"Ugh, these preconceived notions about gay people. It's time to dispel that stereotype — through a lavish musical number!"
Characterization, narrative and sexuality tropes commonly applied to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual or queer characters.
While in the real world, LGBTQ+ persons are just as varied in personality and traits as straight/cisgender ones, it has suited television writers to use common stereotypes for their gay characters in lieu of actually making them "real people". To be fair, gay TV characters in general have become more realistic since the 1990s. But the stereotypes still remain the favorite tool of the hack writer - or the comedy auteur looking to parody or shock
It's been noted, by the way, that in contrast to gay characters and their stereotypes, bisexual
characters are virtually unknown
on TV. Writers don't seem to know how to portray them, although when they do appear they tend to be The Casanova
or Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
, at best
. It's also not uncommon for their same-sex attraction to only be mentioned, while their onscreen love interests are always the opposite sex.
Within media intended for gay audiences, gay writers have their own subculture of stereotypes that occasionally leak into the mainstream.
See Gender and Sexuality Tropes
for tropes dealing with sexuality in general.
Trope Name is a pun on the English idiom "there's nowt so queer
as folk", used for the trope-subversive show of the same name
- Adaptational Sexuality: When a character's sexuality is changed in a work's adaptation. Often happens to gay characters.
- Agent Peacock: A campy male character, gay or straight, whose effeminacy serves to make him more badass.
- All Gays Love Theater: The idea that all gay men are theater fanboys, and everyone who works in theater is naturally gay.
- All Gays Are Pedophiles: The idea that all gays (especially men) want to molest children.
- All Gays Are Promiscuous: The idea that gay men have no self-control when presented with the possibility of sex.
- All Lesbians Want Kids: The idea that even lesbians can't live a fulfilling life without a man or a child, just like any straight woman.
- Always Camp: A perpetually camp male.
- Ambiguously Bi: A character may seem bi, but no one knows for sure.
- Ambiguously Gay: A character may seem gay/lesbian, but no one knows for sure.
- Anything That Moves: A bisexual character who will have sex with absolutely anyone.
- Armoured Closet Gay: The self-loathing gay guy who hides behind a macho facade.
- Asexuality: Not into men, not into women. And definitely not straight.
- Badass Gay: A gay character who can kick ass.
- Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: Two female friends appear to be lesbians, but aren't.
- The Bear: Gay men who sport a glorious Carpet of Virility.
- The Beard: When a gay person dates the opposite sex to appear straight.
- Big Beautiful Man: A man whose full size is attractive. Usually a gay trope these days, and often also The Bear.
- Bi the Way: Someone's bisexuality is just one of many facets of the character's personality; present but usually not all that important to the story.
- Bury Your Gays: No happy endings for gays/lesbians.
- Butch Lesbian: A masculine lesbian. (contrast Lipstick Lesbian)
- But Not Too Bi: Bisexuality that is tilted to suit the sexuality and gender of the target audience
- But Not Too Gay: Gay affection/love not being shown as if not to offend anyone.
- Camp Gay: A flamboyantly effeminate gay man.
- Camp Straight: A flamboyantly effeminate straight man.
- Cast Full of Gay: When most of the characters in a work are gay or not straight.
- Closet Key: An attractive character who helps another character of the same sex realize that s/he is gay or bisexual.
- Club Kid: A personification of the worst stereotypes about gay men.
- Coming-Out Story: A character reveals to other characters that he/she is gay.
- Coming Straight Story: A straight character has an inverted Coming-Out Story after pretending to be gay.
- Cure Your Gays: Gays must be made straight!
- Depraved Bisexual: A psychopathically violent bisexual character.
- Depraved Homosexual: A psychopathically violent gay or lesbian character.
- Discount Lesbians: It's not gay if they aren't human.
- Drag Queen: A man who puts on flamboyant woman's clothing on special occasions.
- Dude, She's a Lesbian: A person is informed that the person he is hitting on is homosexual.
- Everyone Is Bi: Gender does not factor into the characters' formation of relationships.
- Everyone Is Gay: When everyone in a Fanfic is gay, even the originally straight characters.
- Experimented in College: Trying homosexuality or bisexuality in college. Like Schoolgirl Lesbians, it might be just a phase.
- Extreme Omnisexual: A character will have sex with anything.
- Fag Hag: A straight woman who prefers the company of gay men to that of straight men or other women.
- Family of Choice: When a group of characters who've been disowned by their own families decide to be each others' family instead.
- Faux Yay: An extended ruse where characters pretend to be homosexual.
- Flaming Devil: An implicitly or explicitly gay depiction of Satan.
- Flying Under the Gaydar: When a gay (or bisexual) character, who is normally very flamboyant, acts in a far less stereotypical manner to avoid suspicion.
- Gay Aesop: A work teaches its audience that homosexuals are people, too.
- Gay Bar Reveal: The hero goes to a random bar for drinks, and Hilarity Ensues when he finds out it's a gay bar.
- Gay Best Friend: A gay person whose main lot in life is to shout "You go, girl!" to the hetero hero.
- Gay Bravado: Characters making homoerotic comments and suggestions to one another is Played for Laughs, because of course they're too macho to really be gay.
- Gay Conservative: A conservative and usually affluent man.
- Gay Cowboy: A gay or bi man who is a Western-flavored character or just a fan of the genre.
- Gaydar: The ability to detect gay people who haven't outed themselves to you.
