(or Gaysop if you will) that was pretty common in The Nineties
when gay people started becoming more and more prominent in the media. Basically, a character will be introduced that is soon revealed to be gay or bi (or if they were gutsy enough, a previously known character would be outed). Then the rest of the episode would be spent on one of the main characters discriminating against them, or fearing that they'll turn him gay or something, even if previous characterization would indicate that he would not be so ignorant.
Obviously by the end, the main character learns his lesson that "homosexuals are people too" and should be treated equally just like everyone else. Unfortunately, if the gay character is not pre-established, he'll probably disappear with no further mention
after this episode. If he is
part of the supporting cast, the subject of his sexuality will rarely be brought up again
Some will consider the Gay Aesop a Discredited Trope
, since gay characters are now relatively prevalent (compared to previous decades), at least in Western media.
See also Coming-Out Story
and Fair for Its Day
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- Green Lantern #154, in which Green Lantern Kyle Rayner's personal assistant Terry Berg is beaten up by a group of random thugs while leaving a club with his boyfriend. This aesop is especially reinforced when this display of man's inhumanity to man is so bad that it inspires Kyle Rayner to abandon the Earth in favor of wandering outer space and helping random non-human species.
- Interestingly, that's the inverse of the racial Aesop famously presented in Green Lantern #76 (Hal was pretty much staying away from Earth at that time).
- In the Static comics, Static saves a couple of guys from getting beat up. Turns out one of them is his friend, Rick Stone, and that they were getting beat up because they were gay. Static starts out trying to figure out what to think on his own, but once Rick outs himself to the whole school, he starts acting anti-gay. After Hotstreak terrorizes a political rally supporting gay rights, Static comes to terms with Rick's sexuality and they become friends again.
- Pulled off (surprisingly) in A Man Called Kev. Kev Hawkins visits an old SAS mate of his who now lives in the US on a marijuana plantation with a man-eating Bengal tiger and a beautiful woman. Kev is very surprised to learn that said beautiful woman is the sister of his mate's dead boyfriend. Given that Kev is a raging homophobe, it takes him a while to come to terms with the fact that his badass ex-military buddy is gay, but he does.
- Done in the Ms Tree story "Skeletons in the Closet". At least in this case, the homophobic character (Mike, Jr.) was one who had long-established issues with homosexuals.
- Not an uncommon theme in Slash Fic. The designated pairing will often be menaced, either by outside homophobes or by a canon character inexplicably converted into a homophobe. Of course, "love" always triumphs.
- The "canon character becomes a homophobe when there's no evidence that he or she is homophobic" is a trope that should disappear in fanfic, as should bashing in general. It just causes bad feelings in the fandoms.
- Other times, the token canon character who becomes a homophobe is someone you'd expect to be a homophobe (like a bully, an abusive parent, a religious zealot or a villain).
- Theodore Sturgeon's controversial 1953 short story "The World Well Lost" is about a pair of fugitive alien lovers ("loverbirds") from the planet Dirbanu. The main characters later learn that both of the aliens are male, and that this was the exact reason for their exile. In a second, more poignant twist, it's heavily implied, if not outright stated, that the narrator has similar feelings for his partner.
- This has been milked for all it's worth by Slash Fic fans of Star Trek, for which Ted wrote two episodes.
- In Beyond Varallan, we are informed that the very idea of homosexuality is rather alien to Jorenians. Then, in Plague of Memory, the Jorenian warrior Qonja and Taercal 'breed Hawkóboth of whom are dudesófall for each other. Turns out that it's not that there are no gay Jorenians; it's that there's a disturbingly bigoted streak to their otherwise quite exemplary culture. This is made especially clear when Qonja is repudiated by his clan when he and Hawk basically elope.
- Ray Bradbury loved this. He wrote several stories with a gentle but firm Gay Aesop. For some reason, all of them involve Irish or Irish-American characters.
Live Action TV
- All in the Family's Archie was just sure that Mike and Gloria's new friend was a "fruit" but later found out it was his own ex-jock buddy who was gay. (The episode ends with him still having his doubts, however. After all, a "fruit" can't hit that hard... right?)
- The actor who played Archie, Carroll O'Connor, was an advocate of Gay Rights in Real Life. The only thing that disappointed him more than receiving hate mail from people who disliked his character's homophobia was receiving fan mail from people who agreed with it.
