Homophobia Index


These tropes can involve negative attitudes towards or stereotypes about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and/or gender non-conforming people, and they run the gamut from relatively minor limitations (on clothing choices, mannerisms, jobs or careers and the like) to hostility and violence. The prevalence of queer stereotypes in media at times paints a whole category of people with a very broad lavender brush. While some of them can be seen in other contexts, they have particular implications for LGBTI people. Some of them are discredited, or are becoming so, but they're present in works made and/or set in earlier periods.

There are a few broad categories of problems these tropes can have:

  • Assumed Heteronormativity: If a person is not identified as queer, that person is assumed to be straight.
  • Erasure: If queer people aren't mentioned, they disappear. Related to the assumption above.
  • Sexualization: The related ideas that sex is the sum total of queer people's identities, and that all they think about and/or do involves sex.
  • Criminality/Evil/Decay: Associating queer people by definition with one or more of these undesirable traits. A similar association is sometimes made between black people and these same traits.

Of course, trying to avoid one can easily lead you to another, like trying to avoid the hypersexuality so much that queer characters have no sexuality (which tends towards erasure). It's rather like steering a boat among shoals—overcompensate and you just run aground somewhere else.

For a fuller explanation of the concept of homophobia, see the Homophobia page.

Tropes that are influenced by or can involve homophobia:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes That Generally Apply to LGBTI People 
  • Adaptational Sexuality - A character in a work is changed to fit heterosexual norms when the work is adapted to a different medium. Though this can be a capitulation to Moral Guardians, it nevertheless lends credence to heterosexism (the work is "improved" by making it less queer).
  • Armoured Closet Gay - A closeted gay who's prompted by Internalized Categorism to express homophobia against others and aggressively assert his heterosexual bona fides. Their self-loathing can make the homophobia of such characters particularly vicious.
  • The Beard - When practised by lesbians and gay men, this kind of deception can divert suspicions and thus avoid homophobic bigotry.
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians - Two characters are subject to heavy and deliberate Homoerotic Subtext, but are never explicitly confirmed as sexual partners, and one or both of them is in a heterosexual relationship by the end of the show. Despite the title, there are an increasing number of male examples. Tends to trivialize the same-sex romance, as if it's only there to entertain the demographic titillated by the idea of people of the same sex behaving homoerotically together. Since in female examples the mere appearance of an available male often leads to the switch, it can imply that the women are only interested in each other until a man comes along. Commonly associated with Romantic Two-Girl Friendship, in which case it may also imply that they're engaging in lesbian-ish behaviour only because they don't know any better.
  • Bury Your Gays - If being gay is (one of) the worst thing(s) you can be and fiction is only satisfying if virtue is rewarded and vice is punished, then the gay characters deserve to die because they're gay.
  • Cure Your Gays - The idea that homosexuality is a form of disease or insanity that can and must be "cured" (In Real Life, it has been discredited by professional organizations including the American Psychiatric Association.). Since it can be used to justify "treatments" that are difficult to distinguish from torture, depictions of this can be particularly squick-making.
  • Gay Aesop: Learning that anti-gay discrimination is bad is the lesson in this type of morality tale. As with all tropes, this can be handled badly or well.
  • Gayborhood: As with ethnic neighbourhoods, the residents live in a concentrated area and have local businesses that appeal to their common interests. If the residents of a Gayborhood are depicted engaging in stereotypically predatory behaviours, such a place (with its large numbers of gays) comes across as threatening to a heterosexual audience.
  • Gayngst - Linking homosexuality and unhappiness/depression/suicide can imply that being gay causes all those bad consequences (rather than the reactions of other people being the cause). Correlation does not equal causation.
  • Gay Panic - In TV Tropes, this is when queer plotlines and/or characters that were airing are suddenly changed or dropped entirely, it suggests moral disapproval is behind their disappearance. In Real Life, the phrase refers to a legal defense used to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant's violent reaction. note 
  • Get Back in the Closet - When the Moral Guardians get into the editing room, this one helps promote the idea that condemnation of homosexuality is mainstream. It may also be an effort to produce a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Has Two Mommies- Despite the trope name, this also applies to partnered gay men who are parents. If used strictly, it can imply that a child can't be raised properly without parents of opposite sexes, which some real-life opponents of same-sex marriage have explicitly claimed. It may also suggest that lesbians are misandrists and gays are misogynists.
  • Have I Mentioned I am Gay? - The creators want to be inclusive, but are too afraid of the Moral Guardians to show gay behaviour, so they rely heavily on stated assertions of homosexuality. So long as there is a difference between the romantic behaviours of straights and gays, the work carries the implication that gay is wrong or bad.
  • Have You Tried Not Being a Monster? - The familial rejection in this one is supposed to be well-meaning (assuming the family loves the queer person), but it carries the implication that the queer person can and should change.
  • Heteronormative Crusader - The "crusader" part implies a morally-sanctioned combative attitude; the "heteronormative" part implies the enemy is anyone who doesn't follow conventional rules about sex and gender performance.
  • Homoerotic Subtext - When homosexual expressions are forbidden, some authors resort to this to put them in anyway.
  • If It's You, It's Okay - This can be a way to excuse a homosexual or bisexual relationship as a one-off, as if the character needs an excuse.
  • Nobody Over 50 Is Gay - Disappears queer elders. It can be read as supporting the idea that homosexuality is a decadent novelty or fad.
  • Queer People Are Funny: Humour about gay relationships because the participants are gay (as opposed to jokes about couples that could apply to heterosexual couples, i.e. they are tempermentally mismatched, have different tastes, or the like) suggests such relationships are inherently funny or deserve ridicule.
  • She's a Man in Japan - This is not always homophobic in motivation, but a large proportion of examples involve changing a character's gender or cis/trans status in order to avoid provoking Moral Guardians by having non-cis characters and/or non-straight romantic relationships.
  • Transparent Closet - Can be used to suggest a person is "really gay" and "in denial" about it. Alternatively, it may refer to someone who is trying to pass as straight and fails to do so.

