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 Ambiguously 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.
Contrast with Camp Straight, which is about a male character having feminine characteristics but being exclusively interested in the opposite sex. 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.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Film - Animation
- Film - Live Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
Examples without subpages
- Budweiser ran one of their happy, feel-good ads where the first person that a male soldier calls to tell he's coming home is another guy who he also embraces first at his coming home party, even before his own parents.
- The Happy Chop could count, if it qualifies as ambiguous: "if you like small fruit... or even a big one!" and "can I say hard cheese on television?"
- 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."
- I Am Octavia is about how Octavia is on the brink of breaking her friendship with Vinyl Scratch because Vinyl is always too busy for her. Their relationship is only referred to as a friendship, but there's a lot of deliberate subtext. It doesn't help that the song is parodying is often interpreted as a romantic song.
- 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 guynot 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
- RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse:
- Trixie is a complicated case. Usually, Trixie is vehemently asexual. Even kissing weirds her out, but once she gets a little drink in her, she flirts with openly lesbian Lyra and Bon-Bon (admittedly, by the time she does so, she's so drunk she passes out seconds later). Later on, Trixie firmly insists the booze is into mares, but she herself isn't into anything. Though it doesn't help there are (admittedly, firmly tongue-in-cheek and non-cannon) stories by the setting's main author showing Trixie having a thing for Raindrops.
- Sunset Shimmer and Lightning Dust in Nightmares Yet to Come are all but outright said to be a couple of some kind, but the fic never states whether they are.
- From the same fic, Midnight, who has a... complicated thing going on with Trixie, and another one with a pony named Falling Star in a flashback, but at the same time apparently has a colt trying to get with her. The closest thing she's got to a romantic relationship with a guy is Shining Armor, whom she went to the Grand Galloping Gala with, but she states explicitly she has no interest in him whatsoever (and that the Gala was merely her acting as a bodyguard).
- Ruby and Nora: Though He was in a relationship with Ren, Jaune dies before his sexuality could be fully explained.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Sasha Banks and Bayley sure are close, with Banks even telling Bayley "I love you, I always have, and I always will." They hug a lot.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Pokémon Live! turns the normally Camp Straight James more clearly into this. He's still as flamboyant as ever and jokes about "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (an old military regulation that banned openly LGBT people from service for years).
- 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,
- The protagonist of Ken Laszlo's Italo Disco song "Hey Hey Guy". All we know is the guy on the other end of the phone is a man... and so might be the narrator of this male-sung song.
- Critical Role has Caduceus Clay. He's made several comments on the attractiveness of male NPC's and seems rather uncomfortable when Nott tries to get him to compliment the bright queen.
- 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, to the point where Freeza uses his name as a synonym for "gay". Soon before his death, however, he asks Freeza if he can borrow the Space Skype to call his girlfriend. Freeza remains 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 whole thing is lampshaded in DBZ Abridged Kai:
Vegeta: Oh look, it's the gay one.
Zarbon: Maybe I'm gay, or maybe stereotypes are bullshit! Mmm! (transforms) PUSSY!
- 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!
- 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.
- James of Touch is somewhere between this and Armored Closet Gay, with other characters attempting to address it with him and being vehemently shot down. Justified in that his pre-story experiences with molestation have made his sexuality harder for him to process.
- 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:
Bakura: I'm not gay, I'm just British!
- 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.
Yami Bakura: I'm not British, I'm just 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?!
- 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.
- The titular character of Daisy Brown. In "Another cooking video!", the hidden messages in the closed captioning appear to be of a conversation Daisy is having with her father, in which she asks if she's able to marry another girl. In "Artistic video", she tells Alan a bedtime story she made up, wherein the queen of the moon falls in love with the queen of the stars.
- Cry Of Mann: Knowing that Agent Martinez has a heavily implied crush on Berry, it's also left ambiguous as to whether or not Berry returns the feelings.