Rape and Switch
When it is stated or implied that a character is gay because of sexual assault. The rapist is usually male, and the rape itself is usually penetrative. According to this trope, both male and female victims exhibit the same response to rape, which is to become attracted to the same sex. Men become attracted to men, and women become repulsed by men. This trope is based on the premise that heterosexuality is the "default" state, and that changes in interest only occur as a defensive psychological response to sexual trauma. The further implication is that this is unhealthy and the resulting addiction (for men) and revulsion (for women) interferes with a "normal" sex life. A variant is where a secretly (or not-so-secretly) gay character is propelled violently from the closet by unwelcome sexual contact. This version is always the male/male subtrope, and verges on "victim falls for rapist." While this can happen, it is not likely. The PG version of this reduces intercourse to some milder form of sexual contact, usually a kiss. It is Not a Subversion when a rape survivor does not become gay, nor is it automatically played straight if it's revealed that a gay person was sexually assaulted/abused in the past. Perhaps for this reason, this trope is passing into Discredited Trope territory, as there is no single cause of homosexuality, forced or not, and abuse survivors are as likely to be any sexual orientation as anyone else. An exception is fanfiction. Many fanfics love this trope, using it to an absurd degree. Hentai stories involving some form of rape of a target whose sexuality is not in preference of the rapist's gender are often guilty of this this as well. Related to Cure Your Gays (if the character embarks on pleasant heterosexual sex and consequently has a change of heart). Has no relation with Bait and Switch.
Examples of raped men turning gay:
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Legato Bluesummers from the Trigun manga is shown to have been raped (possibly numerous times) by the town mayor, or someone like a mayor. After he gets rescued by Knives he is later seen being only attracted to and in love with men (namely Knives and possibly Vash.)note
- Suzu from the Peacemaker Kurogane manga. He was "adopted" by a rich old man and raped. This apparently caused him to become homosexual (as well as Ax-Crazy). It's pretty obvious when he wears nail polish, effeminate clothes, lipstick, flirts with men, and acts like a Stalker with a Crush with Tetsunosuke.
- Genkaku from Deadman Wonderland, after getting repeatedly raped and beaten by a group of bullies (who were monk trainees like him) at the temple during his childhood, became gay. He seems to express disgust and contempt towards women, and is shown to have a strong attraction to Nagi. In fact, he pretty much confesses to Nagi that he "loved him."
- Alois in the second season of Black Butler. In the beginning of the first episode, Alois is shown with many bruises all over his body and marks around his ankles, and he is shown laying in bed naked next to an old man who likewise unclothed. Following that we see him do things like alternate between being Ax-Crazy and cute and innocent at the drop of a hat, treat his female maid like complete crap, act in a flamboyant manner, wear black stockings with high-heeled boots and short-shorts, act very attached to his butler Claude and pretty much flirts with Sebastian when he first meets him by leaning into him, smelling him and proclaiming that Sebastian "smells good". In the fifth episode he cross-dresses as a maid, pretty much tries to seduce Ciel and outright tells Ciel that he "wants" him. He also confesses his love for Claude. This is only a partial example, since we don't know for certain that the rape caused his status as a Depraved Homosexual, but it's heavily implied that it lead to him becoming tremendously twisted, perhaps affecting his conceptions of sex worst of all.
- Gilbert Cocteau from Kaze to Ki no Uta, who is believed to be the inspiration for Alois Trancy. He was raped first by his father (whom he believed to be his uncle), and then by Bonnard. Auguste himself was raped by his brother, and in fact, he adopted Gilbert solely for that purpose.
- Sakura Gari: Definitely Masataka is going this way, but he manages to just scrape through on a subversion in that Masataka was turned on when Souma hit on him in the library back in the very first chapter, indicating at least some kind of attraction before that point , but it still swerves close enough to this trope played straight to be a little uncomfortable. The fact that their relationship before this point was rather more pure and platonic with serious Ho Yay subtext could also be seen as another way this trope was subverted. It's still not a nice outcome for the poor boy, though.
- Souma on the other hand, has this trope played rather more straight, where he was raped and used for sex by so many people that he eventually came to just not distinguish between genders and would sleep with men or women.
