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Ambiguously Gay

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"They're extremely close in an ambiguous way! They're ambiguously gay!"
"The Ambiguously Gay Duo" Theme Song from Saturday Night Live

A character may have no apparent interest in the opposite sex. They may live in a single-bedroom apartment with one of their "roommates". A male character may lisp, and have an interest in fashion and musicals. He may be unusually fastidious in dress and grooming. Conversely, a female character may have a deep voice and an aggressive manner, dress in "masculine" clothes and play rough sports. However, nobody in-universe will ever discuss the character's sexual orientation.

Yes, this character is Ambiguously Gay—they display many traits associated with gay and lesbian people, but the G- and L-words are avoided entirely in-fiction. Characters such as this are usually played for laughs, with "hints" regarding their sexuality being portrayed as jokes in and of themselves. Often the victim of numerous instances of The Un Reveal. Lately, it has become somewhat popular to make the Ambiguous Gay a child or teenager, waving away the character's questionable sexuality as them still trying to figure it out—yet still playing their mannerisms for laughs.

Because of increasingly permissive censors, and depiction of gay people becoming more common, modern media is somewhat more likely to be explicit in the sexuality of their characters, making it a Broken Trope.

Compare Hide Your Lesbians, where the characters may not act in a stereotypical manner, but their relationships are never outright stated or displayed (except maybe by Word of Gay). The writers in charge of works focused on Heterosexual Life-Partners may play around with this. Ambiguously Bi is, of course, related.

In many old films, characters are often given descriptions that may be perceived as code words for gay. Such words include eccentric, queer, confirmed/lifelong bachelor, or other words that can just as easily mean their conventional definitions without subtext.

Also compare/contrast with Mistaken for Gay, Transparent Closet, and some types of Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?, in which the character's dubious sexuality is much more openly questioned. Also compare Real Men Wear Pink, where a character is very manly but has one or two girly interests. Compare Have You Tried Not Being a Monster? for when gay innuendo is used to define something supernatural, such as vampires or mutants. Contrast with Flying Under the Gaydar and Straight Gay. This trope is not synonymous with Ho Yay; nor does the character ever need to be declared gay by the work's creator or creators to fit the definition.

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  • In the cracky Harry Potter & the Azkaban Parody Ginny Weasley, Seamus Finnegan, and a female OC House Elf are all potential Love Interests for Harry. The author promises that he "won't make [Harry] gay but he won't make him straight either."
  • Andro in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World falls under this trope. Although he has the gorgeous Gynora trailing after him all the time, he pays little attention to her; and when Paul describes his behavior during their one and only training session, it sure sounds like he might have some interest in Paul. However, either Paul doesn't think so or he's consciously rejecting the possibility, since he never mentions being made uncomfortable by the guy—not for those reasons, anyway.
  • A Minor Miscalculation portrays Ryuko as this. She reacts mainly with disgust and derision toward the opposite sex, occasionally jokes about sexually dominating Satsuki ( whom she is unaware is her biological sister), and is so close with Mako that both Senketsu and her father automatically assume they are in a Transparent Closet. However, she vehemently denies any of this every time someone even pokes at it, and her inner thoughts shed little light on the matter.
  • In the horror crossover fix, Scream For Me, Ghostface, is this, and an attempted rapist as well (to Michael, yes that Michael).
  • Early in With This Ring, whether or not the SI was attracted to Superboy, or just over-protective, was a point of debate.
  • In A Northern Dragoness, Jonnel Stark concludes that King Baelor's distate for women, lack of fighting ability and refusal to bed his wife mean he's a "sword swallower", and promptly freaks out at the idea of the king developing an interest in him. However, Baelor could be only The Fundamentalist, driven by chastity and forgiveness, but we are not party to his thought process.
  • Referenced in Lost In Camelot with Morgana; she acknowledges that she would have gone after Bo from the beginning if her new friend had been a man, and is willing to consider making their relationship romantic once Bo makes it clear that such a thing is an option, but is reluctant to take things to a physical level too soon- a fact that Bo understands and accepts- and was explicitly attracted to Merlin first

