M.C.: I am pleased to announce that there is no trace of the HIV virus in either Kyle Broflovski or Eric Cartman. Together these boys beat their illness. With nothing but each other, and overcoming all odds, these two brave friends... Kyle: Oh stop! We're not friends! HE'S the one who infected me with AIDS! M.C.: ...these two brave lovers found the cure and helped the world!
— South Parknote Just to clarify; Cartman was mistakenly given HIV+ blood in a tonsil operation, and Cartman used a syringe to infect Kyle as revenge for poking fun at him for getting what he deserved for his jerkassery.
A comedy plot line in which a character wrongly believes another character to be gay, either because of misinformation received or because of the supposedly gay character's own misinterpreted words and actions. Once the character is taken to be a homosexual, all his words and actions become laden with innuendo and further misunderstandings, humor (and Unfortunate Implications) ensue.
This can often be caused with supernatural secrets, such as superpowers or lycanthropy, which aren't immediately obvious, or various other embarrassing secrets.
Almost inevitable for Heterosexual Life-Partners. This plot may be the first time we've heard them explicitly say they're not gay (whether we believe them or not is another matter).
A slight subversion occurs when a character is suspected of being gay and takes this as a compliment, since that person deeply sympathizes with gay people.
See also Mistaken for Index. When the character probably is gay but is in denial, they're in the Transparent Closet. When the Character is heterosexual but acts like the Camp Gay stereotype they're Camp Straight. Due to the common belief that All Men Are Perverts and A Man Is Always Eager, any male character who isn't shown to jump at the chance to have sex with a woman will be mistaken for gay (if not actually gay) by the audience.
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Anime & Manga
In Bleach, many characters have been mistaken for gay, including the infamous episode where Renji and Ichigo end up in an awkward position on the floor with Ichigo yelling "Take it off already!".
This happens to Renji again later in the series during his fight with Szayel Aporro, who is quick to turn him down saying either "I don't lean that way" or "You're not my type" depending on the translation. The humor here is Szayel Aporro, an effeminate pink haired man, being alarmed about being hit on by another man.
Also happens to Ikkaku, depending on translation. When stationed in the human world, he was living with Keigo and his sister who laid out incredibly cute clothing for him to wear. When Matsumoto spots his clothing, she asks him if he's switched teams. Ikkaku is not amused.
In CLANNAD, Tomoya starts telling people that Kyou knocked him over while riding her scooter ("bike") to school, but Kyou, knowing it's against the rules, keeps cutting him off at the first syllable of (the English word) "bike." When people start asking what he was about to say, his answer is...another English loanword that starts with "bi." Considering Kyou's later glomping of Kotomi, though...
Ryou mistakes Nagisa's asking for help with the theatre club to be a confession of love. She even accepts before realizing it's not.
Tomoya made Nagisa think Sunohara is gay. She pretends Tomoya is her boyfriend to drive Sunohara away.
In an episode of Sailor Moon, Makoto becomes very interested in Haruka (an extremely boyish girl) and the other characters speculate about her preferences. It turns out that she merely looks up to Haruka as a role model, although fans have debated about what this assertion actually means. This may be one of The Artifacts from the original manga, where Haruka isn't an exclusively 'butch'-looking crossdresser; Makoto outright explains she admires Haruka's confidence in embracing her boyish tendencies, something Makoto hasn't been able to.
Note Rei is technically mistaken for gay, if only because most later adaptations drop the more convoluted version of her Does Not Like Men status and will make at least one joke about it.
In Marmalade Boy, when perpetual loner Yuu suddenly starts hanging out with exceedingly popular school president Satoshi Miwa, their female classmates and the school newscasters immediately conclude they're getting it on. Hilariously enough, Yuu himself thinks Satoshi is gay for him when he suddenly starts trying to hang around him for no discernible reason. The real reason is because Satoshi believed Yuu was his half-brother, as his father was something of a philanderer and he was interested in Yuu's mother, Chiyako. Yuu reached the same conclusion independently, and was shocked when he learned Satoshi's surname. Of course, we don't find that out before hilarity ensued, including Miki overhearing them having a conversation that sounded like Satoshi pressuring Yuu to have sex with him out of context.
Episode nine of Kannagi revolves entirely around this. After an incident in episode eight involving Daitetsu staying at Jin's house and what happened to part of Nagi's sacred tree, everyone is thinking Daitetsu is gay for Jin and Nagi's furious about it. Zange and Tsugumi attempt to orchestrate a situation that would make Jin out to be a playboy to clear up the rumors, but it's to no avail. People start taking him as the Anything That Moves type, which is probably worse.
In the first episode, when Haruhi first enters the music room hoping to find a place to study she encounters the host club who believe she's a guy thanks to her messy hair, unflattering outfit, and glasses. Tamaki also believes she's gay, until he finds out her real gender at the end of the episode.
In the last chapter of the manga Tamaki and Haruhi are mistaken for gay when they're having a close moment and dancing together (with her in a dress, even). It isn't until later that the girls figure out Haruhi is really a girl—they originally just thought she was a boy who liked to crossdress as a girl.
In the first episode of Gun Frontier, Harlock and Tochiro encounter a sheriff who notes their close camaraderie, gives them an odd look, and the line "It's a free country. Guess that applies to love too." Neither man is amused.
1/2 Prince (pay attention, this gets complicated). The female main character is the only female who plays as a male in a hugely popular online game. The gay guy in her party, who's her university lecturer IRL, is infatuated with her Bishōnen character, but doesn't know he's a she. Her male childhood friend does, and then angrily confesses his long-hidden love for her to the gay guy, saying that he's known her for 8 years. She overhears this, but because Chinese uses gender-neutral pronouns, both she and the uni lecturer think he's talking about a boy. Later on as she's racking her brains for the identity of the mystery crush, her twin brother walks in. Both he and the childhood friend are teammates in the game who both play bishonen. Cue the wrong penny dropping. The brother, however, knows that the childhood friend is in love with the sister, and wants to support their relationship. When his sister asks, "Do... you... like... him?" he replies [thinking she wanted his approval before she starts a relationship with the friend] "Of course! Dad and Mom have even given their approval!". The rest of the inadvertent Ho Yay just falls into place, and Gui has stated that he would like Prince no matter the gender or age. He's not homosexual, he's Prince-sexual.
For bonus points, the reason Gui even started teasing/flirting with Prince in the first place is because he saw a male in-game drooling over him and, not knowing that the character was controlled by a female played, decided to have some fun messing with what he assumed was a gay guy.
In an early chapter of Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, poor Tsuna gets mistaken at school for "becoming Gokudera's bitch," after Gokudera became his Stalker with a Crush came to worship and admire him as the Tenth boss. Now whether Gokudera was mistaken for gay is another debatable story...
Well, he has his own girl fanbase at school, but isn't really pleased with them (he finds them just that annoying). But his devotion to the juu-dai-me does tend to fall into this.
Happens a few times to Memori and Yuuki in Game X Rush, which makes sense because... Well, just flip through Volume 2 sometime.
When Hayate the Combat Butler's title character is questioned about 'why' he rejects Nishizawa's confession, the fact that he possibly likes guys is brought up before he mentions his childhood teaching from Athena. He's just that clueless, girls.
At the end of the third Shippuuden movie Kakashi is mistaken as being hitting on Naruto, who just freaks out at the implication. The other rookies are quick to begin the teasing.
When Naruto is going through some Training from Hell and Kakashi means to compliment Naruto on how much he is improving, he says, "I think I'm starting to really like you". Naruto takes this the wrong way.
Kotetsu and Izumo are mistaken for gay by Tsunade in one omake.
Sai in one filler arc tries to comfort Naruto but looks like he's trying to kiss him - Naruto freaks out and shoves him away.
Happens about once in every two episodes for Angel Beats!: Hinata will say something (such as "I quite like you" or "I need you!") that makes him sound like he has a crush on Otonashi. Cue Otonashi asking "Are you..." with a troubled look and an Aside Glance, and Hinata hurriedly cutting him off. "It's not like that!". It's pretty much a Running Gag by now.
The hand gesture that Otonashi does when he asks this actually means/indicates "gay" — sort of the Japanese equivalent of doing the limp-wrist thing.
Granted, he had the idea to help drive Tooru's Yandere stepsister away, but...
Full Metal Panic!: In the novel's side story, Tsubaki accidentally confesses to Sousuke instead of Kaname (due to his glasses being off), while he was trying to reveal to Mizuki that he won't reciprocate her feelings because of this person he loves. Sousuke is shown to become very disgusted and nervous after receiving this confession, and afterwards, the entire school thinks he has a gay crush on Sousuke.
There is also the episode where Yuri and Gwendal are mistaken as an eloping couple (they were chained together)
Rosario+Vampire: Other characters mistake Huang Fang-Fang's obsessive attempts to get Tsukune to join his mafia family as him being gay for Tsukune.
Onegai Twins: Because Maiku hasn't been ogling them, Karen and Miina worry he is gay. So they crank up the Fanservice level to try and get a reaction out of him.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Syaoran thought he had a crush on Yukito, but it later turned out he was just attracted to the high amount of moon energy inside him.
You could interpret him as bi, though. And just to nitpick: the reason why he can't be gay is that he falls in love with Sakura, not that he wasn't really in love with Yukito (since he could have turned out to be gay anyway).
Amatsuki: In the manga Heihachi comes to the conclusion that Toki is hitting on him, and sadly recommends that Toki should be with Kon instead, as Kon is more good-looking.
Violinist of Hameln: The other characters flat out accuse Hamel and Raiel of being gay a few times.
In a chapter of BECK, Sayaka's friends egg her to make a pass on Koyuki without even knowing about his relationship with Maho. When Sayaka finally musters her courage to at least hold his hand, he starts remembering Maho and runs off, apologizing. Then, her (Sayaka's) friends start thinking he's gay (and, to make things worse - in a sense - Sayaka never appears again in the manga from that point on).
Tani-sensei keeps getting into gay situations with Harima in School Rumble.
In one early chapter of the Ah! My Goddess manga, Love Goddess Peorth mistakenly believes Keiichi (who she's trying to woo, a little too well) and Tamiya are lovers, due to her steady diet of Shoujo manga. She responds by trying to woo Tamiya, and things get interesting when Tamiya actually becomes infatuated with Peorth.
In Ah! My Goddess (the anime), Harmless Villain Mara gets not just mistaken for gay, but Mistaken For Gay Rapist, not once but twice (by Sayoko and Megumi).
In chapter 23 of Omamori Himari, Himari switches back to human form right on top of Rinko. Rinko's mother walks in a moment later to find a nude Himari straddling Rinko on top of her bed. Beat.
Mother:J-J-Just now, I witnessed my cute little girl's hidden passion!! This is the final drop for a mother!!!
Rinko: M-Mom!! Don't break down on me now!!
Himari: I'll only ask this once: has anything unusual happened?
Rinko: Yeah, because of you my relationship with my family has just become unusual...
Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Hitomi assuming that the reason Madoka and Sayaka don't hang out with her after school any more is because they've undergone a Relationship Upgrade, when in reality they've been tagging along with a Magical Girl. Though it doesn't help their case that Sayaka was acting quite flirtatious.
She also might have (even subconsciously) wanted to believe that the two were a gay couple, since she was chasing the same boy Sayaka did.
It also doesn't help that Madoka has a Cast Full ofAmbiguously Gay / Bi schoolgirls, of which Hitomi is the only ostensibly straight member. And Sayaka was coming on pretty strong.