- This seems to be the case with Jeremy from A Cruel God Reigns. A the beginning of the series, he has a girlfriend and has no interest in other men that he shows, but the longer Greg sexually and physically abuses him, the more interested in men (or more specifically, Ian), he becomes, although he does have feelings for Nadia for a short period. Eventually Jeremy becomes a Hooker with a Heart of Gold because of his blatant post-traumatic stress disorder and consequential drug addiction, which probably doesn't help him out either. If anything, Jeremy is probably Bi the Way.
- Gundam Unicorn's Angelo Sauper, one of the few canonically gay Gundam characters, is implied to have been turned gay by his sexually abusive stepfather in the novel version. This was, understandably, omitted from the more well known anime version.
- Averted with Herr Starr, the main villain of the Garth Ennis series Preacher: he stays straight but can't orgasm with a woman unless she penetrates him anally with... something. Of course by the time he gets to the fish-ramming stage (... don't ask, please), he has no genitalia — but presumably does still have a prostate. Also lampshaded while he was beating his assistant, who hired the man who raped him (again, don't ask), for "Turning him into a homosexual", his other assistant chimes in with "I don't think it works that way..."
- Chick Tracts have this trope up the ass. To the point that the change in sexual preference is explained by possession due to a 'demon of defilement' because of rape that occurred during their childhood. It's not just men turning gay, but it usually is.
- Electro attributes his wanting to experiment with his sexuality with the time he spent in prison.
- It was implied that this might be the case for Striker in Avengers Academy, who was molested by his manager as a young boy. However, his classmate Julie Power shoots down this notion, and tells a crying Striker that his abuser does not hold that sort of power over him.
- In the Paul Verhoeven film, Spetters, a character preys on gay men, leading them on before beating them up and robbing them. The tables are turned when he is gang raped, accepts his homosexuality and begins a relationship with one of his rapists. Steven Spielberg recommended Verhoeven for Return of the Jedi. Then he saw this. The rest is history.
- Though not a true example of this trope, Kick-Ass deserves mention here. Early on, the main character removes his secret superhero costume after being severely beaten, and his dad and his schoolmates believe that he has been raped by muggers and that he is now gay or had been working as a male prostitute.
Live Action Television
- The victims of Woody Goodman on Veronica Mars. Of the 4 we know about, one was definitely gay, another was sexually "on the fence" (as another character put it), and one... well... it's subject to Alternate Character Interpretation, but there's definitely subtext. The fourth victim we know about (or was strongly implied) doesn't have his sexuality brought into the whole thing, but he was less important than the first 3.
- Beecher from OZ becomes bisexual after being raped in prison.
- Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. McCaffrey herself once said in an interview that being anally penetrated will cause a man to become homosexual and mentioned that she once a knew a guy who became gay after being raped with a tent-peg. The tent-peg story has undergone much Memetic Mutation, especially in fanfic criticism circles where a tent-peg will often be blamed if a character in a fic inexplicably switches orientation. Make comparisons to trying to fit round pegs into square holes at your own discretion.
- Possibly the reason for Jarl's sexuality in Brent Weeks' The Night Angel Trilogy. Early in the first book, as a child, Jarl is raped by Rat (or at least such is implied), and upon his return to the plot as an adult, it is revealed that he is bisexual.
- Happens in Chuck Palahniuk's novel Pygmy. This may be some kind of commentary on this phenomenon in fiction since Chuck Palahniuk himself is gay and has written several gay characters before.
- In Stephen King's Rose Madder, a minor character reminisces about having been gay ever since two of his father's friends took turns performing oral sex on him when he was a young child.
- Ambiguous, actually—the character is referring to his fucked-up approach to sexuality, but it's not actually clear that he is gay. Norman clearly thinks he is, but Norman doesn't exactly have the most sane and balanced relationship with reality.
- Ellen Hopkins' novel Impulse uses this trope. After being raped by his mother's boyfriend at age 8 and later men in jail, Tony assumes himself to be gay for many years. However, he later finds himself attracted to and begins a relationship with a young woman. At any rate, it's heavily implied that Tony was not born gay, but "never really had the chance" not to be.
- Implied in The Silence of the Lambs. "Jame is not really gay, it's just something he picked up in prison."
- In the Norwegian book Yearning (Part of a long series called Legend Of The Ice People) a male character was molested as a child and later get "Cured" when falling in love with the heroine. It's unclear if it's a case of Unfortunate Implications and ignorance or homophobia.
