The stereotype that if a man is gay, he must love theater, especially musical theater. He'll know every play worth knowing in a given season, will be familiar with every Broadway leading lady (living and dead), and owns the soundtracks to his favorite musicals that he sings with gusto. When he's not onstage himself, he'll religiously attend the plays in his hometown's biggest theater or theater district.
As one can imagine, this trope extends all around. If a man is a stage actor or is in any way employed by a theater company, or simply enjoys watching plays and/or listening to showtunes, questions of his sexuality will rise quickly. This can be a Pet-Peeve Trope, though the degree of which varies. Most heterosexual stage actors and fans are secure enough that this sort of thing doesn't bother them (unless they're teenagers), but gay men who don't enjoy theater tend to chafe at being grouped with screaming queens who argue over whether Jennifer Holiday or Jennifer Hudson played a better Effie in Dreamgirls.
There is some element of Truth in Television, as a good portion of stage actors and fans are indeed gay; however, this only really means that men who enjoy theater are more likely to be gay compared to other media, not so much that every gay person enjoys theater or that every person who enjoys theater is gay. Interestingly enough, this trope completely averted when it comes to most big name male movie stars, as the moment one becomes famous there is not an automatic assumption of homosexuality, even though a good portion of movie stars enjoy theater. That is, unless a male film star still does stage plays between film projects or even expresses a preference for Broadway over Hollywood, in which case the gay rumors fly.
This trope has completely displaced the old stereotype of the musical-goer as a tired businessman interested mainly in ogling the Chorus Girls.
See also Performance Artist, for gay men who perform theatre.
- Actually popped up in Samurai Champloo, of all places - a Dutch ambassador (or possibly just an important representative of a major Dutch trading-company) is maniacal about Noh Theatre - and after finding out that all the actors are male, he likes it even better. Turns out he's bi (with a preference for males), and came to Japan to find a culture that was somewhat more open towards such thing.
- Parodied as part of a Discriminate and Switch joke in 50% OFF
Makoto: ...And I'm not allowed to watch Glee. My dad says it might turn me into something bad.
Nagisa: Something bad?
Makoto: A musical theater major.
Nagisa: Oh. Right.
- Phoenix jokes that Apollo follows this stereotype in Dirty Sympathy after he finds Apollo humming to The Threepenny Opera while working. While Apollo doesn't follow this trope, his lover, the bisexual Klavier does.
- In the Discworld fics of A.A. Pessimal, André, the undercover copper from Maskerade, comes out as Straight Gay. There are ambiguous hints in the original canon; they come out into the open here and rely on his passion for musical theatre and his status as Gay Best Friend for many female characters.
- Noxeema from To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, has a love for musicals.
- Parodied viciously in Team America: World Police.
- In Philadelphia, Andrew Beckett loves Opera, and plays a particularly poignant number to get Joe Miller on his side.
- The Camp Gay theater director Corky in Waiting for Guffman.
- Brenden Fraser's character in Bedazzled (2000) when he is loudly denying he is gay (deal with the devil 4th wish), the guy he lives with gives him a quick quiz ending with "What was the original Broadway cast of Pillow Talk?" He names off 3-4 characters in as many seconds before catching himself "Oh crap, I AM gay!"
- Portrait of Jason is an experimental documentary interview film that is nothing more than a single sit-down interview with its subject, the Camp Gay hustler Jason Holliday. Among other things, Jason gleefully reenacts a whole scene from Funny Girl.
- Trevor: "I've decided that the theater is going to be my life." Cut to Trevor directing Pinky and some other boys in a rehearsal of Anything Goes.
- In the Aunt Dimity series, Grant and Charles, the art restorers and appraisers who live in Finch with their two small dogs are noted to have come from London, and they regularly return there to see theatrical productions.
- Averted in Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves. When the main characters attend Bengt's play Paul sighs theatrically about how boring it is and seems to genuinely mean it. Bengt plays the trope straight but the rest of the characters seem to neither love nor hate the theater.
- Viridius and Lars from Seraphina, both Daanites openly gay are a court composer and his musical protégé respectively.
- In the short story "Am I Blue?", Melvin says that certain groups like people in the theatre have a higher percent of gay people because they're naturally artistic. Though he points out the stereotype about all people in theatre being gay is false, as most of them are actually straight and only some of the gay characters are into theatre.
- Downplayed in Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon is in the school play, but only as an extra.
- Several characters on Glee: Kurt stands out the most, though Rachel's gay dads are stage queens as well, and are the reason for her talent and diva behavior.
- Maxxie from Skins is a variant of this, as he is more interested in dancing than theatre, but wants to try out for musicals in London. Otherwise fairly Straight Gay.
- Tom from Gimme, Gimme, Gimme is able to give Linda loads of trivia about many theatre shows — whether musicals or independent productions. This is mostly through a "Reason You Suck" Speech or a What the Hell, Hero? reaction.
- Jack from Will & Grace, who is also a Performance Artist sometimes.
- Referenced in the first episode of Northern Exposure, when Maurice tells Joel about his love for musicals - "But I'm no fruit if that's what you're thinkin'."
