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Queer Show Ghetto

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LGBT heavy works are obscure or only interesting to LGBT people

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Pichu-kun on Apr 3rd 2015 at 12:12:57 PM
Last Edited By:
lakingsif on Feb 22nd 2018 at 7:55:00 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

"Behind the Candelabra is, in some ways, a new kind of Hollywood film [...] Why wouldn't the film studios touch it? Because they thought a Liberace biopic was just "too gay" to make money."

Works involving same-gender romances or LGBT+ topics are watched/read most predominantly by members of the LGBT community. This may be caused by being assumed to only be for people who are LGBT by everyone else; a potential level of homophobia within other potential audiences; and "mainstream" creators or distributors not wanting to use a queer narrative because they believe it will be unpopular, forcing these stories to be themselves marginalized and only accessible by audiences who go out of their way looking for them — these audiences often the LGBT+ people who have been elsewhere starved of representation — making the stigma that causes the ghetto self-fulfilling.

Naturally this denotes an LGBT Fanbase, and these works are more likely than others to have queer actors, too.

Alternative programming channels may have large fanbases of young people and/or socially liberal people, which can extend a fanbase when queer themes are included in works shown there. LOGO used to be this in the United States; Channel 4 is this in the United Kingdom.

But Not Too Gay, Ambiguously Gay, Ambiguously Bi, and Hide Your Lesbians are often used to avoid the stigma of seeming "too gay" for people. Adaptational Sexuality is sometimes used to subvert this. Genres like Yaoi, Yuri, Josei, and the Bara Genre are designed specifically to be consumed by LGBT people, and therefore are not in a queer ghetto.


Examples:

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the film version of Fried Green Tomatoes the lesbian romance was toned down to being implied instead of explicit to market at mainstream audiences.
  • Bend It Like Beckham was originally about a romance between two women interested in football. That was removed both due to worries that the film would be too niche and due to not wanting to perpetuate the Lesbian Jock stereotype. They ended up tacking a heterosexual subplot to the film at the last moment.
  • Save Me, a drama about a gay drug user who goes to Jesus Camp and kind-of-sort-of starts to turn his life around and then decides that all these people are horrible and leaves, but comes back to reconcile because the people aren't horrible, but the institution is (or something)
  • The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life Of Ethan Green, a romantic comedy about a neurotic and chronically-single gay guy who constantly screws up all of his relationships, but then finds love (or something)
  • Boy Culture, a drama about a world-weary, cynical gay male escort who forms a begrudging relationship with a rich client who, unlike most clients, just wants to talk to him. His conversations with the client lead him to realize that, despite his cynicism, he's in love with his roommate.
  • Milk, the biopic of an early gay activist and politician who was assassinated, won two Oscars, but is barely known (to the point that Sam Smith mistakenly thought that he was the first gay artist to win an Oscar). Of course, it was written by Dustin Lance Black, whose original productions are mostly limited to be for an LGBT Fanbase.
  • My Summer of Love, a coming of age psycho lesbian religious summer movie starring a young Emily Blunt. Notably, it was the lesbian and 15-years-too-early version of God's Own Country (which is set in the same place and mixes MSOL's story with that of Brokeback Mountain), which was mainstream popular in 2017/18.

    Literature 
  • Stranger was stuck in Development Hell for years because agents either wanted to make a gay character straight or take him out completely out of fear the book wouldn't sell.
  • Discussed in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Holly is uninterested in the protagonist's book because it revolves around two female teachers and how one of them spreads scandalous rumors about her friend in protest of her getting engaged. Holly mentions that stories about lesbians bore her, though she doesn't mind lesbians and is bisexual herself.

    Live-Action Television 
  • The Big Gay Sketch Show, which is basically a low-budget LGBT version of Saturday Night Live. It became marginally more famous later for having starred Kate McKinnon, who would go on to be a breakout hit of SNL.
  • The American network LOGO was originally lgbt themed however it went through Network Decay to become more mainstream, and subsequently less outright lgbt material is shown on the channel.

    Music 
  • Referenced in "Radio Friendly Pop Song" by Matt Fishel, which is about how Hollywood forces musicians and actors into the closet in order to make them mainstream and conveniental:
    But face it, kid, if you want to get onto radio just do what I say
    Change all the 'him's into 'her's
    And just don't tell the world that you're—shh!