- Wings: Roy's son, played by guest star Abraham Benrubi.
- Averted on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Willow came out, the episode was more about her having to choose between her old love interest, Oz, and her new love interest, Tara, and the former's jealousy of the latter. The episode would still be mostly the same had both characters been male. Though, in earlier episodes, Willow hid the full extent of her relationship with Tara for a time, fearing her friends' reaction.
- Played straight with a later episode with Tara's family visiting, and horribly mistreating her due to her in-born magical talents that they feel she should repress.
- The first season Cheers episode "The Boys in the Bar".
- Ellen has Paige, the one friend of the title character who doesn't immediately accept her sexuality, take a few episodes to come around. Less subtly and much less realistically, Ellen's parents, especially her father, are initially hurt and angered at her coming out, but by the end of the same episode they've completely accepted her as gay.
- There's an Alice episode about this, featuring a childhood friend of hers who played football. She becomes fearful he'll molest her son, and eventually realizes to her chagrin that her fears are completely unfounded.
- Degrassi The Next Generation did this with Marco, a relatively minor character at the time, who really became a headliner after he came out to the school. Some of his friends, like Jimmy, are accepting when he comes out, but Spinner is immediately hostile toward Marco. This culminates in an episode where Spinner is so worried that Marco wants to boink him that when he starts to choke, he refuses to let Marco give him the Heimlich maneuver. Upon realizing that it was only the Heimlich, Spinner is more accepting of Marco. The storyline even has Marco being gay bashed for the trifecta of this trope!
- Also note that Fan Wank on whether or not Marco was into Spinner is still out. A lot of people point out the uncanny similarities (looks- and personality-wise) between Spinner and Marco's on-again/off-again boyfriend, Dylan.
- They've done a transsexual variation with Adam.
- Done on an episode of Designing Women with a fellow who has AIDS to boot. Julia chews out an eavesdropping client who bitches about the guy.
- Another episode deals with a lesbian character, whom one of the cast is nervous has feelings for her. The lesbian then explains the concept of Gaydar.
- Married... with Children gives us this story when Al and Peg meet Marcy's identical cousin Mandy, who comes out as a lesbian. Ironically, the only person who acts homophobic towards her is Peggy, a character trait that came out of nowhere, though she warms up at the very end. Mandy was an Author Avatar of actress Amanda Bearse, who had become an executive producer of the show and was coming out of the closet herself. Unfortunately, Marcy's cousin was never able to come back to visit because there were only 4 episodes left in the series.
- The War At Home has Kenny as the homosexual guy. When he told his parents that he's gay, he was kicked out of the house. Later, in the episode "Kenny Doesn't Live Here Anymore", his parents were constantly told by Dave and Vicky Gold to "accept their child whoever he is". They took him back during the ending before Kenny gets to be taken by social services.
- From this segment of Ron White's 2006 stand-up comedy special You Can't Fix Stupid: "The most useless thing you can be is homophobic [..] we're all gay, it's just to what extent are you gay."
- Which leads into ... a gay joke. Which may be Hypocritical Humor for the subject of the joke and for Ron White (if it isn't okay to use homosexuality as the focus of a joke).
- In The Hughleys, we find out the family's next-door neighbor is a lesbian (and Asian to boot), just as DL begins to fear that his son is gay.
- In Golden Girls when Blanche's brother comes out, she doesn't take it very well. Of course everything turns out fine by the end of the episode. That is until he returns to Florida to introduce his fiance...
- In addition, there is also the episode where Dorothy's friend, a lesbian, comes to visit and falls for Rose.
- On Glee, this is a common plotline involving Camp Gay member Kurt...with varying degrees of subtlety.
- It's done somewhat more subtly with Santana and Karofsky.
- Interestingly this isn't actually played straight on Noah's Arc, though the movie has Brandon coming out to his parents and immediately getting the backlash. We never see how it resolves though.
- In the Student Bodies episode "Gay Friend" a new student turns out to be a lesbian and Emily has to overcome her homophobia.
- Japanese drama series Tumbling has an episode where Mizusawa is "outed" by a rival from another school (who'd overheard him confessing his crush on Kiyama), leading to the whole team being subjected to homophobic insults and Mizusawa's teammates refusing to work with him. Thankfully, protagonist Wataru is there to deliver the Aesop, and everything's back to normal by the end of the episode.