(fandom aside) Saiyuki has a few. Genjo Sanzo gets it quite a lot from random strangers to the extent he's nicknamed Mr. Gay by someone in a bar in the first OVA, and was even hit on once by a drunk Depraved Bisexual in another bar. He's not particularly happy about this fact, considering that he was bullied as a child partly because it was rumored he was his adopted father/mentor's catamite. The other characters naturally find it hilarious, though. Ironically, in Gaiden, his previous incarnation was rumored to be in the same situation with Goku's younger self. Tenpou and Kenren in Gaiden also have rumours flying about all over the place which is Truth in Television for two people who are close friends. Mentioning it is likely to get you beaten into the ground though. Also played completely straight when Gojyo and Goku are fighting on a bed and a girl walks into the hotel room and jumps to the wrong conclusion and quickly hurries out.
In Girl Got Game Chiharu being Sweet on Polly Oliver leads to Hayama making this assumption . . . and being a very ardent shipper, going so far as to offer Chiharu a gay sex guide and wishing him happiness. (Chiharu does not appreciate it.)
In The World God Only Knows, post-capture Yui publicly confesses to Keima, while wearing a boy's uniform. It also didn't help that she was acting like the Seme while Keima uncharacteristically acted like the Uke. Later on, she intended to fix this trope by trying to get Keima to wear a dress. And succeeded.
Ranma and Akane have had a lot of romantic moments when he's in his girl form. At times, this makes Akane worry that people will think they're lesbians.
Mariko thought they were lesbians. Still does.
In the manga, Ranma unknowingly eats some pork buns that make him hug anyone who sneezes. Kuno challenges him to a fight and Ranma accepts, expecting it to be a simple battle. Unfortunately for Ranma, Kuno keeps sneezing the entire time. His constant glomping makes the entire school think he's got the hots for Kuno. And so, hilarity ensues.
And then there's the "Fishing Rod of Love", which will make anyone who get snagged with it fall head-over-heels for whoever fished them. Ryoga ends up buying it to get a shot with Akane. He casts the line blindly and... ends up fishing Ranma instead. The worst part of it is that it's Akane who ends up making the assumption about Ryoga, even after the whole mess is undone. As for Ranma, well, he got off relatively clean.
When Nakamura from Nichijou is finally alone with Nano, she says she wants to know what Nano is actually like. She was referring to how she was constructed, but Nano took her own interpretation.
In Mayo Chiki!, practically all of the school suspects this of the main character, Jiro, after he's seen hanging out with Kanade's butler, Subaru a little too much.
Oswald, the older brother of Lacie in chapter 67 of Pandora Hearts. "I didn't know you swung that way." "I'm not sure what you mean."
D.N.Angel: Daisuke and Satoshi have a lot of Ho Yay together and Satoshi is suspected by fans whether correctly or not that he is gay for Daisuke. In episode 17 Daisuke and Satoshi are at the beach on a school trip and Satoshi helps dig Daisuke out of the sand. Some girls watching end up mistaking them for being gay for each other.
Eitaro from Love Junkies is mistaken for being in a relationship with Obi by his coworkers.
In Nicoichi, the relationship between Makoto and Natsumi is often mistaken as such, because Makoto is simply too good in cross-dressing and thus will appear as a lesbian couple to those who does not know his secret.
High School Boys and Drop-Kicks: The sudden physical closeness between Hidenori (on a visit to his maternal grandparents' hometown) and Kiyohiko was seen by Emi as "Boy Meets Boy".
Manabe of Kotoura-san often have Girls Love fantasies when his girlfriend Haruka is a bit too close with another girl in the cast; once between Haruka and Yuriko is episode 2 and once between Haruka and Hiyori in episode 5.
In One Piece, Nami and Franky switch bodies, and Nami, in Franky's body, gets taken away by Rock and Scotch. Nami, forgetting she is in Franky's body, starts screaming about how sexy "she" is and that guys may want to take "her" for "herself." Rock asks Scotch if he has any idea what their hostage is talking about, to which Scotch assumes Franky must be gay.
In Episode 3 of Servant × Service, Chihaya outright declared Yutaka as her rival. Yutaka at first wondered if "she's the type who likes other women." He was soon disabused of the belief, though, when she started talking cosplay.
An interesting version in A Certain Magical Index. Due to the Angel Fall spell, Touma's father Toya sees Kaori Kanzaki as Stiyl Magnus. Kaori is irritated by this but plays along, but when Touma and Toya accidentally walk in on her bathing, she angrily attacks them with her sword and they barely manage to escape. Toya is confused about why "he" would be so embarrassed about being seen naked by another man and concludes that "he" is gay, adding Not That There's Anything Wrong with That. Toya never learns the truth, which means things would get interesting if he ever met the real Stiyl in the future.
In Servant × Service, the Childhood Friends-turned-Unknown Rival relationship between Yutaka and Jyoji was often mistaken to be gay—Cosplay Otaku Girl Chihaya once used BL to describe their relationship, and it is implied Yutaka's cananova tendencies was in fact a way to clarify his sexual orientations, and both of them do have girlfriends in the end of the anime adaptation.
Greg Rucka mentioned a story that he'd like to do but knows DC would never let him: A group of Gotham socialites are discussing their relationships with Bruce Wayne, and one of them eventually confesses that she's never had sex with him. They compare notes, realise that none of them have actually had sex with Bruce Wayne, and come to the inevitable conclusion...
Subverted in Young Avengers: Billy's trying to tell his parents he's a superhero but ends up coming out to them in a totally different way - except that he really is gay and his parents think his boyfriend is the perfect son-in-law.
Stephan Pastis was, amazingly, able to get one of these jokes into Pearls Before Swine. Rat, being as cynical as ever, stayed in bed due to his view of the world. Pig got in bed with him and Rat tried to get out before anyone saw. Goat eventually came in, resulting in an incredibly awkward moment for the three of them.
In Astro City, the old women in Crackerjack's boarding house think his secret identity is gay because he's a "theater type" with long hair.
Nightingale and Sunbird also face rumors of lesbianism after an unlicensed comic portrayed them as "closer than sisters" and strongly implied there was something going on there
The relationship between Nico and Karolina in Runaways was complicated by Karolina's crush on Nico. When Nico swore off men after learning that her boyfriend Alex Wilder was The Mole who had betrayed them Karolina believed that Nico had decided to "switch" and subsequently attempted to kiss her and was gently rebuffed. The resulting conversation is extraordinarily awkward as Karolina wonders if the problem is that she is going "too fast," whereas Nico had never realized that Karolina was in love with her in the first place. The Ship Tease between the two characters would be a regular occurrence through the remainder of the series' run, and it was eventually revealed that Nico and Karolina did eventually kiss, though the kiss was never seen in the comic or described in detail.
In the Peter DavidSupergirl title, Linda Danvers's parents get the wrong idea when she attempts to tell them about the huge, identity-altering secret she's been keeping.
Linda: I'm not gay! I'm Supergirl!
Unlike the film, the situation in the comic Kick-Ass does not end well. After acting the part of the Pet Homosexual (including spray tanning her topless), he admits it was all a ruse. Katie is furious, and has her boyfriend beat him up, followed by a graphic photo of their sex sent by phone.
Empowered had a supervillain team called "Rum, Sodomy, and The Lash". When Emp confronts The Lash, he sadly explains that Rum had to go to an AA meeting, and Sodomy got tired of explaining that he only represents heterosexual sodomy and quit.
Early on in J. Michael Straczynski's Spider-Man run, when Aunt May discovers the truth about her nephew's super-hero identity she admits that for the longest time due to his sometimes odd behavior and natural sensitivity she thought he was gay.
In Rawhide Kid: The Sensational Seven, openly gay Rawhide Kid figures his compatriot the Two-Gun Kid for gay based on his costume — stuff like the kerchief, the mask, the print on the vest. When they talk about it, Two-Gun is mortified and says he has to rethink his look, but Rawhide encourages him to keep it the same, saying that being tough is about standing your ground, being true to yourself, and not caring about what other people think.
Frequent in fanfiction. Very. For example, this (in some form) features in thisWatchmen fanfiction written for Yuletide Treasure. It features a scene of Ozymandias awkwardly jumping to the conclusion that he's being mistaken for gay during an interview — Not That There's Anything Wrong with That.
In LittleKuriboh's Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Pegasus is believed to be gay, what with Bakura's gaydar pointing at his castle. However, it is later revealed he was married to Cecelia, and that Croquet is the gay one.
In Shocker: Legit, Shocker comes to the conclusion that Peter Parker is gay — based largely on a comment Peter accidentally makes about wearing spandex.
Meta example: Undocumented Features was written over many long nights where the three authors would go up to their room and plot, and their classmates thought they were gay (or at least bisexual) because who writes fiction on a Friday night?
Still, Frieza is convinced his girlfriend is named "Chuck".
A driving force of the conflict during the start of Assumptions. Everyone assumes this about the athletic, tomcoltish Rainbow Dash. Even her friend Pinkie Pie thinks this, and was hoping to "experiment" with her. One of the reasons she's falling for Caramel, who she'd ignore otherwise, is because he's a nice conversation partner that doesn't judge her.
In New Chance, a ten year old Naruto tells Gaara that he thinks Haku and Sai are gay. While the rest of the Konoha 12, Haku and Sai are easedropping. His reasons being that Haku likes dressing like a woman a little too much and he mistakes Sai's attempt to make friends as a case of Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?.
Naruto: "Haku and Sai have some serious image issues. I think they're gonna come out the closet one day."
Haku: (thinking) "If we compared the number of fangirls we each had, he'd find out he was wrong."
The Bleach / Kill la Kill crossover To My Death I Fight, Isshin Kurosaki reveals that he thinks Uryu is gay just because he sews, and asks if his father knows he's in the closet. When Uryu indignantly says his father was the one who taught him how to sew, Isshin assumes his father is gay too.
The Bollywood movie Kal Ho Na Ho has this going on between the two male protagonists, played for laughs. First they get totally wasted and pass out in bed together; totally innocent but when the Indian maid walks in she is horrified. Then later she finds them yelling at each other in what looks like a lover's quarrel. Things like this continue to happen, freaking her out more and more. Finally when the man she is actually a maid to gets married to a woman, she is so happy that she actually hits/shoves the obviously gay interior decorator when he gets too close to the groom.
Happens in the Bollywood film Dostana when the two male leads are trying to get a flat. They run with it, because it was the only way to get the place. It backfires though.
The plot of Three to Tango is that Chicago architect Oscar Novak is mistaken for gay and has to keep up the charade because he was hired for the contract of his life on the assumption he was gay so he could act as a safe companion for his new boss's mistress Amy. Hilarity Ensues.
The French movie The Closet subverts this; when a photoshopped picture of the main character at a very gay bar in a very gay outfit shows up at his office, he is seen as gay by everyone despite no outward mannerism changes. This is intentional; the photo is sent by his neighbor in an attempt to use discrimination fears to avoid the impending layoff of the main character.
This appears in Snakes on a Plane, in which the effeminate, comic-relief air steward states early on that he can't wait to see his girlfriend, resulting in disbelieving remarks from his colleagues. At the end of the film, he is reunited with his girlfriend who turns out to be both real and highly attractive (and also apparently every bit as bubble-headed as he is), while the rest of the characters express their surprise.
The film Clue features Mr. Green, whose blackmail-worthy secret is that he's gay. In the third ending, the final line of the film is him declaring he's going to go home and "sleep with [his] wife." (He was actually an undercover agent, and pretended to be homosexual to protect his family. Or, this being Hoover's FBI, he was a homosexual who pretended to be a heterosexual pretending to be a homosexual. Interpretations vary.)
In the movie In And Out, Kevin Kline's character is "outed" by a former student and spends half the movie denying that he is gay. Then the trope is inverted when He discovers it's true.
In Sextette, Sir Michael Barrington (Timothy Dalton) is confused by the media of being gay, and Barrington constantly reinforces this rumor by naively declaring such lines as "Well, yes, I would say so. Always gay, never depressed. Happy and gay. That's my motto", "It's queer to me," he's a "man's man" and that as a coxswain he "coxed the entire crew."
