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But Not Too Gay

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Hot gay hugging action.

...and even though their relationship is super new and they are super attracted to one another, they do not make out at all.
(Do not drink. That is not gay. That is TV gay.)

Okay, let's say you're done hiding your lesbians and you don't want to bury any gays. You want to feature a queer character on your show or, hell, make them the starring character! But what if they get a Love Interest? Will they flirt? Kiss? Hold hands? Have anything resembling or implying a sex life? Gay characters enjoy increased visibility in media and numerous positive portrayals. However, there is a bit of a Double Standard regarding same-gender love portrayals and love scenes and the like.

Rather, the lack thereof.

Homosexuality is still a taboo in much of the world, and while some audiences may tolerate a gay character, they may be completely squicked out by shows of affection and sex scenes with gay and lesbian characters, no matter how tame they may be. So television shows and other media don't push the envelope too much on gay affection. There may be a hug, or a meaningful handhold, but never a kiss unless it's heavily promoted and advertised (and even then, don't get your hopes up that it will happen as advertised). If one of the characters is bisexual, don't be surprised if their opposite-sex encounters are as steamy as the rating allows, but suddenly they become as temperate as a monk when they're with a partner of the same sex. So basically, you can have same-sex couples, but they can't be shown actually behaving like a couple.

This is sometimes a case of Truth in Television, as many gay couples in real life avoid being affectionate in public for fear of unwanted attention (as was the retroactive justification for the page picture). But if we see them at home and they act more like roommates than lovers, it comes right back to being this trope. In Anglo-American media, fans and critics have noticed a pattern of female couples being more likely to be shown engaging in sexual activity on screen than males. This is thought to be due to a combination of Male Gaze and assumed Girl on Girl Is Hot among male audiences, which has led to lesbianism being turned into a promotional strategy that is expected to attract viewers rather than repel them, combined with an assumption that the same male target audiences will react negatively to homoerotic scenes between men.

Of course, this is a common source of Unfortunate Implications. Values Dissonance plays heavily into this trope regarding acceptance of homosexuality, though, and it varies from country to country, from decade to decade, even within countries and communities. It is all too easy to look at the prevalence of this trope and come to the conclusion that homosexual couples are fine if they're on long as they don't show any sexuality. As the tolerance toward homosexuality grows, this trope is fading little by little, though old habits can die hard. This Trope may also occur due to heterosexual actors feeling uncomfortable going too far with someone of their own gender. In historical shows set in time periods where it would have been unsafe for gay and bi characters to be out, this trope is probably due to Deliberate Values Dissonance and is arguably justified.

See also Get Back in the Closet for media with gay love content, but it is just rated higher than media with heterosexual love scenes and the like; and Closet Gay, where a character is hiding their orientation (which can be justification for this trope). There is some overlap with Hide Your Lesbians and Gay Romantic Phase. But Not Too Bi is a related but distinct trope most commonly manifested as a character who says they're bisexual but they never pursue a relationship with the a person of the same gender. See Have I Mentioned I Am Gay? when a show with supposedly gay characters doesn't ever reach even this level of physical affection between them.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yuri!!! on Ice doesn't have a double-standard between heterosexual and gay couples, and includes plenty of other indicators of affection and milestones in its central relationship between Yuri and Victor such as their eventual engagement. However, director Sayo Yamamoto did discuss this trope when she said that TV censorship required the arm in the way of The Big Damn Kiss. She also said that she still had to fight to include that scene at all.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has Les Yay overflowing in teasing and subtext, up and including two women sharing a bed and raising a daughter together, and plenty of mentioned groping in the Sound Stages. But good luck seeing an actual kiss or explicit flirting in the actual show by anyone, same sex or not. Also, the only couple confirmed on screen are a man and a woman (Chrono and Amy, who are mentioned to be married).
  • The anime adaptation of Togainu no Chi, originally a Boys' Love Eroge, desexes hero Akira and his childhood friend Keisuke's relationship to subtext, hand-holding, and a couple of hugs. No love confessions allowed. Considering that Keisuke raping Akira is a large part of this route of the game, it's actually detrimental to the plot.
  • An episode of Code Geass has president Milly announce a contest (catching a cat), with the prize being a kiss from someone on the student council. While a group of girls fawn over the thought of smooching Lelouch, one of their number expresses a preference for Milly. Here's where it gets quirky: In the American broadcast, the girl is asked why she's "so weird". In Japanese, she's told not to come out there and then.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • The Sailor Moon anime is interesting in that it is, even in the Japanese version, very coy about Haruka and Michiru. While the main, straight couple of the series still only kisses infrequently, Haruka and Michiru never kiss. On the flip side, while Usagi and Mamoru never indicate that they actually have a sex life (their daughter was born hundreds of years in the future), Haruka and Michiru are just about the only couple on the show that we know have been intimate.
    • The manga does not have this problem. Though Haruka and Michiru still never kiss, Haruka does kiss Usagi on several occasions (used to illustrate her personality consisting of both genders).