- Played for laughs in The IT Crowd, which features a gay musical called "Gay!" ("That's quite gay..."). Jen's Transparent Closet boyfriend takes her to see it on a date.
- Occasionally invoked on Modern Family in respect to Cameron (to the dismay of his comparatively-Straight Gay boyfriend). Once Mitchell tells a story about having to sit on a plane sitting next to a crying baby... the revelation being that the "baby" was really Cam upset that he couldn't see Billy Elliot on Broadway.
Cam: Oh really? What part is she playing?Mitch: The city of Chicago, Cam.
- It's invoked quite frequently. "The Musical Man" in the second season has Cam directing Luke and Manny's school musical. In another episode, Mitchell says someone can't come to an event because they're in Chicago:
- Referenced in the Doctor Who episode "Daleks in Manhattan", where a minor character uses "into musical theater" as a euphemistic suggestion for why the Doctor might not be interested in Martha. It is a bit of an ironic euphemism for that character, seeing how she is herself an actress at a musical theater and her boyfriend shows up every night to watch her shows.
- Arrested Development:
Tobias: What an adventure, gang! I thought that the homosexuals were pirates, but it turns out that most of them are actors in the local theater!
- On Barney Miller Inspector Luger once opines that everyone who is now or ever has been a Hollywood actor is gay - "except the Duke of course."
- The Golden Girls: Sophia figures out Blanche's brother is gay because he sings in the shower and knows all the words to "Send In The Clowns". Although, it may have also been a reference to him being a fan of Barbra Streisand (who has a large gay male following) as it is one of her more well-known songs.
- The theater stereotype was parodied by Neil Patrick Harris in the opening number of the 2011 Tony Awards: "It's Not Just for Gays Anymore!"
- Murdoch Mysteries: The B-plot of "Republic of Murdoch" revolves around this. Theatre buff Inspector Brackenreid proudly anticipates seeing his elder son perform in an amateur theatrical production (bragging to Murdoch about family talent), but afterward he is disturbed that his son portrayed a female character (Lady Bracknell from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, as it happens) and "seemed to embrace the role." He consults Dr. Ogden and asks her to talk to the boy and find out if he is, in Brackenreid's words "a nancy boy". Young John does meet with her and says he knows what his father is thinking and insists he isn't gay. He soon visits his father at the station, sporting a black eye and a split lip. Brackenreid learns from John's teacher that he picked the fight with a much-larger boy, and Dr. Ogden suggests John is desperate for the inspector's approval. In the end, Brackenreid has a fatherly chat with his son, reassuring the boy that he can pursue his true interests and still have his parents' love and approval.
- In Life in Pieces, the local school theater teacher (played by Andy Richter) was made the head of the school's LGBT club. He's well aware and very unamused that this trope is why.
- Russell Peters has a joke where his father asks if he knows some random gay people they saw on TV.
Russell: "Dad, why would you ask me that?"
Mr. Peters: "Well, they are gay, and you are in the entertainment business!"
- In Avenue Q this is used as an early hint that Rod is gay.
Rod: Ah, an afternoon alone with my favourite book. "Broadway Musicals of the 1940s"!
- Surprisingly averted in Spamalot: the knight who ends up loving musical theater, Sir Robin, is not gay (that would be Lancelot and Herbert). Even the song "You Won't Succeed On Broadway (If You Don't Have Any Jews)" only takes one potshot at the relationship between homosexuality and musical theater.
- Tenor from TinkerQuarry is an orchestra conductor who loves music and theater, and is attracted to Clint. He states that he has put on multiple shows for Clint in the past.
- In Tripping Over You, Milo and Hebert are gay theatre buffs, though Milo's boyfriend Liam only goes to plays because Milo's in them. Referenced when Milo's mother panics a bit after he comes out to her:
Nora: Think of your future! Your career!
Milo: Wait, which? My dance career? Or theatre?
Nora: Is that what this is about? Is this my fault for putting you in dance?
- Mentioned when Bender uses his Gaydar to identify a prospective date for Leela as "coming from a planet that's big on musical theater".
- On "I Dated A Robot", the Educational Short shown to Fry argues that all of mankind's endeavours (Art, Politics, War) were attempts to impress members of the opposite sex... "and sometimes members of the same sex" (Drama).
- Subverted in the case of Larry 3000 of Time Squad. While he is gay, he prefers sleazy novels to theater and strenuously tries to censor Shakespeare's plays because he considers them unsuitable for children.
- The Simpsons: In "Three Gays of the Condo," Homer's gay roommate informs him that "anyone who's ever written, starred in, or even seen a play is gay."
- An episode of American Dad! had a Stan and Steve attending a Republican meeting, with a guard standing outside the convention room to check that there are no gays entering. For one method of searching, he yells "Clang clang clang!," which then causes a man in line to sing "Went the trolley!" The guards then drag him away, despite his claims of just liking musicals. Of course, later the Log Cabin Republicans reveal to Stan that they're gay by means of a musical number.