American Beauty: The paranoid ex-Marine neighbor wrongly suspects his son and the protagonist (played by Kevin Spacey) of having a homosexual affair. As it turns out, he's a closet case himself.
Ashley's best friend Dan in Over Her Dead Body who it turns out started to pretend to be gay after he is mistaken for it just to stay close to her.
In My Best Friend is a Vampire, Jeremy's parents misinterpret what's going on and conclude that their son is gay. This being 1980s Texas, they're very relieved when Jeremy introduces new girlfriend Darla at the end of the movie.
In an early scene in Independence Day, Captain Hiller (Will Smith) ends up with a friend on one knee (demonstrating how to properly kiss ass) and holding a wedding ring box (which had just fallen out of Hiller's locker). At that precise moment, another pilot happens by, sees the situation, and walks off with his hands up in a "don't mind me" gesture.
In Dogma, Bethany assumes that Loki and Bartleby are lovers because of some ambiguous phrasing in Bartleby's conversation. Bartleby immediately denies that they're gay, but technically since neither of them has a biological gender he's not necessarily denying anything, or at least the Slash Fic writers would like to think so ...
The Bollywood film Heyy Babyy has Riteish Deshmukh accidentally offer a flower to a male party guest. He's highly embarrassed at his faux pas, even more so when the male party guest's confusion gives way to a coquettish smile in return.
Lethal Weapon 4. Murtaugh doesn't understand why young detective Lee Butters keeps trying to butter him up, not knowing that Butters has secretly married his daughter. Riggs, who knows the truth, suggests that Butters is gay. Naturally much Hilarity Ensues until Murtaugh discovers the truth, whereupon he punches Riggs in the face for his prank.
One of the comedic subplots of Bend It Like Beckham concerned Jules's mother being convinced her tomboyish daughter was a lesbian and her best friend, Jess, was her girlfriend. This is established by having her overhear Innocent Innuendos with incredible serendipity. Probably the most notable moment is when she starts coming up the stairs towards her daughter's room, where she's speaking with Jess about her relationship with the football team's coach -
Jules: You don't know the meaning of love!
This is probably a nod the original script, in which Jess and Jules were actually going to be outright lovers (before Chadha decided that that would be just too alien for a mainstream audience on top of Jess' Indian culture). It's not the only such surviving artifact of that plot.
And played both ways, as Jules' non-traditional interests and Gender-Blender Name cause Jess' family to think she's a boyfriend from her description.
In My Favorite WifeCary Grant's character Nick is mistaken for gay after he refuses to sleep with his second wife on their wedding night because his first wife has just returned from the (presumed) dead. Since the movie was made in 1940, they had to do the whole mistaken for gay subplot without ever saying the word "gay" or "homosexual" (in fact, they had to make do without any direct reference to sex of any kind). It's still surprisingly clear, especially when a therapist the (second) wife hired apparently finds Nick trying on a dress.
In Wild Wild West, the train conductor walked in on Jim West and Artemus Gordon having a discussion on the realistic quality (or lack thereof) of the latter's costume breasts. From the angle the conductor viewed them from, it looked like they were feeling each other up — and it wasn't at all helped by their declarations of "touch my breasts." The conductor just gets a squicked look and mutters "I knew it."
In the first The Naked Gun movie, Det. Frank Drebin had just rendered a baseball umpire unconscious to "borrow" his uniform. He removes the uniform, props the umpire over a table and proceeds to undress himself. Moments later, a janitor walks into the room, sees Drebin and the umpire, says "Whoops! Sorry, fellas!" and nonchalantly leaves.
In the Get Smart movie, Agent 86 is trying to get Shtarker off a table. A minion passing by sees Agent 86 who, at that moment, appears to be "humping" Shtarker. The minion smiles appreciatively.
In Kick-Ass, after Dave is beaten up and stabbed by thugs and ran over by a car, his classmates believe him to be gay, because he was found with no clothes on. After hearing this, Katie quickly takes an interest in him becoming her Gay BFF, Dave goes along with it to be close to her. This is a remnant from the comic, which went into more detail and revolved around the fact that he was repeatedly found with no clothes on in a bad part of town, which lead people to think he was working as an underage prostitute.
In I Love You, Man, a guy misinterprets the intentions of Peter (Paul Rudd), which is to say he's just looking for a guy best friend, and promptly kisses him on the mouth.
The Childrens Hour, and the source musical, is about two teachers who are sabotaged by a student when she starts a rumor that they're in a gay love affair. Given that this is the 1920s, or possibly 1960s in the film, it's not taken lightly. Parents remove all the kids from the school, they lose a law-suit against the child's grandmother which causes them to become public disgraces around America, their reputation is ruined, and one of their fiancées dumps them since he believed the lie. The trick ending is, as implied multiple times in the film, that Martha was really gay.
Love and Other Disasters is about a Fag Hag who does this, causing her to be Oblivious to Love with great comedic effect.
In the film Cashback, the main character and his friend Sean (in a flashback) narrowly avoid being caught looking at a dirty magazine, but fail to hide their erections...
Voiceover: After that, Sean's mum always thought we were gay.
In 17 Again, Maggie concludes that Mike is gay after he is obviously squicked by her advances, not knowing, of course, that he's actually the 17 year old version of her father.
Plan B manages to be a combination of both this and Gay Bravado. Bruno catches Pablo, the boyfriend of his ex Laura, checking him out openly at the gym, which leads him to believe that Pablo is bisexual and pretend to be gay/bi-curious himself to seduce Pablo away from Laura so that he can hook back up with her. However, it turns out that Pablo isn't actually bi and was just checking out Bruno because he looked uncannily like a man in a certain photo of Laura's, and is clearly unsure of what to think about his new friend's subtle and not-so-subtle "flirting" with him. Then all of this is subverted/deconstructed/zigzagged/something when Pablo and Bruno both realize that they've genuinely fallen in love with each other nonetheless.
In The Fifth Element, when Father Vito Cornelius opens his front door to find several hulking Mooks there to kidnap him:
Right Arm: Not really.
A Played for Drama example in Higher Learning: Remy, a lonely college student, is approached by a young, bald-headed man one night on the campus square. The young man asks Remy to come with him, causing Remy to become suspicious and angrily demand to know if the other guy is a "faggot." As it turns out, the bald kid is actually a neo-Nazi skinhead who has witnessed Remy being bullied by his black dormmates and thinks he'll make a good recruit to the "white power" cause.
In Cursed, Jimmy becomes stronger and more confident after being bitten by a werewolf, combined with emitting sexual allure. His closeted friend Bo becomes attracted to him and assumes that Jimmy's change in attitude means he's closeted himself.
Happens in 42 when Ralph Branca tries to coax Jackie Robinson to shower with the rest of the baseball team instead of waiting for the others to finish.
In the 2006 film DOA: Dead or Alive, Bass Armstrong assumes his daughter Tina is in relationships with Christie and Kasumi when he walks in on Tina and Christie sharing a bed, and later Kasumi giving Tina a shoulder rub. Christie doesn't help when she sort-of hugs Tina and mentions that she sleeps in the nude and wants Tina to do the same. After Bass leaves, Tina kicks Christie out of the bed (literally), and the latter is not nude.
But I'm a Cheerleader: Everyone but Megan knows that she's gay. Also a very butch girl at the reeducation camp Megan's parents send her to "comes out" as straight, having been mistaken for gay just because of her looks.
In Loverboy, Randy is a pizza delivery boy who ends up hooking up with a rich middle-aged Italian woman named Alex. She basically becomes his Sugar Momma. When Randy's father reads some of the letters Alex sends him and notices Randy receiving expensive gifts brought by a guy, he assumes, to his horror, that Randy is gay (Alex being a gender-neutral name). Near the end of the movie, this saves Randy from a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by three men he cuckolded when one of them (who turns out to be a friend of his father's) remembers Randy's father telling him about his son.
In Go, Adam and Zack bicker like an old married couple, causing a girl at the supermarket to think that they're gay. In a surprise reveal, it turns out that they are.
Water 1985. Michael Caine enters the island's prison and finds its two inmates hiding under the bed as a bomb is about to go off.
"Are you two digging a tunnel or committing an unnatural act?"
The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden has frequently been mistaken for his maternal half-brother Thomas Raith's lover, to Harry's dismay and Thomas' great amusement. Harry uses this to his advantage once when caught snooping in Thomas' apartment. It doesn't help when word gets to the SI division in .005 seconds.
In a case similar to the one of the film examples above, Thomas, when he gets a 'real job' as a hair dresser, deliberately poses as a flamboyantly gay European because there is no such thing as a 'good, high class, straight American' hairdresser.
Not to mention that the first time that medical examiner Waldo Butters meets Thomas, he immediately thinks Harry and Thomas are a couple—and this is before the events in the first example. Harry tries to convince Butters otherwise. It doesn't work, thanks to Thomas.
Happens to Aziraphale and Crowley several times in Good Omens, but mostly to Aziraphale who apparently gives people the impression that he is "gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide."
Not to mention the fact that Crowley seems to have a habit of calling Aziraphale "angel" with other (human) people present, while Aziraphale calls Crowley "dear" on a regular basis.
Happens to Phury in one of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books. He kisses Rehvenge to shut the latter up after being "accused" of being gay. The Reverend is not at all thrilled the Brother called his bluff.
In The Crystal Cave, 12-year-old Merlin meets Count Ambrosius, who turns out to be his father. Ambrosius gives him a fine set of rooms, a tutor and a servant. Given Ambrosius' seeming lack of interest in women, Ambrosius' brother Uther, who's always having affairs with women, assumes from this considerate treatment that Merlin is Ambrosius' catamite, even though Ambrosius has displayed no interest in boys either.
In Mississippi Jack, a man mistakes Jacky's riverboat tavern for a brothel. When she tries to set him straight, he assumes that the girls "must take care o' business amongst yerselfs", adding that the idea makes him sick.
Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is temporarily mistaken for gay by her own mother, mostly because she's 23 and hasn't had a boyfriend yet.
Jonah, best friend of the title character of MaryJanice Davidson's Fred the Mermaid series is constantly this trope, even by the woman he winds up marrying. He's actually a Camp Straight.
In Glee, Kurt mistakes new club member Sam as gay. However, little humor comes out of this misunderstanding and it was only to tease viewers who were expecting Sam to be Kurt's new boyfriend.
Sam is once again mistaken for gay later on in the season after he's caught coming out of a motel room with Kurt.
Constable Goody of The Thin Blue Line suffers badly from this trope. His speech, his mannerisms, his hobbies (gladiators) and many of the things he says give off the distinct impression that he's as gay as Christmas wrapper paper. In fact, he only has one non-stereotypically-gay characteristic: He lusts after women.
A surprisingly mature episode of My Parents Are Aliens, Josh, in one of his typical schemes attempts to start a relationship with a pretty, rich girl, but quickly learns she has a terrible personality even he can't deal with, so he asks Sophie to pose as his girlfriend, telling her to morph into someone "I'd want to spend time with". She morphs into his best friend Pete, not understanding the concept of gender and sexuality, and gives a romantic speech about her feelings for Josh, including putting her arm around Josh and referring to him as "my everything", all while in the shape of a boy. The next day the rich girl "outs" Josh to the entire school, encouraging Josh and (the real) Pete to be open about their feelings.
Pete (mildly curious) Does this mean you're my boyfriend now?