- Gay Groom in a White Tux: Gay weddings as portrayed in the media.
- Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: The gay guy wants to hook up with a top athlete.
- Gay Moment: A man has a moment with another man with unintentional homoerotic undertones, then affirms in response that he is not gay.
- Gay Option: When a player character in a video game can pursue romantic relations with a member of the same sex, if the player is so inclined.
- Gayborhood: A neighborhood where everyone is gay.
- Gayngst: Being miserable because you are gay.
- Gayngster: A gay person involved with organized crime.
- Get Back in the Closet: When a work jumps up the rough framework for what's "inappropriate" because it contains gay content.
- Girlfriend in Canada: A character says he has a girlfriend, but she doesn't exist.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: When sexual relations between two females are used as fanservice.
- Girls Behind Bars: A women's prison setting played for fanservice, typically with strong lesbian overtones.
- Gorgeous George: A professional wrestler who takes on many homosexual mannerisms but stops short of admitting to being a homosexual.
- Guy-on-Guy Is Hot: Same as its Distaff Counterpart, but for the other half of the audience.
- Gym Bunny: A gay man who works out a lot, likely just to look good and/or meet guys.
- Has Two Mommies: Two men or two women raise a child together.
- Have I Mentioned I am Gay?: A work repeatedly says a character is gay, but we never see him/her engage in homosexual activities.
- Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: "Have you tried being straight?" or "Have you tried dating a man/woman?"
- Hello, Sailor!: Men in the Navy go gay due to lack of female options.
- Het Is Ew: Heterosexual couples/sex = bad.
- Hide Your Lesbians: Homosexual relationships/people hidden under a veil of subtext.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Gay subtext without either character being gay
- Homosexual Reproduction: Two characters of the same sex somehow have a child that is biologically related to both of them.
- Ho Yay: Fans' delight at homoeroticism.
- If It's You, It's Okay: When a gay or straight character makes a single exception for sex or romance with someone outside their normal gender preference.
- Incompatible Orientation: Two characters would make a good couple, if it wasn't for their different sexuality.
- Last Het Romance: The heterosexual partner/relationship that results in a gay or lesbian character realizing they're queer and outing themselves.
- Leatherman: A (usually gay) man who wears leather.
- Lesbian Cop: A lesbian who's a cop. Alternatively, the assumption that all female cops are lesbians.
- Lesbian Jock: A lesbian who plays sports. Alternatively, the assumption that all women who play sports are lesbians.
- Lesbian Vampire: A female vampire who preys on young women. Alternatively, the assumption that all female vampires are lesbians.
- LGBT Fanbase: When a work - with or without intentional homosexual undertones - attracts an LGBT fanbase.
- Lipstick Lesbian: A feminine lesbian. (contrast Butch Lesbian)
- Lover and Beloved: A (sometimes ambiguously) gay couple in which one partner is much older than and acts as a mentor to the other.
- Macho Camp: A man is very large and muscular, but acts Camp Gay.
- Magical Queer: A (usually camp) gay man who is Closer to Earth.
- Manly Gay: A gay man who is extremely manly and in no way camp.
- No Bisexuals: There are no bisexuals, only straight people and gay/lesbian people. (And you had better forget about there being any asexuals either.)
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Older gay characters don't exist.
- One True Threesome: Because it requires that people be attracted to the same gender, more than one gender, or both.
- Performance Artist: A Camp Gay who loves acting, singing, and/or performing in general.
- Psycho Lesbian: A psychotic lesbian, dangerous to others.
- Pride Parade: An annual parade (and subsequent festival) celebrating gay life and culture.
- Prom Is for Straight Kids: Gay teenagers are discouraged or prevented from going to their high school prom.
- Queer People Are Funny: Where every reference to same sex attraction is a joke.
- Rape and Switch: A character is raped and becomes gay as a result.
- Schoolgirl Lesbians: Young girls who like other young girls.
- Seme: Active person in a homosexual relationship. (counterpart to the Uke)
- Settled for Gay: A girl settles down with a gay man because she can't connect emotionally with a straight man.
- Sissy Villain: A male villain is shown to be villainous because he displays feminine traits.
- Situational Sexuality: A character changes sexuality when the plot requires it of them.
- Sorry, I'm Gay: A character says they are gay to counter a seduction-in-process, regardless of whether or not it's true.
- Straight Gay: A gay man with no stereotypical gay mannerisms.
- Suddenly Sexuality: A character comes out of the closet with no build-up.
- Sweeps Week Lesbian Kiss: Promoting a same-sex kiss as a Ratings Stunt, regardless of context.
- Token Lesbian: A Token Minority lesbian in a Cast Full of Gay men.
- Token Yuri Girls: A Yuri-style lesbian relationship in a work that is not Yuri Genre.
- Transparent Closet: Everyone knows a character is gay except the character himself.
- Trans Equals Gay: The mistaken notion that homosexuality and transsexuality are one and the same.
- Transsexual: A character was born in a body of the opposite gender with which they identify.
- Transvestite: Someone who regularly wears clothing normally associated with the opposite sex.
- The Twink: A young, thin pretty boy. May or may not be camp.
- Uke: Receptive person in a homosexual relationship. (Counterpart to the Seme)
- Yaoi Guys: A Boys Love-style gay relationship in a work that is not Boys Love Genre.
- Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: A gay bar/club will always be very gay.
- Word of Gay: Word of God claims that a character is gay, but it's never explicitly shown in the work itself.