    Theatre 


Feedback: 34 replies

Apr 3rd 2015 at 3:11:05 PM

The whole Slash Fanfic Genre is an exception.

Examples would be all those shows that are currently in the ghetto, and that I have therefore no knowledge of, I guess? That will be an interesting trope once some LGBT person adds some examples.

Apr 3rd 2015 at 3:25:54 PM

I don't pay enough attention to reception to know what's popular and not popular, but some specific LGBT-themed works would include Ru Pauls Drag Race, which is pretty much only popular among the LGBT community, and Queer As Folk, which I believe was on Showtime or HBO, and I have no idea how it was received.

Some other works that I've seen that I'm pretty sure don't have pages here but which are relatively unknown outside the LGBT community include:

  • The Big Gay Sketch Show, which is basically a low-budget LGBT version of Saturday Night Live
  • Save Me, a drama about a gay drug user who goes to Jesus Camp and kind-of-sort-of starts to turn his life around and then decides that all these people are horrible and leaves, but comes back to reconcile because the people aren't horrible, but the institution is (or something)
  • The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life Of Ethan Green, a romantic comedy about a neurotic and chronically-single gay guy who constantly screws up all of his relationships, but then finds love (or something)
  • Boy Culture, a drama about a world-weary, cynical gay male escort who forms a begrudging relationship with a rich client who, unlike most clients, just wants to talk to him. His conversations with the client lead him to realize that, despite his cynicism, he's in love with his roommate.

Edit: Hey, Save Me actually has a page. Too bad it's the worst out of all the works I mentioned. :x

Edited again because hahaha I'm stupid and misremembered who played the client in Boy Culture.

Apr 4th 2015 at 4:55:09 AM

Aversions:

  • This is often averted with superhero comics. E.g. superheroes like Apollo and Midnighter, Batwoman, Xavin and Karolina Dean are popular among comic fans of any sexuality.
  • While it was censored in some Western countries, most anime fans are familiar with the original version of Sailor Moon, which featured a romantic relationship between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune.
  • Legend Of Korra: The ending. Long before it happened, it had a big group of fans rooting for it, regardless of said fans' sexuality.
  • Gone Home found its fans among gamers of all sexualities. Many gamers didn't care for it, but mostly due to the non-standard gameplay (which was considered lacking in action or challenges), rather than the LGBT themes.

Apr 7th 2015 at 11:39:06 AM

^ The superhero, Legend of Korra, and Gone Home examples there completely fail to give any specific context about what makes it an LGBT work. The Gone Home example at least mentions that there are "LGBT themes", but that's too vague to be useful, and the other two don't even mention that much. I know nothing about Apollo, Midnighter, Batwoman, Xavin, or Karolina Dean, so just listing those names tells me nothing.

Apr 7th 2015 at 11:49:18 AM

^ Oh, sorry. I'll try to clarify.

All the examples you mentioned fall under the "media involving same gender romances" description.

  • All the mentioned superheroes have had same-gender romances in their comics. Apollo and Midnighter even married in one issue.
  • As for Legend Of Korra, its final episode ends in Korra and Asami holding hands and looking at each other lovingly, with Word Of God confirming that they meant this as a sign of a romantic pairing and not just "friendship". Still, it was a thing many fans rooted for long before it happened in the show.
  • In Gone Home the main character's sister's lesbian relationship is a major plot point.

Apr 7th 2015 at 12:53:09 PM

In my experience, Ru Pauls Drag Race is HUGELY popular with straight people, and seems to be the only show on LOGO (an all gay network) to have escaped the gay ghettoization. (But I also live in New York, where attitudes may not be representative of the country as a whole).

Apr 7th 2015 at 1:23:58 PM

Though ALL the men in Angels In America sleep with other men, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony Awards, and more (and a miniseries made of it won Golden Globes)

Apr 7th 2015 at 1:44:11 PM

Should this trope be retooled into "LGBT-themed works that do manage to get a huge non-LGBT audience"? It seems the examples are about that, anyway.