The Seinfeld episode "The Outing": Jerry and Elaine and George are messing around at the diner. Jerry and George pretend to act gay when Jerry brings up that people always think that he's gay because he's thin and neat. And this reporter who is supposed to interview Jerry for a newspaper story overhears them fooling around and thinks that they're actually gay. So when she comes to Jerry's apartment, they act exactly like they always do — bickering like an old married couple, but with disastrous effects. When they realizes she thinks they're lovers, she leaves in midst of them trying to say otherwise. More mix-ups occur, strengthening the reporter's belief, the story gets printed, and Hilarity Ensues.
Frasier, on several occasions. In one episode a series of misunderstandings based on the initial assumption that Frasier is gay leads to a character concluding the entire family is. Another has Marty acting gay for Frasier's sake (he's interested in a woman who's trying to matchmake for her gay uncle).
Frasier has a lot of characters being mistaken for gay, and the meta joke is that the actors playing them are gay.
Bulldog Briscoe (Dan Butler, who is gay) in Fortysomething:
Carrie: (thinking Bulldog is overcompensating) Is he gay?
Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce, who is gay) in a few episodes, including The Matchmaker:
Tom: (after learning Frasier isn't gay) But Niles - come on!
Frasier: No, I'm afraid not.
Tom: Huh... so wait a minute, this Maris guy he kept mentioning is a woman?
Frasier: Well, the jury's still out on that one.
Martin Crane (John Mahoney, who is gay) in a few episodes, including the aforementioned The Matchmaker and the plot to Out with Dad:
Martin: (after realizing Edward is attracted to him) But what if he asks me for a date?
Frasier: I have news for you: You're on a date!
It leads to a situation in which Niles has to pretend he's his father's lover to reinforce the illusion that Martin is gay, leading to this classic exchange:
Frasier: Niles, Emily just kissed me in the bedroom and now she's leaving. I have never been so embarrassed in my life.
Niles: You're embarrassed?! They think the best I can do is an old man with a cane!
Finally, Niles "breaks up" with Martin:
Niles: You're always asking, badgering, spying on me! Well, I won't be suffocated anymore. I'm tired of being your trophy boy! It's over, you hear me? Over! (haughty sniff) And I'm keeping the jewelry!
Also in "Ski Lodge"
Guy (Who thought that Niles was flirting with him) to Martin: Maybe the Rum is clouding my judgement, but Niles... is he...
Martin (Thinking he is talking about Nile's crush on Daphne): No, stop right there. You got it, he got it bad.
Guy: Really?! This is not an uncomfortable subject for you?
Martin: No, no no - Niles have had those feelings for years! Of course, I didn't approve of them during his so called marriage, but now when he is single, I say let do what makes him happy! I say go for it!
Guy: [Wistfully] You are a wonderful father.
Leading later to:
(Frasier walking into the room where Guy is naked and waiting for Niles, expecting to see Daphne's friend who he's been chasing all episode)
Guy: You are not the Crane I want.
Frasier: You're not even the sex I want.
In The Doctor Is Out, flamboyantly gay opera director Alistair is introduced to Niles and Daphne:
Daphne: And I'm Daphne, Niles' wife.
Niles: We're expecting.
Alistair: Can't say I was.
Frasier: He does not think I'm gay.
Niles: He thinks I'm gay, and I'm standing next to my pregnant wife.
The lone exception is the effeminate radio food critic Gil Chesterton (Edward Hibbert, who is gay), who for the first ten seasons of Frasier viciously denies he's gay and claims to be a Chick Magnet. In the fifth season episode The Perfect Guy, Gil reacts hotly to Frasier and Roz thinking he was gay and living alone with his cat, claiming to be married to a woman named "Deb" (who has a lot of masculine, lesbian-like traits like being an auto mechanic).
Frasier: Well, that's the first time I've ever seen a man "in" himself.
In the eleventh season, however, Gil finally came out of the closet, starting with The Doctor is Out, in which he serruptiously visits a gay bar named Bad Billy's, after earlier giving Frasier advice on coming out:
Gil: I just want to say that your KACL family will be here for you as you take your first brave steps on that yellow brick road to pride and self-acceptance and...
Frasier: Oh, shut up, you big queen! (storms off)
Gil: I see Kitty has claws.
So would that make Frasier a literal Cast Full of Gay? Apparently everybody but the title character's actor likes men. Whoda thunk it?
It was actually intentional on the roommates' parts, in that that is the only way that a single man and two single women would be able to share residence was that the Ropers wouldn't allow it unless the man was gay. Jack was ready to drop the lie when Mr. Furley took over, but the same issue arose, forcing him to resume the charade.
It was abandoned late in the series life when Jack "came out" as straight.
WKRP in Cincinnati: Meek weirdo Les Nessman is mistaken for gay by a pro athlete. This being the 70s, he threatens suicide until the accusation is retracted.
Even it being the 70s doesn't excuse Les's overreaction, which was the point; the character was the archetype of an old-time Red-baiting conservative who would jump out the window if somebody questioned his sexuality. Johnny or Venus would have just laughed it off. What was shocking about it for the 70s was Herb Tarlek telling Les that he didn't care if Les was gay.
The episode "Phases" (Season 2, Ep. 15) where a conversation between Xander and Larry, in which Xander was trying to get a clueless Larry to admit to being a werewolf, leads Larry to believe that Xander is gay. The mistaken sexuality continues in the episode "Earshot" (Season 3, Ep. 18).
The episode "Gone" (Season 6, Ep. 11) where Buffy receives a visit from a social worker about Dawn. Buffy's forgetfulness of a certain redhead leads to the following exchange. Worth noting is that it's hard to say if Ms. Kroger really believed Buffy.
Willow: Buffy, I'm not feeling hot, so uh, I'm gonna take a quick nap, okay?
Buffy: Okay, Will! That's Willow. She, uh, she kind of lives here too, actually.
In Season 9, Whistler leaves a message for Angel to meet him at a disclosed location on their "anniversary." One of Giles' aunts immediately says "That's why Angel hasn't hit on me."
In the Angel episode, "Disharmony", Cordelia mistakes Harmony as being gay, when Harmony is actually trying to tell her she is a vampire.
Cordelia: [on phone with Willow] Ohhh! Harmony's a vampire? That's why she- Oh, my God, I'm so embarrassed. [giggles and chuckling wryly]
Cordelia: All this time, I thought she was a great big lesbo...! [long pause while Willow says something]
Cordelia: Oh, yeah? Really? Well that's great. Good for you!
An old man possesses Angel's body in the episode "Carpe Noctem" hears about a romantic entanglement with someone named "Fred," looks down at what Angel is wearing, and mutters, "Obviously." This also causes him to mistakenly try to break up with Wesley before he figures out that Fred is a girl (Winifred).
Also in Angel, in the episode "Expecting", which was early season 1, Cordelia has a couple of friends come by the office. Angel and Wesley start talking to each other to distract from Cordelia having a vision and Wes flings his arm around Angel's shoulders in what he intends to be a display of brotherly affection, only to have one of the girls mutter "The good ones are always gay." Lampshaded very funnily later in the episode, when Angel and Wesley are talking and Wesley asks if Angel thinks he has a shot with the (gorgeous) girls. Angel tells him he does, then Wesley asks, "What about them thinking we're gay?" Angel replies "It adds mystery."
In the second episode of the series, the group is questioning folks at a singles bar - we see Angel anxiously telling a guy "No, really, I wasn't hitting on you!"
In the episode "Harm's Way", employees at Wolfram & Hart are discussing who they think is interested in Fred. Harmony suggests Wesley but is shot down because there's an established belief at the firm that Wesley is gay.
When Kate Lockley's father mistakes Angel for her boyfriend, he says he's glad because he suspected she was a lesbian.
Done twice over by Faith who mistook Lilah for a lesbian when Lilah tried to recruit Faith to work as an assassin for them. Faith apparently accepted "the pickup" in order to mug her.
[Lilah and Faith leaves a club.] Faith: We can go and talk, but I'm not much of an talker. I'm more of a doer. Lilah[smirks] I think you might have misunderstood my intentions. Faith: No I think you misunderstood mine. [slams her up against a wall and grabs her wrist.] I like that watch.
Subversion: In an episode of Cheers, Norm — whom it is revealed has a native talent for interior decor — decides to pursue that field instead of his previous career. However, he discovers that he has to pretend to be "stylish" in order to be taken seriously as a decorator.
A character from Ugly Betty (a straight fashion designer) has this same dilemma.
Ditto for Matt Damon's character in Will and Grace (a straight man in a gay glee club).
A mischievous girl convinces both Reese and Malcolm that the other is gay in Malcolm in the Middle, which leads to some amusing conversations.
This episode also led into a Crowning Moment Of Heart Warming, since the brothers, instead of teasing each other as it would have been expected, actually accept the fact that the other one is gay and try to support each other.
Another Malcolm in the Middle example is one episode when Francis is in military school helping out with a beauty pageant(of course, he's only helping to meet some girls). When he is backstage with one of the girls, she says something to the effect of, "It's okay if you're gay. We're a lot more open here[Alabama] than you think." He milks this for all its worth to be able to feel up the girls without them noticing. Eventually, he slips up and tells a girl she's sexy. He covers it up by saying that when he looks at her, he feels like maybe he could change. They are talking, and just as it looks as if they're going to kiss, the scene switches to him at a church service for "curing" gayness.
A running joke in Friends, with Chandler the target. Originally from a first season episode "The One Where Nana Dies Twice", where we discover most of the Friends thought he was gay when they first met him. Apparently he has "a quality". His gay co-workers disagree.
The one where Chandler uses a subliminal motivational tape so he can quit smoking, but it's for women. Also the one where he and Joey are mistaken for a couple when they are seen with baby Ben.
Chandler and Joey get this a lot; half of Chandler's 'gayness' comes from the way that him and Joey are frequently portrayed as a married couple, with Gilligan Cut style jokes to this effect.
Brought up in Joey when Gina tells Joey that he and Chandler should have moved out to LA years go because it has a "very friendly gay scene". Joey responds that he and Chandler are not a gay couple.
In Season 5 of How I Met Your Mother Robin's boyfriend at the time, Don thought that Ted was gay because of some effeminate interests like calligraphy, Project Runway, and cooking. That is until he found out Ted is Robin's ex.
Black Books: Bernard accuses Manny of being gay due to his interest in interior design, specifically nice lamps. Manny protests he likes women (as well as lamps) but admits that he had thought Bernard was gay. Bernard says that he thought so himself, but was put off by the expected high standards of personal hygiene "and all that...dancing!"
Supernatural: Happens to Sam and Dean more than once. It started as a random joke, and has now become a running Fandom Nod. In one episode they pretend to be interested in buying a house, and two realtors, on separate occasions, mention that "we accept homeowners of any race, religion, color, or sexual orientation."
Also happens in the one with the little girl at the old hotel: when they go to check into the hotel, the owner mentions that "We get a lot of gay couples down here because of the great antiques shop."
Leading to this exchange later on:
Dean: Of course, the most troubling question is why do these people assume we're gay?
Sam: Well, you are kind of butch. They probably think you're overcompensating.
Happens again in the fourth season premier: when Dean comes back from the dead and proves to Sam it's really him they embrace tearfully and the girl Sam was with earlier says "So you guys are..." before Dean interrupts her with "Brothers." Made funnier by the fact that the girl is later revealed to be Ruby, knows exactly who they are, and was doing it just to mess with them.
And of course the lovely episode when Dean asks for "two queens" at the motel and the lippy kid behind the counter mutters "I bet."
In a fifth-season episode, Sam and Dean do some ghost-busting at a Supernatural convention with two guys who dressed up like them... At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the duo was gay. It's no wonder, since much of the in-show fanbase are constantly exploring homoerotic subtexts between the brothers.
Much to Dean and Sam's consternation, as shown in the hilariously meta episode "The Monster at the End of This Book":
Dean: There's Sam Girls and Dean Girls and...What's a slash fan?
Sam: As in Sam slash Dean together.