- In Drop the Dead Donkey, Helen's sexuality is an issue on and off throughout her entire run and she doesn't tend to get beaten up for it. However, her anxiety over coming out to her parents is played with when her father dies of a heart attack the day after she writes to them about it - and it wasn't anything to do with her coming out; in fact they always knew and her mother told her about other family members who would also have approved.
- There was a scene in an episode of the short-lived Sitcom The Associates where a representative of an LGBT anti-defamation organization comes prancing into the room, limp wrist, lisp, completely over the top, before switching to Straight Gay and pointing out how everyone there expected and accepted that he would act so flamboyantly and "talk like Sylvester the Cat".
- Played with and parodied in How I Met Your Mother, with Barney's gay brother James. Barney is shown to be highly supportive of James's lifestyle, even helping him pick up guys. However, when James reveals to Barney that he's engaged, Barney is against the idea of James getting married... because he's against anyone getting married. He also believes that if gays are allowed to get married, it'll strengthen the institution of marriage and inspire everyone to start doing it. He does learn to accept his brother's decision, but only after hearing that James wants to be a father, as Barney loves children.
- Dawson's Creek had Jack, who was originally brought along as a contender to Joey's heart, until he was revealed to be gay. Around this point he also became a main character, in a subversion of the classic trope.
- Beverley Hills 90210 had a played down version with Kyle Conners, who was also brought along as competition for Brandon in his quest for Kelly. He then comes out to her as gay. She was shown to be very accepting. However, he didn't have any appearances on the show afterwards, so his arc was never actually completed.
- Later seasons played the trope very straight with the gay frat boy Mike, who was accidentally outed by Steve. His fraternity had to learn to accept him, and Steve learned an important lesson about support, privacy and acceptance.
- Though that lesson wasn't enough for him and his other friends to comprehend the possibility of a friendship between a straight and a gay woman. When Kelly befriends her fellow fire-survivor Alison, who is [[Incompatible orientation seriously crushing on her]], her friends mock her mercilessly.
- Irony hit a peak when it Steve's mother turned out to be same-sex inclined, and starts an affair with another woman. In the aesop department, this arc was used in order to show the differences between Steve's and Janet's (his fiance) families, and how their love was strong enough to beat her family's general bigotry.
- Although not explicit in itself, the song "Jumper" by Alternative Rock band Third Eye Blind is a Gay Aesop. According to lead singer Stephan Jenkins, the song "comes from a story our manager told us about a high school friend of his who was gay. He went to a conservative school in San Diego [with] all sons of military types. Being gay was just not acceptable. He offed himself—he jumped off a bridge."
- Lady Gaga concerts have a very strong theme of saying that you should feel free to be yourself. In addition to that a lot of her concert themes are about giving full rights and freedom for gay people.
- "Feed Jake" by Country Music band Pirates of the Mississippi has one. This is quite a surprise, considering it was released in 1990 in one of the most conservative musical genres:
Now if you get an ear pierced, some will call you gay
But if you drive a pickup, they'll say no, you must be straight
What we are and what we ain't
What we can and what we can't
Does it really matter?
- Lightly and humorously distributed in Pink Martini's "Bitty Boppy Betty," about a charismatic D.A. who dresses up as a woman on the weekends, and what's wrong with that?
- Similarly, Miranda Lambert's "All Kinds of Kinds" has "a congressman with closets full of skeletons and dresses that he wore on Friday nights".
- The Vocaloid song "Magnet" implies this. The original version involved Miku and Luka being together but their relationship being condemned by those around them, resulting in a Star-Crossed Lovers scenario. Granted it's never explicitly stated that their love is forbidden because they're lesbians, but considering the fact that it's about "forbidden" love and the characters in question are both girls...
- My Heart Beats For Love by Miley Cyrus is at least partially a tribute to this concept. Inspired by a friend and his mission to find love.
- "We R Who We R" by Ke$ha is this.
- "American Triangle" by Elton John, an account of Matthew Shepard's tragic death, is one, along with being anti-hate crimes.
- Macklemore made a song called "Same Love", which has the message that love is love regardless of gender or race. The video goes through the life of a gay couple, and even has a message at the end to support Referendum 74, which would overturn the ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Washington.
