards each other, mainly holding hands and gazing in each others eyes.

Comic Books
  • A scene in Siege: Young Avengers where Wiccan and Hulkling, a gay couple, are shown doing the 45 degree version of Air Hugging. When gay men hug their boyfriends in real life, we are not super-careful to make sure there's no crotch contact.

Film
  • Philadelphia - Andy and Miguel behaved more like a pair of roommates than a couple.

Television
  • Modern Family was criticized by many when gay couple Mitchell and Cameron (pictured above) hugged each other after a reunion at an airport, in stark contrast to straight couple Phil and Claire. Of course, some noted that none of the couples seem overly affectionate with each other but this was a big sticking point.
  • As the World Turns's gay couple Noah and Luke actually had a fan instituted countdown in between their kisses. They went 211 days in between two kisses and it took them 514 days from their first meeting to get their first love scene. This is unusual, particularly in the Soap Opera media where romance and love scenes happen frequently.
  • This trope is a common criticism of Will and Grace regarding Will's lame love life.
  • South of Nowhere dipped in and out of this trope. TeenNick apparently had no problems with cute pecks and hugging with the two lesbian characters Spencer and Ashley, but this was in contrast to the straight couples fully making out and displaying more affection for each other. And most of the time, they didn't even touch other.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Willow and Tara were a couple for about eighteen episodes before they so much as kissed on-screen, probably partly for this and partly to avoid claims of sensationalism.
  • The Wire - featuring fairly regular straight scenes and one lesbian scene, the fairly prominent gay character of Omar never gets a sex scene, and over three boyfriends and five seasons, only has two on-screen kisses (three if you count kissing Brandon's forehead in an early episode): he barely even touches the third boyfriend, Renaldo, even in a non-sexual way (possibly as a result of some controversy about the fairly steamy make-out scene with his previous boyfriend, Dante).
  • Ellen DeGeneres's first sitcom was criticized for focusing too much on gay issues and lesbian relationships after she (and the character) came out. When she got a second sitcom with CBS, the character remained a lesbian, but it wasn't much of a focus. Likewise, Ellen is criticized herself for downplaying her sexuality in order to appeal to mainstream America with her talk show but she has mentioned her wife Portia de Rossi and marriage several times.
  • Melrose Place had far more explicit scenes for the heterosexual characters versus the scenes for the token gay character Matt Fielding who wasn't allowed to kiss on screen.
  • In Desperate Housewives, for example, the one lesbian couple that only stayed for a couple episodes had two on-screen kisses - which was basically the same as what you'd get for a straight couple. Bob and Lee, however, have never kissed once and usually don't touch although they've been on the show for at least two seasons.
    • Desperate Housewives did have a few boy kisses between Andrew and his boyfriend in the first couple seasons, when Andrew was evil and trying to drive his homophobic mother insane, but none since he turned good.
  • The Camp Gay Marc on Ugly Betty never got to kiss any of his love interests (and yet he did kiss both Betty and Amanda for comedic reasons.) However, they were able to show a ground breaking kiss between the 15-year-old Justin and Austin, since the show had already been canceled by that point so there wasn't much risk.
  • Sal, the only major gay character on Mad Men (a show where the straight characters are seen banging each other all the time and in various combinations), is deeply closeted due to the time and place the show is set, so his gay love life mostly consists of resisting the advances of other men. There are two exceptions -- one (a hookup with a maintenance man in a hotel room) is cut short by a fire alarm before anything happens, and the other (in which he's about to try cruising in Central Park) gets a Fade To Black at the end of an episode. The character has since been written off the show, apparently for good.

Video Games
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • June 14, 2010
    Duckay
    Something similar was YKTTW'ed recently and copped a fair bit of controversy. However, I still feel that this is very tropeable. (Plus, this is a good write-up, and I like the title, too.)

    I'm just trying to remember some of the examples that were brought up last time.

    Here's a few:

    And a couple of arguable examples (you can decide if they fit or not):

    • Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Willow and Tara were a couple for about eighteen episodes before they so much as kissed on-screen, probably partly for this and partly to avoid claims of sensationalism.
    • Brokeback Mountain - Ennis and Jack did have their scenes, but overall the movie had more straight scenes than gay ones.
    • The Wire - featuring fairly regular straight scenes and one lesbian scene, the fairly prominent gay character of Omar never gets a sex scene, and over three boyfriends and five seasons, only has two on-screen kisses (three if you count kissing Brandon's forehead in an early episode): he barely even touches the third boyfriend, Renaldo, even in a non-sexual way (possibly as a result of some controversy about the fairly steamy make-out scene with his previous boyfriend, Dante).
  • June 15, 2010
    Kinitawowi
    The last time this was attempted (as "Less Action For The Gay") it died in a fire.
  • June 15, 2010
    rjung
    I think the trope has potential; the problem is that it seems rather subjective -- how do you clearly demarcate "showing less affection"?

    That said, the caption for the photo has to be "guess who's the gay couple?"
  • June 15, 2010
    LolCam
    Hmm, maybe Just A Pinch Of Gay for the trope name?
  • June 15, 2010
    MegaJ
    Yeah, the trope is pretty subjective, despite appearing in several shows. How's this for a designator-

    • Before you add an example, please think about how it fits. Compare the gay characters' love lives and personalities to the straight characters and if it seems quite jarring that there's a difference in-between just how much affection is shown, please note it.
  • June 15, 2010
    Michael
    I would guess that the gay couple were the two men.