Dean: Like together, together? They do know we are brothers right?
Sam: Doesn't seem to matter.
Dean: Well that's just sick!
In the season 8 episode "Bitten", the college students the episode focuses on assume that Sam and Dean (who they think are FBI agents) have a "workplace romance" going on.
British sitcom Extras has Andy Millman meet an old school-friend of his who, despite being successful, is still a bigoted Jerk Jock who constantly makes jokes about Andy being gay because he has never seen him chatting up a girl. At the same time Andy is trying to gain recognition in the theatre and gets a starring role in a play by Ian McKellen. He has to play a gay role, something that he appears to get to grips with after his initial annoyance at finding it out, but unfortunately for him his school-friend gets tickets for himself and several of his other homophobic old friends. They also happen to catch him in the dressing room with McKellen with his trousers down, as McKellen calls for some vaseline to cure Andy's non-existent ulcer that he tried to get out of kissing on-stage with.
An episode of the Glaswegian sitcom Still Game was built around this; the Nosy Neighbor Isa happens to catch Victor in Jack's flat very early in the morning, not to mention with his trousers down and talking about finding "arse cream" (the reason being they had opened a door between one another's flats so that they could share their cable television and could avoid Isa in the first place). After she gets over the "gossip-overload", word spreads around. Everyone is more or less tolerant over it, but eventually the entire community is up on the misinformation. Bobby the barman takes things too far by playing ABBA and having everyone in the bar dance to make Jack and Victor feel at home... This only leads the two of them to suspect that Bobby is gay.
Dennis Finch from Just Shoot Me!wishes he were mistaken for gay, as usually he is mistaken for a woman, much to his chagrin. There was one episode where Dennis was mistaken for gay by his own father, but this is not who he wanted to make the mistake. The closest he got was to be mistaken for a lesbian, which actually worked to his advantage... until his true gender was exposed.
Maya was mistaken for lesbian by a model, a situation which Dennis tried to take advantage of.
In yet another episode, Nina is dating a flamboyant magician. When confronted by Jack and Elliott, she reveals that she obviously knows he's gay. However, when she confronts him, he responds with "I'm not gay, I'm British!"
That statement was also used by one of the main characters on the short-lived WB sitcom Left of Center.
And also as a punchline by Bakura in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Of course, given that this version of Bakura apparently is repulsed by girls and has magical Gaydar powers, one wonders if he doth protest too much...
Bakura frequently explains "I'm not gay, I'm just British", while the demon possessing him points out "I'm not British, I'm gay".
JAG: Admiral Chegwidden's yeoman Petty Officer Jason Tiner is mistakenly assumed to be this "People v. Gunny". This was back in the days of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
A bizarre variant in 3rd Rock from the Sun: Sally ends up with a guy who's the "most sensitive man she's ever met" and would be very obviously gay to anyone who was actually from the planet Earth. He seems to believe that she's simply a male-to-female transvestite/transsexual, and, despite the fact that he normally has little interest in "people like you", interprets her confused stories about her military background and current desire to "just blend in" as stories about a struggle against homophobic oppression. A series of comical mishaps lead him to think that the whole family is gay. The man only realizes that Sally is a woman when he helps her out of her dress and then promptly breaks up with her.
In another episode, a gay man comes out to Dick, unfortunately describing himself as being "from another world". Dick, of course, thinks he's another alien and immediately says "so am I!" Pretty soon, Dick is hanging out at what he thinks are "alien bars" and enjoying the camaraderie there. He only discovers the truth when Mary finds out and he thus tries to convince her that he's straight. After she leaves the room, he says to himself "I'm an alien. Oh, God, I wish I was gay!"
And then there's the episode in which Sally almost got married. While preparing for the wedding, Tommy discovers his never-again-seen love of doing artsy-crafty things, causing his girlfriend August to spend the whole episode worrying that he's gay.
In a first-season episode, Harry encountered a Camp Gay man played by Phil Hartman who mistook Harry for a fellow homosexual. When Harry talks about how Dick is his "High Commander" and wants him to fit in more, the man replies "Oh, I was in a relationship like that once."
In the episode where Dick and Don become friends, Dick is outraged to discover Don going out with another friend and promptly delivers what sounds very much like a break-up speech. After Dick leaves, Don's friend says "It's okay, Don, I understand. I'm gay, too!"
What about the episode where Dick dressed in drag to infiltrate a women's discussion group and they all thought Dick and Mary were lesbians?
In the second episode of Rosemary And Thyme, the two main characters decide not to tell the local police what they know, because he thinks the two ladies are a couple.
In the 30 Rock episode "Blind Date", Jack sets Liz up with the "brilliant plastics engineer/lesbian" Gretchen Thomas, leading to the top page quote. Matters aren't helped when Liz, being the neurotic wreck that she is, decides to call Gretchen and have a nice chat with her anyway. The others encourage Liz to hook up with her, but Liz insists that they're "just friends, like Oprah and Gale". Given the existence of Liz/Gretchen fan fiction, it seems a sizable number of shippers didn't buy that. Liz offered to, if they were both still single in a few years, live together and if it would make things easier, let Gretchen "do things" to her.
The title characters on Kate And Allie, two single moms sharing an apartment, were mistaken for lesbians by their lesbian landlords, then have to play along to avoid getting thrown out because the landlords don't think they'd qualify as one "family". After a Patrick Stewart Speech about Tolerance, they're allowed to stay.
Psych: Shawn and Gus. Sometimes Shawn annoys Gus by going along with it as a joke.
Frequently appears in the revived series of Doctor Who, having started during (openly-gay) showrunner Russell T Davies' tenure and continued by subsequent production teams;
In "Daleks in Manhattan", Martha laments The Doctor's disinterest in her to Tallulah, prompting the comment, "Oh! I should have realized. He's into musical theatre, huh? What a waste."
In "Turn Left", Rose is trying to get Donna to remember the way the world should be, and Donna gets the wrong impression. "Blonde hair might work on men, but not on me."
In "Time Crash", after the Tenth Doctor mentions his old nemesis' latest return Back from the Dead, the Fifth Doctor inquires whether the Master still had "that rubbish beard" this time around.
Tenth Doctor: No, no beard this time... well, a wife.
In "Let's Kill Hitler", it's revealed that Amy assumed Rory was gay for years, because having seen him practically every day since they were young, she couldn't name a single girl he'd shown the slightestbit of interest in. It takes her a while to finally get it.
In "Closing Time", the Doctor gets mistaken for gay, when he goes out shopping/Cybermen hunting with a baby and Craig. (They were being rather cuddly). The Doctor doesn't appear to notice, actually considering the word "Partner" as a replacement for "companion". Later, he claims to be madly in love with Craig and tries to kiss him, as a distraction.
An episode of Sex and the City had Charlotte dating a pastry chef with a great many "feminine" qualities, including jumping up on a chair when he saw a mouse. Charlotte and the girls think he's closeted gay. Charlotte asks him if he is and he says, "I'm a 35 year old pastry chef who lives in Soho. If I was gay, I'd be gay."
Roommates Leonard and Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory continue to introduce themselves as "living together" even though everyone initially misinterprets this, including their new next-door neighbor Penny and their friend Raj's parents, who think they're "like Haroon and Tanvir." Leonard protests and explains the situation, although later as Sheldon runs to get their special-edition DVD of Fiddler on the Roof he remarks to himself, "Maybe we are like Haroon and Tanvir."
Sheldon was also able to able to get a date with far more ease then his friends, although at the time he was trying to find a man to set Penny up with, and he didn't realize the miscommunication. Hilarity ensued.
Raj and Howard have this happen to them all the time. There was the time Leonard's psychologist mother said they were in an ersatz homosexual relationship, and they start arguing like an old married couple. Both are straight, but their romantic exploits tend to be...less than successful.
This has become a Running Gag with Raj. In one episode, he invites a childhood friend, Lakshmi, to his apartment for dinner. Lakshmi suggests that they should get married because she's a lesbian, she assumes he's gay and they can "beard" for each other to keep their parents from finding out.
In a Reality Subtext example, some first-time viewers note Sheldon's fussy mannerisms and mistakenly believe that the cast consists of a "regular guy," an Indian, a Jew, and a gay guy. This became Hilarious in Hindsight when Sheldon's portrayer, Jim Parsons, publicly announced his homosexuality.
Frank Fontana of Murphy Brown is almost always a victim of this. It's delightfully ironic, considering that he's always trying to be the Chick Magnet.
Vivian: Charlotte was such a nice girl... do you like girls?
Vivian: Didn't want to assume.
In The Basil Brush Show, Mr. Steve works up the courage to ask a long-haired women for a snogging. He fails to notice the long-haired women being replaced by a long-haired man. The man, when asked by Mr. Steve for a snog, turns and punches Steve. Hilarious. It did anger same gay-rights activists, though.
It wouldn't have attracted so much anger if it had been hilarious. It wasn't even that funny when it was tried the first time, back in about 1972.
Remington Steele: Steele is searching a missing man's hotel room when the man's ex-girlfriend happens to come in. Since the boyfriend had mentioned he was dating someone new, she assumes he meant Steele, and laments, "Why is it always the good-looking ones?"
Caroline In The City had Richard finally managing to get his work in a gallery. Unfortunately, he then discovers that said gallery only sponsors gay artists. He initially tries going on with the charade, but eventually confesses.
Like the Frasier examples above, this is particularly amusing because this is not the only time in the series someone mistakenly thinks Richard is gay, and though he isn't (he's the main character's love interest), Malcolm Gets, who plays Richard, is.
In an episode of St. Elsewhere, a hotel receptionist assumes that Drs. Craig and Westphall are a couple.
This is a running joke on Law & Order: two detectives walk into a store or hotel to question someone and are promptly identified as "together."
Occasionally, the detectives masquerade as gay in order to pin down a gay suspect or witness.
In a variation on the theme, a witness once tried to pick up very straight and very conservative Det. Curtiss, much to the amusement of Lenny Briscoe.
This actually becomes an SVU Running Gag, as people continually mistake Olivia for gay. The section of the fandom who think she's in love with Hello, Attorney! Alexandra Cabot lap this up.
In an episode of Inspector Lewis, Lewis and Hathaway are mistaken for a couple by a school headmaster, who assumes they're looking for a school for their child.
Hathaway: (takes Lewis's hand) Darling, I think you should explain.
Korean Boy Band, Dong Bang Shin Ki. In one of their mini-dramas, a member mistook another member's accidental double entendre for the real deal. Turns out the "homosexual" in question just wanted to kiss-up to him for breaking his possession. Needless to say, many girls loved it.
There's another episode where, after Oswald defeats a bruiser-type fellow driver named Joe in a boxing match, the two start hanging out together. Joe starts taking Oswald out to dinner and lavishing him with gifts, including clothes. It takes the rest of Oswald's friends to point out that, if Joe's buying him clothes, then the two are dating. Oswald confronts Joe about this, and Joe is shocked to learn that Oswald isn't gay, and points out that the only reason Oswald won the boxing match was that Joe couldn't hurt his "pretty face". Their conversation also clues Oswald to the fact Joe isn't the first male co-worker that he's been dating.
In All The Small Things, Olive's friends suspect that she's a lesbian because of her unfeminine appearance. In actual fact, she avoids wearing skirts in order to conceal her prosthetic leg.
On Parks and Recreation, Leslie gets a butch haircut at a men's barber, then goes to a political banquet holding Ann's hand. Ann knows what everyone is thinking, but Leslie remains hilariously oblivious.
Ann: This is my evening... I'm Leslie's trophy wife.
There's a lot of Ho Yay in the prison drama Oz, so when Ryan O'Reilly runs into his recently-convicted brother in the prison cafeteria and embraces him, the guard immediately shouts at them to knock it off.