    Tropes That Apply to Many Groups, Including LGBTI People 
  • Bowdlerise - Generally, this involves any editing of language and sexual themes from an existing work and is generally performed by Moral Guardians, or at their request. Specifically for LGBTI people, it means removing queer content from existing works because it is queer, such as removing instances of Boys Love and Schoolgirl Lesbians from anime works, effectively turning a seinen anime into a shonento "protect" the children in the audience.
  • Condescending Compassion - Among the many groups that can be on the receiving end of this are people with disabilities and members of racial and religious minorities. When directed at homosexuals, it can allow the "compassionate" person to feel superior to those who have the "misfortune" to be queer. Their pity may only last so long as their targets go along with this.
  • Gender and Sexuality Tropes - Predjudice and discrimination against people based on their (assumed) sexuality or gender pretty much has to refer to sexuality and gender somehow. This can target heterosexual cis-men and women as well, but will in a different way than for LGBTIQA*. That is because sexuality and gender are just two of many relevant social categories and always intersect with each other and different social categories, e.g. race, class, ability, religious or worldview beliefes (or the perception thereof)... Prejudice Tropes can apply to any stigmatized social category but will work differently when people are part of other minority groups as well. note  That is intersectionality.note 
  • Internalized Categorism - This can affect members of racial, ethnic and religious minorities as well as women, and the problem can be compounded when a person fits more than one category and believes the worst of more than one group. When a queer person believes all the worst stereotypes about queer people, trouble follows, often for them and occasionally for others.
  • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That - The "that" can be any number of things, not only race and religion but also including the enjoyment of unusual hobbies and participation in BDSM play. A backpedaling move to avoid being called a bigot, this trope can come across as insincere, especially if paired with "No really, some of my best friends are gay!".
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X - As the "X" indicates, this can be used with racial or ethnic groups and religious adherents as well as cisgender men and women. In an LGBTI context, some people claim this as a defense against a charge of homophobic bigotry. When it's clear they aren't really that friendly with any gay people, it isn't much of a defense.
  • Values Dissonance - As noted on this trope's page, this problem is very widespread. Even food is not immune: a vegan and a omnivore will look at the same plate of baby back ribs and have vastly different reactions. In the LGBTI context, for some people, tropes that depict queer people in a bad light are offensive, while for others they're simply funny or even true.

    Tropes Specific to Lesbians 
  • Butch Lesbian - One example of taking on the gender conventions of the opposite sex. The expectation that one of these must be paired with a Lipstick Lesbian (a lesbian who dresses and behaves in a conventionally feminine way) is an uncomfortable way to enforce a male/female dynamic.
  • Discount Lesbians: Humanoid lesbian characters get an extra layer of Othering by making them also alien, immortal, cybernetic or otherwise not quite human. While this can be a useful trick for Getting Crap Past the Radar, it also suggests being lesbian means being very unlike the normal folk in the audience, and not in a good way.
  • Hide Your Lesbians - In addition to the usual concealment of homosexuality, this one can also imply that lesbian women don't want sex (which is defined as heterosexual sex).
  • Lesbian Vampire: The lack of humanity of Discount Lesbians plus the idea that lesbians are predatory (and must be, since they aren't "natural" and must "recruit" others) plus the association with death and decay. Only in more modern interpretations does it come across as empowering young women by letting them take a level in badass.
  • Psycho Lesbian - Plays on the purported link between homosexuality and insanity, flavoured with the sexist implication of "hysteria", as well as implying that if they're willing to do something as bad as lesbian sex, there's nothing they won't do. Sounds like a toxic trifecta, doesn't it?