- "Anti-Homophobe" by Brutal Truth is an Extreme Metal example of this trope.
- Played for Laughs in "I Love Fags" by MC Frontalot, which skewers anti-gay bigotry.
I'm insisting on containing my temper, but listen up!
You shouldn't ought to be intolerant about who queers like to fuck.
- "Follow Your Arrow" by Kacey Musgraves:
Make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls, if that's what you're into...
- Avenue Q plays with this trope. Rod has much more trouble accepting his homosexuality than any of his friends do.
- "If You Were Gay" is basically this trope in song form.
- Subverted in Nicky, who (unlike the Urban Legend of the character's inspiration) is straight, living with a man everyone knows not only to be gay but to have a crush on Nicky. Not only is Nicky surprisingly unfazed by Rod's confession during a dream, when Nicky gets evicted, nobody makes comments about lover's spats. When Nicky returns, he does so with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute who looks just like him, but with a better body, as a hook-up for Rod.
- Sort of the whole point of The Normal Heart, although the characters are diverse in personality and shown to be just as flawed as straights, avoiding the Magical Queer trap.
- Welcome To Room 305 has a number of gay messages to put across, justified that it's a Korean comic and that's a lot of anvils.
- One episode of The Simpsons involved Homer unknowingly befriending a gay man, (wrongly) fearing that Bart was gay, and various other things along those lines. He ends up getting saved from a herd of angry reindeer by the gay guy.
Well, Homer, I won your respect, and all I had to do was save your life. Now, if every gay man could just do the same, you'd be set.
- A later episode involved Patty getting outed as a lesbian when she wants to marry her girlfriend. Marge had a hard time with this at first, but learned to accept it.
Just because you're a lesbian, it doesn't make you any less of a bein'
- On Family Guy, there was an episode where Lois did not accept Brian's cousin Jasper's gay wedding, but turned around at the end of the episode when she found out that her parent's marriage is not happy (if unhappy straight marriages are apparently sacred, exactly what makes happy gay ones wrong, essentially). Brian holds the mayor at gun point in order to get gay marriage legalized, though Lois calls him on it, saying that he's no better for resorting to such an act.
- American Dad! actually has three episodes devoted to gay rights ("Lincoln Lover", "Surro-gate" and "Daddy Queerest"), but, unlike Family Guy, the Aesops are pulled off incredibly well:
- In "Lincoln Lover" Stan learns to accept general homosexuality after meeting the Log Cabin Republicans and discovers that being gay is not a choice. How? He himself tried to be gay. He concludes that they should discriminate towards Democrats instead, as being a Democrat ''is'' a choice.
- In "Surro-gate", Stan is more friendly toward gays, but he thinks that gays shouldn't adopt children, and actually kidnaps the gay neighbors' newborn baby so he can put her in a "righteous" foster home. He changes his mind when he sees that the children from a lesbian couple behave very similarly to his own children.
- In "Daddy Queerest", Stan is now a gay rights supporter, and tries to make Terry's dad accept his son's homosexuality. He fails, but the Aesop is that if somebody doesn't love you the way you are, then he doesn't love you as much as you think.
- Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride on South Park.
- And later in "Cripple Fight" Big Gay Al is kicked out of Boy Scouts for being gay and fears he'll molest the kids. Then the scout leaders unintentionally hire an actual pedophile who later is arrested. After the boys get the Supreme Court to force the Boy Scouts to let him back in, Al says he doesn't want to go back. He hopes that one day the Boy Scouts will choose to change their policy on their own, but doesn't want to impose his will on others in the meantime. Then Gloria Allred, the woman helping him, calls him a homophobe.
- In "Death Camp of Tolerance", Mr. Garrison learns that if he gets fired for being gay, he can sue the school for a load of money. He gets a new teaching assistant (and boyfriend) Mr. Slave, and they perform raunchy sexual acts when teaching and the kids are justly horrified. The adults tell the kids that they're being homophobic and are sent to a deathcamp-esque tolerance camp. Mr. Garrison receives award after award for his "courageous behaviour" until he finally snaps and tells everyone that being overly-tolerant is just as bad as being intolerant.
- In Rocko's Modern Life, at the end of the episode "Closet Clown", the title character suffers this when admits he likes rainbows. Suddenly his friends turn against him and chase him down with rakes.