O'Reily::"He's my brother!"
Guard: "Oh yeah? With hair like that he's more like your sister!"
In Wings, Joe and Brian were celebrating and kissed each other on the lips. Everyone else looked at them weird.
In 10 Things I Hate About You, based on the 1999 film, Bianca mistakes her friend Cameron for being gay, despite him being madly in love with her, due to the fact that he's 'so nice' and watching Project Runway though Cameron admits it's only to see Heidi Klum., and, in the episode, he dressed rather gay-like to get Bianca's attention. And it did. Just not the way he planned.
In the Corner Gas episode "Doc Small", Brent is mistaken for gay (and thought to be involved with a man into bestiality) as a result of Hank, a logic puzzle and a $100 bill (It Makes Sense in Context). He doesn't notice.
At the end of the very first Two and a Half Men episode, the brothers are mistaken for life partners while buying cereal.
A Spin City episode where Mike interrupts one of the Mayor's interviews, referring to himself as "The Man Behind the Man". The interview was for a gay newspaper.
Grounded For Life when Shawn took his kids to the amusement park. It was "Gay Day" there and everyone was wearing tanktop and jeans. Guess what he was wearing...
In "Oy Vey, You're Gay", Maxwell hires publicist Sydney Mercer to improve his image. Sydney is an attractive young blonde woman, and this makes Fran and C.C. jealous. Fran thinks she wants to be with him, and decides to try and wish them the best of luck as a couple, but Sydney tells her she's not interested in Maxwell: "It's his gender!". Fran misinterprets this before she tells her "Fran, I'm gay!". Fran then shouts "Oh, thank God!" and hugs her, but becomes perturbed when she stops hugging and the publicist doesn't:
Fran: I'm letting go and you're not. Why?
Sydney: Aren't you gay, too?
Fran: Me? No!
Sydney: I just assumed. You're over 30, never been married, there's no man in your life...
In "A Fine Friendship", Fran is convinced the male nanny for Gracie's friend is gay. The fact he's also a struggling Broadway actor backs up her assertion, until he and Fran share a passionate kiss. Fran gets upset. She asks "You mean you're not gay?!"
C.C.: (flipping through pages) Where I grew up, went to prep school, when I came out...
Fran: You came out?! So what are you always sniffin' around Mr. Sheffield for?
C.C.: My coming-out party, Miss Fine.
Fran: I know, I heard you. You know, now you and your special friend can dance together at Disneyland!
From True Blood: While Bill is trying to buy some women's clothes (for Jessica), a shop assistant tries to pick him up and doesn't listen when he says he's not interested... not until Eric appears and wants Bill to admire his new haircut.
The subplot of the House episode "The Down Low", when a new neighbor refuses to believe House and Wilson aren't a couple. It doesn't help that House decides to run with it. In order to get close to the (pretty, female, unsuspecting) neighbor.
Happened once in Sanford and Son. Lamont and Rollo accidentally go into a gay bar. When Bubba sees them enter and tells Fred, he starts trying to figure out if his son is really gay. Later, Fred and Bubba try to catch the two in the same bar...and Rollo sees them go inside, making Lamont think his father's gay. Hilarity Ensues.
In the BBC series Sherlock, this happens to Holmes and Watson a few times in the first episode alone. Additionally, they also mistake each other for gay when Holmes answers Watson's questions regarding his social attachments with "girlfriends are 'not really my area'," prompting the latter to ask about boyfriends; Holmes misinterprets Watson's awkward attempts at making conversation as a sign of romantic interest, and tries to 'let him down' politely.
This has now become something of a Running Gag, usually as a means to explain why John can't seem to hold onto his girlfriends. People who have mistaken Sherlock and John for gay by the end of Series 2 include: several of John's girlfriends (who promptly ditch him), the British press, Sherlock's arch-nemesis Moriarty, Sherlock's brother Mycroft, their landlady Mrs Hudson, a gay couple who owned a hotel they were staying in, Sherlock's single-episode crush Irene Adler, a therapist John attempted to flirt with, Angelo the proprietor of their favourite restaurant... It doesn't help that Sherlock, who honestly doesn't give a damn about public opinion, never bothers to deny it, leaving John looking like he's protesting too much.
By the third series, Mrs Hudson's reaction to John revealing he's about to get married is to be shocked that a): it's to a woman and b): that he's in a new relationship so soon after Sherlock, causing an exasperated John (once again) to protest that he is not gay and Sherlock was not his boyfriend!
The War At Home does this when Larry started a protest because the school wouldn't allow gay couples (like his best friend Kenny and Dylan) to a school dance. The TV broad-casted the words "Gay Teen Larry" despite that he's not gay.
Also in an earlier episode, when Larry's parents see him kissing what they think is a boy, but is actually a very Tomboyish girl.
Larry's dad actually thought Larry was gay as early as in the Pilot. His mom, however, did not:
Vicky: Oh, and I told Larry he could stay over at Kenny's Friday night.
Dave: Again? At fifteen, you don't have sleep overs. Okay? Whatever you do with a bud you can finish by ten o' clock. I'm telling you, he's gay.
Vicky: You don't know that!
Dave: Vicky, when you don't know if someone's gay or not, they're always gay.
The basic premise of Korean drama Personal Taste, beginning unintentionally with Jeon Jin Ho and No Sang Joon's elevator scene, and continued as an excuse for Jin Ho to move in with Kae In.
In the Married... with Children episode "Her Cups Runneth Over", Al and Steve go to a lingerie store to buy bras for Peggy:
Steve:(to the saleswoman) We're up from Chi-town. We're interested in the Fancy Figure 327. For my friend here.
Al: Oh, gee, I don't know, uh... How 'bout this tall? (shows it with his hands)
Saleswoman: Oh, I see. Don't be embarrassed. We often cater to people like you. Now, what size does your boyfriend like to see you in?
Steve: No, no, no oh, no, you don't, you don't understand. We're married! Uh, not too each other, to uh, to women.
Al: And if I was gay, I'd like to think I could better than him.
On Community, Abed spends forty-five minutes in a bar with a guy talking about Farscape, at which point the frustrated guy bluntly asks him if he wants to have gay sex with him, and he immediately refuses. In a twist, Abed admits he knew the guy was hitting on him, he just really wanted to talk about Farscape. Although Abed never told him he wasn't gay...
Community does this a lot. There are plenty of jokes about both Jeff and Britta being mistaken for gay (mostly by Pierce). One whole episode revolved around Britta mistaking a woman for being a lesbian and wanting to show how accepting she was, and so took her to a Valentine's Day Dance. The woman thought Britta was a lesbian. Cue the most awkward lesbian kiss ever.
On The Game when Tasha had a small spat over the cost of an office space with a Realtor. It is sure to assume that even the audience thought that the flamboyant, well dressed, finger snapping, miniature dog carrying, Realtor was homosexual. But as it turns out:
Tasha: Sorry I had to bring the dog into this.
Realtor: This isn't my dog, it's my wife's.
(Tasha does a double take)
Averted on an episode of Bones. Booth and Sweets both decide to propose to their respective girlfriends and go to buy their engagement rings together. Unfortunately, the clerk at the jewelry store doesn't misunderstand their relationship.
In another episode, the team investigates the death of a wedding planner. Everyone thinks her executive assistant is gay until near the end of the episode.
Played with in season 1 of Blackadder, where Edmund is pretending to be gay to scare off his fianceé. Baldrick tells him to practice by pretending to make a pass at Percy, and leaves. While Baldrick is out Percy makes an annoying comment and Edmund attacks him. Baldrick comes back to find him sitting on top of Percy, and says, "Yes, that's the kind of thing!"
Inverted (and played with) in Season 2, when Blackadder is about to kiss Bob (who is actually a girl called Kate). Baldrick comes in to find Kate on the ground and Blackadder on top of him, and reassures Kate, "Don't worry, Bob. He used to try and kill me too."
Technically Blackadder is mistaken for gay as everyone finds it very strange that he is spending all his time with his manservant, with Queenie remarking, "Do you think he'd spend more time with me if I was a boy?"
In Still Standing there's the oldest son, Brian, where his sexual orientation is often questioned by his own family. He twirls a baton, reads Vogue magazine (because he claims some of the models wear see-through clothing), and even joins the cheer leading squad (but only so he can meet girls).
On NewsRadio, this occurred when Dave and Beth took Matthew to the ER for an injury. The attending nurse took one look at Dave acting concerned and said, "So you must be the boyfriend?"
On Crownies, Tatum spent the first several episodes believing that Richard was gay; even going to so far as to tell her fiancee that he didn't need to be concerned about Richard moving in with them because he was gay. When she discovers the truth, she tells him it would be best if he was "straight at work, gay at home".
Being Human: In the pilot, a realtor assumes George and Mitchell are a couple. George is embarrassed, but Mitchell just runs with it. It's worth noting that in subsequent episodes Mitchell is pretty heavily implied to be bi.
George: How could she assume that we were a couple?
Mitchell: I know! I am way out of your league.
Breaking In: Melanie's boyfriend misinterprets all the signs that Cam is interested in Melanie as signs that he's gay.
Happy Endings: Alex goes to a Halloween party dressed as Marilyn Monroe and hits it off with a cute guy. Turns out he is a gay man who thought she was a transvestite, due to her Tomboyish Name and a seriously hoarse throat.
The 1993 Australian mini-series Secrets opens with some trainee spies in an exercise where they have to go into a pub and get three facts about any person there. One of the trainees ends up thumping a gay man who thinks he's coming on to him — needless to say he's regarded as too volatile for espionage.
NCIS: While following a lead to an apartment building during Dead Man Talking, the landlord mistakes Gibbs and Tony for a gay couple.
Tony's "helpful" picking lint off Gibbs's jacket doesn't help matters.
On Hello Cheeky, John was sometimes mistaken for gay, as he wasn't married. He wasn't too bothered by it — possibly since Tim and Barry occassionally seemed to be genuinely gay in denial, despite being married.
Tim: Barry...uh, John, is he...(makes limp-wristed gesture)
Barry: ...a swan?
Tim: No, is he...(puts hand on hip, makes limp-wristed gesture)
Barry: A teapot?
Tim: No, I mean...is he...(blows kisses)
Barry: ...Oh, to hell with John, give us a kiss!
A Mash episode has a scene where Frank Burns is on the phone with another Major from headquarters. After bitching about the slipshod way things are being run at the 4077th, Frank tells the other officer, "You're my kinda fella...Hey, maybe we can get together sometime? I have a feeling that we're very much alike." While we only see/hear Frank's side of the conversation, it's clear from his subsequent, horrified reaction that the guy propositioned him.
In the Haven episode "The Trial of Audrey Parker", Duke answers Audrey's cellphone, and upon finding that it's Nathan, hands the phone to her and says jokingly, "it's your wife". One of their poker buddies says that same-sex marriages are illegal in Maine, but the misunderstanding is cleared up.
Briefly in Farscape. Before a forced marriage, John asks D'Argo to be his best man. D'Argo replies "I'm with Chiana now, John" which just makes John laugh.
In one third season episode of Hawaii Five-0, Steve and Danny have to go to a sorority house. One of the girls immediately assumes that they are the gay parents of one of her sorority sisters. Steve has a bigger concern than being mistaken for gay:
Sorority Girl: "Kelly your dads are here to pick you up."
Kelly: "Those aren't my dads."
Steve: "I'm sorry, you think I look old enough to be her father?"
Danny: "Th...That's the part you bumped on?"
In The Walking Dead, Axel initially assumes Carol to be a lesbian due to her short hair. When he finds out she isn't, he immediately starts hitting on her.