Apr 7th 2015 at 2:44:11 PM

^^^^ That's cool. Just wanted to make it clear that each example should be self-contained and explain why it's an example. An example list shouldn't just be a list of works that use/embody/etc. the trope, it should be a list of works that use/embody/etc. the trope and explain why they fit.

Apr 7th 2015 at 5:58:48 PM

Again, related to LGBT Fanbase; you need to note the relation.

Btw this is a ymmv trope right?

Apr 8th 2015 at 9:11:23 AM

^ Probably. It relies on reception, which by our standards is YMMV. Just like Girl Show Ghetto.

Sep 10th 2015 at 7:55:57 PM

I always hear anime fans state Yuri Genre stuff is niche and doesn't sell because anime fans like lesbian teasing but not actual lesbian romances, at least in Japan. I don't know any examples of series that are explicitly known to suffer from this though.

Sep 13th 2015 at 5:33:30 PM

The fact that all of the OP's examples are aversions of this so-called ghetto suggest to me that the ghetto doesn't actually exist. At least now nowadays; I can imagine that in decades gone by this might have been the case, or at least the impression by the executives who would be responsible for greenlighting any given work which has lgbt (etc.) themes and therefore would be unlikely to approve them because of the perceived ghetto.

Further, the Brokeback Mountain example lacks context insofar as what's queer about it. And in order for it to be the butt of many "gay cowboy" puns it'd have to be "well known" regardless of whether it's well thought of or well-seen. For example I'm broadly familiar with it but have never seen it - not because it's gay themed but just because it is one of hundreds of thousands of films I've never seen and don't have a particular urge to see.

Sep 13th 2015 at 6:51:32 PM

^ Isn't it almost common knowledge that Brokeback Mountain is the film where two bisexual cowboys fuck in a tent on an overlook? That's all I know about it, and I presume the overlook is called Brokeback Mountain.

Sep 14th 2015 at 8:32:28 AM

Common knowledge is no excuse for not putting context in an example. You don't have to give a detailed plot recap; "the film where two bisexual cowboys fuck in a tent" is more context than it has now, which boils down to "this exists." The example doesn't say how it's a "queer show," just that it is the butt of gay jokes. Batman is the butt of gay jokes too but that doesn't make the work itself queer themed.

Sep 14th 2015 at 8:36:06 AM

The other ghetto tropes have two examples section:

  • Straight examples: Shows that got great reviews but weak viewership
  • Breaking out from the Ghetto: The show is popular despite the themes.

Sep 14th 2015 at 8:58:02 AM

I'm not well-versed in some of the examples to expand them much. Likewise I can't think of any examples of the trope atm but I have heard it exists.

Sep 14th 2015 at 10:58:20 AM

^^^ ah, I mistook your initial point. Yes, the write-up needs more context.

Sep 16th 2015 at 4:50:13 PM

Wonder if this was more of a thing in the past? It also seems I've heard there's a group that keeps track of depictions of gays and lesbians in "mainstream media" (was it GLAAD or the HRC or some other group?) If there is such a count being kept, perhaps there's a start date for that which signals this starts or ends or is substantially reduced?

OTOH media is far more fragmented and niche-filled than it used to be, especially since the cable channels proliferated and started airing original series. I just don't know.

Sep 17th 2015 at 3:40:11 AM

yes, it's GLAAD. They also track the representation of queer characters of color and disability, showing that compared to a fair spread of non-queer characters that are diverse, Twofer Token Minorities where one part is queer are very rare. There's a diabetic nurse, and the cheerleaders from Glee, and that's about it from the 2014 report.

Apr 22nd 2016 at 9:26:07 AM

  • Simoun is a carefully crafted and highly complex story that explores the depths of the universal themes like growing up, faith, religion, and the nature of human conflict. However, because of its all-female cast and because of its main plot device being powered by ceremonial kisses between girls, it is largely unknown outside of the Yuri Genre fandom.

Jul 13th 2016 at 5:28:03 PM

I'm not sure about this one. I think the sentiment of the ghetto might exist, however actually proving it in examples seems tenuous. I feel like examples would need word of god to be valid. Otherwise, examples could just be simple correlation, or aversions which are not meaningful.