- Played with in the furry novel A Fox Tail, a psychologist suggests that Vulpie isn't actually gay but thinks he is due to being raped repeatedly by a Pedophile Priest and his buddies. His loving relationship with Polar notwithstanding.
- Rusty Godowski by the end of Myra Breckinridge; his rapist is a woman.
- The now-infamous Hamlet's Father by Orson Scott Card has as part of its backstory Hamlet's father raping pretty much the entire male cast (except maybe Polonious), turning the lot of them gay. This is why Hamlet's insane. Also, Laertes killed Hamlet's dad as revenge for the aforementioned orientation-destroy sodomy. And now you know where all the scorn came from.
- In I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Benny was gay, before meeting AM. However, it should be noted that AM is a psychotic almost physical god, who tortured him for a thousand years, made him from beautiful to looking like a monkey, and exaggerated his sexual organs.
- This is assumed (by the other characters) to be the case with Beethoven in Dog Sees God. Even after he enters a relationship with CB it's unclear.
- In Long Live the Queen, Kevan's backstory has an example of this. He was sexually assaulted by his step-father, and this encounter led to him believing that he was in love with his stepfather (so for a portion of his development he becomes gay), despite evidence later on that he is in fact straight (or bisexual).
Examples of raped women turning lesbian:
Anime and Manga
- In the manga After School Nightmare, Damsel in Distress Kureha falls in love with protagonist Mashiro for this reason: she was raped when she was in kindergarten, and overheard her father saying some very brutal things to her mother, which lead her to severely distrust and hate men. So when she finds out that Mashiro is pretty much a flat-chested girl that looks like a guy, she falls in love with him/her.
- In Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu both Natsuki and Fuyuka have an aversion to men due to traumatic past experiences, although it's never claimed that this is the cause of their lesbianism.
- An unusual case occurs in Blue Drop, where women are trained from youth to be lesbian sex slaves for the Arume. This is an example of women being raped by women with the intention of turning them gay.
- At least one Firefly fic does this, though the character wasn't raped, just threatened with rape (for specifics, the paring was River/Kaylee, where Kaylee was really shaken up by Early's threats in Objects In Space).
- Subverted in the Lyrical Nanoha fic, Behind The Smile. Hayate was sexually abused in her childhood, and becomes quite uncomfortable around men, decidingto act as though she's attracted to her female friends to get the boys at school to leave her alone. She does, however, eventually fall for Yuuno.
- While she's bisexual for most of the story, Blackjack of Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons becomes deathly afraid of stallions after she's brutally gang raped as part of a Trauma Conga Line that involved her horn getting smashed off, her legs nailed to the floor, necessitating them to be sawed off, and eventually dying of her injuries and only getting better due to a scientist character giving her her prosthetics, leaving said scientist as a Brain in a Jar. When she leaves the group for a while as a part of it she has to physically restrain herself from lashing out against another stallion she meets when he playfully slaps her behind. She gets better, though.
- In the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony, a female Adeptnote is lesbian because of rape in her childhood. Note that this was Anthony trying to be nice about lesbians, after people misinterpreted the man-hating Red Adept as lesbian earlier and wrote him angry letters. He was trying, but still missed the mark.
- Pussy Galore in the novel Goldfinger became a lsebian after she was molested by her uncle as a child. She "changes back" when James Bond's appearance seduces her. In an interview, when discussing inspirations for playing her character, the actress who played Pussy Galore said something along the lines of "I knew she was a lesbian, so I tried to play somebody who had been abused as a child."
- A rather bizarre version occurred in the Christopher Moore novel Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings. A pair of female marine biologists are at sea researching the mating patterns of humpback whales, when their tiny boat is caught between a female humpback and a pair of males. After being savagely beaten by ten foot long penises and covered in gallons of whale semen, they promptly decide to become lesbians and start dating each other. Slightly excusable in that the story is a very dark comedy and not meant to be taken seriously.
- The novel Dead Sleep: a murdered woman's close friend was raped as a child or young teen, and became a lesbian later on.
- In the novel Hannibal, Margot Verger becomes a lesbian after her horrible childhood of being raped by her brother, Mason. It's briefly implied that she may actually be bisexual when there seems to be mutual attraction between her and Barney when they're in the showers together, but it never goes any further.