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The WWE tag team Billy & Chuck were ambiguously Manly Gay, from being spotted backstage oiling each other up and doing bizarre stretches, to their shiny red trunks and matching personalized headbands, to their boy-band entrance theme. This became less ambiguous when they planned a gay wedding, on television — and then became outright subverted when they stopped said gay wedding to declare that the whole thing was a publicity stunt, and they weren't really gay, just Heterosexual Life-Partners.
    • Their manager Rico, who took their gimmick AND their theme song to whole new levels. The You Look So Good To Me theme has been used time and again in the WWE to mark a character as non-heteronormative. See Marella, Santino.
  • While The Brooklyn Brawler's onscreen persona has always been a tough guy, an Urban Legend amongst longtime wrestling fans is that Steve Lombardi is gay, rumored to be in a relationship with Pat Patterson.
  • Long before Billy & Chuck, WCW had Lenny and Lodi, who were very ambiguous about their "very close relationship" - until Executive Meddling from AOL Time Warner killed the angle, ending it with the revelation that they were brothers.
  • During a D-Generation X run, Triple H and Shawn Michaels seemed to pass off as convincing Heterosexual Life-Partners at the very least. They only even somewhat pass because most viewers don't remember the original DX, where there was very little heterosexuality to be had, between Shawn kissing Hunter on national television numerous times and Hunter's infamous "bi" quote:
    Triple H: I'm "bi" a lot of things. Lingual ain't one of them.
  • The Fabulous Ones. They were a Mr. Fanservice team marketed to adult women as Playgirl-style sex symbols (as opposed to The Rock 'n' Roll Express, who were a Tiger Beat team aimed toward teen girls), but some of their posed photos do seem to have a bit of Ho Yay in them.
  • Goldust from the WWE, even though his gay overtones are primarily mind games he plays with his opponents. One notable example is his feud with Razor Ramon, where in one match he rubbed Ramon's chest and freaked him out.
  • The New Generation.
  • Layla El and Michelle are very close, and it was Layla who suggested they go to couple's therapy. And then there's Layla's blatant dry humping Kelly Kelly and Natalya on TV.
  • Too Much had "Too Sexy" Brian Christopher and Scott "Too Hot" Taylor as tag team partners who were very concerned about each other's safety. Billy & Chuck's "wedding" angle was originally planned for Too Much, but was vetoed by Jerry Lawler (Brian Christopher's father) who was afraid his son's career would never recover. However, they found more success when the then-WWF repackaged them as the Pretty Fly for a White Guy team Too Cool, Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty and put them with Rikishi, and it got over much more than Too Much had.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • Gil Thorp: Lini Verde, a flashy-dressing Glee fan who's also a clinch player for the basketball team. His sexual orientation hasn't been stated. The storyline involves a website that calls him unpleasant names, but the exact nature of those names is unrevealed (probably a good idea for all sorts of reasons). When one character suggests wearing pink to support him, she gets the response "This is about bullying, not ... pinkness!"
  • It's Grim Up North London: Jez and Quin in the Private Eye comic strip. Maybe they're a stereotyped gay couple; maybe they're an equally stereotyped pair of upper-middle-class artistic types, who happen to share a flat.

  • Round the Horne has Julian and Sandy: a couple of out-of-work actors, though they could turn their hand to anything. In one episode they were lawyers, leading to the glorious line "We've got a criminal practice that takes up most of our time." (At the time, bein gay was still technically illegal in the UK.)

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • In the fake trailer for Buggery On The High Seas in the "Pedro And Mann At The Drive-In" sketch from Cheech and Chong's Los Cochinos album, one of the pirates on board the ship speaks with an obviously effeminate male voice.

  • The stage version of An American in Paris has stylish song-and-dance man Henri Baurel, whose sexuality is questioned but never resolved in the text.
  • In Bandstand, Jimmy ignores the female ensemble while his band mates ogle the women in New York, has a considerable wardrobe of plaid pants, and has some delicate flair in his mannerisms. The casting call and a cut scene reveal he is unambiguously gay, starts out with a slight crush on Donny, and his boyfriend was a fellow Navy man who died when their ship blew up.
  • Be More Chill: Michael's relationship with Jeremy can be seen as this. They obviously care a lot for each other, are each other's only friends before the events of the musical, and Michael's song after Jeremy abandons him shows how dependent he is on him. And let's not forget how Jeremy called Michael his favorite person.
  • Shrek: The Musical is full of this trope, from the sassy Donkey, to the prissy Farquaad, to the entire pride-anthem vibe of "Freak Flag".
    Pinocchio: I'm wood. I'm good. Get used to it!
  • The Play That Goes Wrong: Max really, really doesn't want to kiss Sandra. When Trevor ends up having to read Florence's lines, though, he's much more enthusiastic,