    Tropes Specific to Gay Men 
  • All Gays Are Pedophiles - Based partly on the purported hypersexualty of gays and partly on the idea that being gay isn't inherent in anyone, this trope says that gays "recruit" children and "turn" them gay. Never mind that the vast majority of real-life pedophiles (95% or more, depending on the study) are heterosexual.
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous - Essentially All Men Are Perverts plus I'm a Man; I Can't Help It. How bad this one is depends a lot on how the authors define a "normal" or ideal sex life.
  • Always Camp - The idea that certain professions attract drama queens and people with campy sensibilities verges into the stereotype area (when "camp" is equated with "gay"), which leads to assumptions and rumours about people in those jobs.
  • Ambiguously Gay - So maybe that character is gay, but for heaven's sake don't say so. Children may be watching.
  • But Not Too Gay - In an effort to appeal to broad audiences without offending too many people, authors impose limits on homosexual expression that are more strict than those on heterosexual expression. This lends support to the idea that being gay is less acceptable than being straight.
  • Camp Gay - First, this equates "effeminate" with "gay". Second, it implies that men who behave this way are deserving of ridicule. Third, in practice, it can be taken to paint all gays with this broad lavender brush, when it is only Truth in Television for some gays.
  • Club Kid - Young hedonistic gays who spend their nights in dance clubs using copious amounts of drugs (legal and not) and hooking up with as many sex partners as possible. Not a flattering picture of gay youth.
  • Depraved Homosexual - If they're having gay sex, and gay sex is among the worst sins on the calendar, they'll stick at nothing.
  • Gym Bunny - This trope implies that gay men work out or participate in sports because they're vain (and want to perfect their looks) and horny (and are looking for sex partners), and any other reason is an afterthought at best.
  • Pet Homosexual - Since the sex lives of pet homosexuals are either offscreen or non-existent, this reinforces the notion that they shouldn't have sex at all.
  • Pink Is for Sissies - Here we go again, equating effeminacy and homosexuality. On the other hand, this trope is likely why the trope Real Men Wear Pink got its name.
  • Sissy Villain: Villains with effeminate characteristics can lead viewers to equate effeminacy (in men) with evil. Since effeminacy is also often equated with homosexuality, this trope can tend to associate homosexuality with evil as well.
  • Straight Gay - Just as Camp Gay can be read as too over-the-top, this trope can be seen as too restrained due to insecurity or a desire to fit in with the mainstream. For some viewers, it also implies that gays are not masculine.

    Tropes Specific to Bisexuals 
  • Ambiguously Bi - So maybe that character is bi, but for heaven's sake don't say so. Children may be watching.
  • Anything That Moves - When applied to bisexuals, this presumes that because they are interested in some members of both sexes, they're interested in all members of both sexes, although "bisexual" is not equivalent to "promiscuous".
  • But Not Too Bi - In an effort to appeal to broad audiences without offending too many people, authors impose limits on bisexual expression that are more strict than those on heterosexual expression. This lends support to the idea that being bi is less acceptable than being straight. For bisexuals, this usually works out so that they're entirely straight or entirely gay; even if a switch is made, there is no third category.
  • Depraved Bisexual - If they're having gay sex, and gay sex is among the worst sins on the calendar, they'll stick at nothing. The presumed promiscuity of bisexuals turns up the volume on this one.
  • No Bisexuals - This trope holds that there are only two choices: straight and gay. It tells bisexuals (and the rest of the culture) that they don't actually exist, and if they don't exist, who needs to worry about mentioning them? Besides, if they don't exist, they can't be offended.

    Tropes Specific to Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People 
  • Crossdresser - Sometimes people who crossdress are held up to ridicule because their bodies don't match their clothing, particularly if their dressing is associated with sexual satisfaction. Transgender people (particularly those who transition after experiencing puberty) can also get tarred with this brush when other people refuse to accept their gender identity. More successful gender presentations, once revealed, may prompt accusations of deception or worse.
    • Creepy Crossdresser - Associating crossdressing with immediate sexuality, evil or abnormality in fiction can feed the notion that crossdressing is done only by strange or predatory people. Aside from that, it reinforces sexist gender ideals and that differing from those norms is creepy and bad.
    • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag - Because men in dresses are considered funny.
  • Drag Queen - Often, cis people will rather respect a drag queens gender than the gender of an actual trans woman, when really most drag queens just play a character for comedy and only few are actually trans. This also causes trans women to be seen as a joke instead of a real person.
  • There Are No Girls on the Internet: An assumption that any female-identifying person met anonymously on the internet is actually "a dude". This erases or villifies large number of transgender or non-binary persons on the internet who may have been assigned male at birth but now identify as more feminine or outright female.
  • Trans Equals Gay - The misconception that transgender people are gay (and vice versa), which stems from the false equivalence of sex and gender. When one thinks that heterosexuality is the norm, it's easy to conflate the two.
  • Transgender Fetishization - A transgender character is portrayed as hypersexualized or is used for more candid fanservice than other characters. Reinforces the stigma that non-gender-conforming people are inherently a sexual topic or only matter in relation to how attracted/disgusted cis people are.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal - Usually, this kind of revelation is unsettling because the other person is attracted to the person who's doing the revealing. It can result in violence, even death.


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