- Averted in The Sword of Truth where Richard assumes one of the Mord-Sith became a lesbian after the "rape" section of her Training from Hell, to be informed that no, she was before this ordeal. One of the vanishingly rare instances of Richard actually being wrong about something (note it happened in the first third of the series), as well as him wanting to keep her as a friend even though he wasn't sure about the morality of it. Of course, if Terry Goodkind believed this trope there wouldn't be any straight women left in his novels.
- Discussed in How NOT To Write A Novel. One small segment has you fill in the blank after each question with one of four responses, then scores your response based on how much of a cliché it was - In her childhood, the lesbian: "was sexually abused" is ranked as most cliché, with the others, in decreasing order, being "liked to play with trucks, not dolls," "had a crush on her pretty aunt" and "made porcupines cry with the sheer beauty of her knitting."
- In The Hotel New Hampshire, Franny decides to try out women after being raped. But she later decides it isn't for her. The author is too good to try to claim a Rape and Switch, he just notes she is quite confused about her emotional state.
- Holly, from Rubyfruit Jungle, was raped by her female roommate, which helped her realize that was a lesbian.
- Steel Beach approaches this in a more "realistic" fashion. The character who was raped is bisexual, and in fact is attracted to the male main character, but can't quite bring herself to have sex with him until he becomes a woman.
- A debatable example in one of Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small characters. Lalasa has had a seriously shitty life; she's been raped, attempted-raped, or otherwise abused by a variety of men including her own brother. Sure enough, Word of God has it that she's a lesbian, and while the sexual abuse she's suffered isn't said to have caused it per se it does leave the interpretation open.
- Mistle from The Time of Contempt and Baptism of Fire is revealed to have been gang-raped and left for dead by the soldiers of an invading army. She survived and found her will to fight again, but only had relationships with women thereafter. In TOC, she also gives Ciri the Loving Force treatment, making her if not lesbian, then at least bisexual.
- Maybe Celie from The Color Purple. She says she is rather afraid of men when contemplating her attraction to women.
- In the second book of the Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy, it's revealed that Felcity was molested by her father as a child. In the third book, her relationship with Pippa is revealed as explicitly romantic, just in time for Pippa to go mad with power and die.
Live Action Television
- The Vagina Monologues has rather controversial piece where a character is raped by men multiple times as a child...but becomes a lesbian because she is "healed" when seduced (while underage, making it statutory rape) by another woman. This piece is censored to remove lines like her declaring the experience to be "good rape" and raising her age from 13 to 16, mostly because in the view of the monologues, this experience is a good thing. Some performances cut this monologue entirely because for many people, it makes the rest of the play almost unwatchable.
- Relatively justified in Ilivais X, because for Iriana, straight sex would feel the same as getting repeatedly electrocuted for anyone else (due to inverting reception of pain and pleasure), which she found out the hard way. Several times. Before the age of 15. It makes sense that for her to enjoy any kind of intimacy at all, it would have be with a girl simply because the painful aspect isn't even possible.
- In one episode of the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, Vause threatens to rape Pennsatucky, and implies that Pennsatucky will enjoy it so much that she will become gay. This is an unusual example in that it is a case where rape by another woman is implied to turn a woman gay, although it should be noted that this does not actually happen; Vause only threatens it.
- Should also be noted that Vause likely doesn't believe what she's saying, she's simply using Pennsatucky's deluded notions about homosexuality.
- Rocky from Too Much Information at least had the false memory of her father raping her put into her head by suggestion, and likely was raped by one or more of his friends. As a result, as becomes clear when she sleepwalks into a male roommate's bed, her bisexuality is repressed by a complex over the idea of sex with men, until she ultimately starts a relationship with a male-identified full-time transvestite (who, interestingly, had previously identified as gay, with no such "excuse") who lets her, uniquely, refer to him with female pronouns.
Examples of raped women turning straight:
- The Villain Protagonist of L. Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth series gets tortured by a pair of lesbians hoping to use this trope to turn him gay, as outlined in the strategy of "Psychiatric Birth Control." The next book he gets them back by raping them, and the experience not only cures them of their psychologist indoctrination, but leads them to not only beg him to stay and have sex with them every night, but actually pay him to do so. Then the book after that, they start rounding up their other lesbian friends and bringing them over for him to have sex with, in one case forcing a woman to submit.