  • Badly Drawn Webcomic: does this a lot, in particular here and here.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl has David, who adores Abbey according to the chart. And this or this makes it seem that David likes touching Abbey while having fun.
  • Bob and George takes the perceived Ho Yay between Zero & X in Mega Man X and runs with it. While X and Zero angrily deny this, plenty of humor comes from them being way too affectionate and concerned with each other, and entering into oddly ambiguous banter. Many other characters often debate if they're gay or not the second they leave the room, and Bob at one point actually referred to them, upon their entrance, as "The Ambiguously Gay Duo".
    Protoman: Okay, to turn it off, all we need to do is press Zero's left boob-light.
    George: ... I'm not gonna do it! You do it!
    Protoman: Where's X? He'll do it.
  • The Class Menagerie:
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has Abel. Of course, he'll have no shortage of admirers, whatever his preferences turn out to be... and then it turns out he's pretty much asexual. For all we know, though, he'll change his mind sooner or later.
  • Emergency Exit: Jason fell into this category for the first few years, but the innuendo has gotten clearer since to the point that the only question is "gay or bi?".
  • Erfworld:
    • Prince Tramennis of Jetstone, a Bishounen diplomat in a family of chiseled warriors, who comments on his brothers' fashion tastes, annoys his father, and rocks some low-grade Zettai Ryouiki. When he communicates with Charlie, the latter's idea of A Form You Are Comfortable With inevitably involves rainbows. But it's never quite discussed, and it might just be a non-issue for Erfworlders, given how their reproduction works.
      • It does seem to bother his father King Slately, who has passed over Trammennis for command. But after seeing Tramennis' skills Slately now comments that "So who cares if he's a–-If his Signamancynote  is less...than manly." But this is the only time that being gay, or even the concept of sexual orientation is even described; most natives of Erf seem utterly oblivious of it.
    • Ace Hardware and Cubbins, with such doozies as, "The Magic Kingdom had been Ace Hardware's occasional refuge... He and Cubbins would usually come here and... Oh, man. Cubbines. They were enemies now, right? Aw, no." May be a bit of a subversion since Ace Hardware generally comes off as a tough military sergeant type Gadgeteer Genius. Cubbins has enough stereo typically gay traits, though.
    • Wanda is likely gay as well, but it's left rather unclear. She was in a long and complex relationship with Jillian and had a thing for Olive Branch for a time. She has used her beauty to seduce men on at least one occasion, but love doesn't seem to enter the equation.
  • Filth Biscuit features the superhero Cat-Man, whose fastidious, metrosexual habits and constant but inadvertent sexual innuendo lead others to think he's gay, when his actual preferences are unclear.
  • Fluttering Feelings: In this Korean webcomic we have Baek Soel-A, who despite dating many, many, many men states that the feelings she is developing for her female friend Kim No-Rae are something she has never felt before. That added with the fact that she has never really cared for any of the men she has been with implies she may have always been gay and never knew it given that Seol-A has maybe two female friends her whole life.
  • Funny Farm: Mike Sopkins spent a lot of time frolicking gaily through this trope. And, of course, ended up being revealed as utterly straight, if unbelievably innocent about sex in general; in fact, Ridley is afraid to come out to him (though Mike turns out to be completely okay with it).
  • Colette Voltaire of Girl Genius has no interest in the many, many men pursuing her romantically, and in one of her early appearances makes a joke to Agatha about how "their love can never be".
