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Homosexual Frustration

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The Token Gay remains single.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
rainbowfish on Jun 30th 2011 at 10:27:01 PM
Last Edited By:
StrixObscuro on Jul 25th 2018 at 1:17:16 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Alice and Bob have been together for years, Charlie's got a new girl every episode, and even though Diane just broke up with Edward, she and Franz seem to be getting along swimmingly. But poor Gerald, no matter how hard he tries, can't seem to find himself a boyfriend.

This trope is when most of the straight people in the cast are pairing up and dating and having wacky romantic troubles, but the gay characters aren't, even if they're actively looking for a partner. If bisexual characters are present, they may or may not fall into this trope- and if they don't, it's usually because they're only seen having relationships with the opposite gender.

A variant of this is when Gerald does date- but it happens completely offscreen, and the straight characters' relationships don't.

There are many reasons why this might happen. For one thing, gay people in real life have a smaller dating pool and it can be harder to find somebody. More unfortunately, though, many authors want to include gay people in their stories, but don't feel comfortable writing them in actual relationships. Equally unfortunate is when authors assume the only people in their audience who enjoy seeing gay relationships are the Yaoi Fangirl or Yuri Fanboy crowd, and avoid them so not to cater to those demographics. Somewhere in the middle, many authors don't have any experience with same gender relationships and just don't want to get it wrong.

Expect this to be averted to hell in back in a Queer Romance.

Seen It a Million Times, but can't think of any examples right now. Possibly needs a better name.


Examples

Comic Books

  • In Top 10, Jackie Phantom is the only openly-gay officer in the 10th Precinct when the series begins (Captain Traynor is also gay, but he is in the closet), and despite her best efforts, she remains single for the length of the original series. She finally gets a girlfriend at the end of Beyond the Farthest Precinct, but this is ignored in the subsequent series.
  • In Avengers Arena, openly Striker remained single for the length of the series' run, though his pansexual mentor Julie Power eventually got a girlfriend.
  • In Runaways, lesbian Karolina has actually had love interests, but the series has a nasty habit of quickly dissolving those relationships. Her betrothal to Xavin lasted less than a year in-universe before Xavin was hauled off to space for their involvement in the destruction of a planet, and her relationship with Julie lasted only a few months in-universe before events caused Julie to dump Karolina.

Live-Action TV

  • In Glee, Kurt Hummel was noticeably lacking in the date department in the first season, but he acquired a boyfriend in season 2.
  • On Arrow Curtis constantly laments being single. He was married when he was first introduced, but his husband Paul divorced him when he discovered Curtis was a vigilante. Curtis complains about the state of his love life and his inability to get a date, seeming to equate it with being a loser. In a subversion, however, most of Team Arrow, regardless of orientation, is single through far more tragic circumstances than a mundane divorce over irreconcilable differences. The few who are married had to overcome a great deal to get with their current partner.
  • Both subverted and played straight on Pose. On the one hand, Damon acquires a boyfriend in the second episode, Pray has a long-time lover, and Elektra has been a kept woman for years. On the other hand, the series delves into how hard it is for trans women to find love, with Angel spending much of the first season struggling with her suspicions that her boyfriend only sees her as a novelty and Blanca debating whether or not to go out on a date with a man who has a reputation as a chaser simply because he's the first guy in years who has paid her any attention.

Web Comics

  • El Goonish Shive. Poor Justin Tolkiberry (the only gay male in the strip) can't find a boyfriend. He has a crush on Elliott, who is unfortunately (for Justin, anyway) straight.

Feedback: 25 replies

Jul 1st 2011 at 2:07:40 AM

I think this is But Not Too Gay. Or at least, related.

Jul 1st 2011 at 7:01:02 AM

I think the "variant" mentioned is But Not Too Gay... but this trope, itself, has room to actually work as a distinct trope. It's less about simply keeping homosexuality restricted on-screen, and more about practically "punishing" the homosexual by keeping them effectively celibate. That is, they can't get any sort of interest, no coupling of any sort, and it shows. It's part of the character, not just a way it's displayed on-screen.

Possible names... No Go Homo? Shipless Gay? I'd be tempted to suggest But Not Two Gay, but it's too close to the original. Not Two Gay could work, though.