In Pramface, Mike is mistaken for gay because Beth sets him up on a double date with who he initially thinks is a hot girl, but who is only there waiting for the actual date, a Camp Gay guy. Mike tries to let the guy off easy by saying that he's bisexual and that he is currently leaning straight. Leads to a Crowning Moment Of Awesome when people harass them in the street for being gay and he tells them off.
In Degrassi, the female-to-male transgender character Adam is mistaken for a gay man because of the rainbow flag on his backpack. Then in a later episode, his girlfriend's parents mistake them for lesbians.
Taxi - when Elaine gets dumped, her friends try to help her by introducing her to a nice guy at their regular hangout bar - but it turns out he's interested in Tony, who later pleads with Alex to talk to him and set him straight.
Tony: I just hate the thought of him tormented with sleepless nights!
Alex: He told you that?
Tony: No, I'm just assuming.
In the final season of Misfits, Greg, who actually is gay, falsely comes to believe that Finn is gay and promptly falls in love with him. Slightly more justified than usual, as Greg had stumbled on Finn having anal sex with Alex.
In an episode of "Saving Hope", Dr. Joel Goran is mistaken for gay by a gay colleague who also has Asperger's. As Dr. Hamza himself explains, "Sometimes I misread social and emotional cues."
The premise of the MTV series Faking It revolves around two girls at a high school being mistaken for lesbians, and using that mistake to climb their school's social ladder.
A Moody Christmas. According to the grandmother, the members of the Moody family used to think Dan Moody was gay.
Noob plays around with that trope due to having a cast including a Yaoi Fangirl and an Effeminate Misogynistic Guy who happens to be a very dedicated Hero-Worshipper. Only the webseries gave a somewhat definitive answer to the situation, with the guy affirming that he's being a Celibate Hero (and claiming to avoid relationships with women), but the very same episode showed that he and the "hero" in question are on a much more friendly basis than they used to be. Later, upon witnessing one of the consequences of that friendship, the girl's reaction was basically "I can't picture this happening unless these two slept together at some point.". The actual situation hence seems closer to The Not-Love Interest.
A line in "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Couch Potato" (a spoof of Eminem's "Lose Yourself") has the line, "But I only watched Will & Grace one time, one day. Wish I hadn't, cause TiVo now thinks I'm gay!"
A fake interview with Eminem makes Slim Shady pretty weird...
You could call me six times but still I won't pick up the phone You could spend all your money on me but still I'll say no You could write a million letters everyday confessing to me That I am the girl of your dreams But nobody ever asked me I never looked at you that way 'Cause I always thought you were gay
Bo Burnham's song "My Whole Family (Thinks I'm Gay)"
But if I were gay I would give you my heart! And if I were gay you'd be my work of art! And if I were gay we would swim in romance... but I'm not gay - so get your hand out of my pants.
Subverted in a bit featured in John Mulaney's "New in Town," in which Mulaney confesses that while he is a straight man, he probably shouldn't be, and understand assumptions that he's gay.
This is a fear of many in Billy Elliot due to Billy's love of ballet. Michael, Billy's less-flamboyant (in public, anyway) friend...seems to be Mistaken For Straight.
Billy: It says..."Billy Elliot is queer."
Subverted in Angels In America: Joe walks in on Louis crying in the bathroom and in the ensuing conversation Louis assumes Joe is gay. He's completely right, but Joe just hasn't wrapped his mind around that yet.
The musical Rock of Ages includes a character who is mistaken for gay through most of the show, which leads to the best line in the play: "I'm not gay! I'm just German!"
The character's named Franz, and he's currently (as of November '09) played by Tom Lenk, who is gay.
In Twice Charmed, Prince Charming says that he loves the maiden at the ball, but the Grand Duke thinks he's referring to him.
Happens in Super Robot Wars. For a while, everyone thinks Lieutenant Raidese F. Branstein is gay, because his partner in combat has been spreading the word. He finds out, and punches Ryusei in the face so hard that everyone believes him when he says that he's straight. WITH A PROSTHETIC HAND!
Shin Super Robot Wars: It turns out that what Lu Cain was after was in the university database, which Ryusei plays off as just minor breaking and entering. Once again, Raidiese F. Branstein lambasts Ryusei's foolishness, and when Sanshiro weakly agrees, the dialogue awkwardly comes out that Ryusei has implied that Rai prefers men. No excuse can save Ryusei from a severe verbal bout.
Mick in The World Ends with You apparently has so little confidence that he assumes Neku gives Mick his patronage because he's gay for him.
Makai Kingdom delivers us this particular little gem in a dialogue between Zetta and King Drake the Third:
Zetta: Aren't you the one who attacked me in my sleep? Drake: ...Only because I wanted your junk. PREGNANT PAUSE Zetta: ...You sick bastard... I didn't know you swung that way. Drake: What the hell?!! No, no, no, no! I wanted your money, you-your valuables!
Laharl: ...What? What's the problem now? Aramis: ...Thank you, Your Highness. Laharl: H, Hmph...! Well, it is part of my job as the Overlord...And don't bother to thank me. If you want to show your gratitude, you can repay me with your body. Etna: Hmmm... I never knew you were like that...
Though Kanji's sexuality itself is kind of a point of contention in the fandom. The fact that his semi-canon pairing is with a tomboy with gender dysphoria doesn't really clarity matters. Word of God is that this was done intentionally.
Valygar in Baldur's Gate II is mistaken for gay by quite a number of characters. When he denies it, they delight in mocking him, which includes him being called a "fruit" by Cernd.
Raidou gets this a lot in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, partly because he spends a lot of time looking for men (specific ones, for detective-work-related reasons) in the neighborhood of Tokyo where the gay prostitutes hang out. Tae also thinks he and Narumi are a couple at one point (granted, so do many of the fans).
In Street Fighter IV, the fan favorite Turkish oil wrestler was originally thought to be SUPER gay by the fandom until it was revealed that he's 100% straight..
Briefly in Metal Gear Solid, in the long cutscene when Snake and Otacon first meet. Snake is checking whether or not Otacon is suffering from FOX-DIE. Otacon just assumes Snake is coming onto him. Later in the scene, he interprets Snake's confusion over what he means by how Meryl, despite being dressed as a soldier, is 'still all woman' as Snake being "dense", although this is a possible subversion because what Otacon actually means is that Meryl still has to use the ladies' bathroom.
In Grand Theft Auto V, the Triads mistake Michael and Trevor for a gay couple due to their being seen alone together during various parts of the story. When Franklin shows up, their begin to wonder if he's their other boyfriend or adopted son?
After he starts hanging out with Michael, it's mentioned that some people back in the hood thought that Franklin had been whoring himself out as a rent-boy to rich white guys in Vinewood.
Little Busters: At one point when Riki and Kyousuke are having one of their typical Ho Yay-filled scenes - Kyousuke reaches around Riki's collar to take off a piece of lint, leaving their faces very close - Mio comes across them. She, well, interprets the scene as any Yaoi Fangirl would. The conversation doesn't help - when she asks if she's interrupting, Kyousuke says that she somewhat is, and then asks her to join. At first she's very pleased by it all, and even thanks Riki at being able to see something so beautiful, but realises on her own that she misinterpreted the scene. All this time, neither Riki nor Kyousuke ever figures out what she was thinking.
Phoenix: It's not something I can claim to understand... But you and Mr. White are lovers, aren't you! Grossberg: W-w-what! My boy! Phoenix: You sent that painting to him! As a sign! A sign of undying love! Grossberg: M-m-my boy, please! You're letting your fancies run away with you! Where do you get these bizarre ideas? Phoenix: I... I don't understand how you could... Grossberg: That's because I'm not, we're not... Don't be ridiculous! Enough. I'll swallow my pride and tell you all. Phoenix: (I knew it! They are lovers!) Grossberg: N-no! We are NOT lovers!
This was an ongoing subplot in Avalon, especially the first year. Early on, Joe tells Ceilidh that her new friend Phoebe is gay (a rumor started by a bitter ex-boyfriend); the amount of time the two spend together leads to a rumor that Ceilidh is also a lesbian, which is compounded when her probing for a definite answer, without being too direct, makes Phoebe think so as well. The "lesbian" subplot is essentially forgotten after the story's halfway mark, until the undrawn ending, in the synopsis of which Phoebe confesses her love for Ceilidh, who, in the next "scene," ambiguously mentions "new relationships".
Subverted in Shortpacked!. Robin believes that the reason that Ethan doesn't show any interest in her is because he's secretly gay. However, when she confronts him about this, it turns out that Ethan actually is gay, but just didn't realize it; unfortunately for Robin, she just helped him work it out.
This, understandably, is the assumption of The Order of the Stick when they notice what appears to be Elan and a male police officer snogging passionately. The audience knows that they are really Nale and a shapeshifted Sabine.
Tsukiko also gets mistaken for gay when she doesn't know the "crypt-thing" she was having sex with was female, because it's too badly decayed for her to tell. Squick!
Earlier, on Elan and Nale's first meeting, Nale's comments on Elan's handsomeness (or rather, his own handsomeness) lead Elan to ask "Are—are you hitting on me? Because whatever you heard about what happened at summer camp—"
Jae-min from Orange Marmalade, due to his He-Man Woman Hater nature, was mistaken for gay by a large group of people and also his best friend (who was worried Jae-min had a crush on him).
Si-Hoo's obsessive and highly suggestive nature isn't helping his case and seems pretty determined to "have him".
This trope is the natural assumption about the extremely effeminate Noah, on the part of readers and characters, resulting in mild surprise/awkwardness when he talks about his girlfriend.
Noah: "You are surprised that I have a girlfriend?"
Elliot: "What? No, not at all!"
Noah: "It is okay if you are."
Elliot: "I ASSUMED NOTHING!"
Noah: "Of course not."
Of course, Noah also freely admits that he can make straight men see rainbows.
After Elliot and Sarah's breakup, and the fact that they're still friends, is mentioned on Elliot's web show, rumors start to circulate to the effect of Elliot being gay. What these people don't know is that the very thing that sparked the breakup, on Elliot's side, was his budding feelings for Susan. Interestingly, Elliot doesn't give a damn when he finds out, merely saying "Eh, let them think what they want".
Bobwhite. Marlene does a brief internship with Jen, a director who's a big deal in the independent film circuit. They're a great match on the set. Then Jen gives Marlene a big kiss, only to realizes seconds later that Marlene didn't like her that way. (The real irony is that Marlene took this internship in the first place to get away from relationship drama.)
Gunnerkrigg Court's Kat has been mistaken for gay by Paz, thanks to a conversation in which Kat extolled Paz's virtues. For the record, Kat has actually had a boyfriend, even if he did turn into a bird and Paz is getting over the shock of finding that her crush has a crush on Chang'e, of all people. In the next chapter she's wearing a flower in her hair, apparently in an attempt to seem more girly.
Umlaut House had a bit of a Running Gag where Saundra, ironically one of the straightest characters, was mistaken for a lesbian by strangers. Though there was an Alternate Universe where her counterpart was a lesbian (and attempted to seduce her).
In an early episode of Red vs. Blue, Church gets this from Caboose after trying to explain that the Freelancer the Blues hired is actually his girlfriend after her voice-changer fails. Caboose mistakenly still thinks Tex is a guy and that Church is gay, leading Church to respond with "Yes, I'm a gay robot".
Bowser's Kingdom follows this trope an odd number of times, because Kamek is constantly calling Hal (and sometimes Jeff) gay:
Jeff and Hal flashbacked the time they took flying lessons from Kamek. When it failed, Kamek said "What are you, gay?!"
Hal got close to a squished Jeff so he can mourn for him. Jeff got revived and thought Hal was gay. When Hal spoke later in the episode, Jeff said "Shut up, gay face!"
When Jeff was squished again and Hal was mourning for him again, Kamek passed say and said "See! I knew you were gay!"