  • Mitch from Good Cheese provides the trope image.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Tedd, despite looking rather feminine and even recreationally spending some of his time as a woman, is not only totally straight, but mildly homophobic (because everyone thinks he's gay). He's trying to get past the latter, though.
    • Played for drama with Nanase, despite it seemingly starting out as a joke. She however is the genuine article.
    • Subverted with Noah, who turns out to be Camp Straight.
  • Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name:
    • Conrad is all over this one. Violent aversion to women? Check. Tight, fashionable clothing? Check. Apartment in the "artsy" side of town? Check. But nothing's yet been stated straight out.
    • Doc Worth, with his fabulous (though probably a little grungy) fluffy pink coat. And his ambiguously Slap-Slap-Kiss relationships with both Lamont and Conrad.
    Hanna: Yanno, actually Worth is kinda keen on you now.
    Conrad: WHU-? What.
  • Housepets!:
    • The zoo kangaroos Bruce and Roosevelt, pen-mates who originally only appeared together frequently but were shown being more openly affectionate towards each other as the series went on. This trope might not be in force any longer here, but it certainly was when they were shown doing things two guy friends don't normally do with each other without it being romantic.
    • There's also Breel, whose very gender was the subject of debate for a long time. Then his True Love's Kiss with Keene sets both of them free from Pandemonium, prior to which Keene very clearly stated Breel was male, confirming it once and for all. Keene himself was never shown to have any sort of passionate feelings for anyone prior to that moment, even with how openly affectionate Breel was toward him, but after Max summons him to Pete's temple right where the mana pool is, he appears in a nightcap and yawning, implying he just woke up... and Breel was also summoned, appearing right next to him.
  • Dirk Strider from Homestuck is openly gay. His pre-Scratch counterpart is a lifelong bachelor that makes his money off of phallic puppet porn, but never expressed romantic or sexual interest in other people.
  • Mayonaka Densha: Jack is oft none too subtly hinted to be attracted to Tom, is constantly teased about it by Hatsune and is also a raging misogynist. Nothing has been stated outright although it's justified, given the setting.
  • Noblesse: Frankenstein, M-21, & Tao. Frankenstein revolves around only one man, Raizel, & he spurned the pretty Dr. Aerith. M-21 has a lot of fangirls, but doesn't know they exist, is very emotionally attached to M-24 & only seems to have fun around other men. Tao is an ambiguously bi semicrossdresser who wears a woman's offshoulder sweater, paints his nails, wears eyeshadow, & has a fondness for Ik-Han (boy) & Seira (girl).
  • The Order of the Stick has Vaarsuvius, who started with just Ambiguous Gender, but then so does his/her spouse Inkyrius. Their children are adopted. The idea that they're a same-sex couple was rather encouraged by the fact that during V's transformation into "Darth V" after his/her Deal with the Devil, the background was a pink triangle.
  • The Scumthorpe Files: Davina, the snarky alien girl. She's outright stated that she would date Nikki, even referring to her as "strangely pleasing to look at". This would make you think she's a lesbian, but Davina's love of Trolling people sort of leaves it unsure. The fact that damn near everyone thinks Nikki is hot doesn't help.
  • Ja Wangnan from Tower of God. He and Viole are not Distracted by the Sexy that is Yeon, but that might be because the first impression she gave him was accompanied with her accidentally burning him and making him drop out of a test. The real reason why people think he might be gay is because he saved Nia's number under "My Beloved Nia ♥".