Jul 31st 2016 at 10:33:23 AM

What needs to be done is for exceptions to be scrapped, really, and for it to be YMMV. Also:

  • Milk, the biopic of an early gay activist and politician who was assassinated, won two Oscars, but is barely known (to the point that Sam Smith mistakenly thought that he was the first gay artist to win an Oscar). Of course, it was written by Dustin Lance Black, whose original productions are mostly limited to be for an LGBT Fanbase.
  • Lampshaded in one of Neil Patrick Harris' Tony Awards opening performances, where he does a number saying that "[Broadway]'s not just for gays anymore".

EDIT: In fact, outside of circles like us here at TV Tropes, I'm pretty sure Boys Dont Cry is also pretty obscure if you're not gay, same with My Summer Of Love.

Jul 31st 2016 at 1:47:17 PM

I'm not sure that I would include the Yuri Genre examples, or any hypothetical Yaoi Genre examples, because those works are generally not aimed at actual members of the LGBT Community. They generally exist more as fanservice for straight people. Bara Genre and by-lesbians-for-lesbians Japanese works would fit more with the spirit of the trope.

Mar 15th 2017 at 7:28:19 PM

^ Afaik, there isn't really a name for yuri aimed at lesbians. They just get mixed in with "yuri". I'm pretty sure a sum of yuri aim at both straight girls. and gay girls. Similar with yaoi, plus bara is almost always nsfw.

^^ The other "ghetto" tropes have an "exceptions" section. Also, wasn't Boys Don't Cry mainstream-ish? I've seen it referenced a bit in documentaries o in general, and it won awards.

Mar 26th 2017 at 11:22:33 AM

I see three problems with this as it stands right now: the first was mentioned above: most of the examples are either vague about how a work has been "ghettoized (Doesn't have a huge following" is ot the same as "ghettoized") , or they're "aversions." When more people can come up with things that aren't an example than that are, it's not a good sign.

The second is that most of the examples listed in the normal examples are supposition as to why it wasn't a mainstream hit. It could be that there's a ghetto, but it could be a lot of other things, as well.

The third is that "aimed at LGBT audiences " and "touches on LGBT themes/has LGBT romances " are two very different things. Mashing them together doesn't do either one any favors.

Jun 26th 2017 at 8:42:45 AM

Going to clean this up, starting with removing Yuri Genre from the examples (that's its own thing), as well as removing the speculative non-examples of Sense 8 and Panorama.

Feb 17th 2018 at 9:38:55 PM

bump as reminder to self

Feb 18th 2018 at 8:10:34 AM

How far is this a self-fulfilling prophecy? Channel Four, trying to assess the reach of controversial drama Queer As Folk, discovered that the one demographic it utterly failed to reach was heterosexual men under forty. It scored highly in all other demographics polled by audience research. The suggestion was that it wasn't necesarily homophobia that played a part in the switch-off by this demographic - it wa the idea that a drama about the everyday lives of gay men was, basically, utterly disinteresting and of no relevance whatsoever to young straight men. (Although one commentator did suggest this betrayed an attitude where some people thought being gay was so contagious that you could catch it through the TV screen, and therefore this was a social grouping that was desperately in need of some sort of education....)

Feb 22nd 2018 at 6:44:14 AM

More than Yaoi and Yuri, Bara and Josei genres are more made "for LGBT to LGBT". In Japan, hairy muscled men are more associated with homosexuality than bishonen, contrary to Western audiences, which the Bara genre is about. Josei genre is the Distaff Counterpart of Seinen, but talks about adult women's Point Of View, having various lesbian stories that are more aimed to lesbians than Yuri genre (actually, more as a subgenre of Ecchi and Hentai than directed to women).

Both Bara and Josei aren't aimed to general public, being both genres more applied to this trope than Yaoi and Yuri, as some user said before, these are more fanservice straight material than LGBT oriented.

Feb 22nd 2018 at 12:07:01 PM

^ I think, these genres that are designed just for certain communities within the LGBT community don’t count because that is not being in a show ghetto: they were intended to be there, rather than trying to get a large audience but being relegated to queer media or after release being given little marketing to ultimately only be found by people with queer interests.

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