    Also it's somewhat Truth In Television, since straight couples get less grief in general for advertising that they are a couple so are often less subtle.
  • June 15, 2010
    Duckay
    I would definitely limit it to examples where you can describe exactly what the difference is.
  • June 16, 2010
    TwinBird
    We might need a male equivalent or broadening of Hide Your Lesbians, but I'd say this is an aspect of Get Back In The Closet.
  • June 16, 2010
    MegaJ
    Perhaps one of those could be a Super Trope?
  • June 16, 2010
    a17tabris
    Does this cover cases where the characters seem to forget their relationship except in diversity-sensitive situations? If so, I'd suggest a scene in Siege: Young Avengers (not sure what to link to for that, sorry) where Wiccan and Hulkling, a gay couple, are shown doing the 45 degree version of Air Hugging. When gay men hug their boyfriends in real life, we are not super-careful to make sure there's no crotch contact.
  • June 17, 2010
    Tzintzuntzan
    It was briefly touched on in the Buffy example, but part of why gay couples aren't shown getting too intimate on screen is that the "shocking" lesbian kiss was a standard Ratings Stunt for a while. If a writer wanted to show a serious lesbian couple, and they kissed early on, the audience would be determined not to be shocked (and asssuming that the lesbian couple only existed to shock).

    It's kind of sad and pathetic, but such is the way tropes are shaped by meta concerns.
  • June 17, 2010
    CBanana
    • Melrose Place had far more explicit scenes for the heterosexual characters versus the scenes for the token gay character Matt Fielding who wasn't allowed to kiss on screen.
  • June 17, 2010
    Polar Bear
    I definitely think it's tropable, especially for gay males in mainstream shows. In Desperate Housewives, for example, the one lesbian couple that only stayed for a couple episodes had two on-screen kisses - which was basically the same as what you'd get for a straight couple. Bob and Lee, however, have never kissed once and usually don't touch although they've been on the show for at least two seasons.
  • June 17, 2010
    Wristmilk
    I don't think this is TOO subjective... how much is not enough may be different for different people but, since this describes absence, zero is the same for everyone. I agree that this is a strong write-up! One note, I'm not certain, but I believe the Philadelphia example is justified, since his current partner is not infected with AIDS, and presumably would prefer to remain that way, there is a clear limit to "affectionate displays" implied.
  • June 18, 2010
    girlyboy
    I agree this is a good write-up.

    I don't think this has to be too subjective even if we allow more than zero instances of physical affection. As the write-up implies, simply compare the gay couple to straight couples found in the same show. If there's a straight couple that has about the same narrative importance as the gay couple (or even less), but is shown kissing ten times more frequently, then the trope's presence is fairly objective.
  • June 18, 2010
    Robotech_Master
    Another example is the very special gay episode of The Commish in which a closeted gay cop gets outed by witnessing an assault at a gay bar while off-duty, and a fellow cop who has to deal with incipient homophobia about it ends up going undercover at that bar to catch the attacker.
  • June 18, 2010
    SirPsychoSexy
    This is a form of Get Back In The Closet to me.
  • June 18, 2010
    MegaJ
    Get Back In The Closet has to do with ratings. Unless we want to combine that one into this trope.
  • June 18, 2010
    LShapedTetrisBlock
    There was talk before about expanding Get Back In The Closet to include this, but I think this is more accurately a supertrope to Get Back In The Closet. Either way, with Get Back In The Closet as it is currently, this isn't the same.
  • June 19, 2010
    girlyboy
    It's either a subtrope or a closely related sister trope. Either way, it's distinct enough to have its own page.
  • June 20, 2010
    JAF1970
    Related to Girl On Girl Is Hot. You'll see plenty of lesbian sex these days (see: Buffy The Vampire Slayer as Evidence A), but it was a big deal when there was just a boy-on-boy kiss on That 70's Show.
  • June 21, 2010
    AlsoFriscalating
    This is also mentioned on the Pet Homosexual page -- that character has plenty of time to advise the female protagonist on her love life, but he isn't going to step out of place by actually having one himself.

    • Sal, the only major gay character on Mad Men (a show where the straight characters are seen banging each other all the time and in various combinations), is deeply closeted due to the time and place the show is set, so his gay love life mostly consists of resisting the advances of other men. There are two exceptions -- one (a hookup with a maintenance man in a hotel room) is cut short by a fire alarm before anything happens, and the other (in which he's about to try cruising in Central Park) gets a Fade To Black at the end of an episode. The character has since been written off the show, apparently for good.
  • June 21, 2010
    andjam
    Neuter your gays would be a bit confusing, because some gays have literally been castrated (for example under the Nazis).
  • June 21, 2010
    SevenOfDiamonds
    • Desperate Housewives did have a few boy kisses between Andrew and his boyfriend in the first couple seasons, when Andrew was evil and trying to drive his homophobic mother insane, but none since he turned good.
    • The Camp Gay Marc on Ugly Betty never got to kiss any of his love interests (and yet he did kiss both Betty and Amanda for comedic reasons.) However, they were able to show a ground breaking kiss between the 15-year-old Justin and Austin, since the show had already been canceled by that point so there wasn't much risk.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=pdxubxi8fw260l220idld22v