    Web Original 
  • Minecraft: The N00b Adventures has Gaylord_Steambath, who, on an interesting off note, is also the sociopathic and, uh, well, kind of eccentric antagonist of the series.
  • Barry 'The Blender' Henderson and Thomas 'The Tanker' Smythe of I Am Fighter both fit to some extent; Thomas frequently takes it to Squick levels.
  • Don't Fear The Dark has Lieutenant Starkey.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged plays Zarbon's ambiguous sexuality for as many jokes as it can. Soon before his death however it is revealed, to the surprise of everyone, that he is completely straight, and in fact has a girlfriend. Freeza is convinced that said girlfriend is named Chuck, but Team Four Star's Word of God says that their version of Zarbon is entirely heterosexual.
  • The Fantastic Favio Bros: Tony often acts as the foil to Favio. As such, while Favio is a Chivalrous Pervert, Tony is ambiguously gay. His Evil Twin, LeTony, also has traces of ambiguous sexuality.
  • Coach Z of Homestar Runner was shown married to Bubs and has worn a skirt and hair curlers in two different toons. The only reason why he is ambiguous is because his sexuality is never mentioned. He's likely Ambiguously Bi due to his obsessive attraction to Marzipan.
  • Look a Vlog has Will.
  • The Major League Pony version of Twilight is this so far. Though she denies being gay, she secretly has dirty thoughts about Rarity, which she denies to herself, hinting that she may be in denile.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: There's been a ton of examples among the unconfirmed characters, but one that comes to mind is the fact that Rachel brought Judith to prom. And Judith was wearing a tuxedo. Woof.
  • Omega Zell from Noob is a reporter for a feminine channel in real life, cares for his avatar's appearance over anything else, is frequently forced into an Involuntary Dance and acts as if he has a crush on the game's (male) top player. His Yaoi Fangirl guildmate speculated he could be gay from day 1, but he has always denied it. Season 4 has him reveal that he's deliberately avoiding relationships with women to be able to focus on his dream of becoming the next top player of the game (that and he sort of hates them). However, neither the series creator nor the fans seem able to stop making jokes about him having a crush on any male character whose actor ends up in close proximity to him on "behind the scenes" photos.
  • Nomad of Nowhere features Skout and Toth. Skout is very eager to please Toth while Toth, a generally hard-headed bounty hunter type, is uncharacteristically kind to (and protective of) Skout.
  • The Nostalgia Critic's review of Batman & Robin uses the jingle from The Ambiguously Gay Duo to lampshade this trope.
  • Chapter 21 of Psychronicles. Is it so hard to guess who?
  • Red vs. Blue has Donut. In Season 1, he had been given pink armor ("It's not pink, it's lightish red!") and was your typical new recruit. In Season 2 (where this trope comes into play) he started using lotions, talking about his feelings, screaming like a woman, analysing dreams, and generally being as effeminate as possible while retaining some air of heterosexuality. The song "Donut: The Musical" from the Season 9 soundtrack is full double-entendres and similar sounding words (that the other Red members keep asking to repeat). In the show itself Donut stopped being ambiguous around Season 3.
    Tucker: I don't think Santa's outfit is a biker's costume and a codpiece, Donut.
    Donut: It was the best Christmas ever!
  • In RWBY, Long-Haired Pretty Boy Ren never shows attraction to anyone, is frustratingly dense about Nora's obvious feelings for him, and once wears a "Kiss the Cook" apron that instead says "Please Do Nothing to the Cook." He's either ambiguously gay or ambiguously asexual.
    • Come Volume 4, and Ren seems to finally be recuperating Nora's feelings for him, with the heavy implication they are now a couple by the end. So....yeah.
  • The hosts of Spill, in their review of Beautiful Creatures, claim that upper-class, "posh" Southern accents come off as sounding like this.
  • Nick and Beck of Theatre of Life fame. They do it on purpose.
  • Ultra Fast Pony:
    • The Ultra Fast Pony version of Shinning Amour, is so camp, his sister Twilight is convinced he's gay and becomes suspicious, after hearing that he is marrying a girl. When confronted on this, he scolds her her for thinking he's gay just because he's somewhat effeminate.. but confesses to having gay sex with at least one stallion while ranting. "We said no homo!" In the end, much bigger problems arise and the issue is left unresolved.
    • Twilight herself is this, to a lesser extent. There are hints of her returning Celestia's feelings for her in the season one finale and in The Movie, she seems confused at suddenly having the desire to want a boyfriend, and in the end of the movie, decides to celebrate by renting a prostitute.
  • Jean-Armand (codename: Nephandus) of the Whateley Universe is obsessed with his looks and his hair and his clothes. Chaka refers to his standard outfits as a 'Merchant-Ivory wardrobe'. A mama's boy, although his mother is a notorious European supervillain called the Troll Bride. Carries a walking stick (although it's a weapon too). Even his friends in the Bad Seeds make jokes about his ambiguity.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    • Pegasus is an even stronger example of this trope than the original. He goes so far as to violently defend this image, as once the side characters find out that Pegasus had a wife, he knocks them unconscious with the words "I can't have people thinking I'm straight".
    • Bakura, to the point where his own personalities can't agree on the issue.
    Bakura: I'm not gay, I'm just British!
    Yami Bakura: I'm not British, I'm just gay.
    • Marik is either in a Transparent Closet or out and dating Yami Bakura, although it's less ambiguous and more Marik failing to even realise he's gay.
    Marik: Oh, what, just because a guy likes to dress effeminately and hang around with another extremely attractive man and read yaoi and flaunt his gorgeous abs and stroke a phallic symbol suggestively in every other scene, that automatically makes him gay?!
    Bakura: ...Kinda.

Alternative Title(s): Flying Into The Gaydar, Gaydar Tripper, G Rated Gay, Ambiguously Lesbian