Hal was apparently leaving during his jobless period. A Mouser came by and took the sack he was carrying. Hal notices this, and said "He took my sack!". Kamek heard him and said "What are you, gay?!"
When Jeff mentioned to Hal that Donkey Kong kept asking him to eat bananas, Hal said, "And they say I'm the gay one."
During the scene of Hal explaining why there are no subtitles for the speakable characters from episodes 8 and on, someone was apparently fiddling with the subtitles. The subtitles eventually turned into "I secretly love Kamek." when Hal said "Sometimes I really, really hate this place." Kamek saw this and said "I knew you were gay!"
Not as close to the trope itself, but when Jeff and Hal (disguised as Mario and Luigi, respectively) were making there way inside Peach's palace, the Toad there said hi to them (he mistook them for Mario and Luigi), and blushed when he said hi to Hal (Luigi), and said "Ya know, I had a great time last night." Hal then asked "Are you insinuating that I'm a gay?"
When Jeff was trying to tell Hal about the zombie invasion, Hal wouldn't listen until Jeff told him that the zombies called Hal gay.
In Ultra Fast Pony, "A Library With No Twilight", Phil encourages Applejack and Rarity to make out. Both of them yell at Phil—and Applejack is surprised at Rarity's reaction, because she'd always assumed Rarity was gay.
The Simpsons had an episode where Homer ended up overreacting to many small silly things Bart was doing (such as wearing a Hawaiian shirt, or putting on a ladies' wig and singing the Shoop Shoop song) and taking it to mean that contact with an openly gay shopkeeper (played by John Waters) was making Bart "turn gay". After several attempts to make Bart "man up", Homer gives up and says that he's okay with whatever Bart wants to be. When Lisa finally explains it to him, Bart's reaction is "He thinks I'm gay?!"
Played for laughs in another episode, where in an attempt at copying Bart's 'El Barto', Homer (helping build homes for the homeless) paints 'El Homo' on a wall in big letters. Cue a man coming up to him and saying something along the lines of "I wish I had your courage!". Homer then realises what he's painted, and panicking, hastily begins to paint over it.
The trope was often averted with Smithers in earlier seasons, during his conversations with Mr. Burns.
Homer once said he thought Sideshow Bob was "out loud and proud".
In another episode, Homer mistakenly thinks that Mr. Burns' attempts at negotiating with him and offering a bribe are Burns coming onto him. He storms off, saying he doesn't go for these "back-door shenanigans".
Mr. Burns is also subject to this when he's trying to improve his image by going on a Howard Stern knock-off radio show, coupled with a heavy dose of Have a Gay Old Time.
In "Glorious Grandpa", Marge thinks Abe is gay after finding his old wrestling wig in his room, and starts trying to set him up on dates with men.
Happens again in Cartman Finds Love between Cartman and Kyle. To keep Kyle from going out with the new girl for a few naïvely racist reasons, Cartman spreads the rumor that he and Kyle are (or at least were) dating. Funny enough, everyone seems to believe it pretty easily.
The Critic: Jay Sherman's boss thinks he's gay, and that Jay has a huge man-crush on him, despite Jay's repeated insistence that he's not gay. Then again, considering Jay's ex-wife compared his sex appeal to that of a dead mackerel, it probably wouldn't be that good anyway.
Jay: You don't think I'm gay, do you? Doris: No man in his right mind would sleep with you. Jay:Thank you!
Bill Dauterive of King of the Hill spends an episode purposely being mistaken for gay much like one of the examples above, as the trendy salon he is hired by only employs women and gay men. Also played...* ahem* ...straight in another episode where Peggy thinks her hairdresser is gay, but actually has a wife and kids.
Also used to explain Dale's naivete about Nancy and John Redcorn's affair (Dale is convinced that John is gay).
And Peggy's hairdresser from "Good Bye Normal Jeans": everything about him from the way he acted and dressed just screamed Camp Gay, but as it turns out, to Peggy's and the viewers' surprise, he has a wife and child.
In the episode "My Own Private Rodeo", Hank tries to help Dale mend fences with his estranged father Bug, who is, in fact, a gay rodeo rider; when Hank shows up at the Rodeo, Bug jumps to conclusions:
Bug: (intrigued) Oh my god, Hank. Are you gay?
Hank: (shocked) What?! No! I sell propane!
Hank spent much of the early seasons worried about Bobby possibly being gay especially when he took up modeling, this fear was put to rest in "Naked Ambition" when Kahn informs him that he caught Bobby and and Connie half naked together, after Kahn leaves Hank laughs and breathes a sigh of relief. Later in the episode after Khan has erected a giant fence between their houses, Hank lets Bobby borrow a ladder so he and Connie can kiss.
In the "I'm With Cupid" episode there's a Valentine tradition of girls giving carnations to the boys they like. Bobby gets two, so he lends them to his best friend Joseph, since it'll make the latter seem more desirable to a crush he has. Course, when Joseph moves to return them, one of their classmates sees the act and assumes Joseph is confessing his attraction to Bobby. On the plus side, said classmate simply says the act took courage.
More of a Mythology Gag, actually. In the comics, Ice (well, the second-and-maybe-fourth superheroine named Ice) pretty much seduced Fire, and they became long-time girlfriends. The pair are also seen living together towards the end of the series, so they're either official Heterosexual Life-Partners or it's an incredibly subtle case of Bi the Way.
Happens quite a few times in The Venture Bros. There's the doctor mistaking Brock for Rusty's partner, the hicks calling Dr. Orpheus gay in the diner, Rusty accusing Dr. Orpheus of trying to seduce him...
Pete White , in the Christmas episode, and in Every Which Way But Zeus.
In Clone High JFK mistakes Himself for gay when he felt attracted to a disguised Joan of Arc who was feigning being a guy to enter the Basketball team (said disguise being a fake mustache and a shirt over her curvaceous body), Hilarity Ensues.
Likewise, Futurama had Zapp Brannigan experience "deeply troubling" feelings for new recruit Lee Lemon (actually Leela wearing a cap and fake beard). Upon The Reveal, he responds "I've never been so happy to be beaten up by a woman!"
Jonesy and Wyatt of 6teen were mistaken for a gay couple by two girls they were trying to hit on. Jonesy was not amused.
Nikki makes a new friend in one episode and there is strong evidence that the girl has a crush on Nikki. Nikki tries to ask her if she is gay, awkwardly stumbling over her words in an effort to avoid offending her. The girl thinks Nikki is trying to ask her out, and declines because she already has a girlfriend.
Peter: Derek, how are you getting to the picnic? Derek: I don't know. I don't have a ride. Peter: Hey, John, you got a two-seater, don't you? Peter: Hey, Derek, maybe you go with John? Derek: For the last time, I'm not gay! John: Thanks anyway, Peter. Peter: We'll get him.
In an episode of American Dad!, Terry has to Fly Under The Gaydar to keep his bigoted father from finding out he's gay; in the process of pretending, he claims Francine is his girlfriend and Greg (his actual partner) and Stan are "the homos from across the street". Terry's dad goes right along with this despite Stan's absolute lack of performance (he sees Stan wolf-whistle an attractive woman and snarks "Yeah, whistle a showtune, you fairy!").
Additionally, the third episode had Dante forced to "admit" he was gay in order to save the entire town of Leonardo from being destroyed.
On Daria,Kevin and Mack were briefly mistaken for a couple while attending a bridal expo together. They were actually there to see their respective girlfriends in a fashion show.
Played for Drama in "Is It Fall Yet?," when Jane befriends Alison. Alison gets Jane drunk (note that Jane is too young to drink) and comes on to her, claiming that she never hits on straight chicks. Jane briefly begins to question her own sexuality, but eventually realizes that Alison was trying to do just that to help seduce her.
Lightning: Hey man, it's cool. The Lightning doesn't judge.
A Parental Bonus joke in The Looney Tunes Show episode, "The Jailbird and Jailbunny." Bugs and Daffy escape from jail and Bugs wants to turn himself in, but the police officer he talks to doesn't recognize him since Daffy dyed his fur to disguise him. Bugs asks the cop if he's not an escaped convict, why is he chained to Daffy? The cop's response: "Your personal lives are your business."
Often times people assume that lack of interest in the opposite sex automatically means you're gay, so many asexual people are mistaken for gay. Also, many people mistake bisexuals for gay, to the point where some people, even when someone says they're bi, think they're gay and trying to deny it.
In addition, many people (particularlymen) who decide to be chaste for religious or health reasons will often be mistaken for gay if he/she doesn't wear the reasons for their lifestyle choice on their shoulder.
It happens also when a man rejects an attractive woman who happens at the same time to be abusive, utterly dramatic or plainly unbearable. The quote "Wow! He must be gay to reject such a girl!" is not uncommon.
Not even that is needed. As is not true that A Man Is Always Eager, one can say "No" to a girl, for whatever reason (even "just because"). Expect people around to murmur if you did so because you are gay.
Truth in Television: Some people may be mistaken for gay by their looks. Others might be straight but exhibit gender-nonconformity, eg tomboys.
Or unknowingly walk right into a yaoi movie together, as was the case for voice actors Jeff Nimoy and Quinton Flynn. However, they turned the accusations to their advantage and made a hilarious song out of it.
In the seventies, a rumor started as a joke caught hold: namely, that Jim Nabors and Rock Hudson were going to get married. Hudson, as is pretty well known now, really was gay. Nabors was not, and was irritated by the gossip.
KT Tunstall was mistaken for gay after her Eye To The Telescope album; many of the songs are ambiguous in this regard, and the cover art depicts her wearing a pair of rainbow suspenders. Despite her statements to the contrary, many people think she's just in the closet.
How they could come to that conclusion after listening to "Suddenly I See" is beyond me.
Former astronaut Michael Collins references this trope in his memoir Carrying The Fire when he describes how NASA started having simultaneous sleep periods for astronauts after Gemini 5; he says they had to be careful about the terminology because someone might misunderstand if they heard that a crew was "sleeping together."
An extreme version has happened with talk show host Wendy Williams, who has actually been mistaken for a crossdressing man because of her height, relatively manly features, and over the top wigs and make up. However, despite all this she is in fact not a man and in fact has a child and has had many miscarriages.
Musician Billy Squier's 1984 video for "Rock Me Tonite", directed by Kenny Ortega, featured him waking up from a bed with satiny pastel sheets and dancing effeminately around the room in a pink tank top (not quite the concept he had told Ortega he wanted to do). While the song was his most successful single ever, it was also his last hit single. Everyone thought he was gay, he could no longer sell out concerts, and the video is widely considered one of the worst ever since it ruined his career.
Because of his overall looks and flamboyant personality, singer Mika was thought to be so. He later put the rumors to rest stating he's not straight, but then again he's not gay nor bisexual either (His declarations seem to place him somewhere among the lines of either polysexual or pansexual with the typical "no labels" argument).
Seattle actor Jeremy Adams, who played a Camp Gay character in Mark Siano's cabaret show Modern Luv, is heterosexual in the real world.
Pretty common in every high school ever. Especially all boy schools.
It can also happen due to Values Dissonance, since the way to display affection, between men in particular, varies from one culture to another. Some cultures allow men to be more affectionate to another, so for a foreigner to said culture watching two men greet each other with a kiss, for example, can lead to wrong impressions. This has even led to hate crimes against such men.
American troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq cited this as a major reason for their hatred against the locals; they saw men walking around holding hands or with their arms around each other, or kissing when they met, and didn't realize this was normal for friends in that part of the world.
United States Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is constantly called gay, this however is not true. According to a fellow Air Force Officer he calls Graham "Nothing but Heterosexual. There are stories that I cannot share to prove it but he is."
A rather odd example, but it's not uncommon to hear women accuse men of being homosexual if they ask for anal-stimulation.