Jul 1st 2011 at 2:51:04 PM

The Only Gay In The Village?

This is a famous catchphrase in Britain from the comedy sketch show Little Britain. It is said by a character called Daffyd who always complains there are no other gay people for him to hook up with in his tiny Welsh village. (Ok, so in the sketch there are plenty of gay people and Daffyd is possibly a Camp Straight man who just wants to be the Token Minority. Regardless this could be a better name.)

Jul 1st 2011 at 3:02:39 PM

Actually thinking about it I think your title Homosexual Fustration is better. It is more representative of your description.

Jul 1st 2011 at 6:06:36 PM

It seems like Oscar in The Office was like this for a while -- possibly because he's had something of a superiority complex. A while ago, he decided he was sick of being lonely, swallowed his pride, and courted a good-natured Brainless Beauty guy who worked in the warehouse. I'm not sure how that worked out.

Jul 2nd 2011 at 4:44:06 AM

It's not about the writers. This isn't about not going into detail about gay relationships, but about not having them in the first place, even if there are gay characters in the story.

Only Straight Ships?

Jul 2nd 2011 at 2:10:12 PM

  • Kurt Hummel in the first season of Glee. Averted in the second season.

Jul 2nd 2011 at 6:12:23 PM

This should not have "ship" in the name because it is NOT a shipping trope. And even if this happens on the medium, the fandom is practically guaranteed to have multiple homosexual ships.

Jul 2nd 2011 at 6:42:51 PM

Trying to remember some of the examples that I've seen.

Would Tai from Questionable Content fit? It's stated that she had some polyamorous relationships, but they happened completely offscreen and didn't seem to be very fulfilling to her. Since she's been expressing interest in other onscreen characters, though, she's failed every time.

Also possibly Kanaya from Homestuck, and maybe Karkat.

Jul 3rd 2011 at 1:57:35 AM

Web Comics

  • El Goonish Shive. Poor Justin Tolkiberry (the only gay male in the strip) can't find a boyfriend. He has a crush on Elliott, who is unfortunately (for Justin, anyway) straight.

May 15th 2018 at 11:04:42 PM

Comic Books

  • In Top Ten, Jackie Phantom is the only openly-gay officer in the 10th Precinct when the series begins (Captain Traynor is also gay, but he is in the closet), and despite her best efforts, she remains single for the length of the original series. She finally gets a girlfriend at the end of Beyond the Farthest Precinct, but this is ignored in the subsequent series.

May 16th 2018 at 1:15:59 PM

On the trans side of the spectrum, this is an especially tell-tale sign of Transgender Fetishization, when the trans character is extremely provocative or promiscuous, but either no character (especially any straight protagonists) have sex with them, or when they do it's to set up an Unsettling Gender Reveal.

May 16th 2018 at 3:38:54 PM

Umm... This might be an example:

  • On Arrow Curtis constantly laments being single. He was married when he was first introduced, but his husband Paul divorced him when he discovered Curtis was a vigilante. Curtis complains about the state of his love life and his inability to get a date, seeming to equate it with being a loser. In a subversion, however, most of Team Arrow, regardless of orientation, is single through far more tragic circumstances than a mundane divorce over irreconcilable differences. The few who are married had to overcome a great deal to get with their current partner.

May 16th 2018 at 7:04:36 PM

Comic Books

  • In Avengers Academy, openly-gay Striker never manages to acquire a boyfriend after coming out of the closet.

May 16th 2018 at 8:53:00 PM

^^ strong no

This is probably a Sub Trope of Bury Your Gays in the “alive, but miserable” way

May 17th 2018 at 5:44:42 AM

^ [shrugs] Guess I'd have to see some actual examples from the OP...

May 24th 2018 at 10:57:58 PM

The OP seems to be long gone. Perhaps it's time for someone to take over the draft?

Jul 24th 2018 at 11:45:34 PM

I have taken over this draft and added examples.

Jul 25th 2018 at 1:17:16 AM

For it to count as this trope, does it need to be that the Token Gay remains single while all (or at least most) of the straight characters get relationships? Or is it just any work where the gay character doesn't find someone, even if nobody else does either?

A lot of works that aren't romance-focused don't bother pairing up anybody except maybe the main character.

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