    Comic Books 
  • The New Guardians, an obscure team of Captain Ethnics, had Extraño who was DC Comics' first openly gay character. Despite him being very Camp Gay the word is never actually used, he's never seen romantically involved with anyone, and his flamboyant behavior acted as comic relief. Then the Politically Incorrect Villain Hemo-Goblin gave him AIDS.
  • In Young Avengers, gay couple Hulkling and Wiccan are seen doing little more than holding hands and sleeping together... clothed, while straight characters in love (also teenagers) have been shown kissing and sleeping naked, implying some off-panel nookie. Thankfully, the last issue of Children's Crusade averts this. (Though every other instance in the series plays it straight.)
  • Similar to the Young Avengers example above, the Runaways featured almost no physical contact between Karolina and Xavin, even though they were supposed to be betrothed. This was probably for the best, since Vaughn and Alphona stubbornly insisted upon having Xavin take the form of a man despite Xavin having promised to take a female form since Karolina's gay. But even after subsequent writing teams made Xavin female, there was still a noticeable lack of affectionate displays between them. In contrast, Nico and Victor are shown in bed together and a reference to Gert performing oral sex on Chase was published without comment.
    • The 2017 series opens with Karolina dating Julie Power, but they show almost no affection towards each other and they break up at the end of the arc. On the other hand, the series also has Nico and Karolina finally sharing The Big Damn Kiss.
    • In Runaways (2015), despite the miniseries being written by ND Stevenson and featuring a lesbian version of Jubilee as the main character, the only actual lesbian kiss in the miniseries occurs in shadow.

    Comic Strips 
  • From Luann, Prudence the self-described "lesbian thespian." The subject of her being gay has only really come up twice: to reassure Luann that she wasn't a romantic rival for Quill's affections, and to warn Les off from his doomed crush on her. But she's never portrayed as having a romantic interest in any woman who's appeared in the strip, not even as an offhand comment by her. Over four years after her first appearance, she finally said that she has a girlfriend back in New York City. And apparently even the mere mention of a relationship was too much, because two months later she was written out of the strip for good.

    Fan Works 
  • There's an In-Universe example from Circles of Power. After they have graduated from Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Dean, Seamus, and Neville all share a house. Harry and Ron also happen to be a couple, and there's a house rule that they are not to show affection towards each other when there's other people around. In the beginning no one really seems to think it's strange, but toward the end it becomes an issue. At one point, Ron gets scolded for putting his arm around Harry's shoulders, at the same time as Seamus is getting it on with his latest girlfriend on the living room sofa without anyone saying anything about it. It ultimately leads to a fight between Ron and Seamus who, as it turns out, is the only one who really has anything against Harry and Ron showing affection.
  • Skewered in Hunting the Unicorn both humorously and seriously; the Warblers lampshade Kurt and Blaine's relationship by complaining about how chaste and tooth-rotting it is, but then comes the eleventh chapter where we find out that Blaine has a really good reason for being terrified of sex. He tried to invoke Sex Equals Love, ended up strung along for weeks, and Blaine's big brother effectively had to break things off for him. By threatening to burn the guy alive. His discomfort only gets worse after he and Kurt get together because he doesn't want Kurt to end up like he did, and he tends to avoid any and all discussion of the inherent problems this will cause.
  • In What Might Have Been, when a bard wants to write a song based off of Ruby and Sapphire's story, he wants to portray Ruby as a male dwarf because same-sex couples are frowned upon his society for religious reasons. Sapphire has none of it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Despite the controversy it caused, even from the likes of George Takei who argued against portraying Sulu as gay despite Takei himself being out and proud for decades, Star Trek Beyond only shows Sulu deboarding at a space station reuniting with his partner (husband?) and daughter. That's literally all that happens. It's a mere twelve seconds long and the only one Sulu kisses is their daughter. The narrative impact of the scene is ultimately just to add a personal stake to the climactic attack on the station, with Sulu's family shown to be among those in danger.
  • Philadelphia: Andy and Miguel behaved more like a pair of roommates than a couple. As Tom Hanks explains in The Celluloid Closet, quite a few scenes were filmed that showed them more intimately, but the studio forced them to take them out before release and the film might never have seen the light of day if they hadn't relented, which they eventually did since it was the lesser of two evils.
  • Brokeback Mountain is a lot better in this aspect, but it still received a lot of accusations of using this trope. Ennis and Jack have exactly one on-screen sex scene that has them almost fully clothed and is quickly rushed through, whereas there are multiple sex scenes between them and their wives that have them completely naked and are lingered on for longer.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes centers around what is clearly a romantic partnership between two women, Idgie and Ruth, though no sexual dimension to their relationship is seen or even implied. Roger Ebert called it "cravenly constructed to obscure the story's obvious lesbian elements."
  • In The Family Stone, Thad and Patrick never kiss.
  • I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry: The two characters that are (pretending) to be gay never kiss each other even during their own wedding ceremony — they hit each other instead. Why? Because the MPAA threatened to give them an 'R' rating and Adam Sandler wussed out.
  • In Valentine's Day, Sean and Holden are the only couple that doesn't kiss at some point.
  • The 1995 film Higher Learning: Two college-age girls (one gay, the other bisexual) share a very chaste kiss where their lips barely touch and that lasts for only slightly more than a second. They are both in the privacy of the gay girl's bedroom and are not showing much skin. Then there's another love scene between a boy and a girl (both straight); they are making out more or less in public, and are in their skimpy track-and-field clothes, with the girl baring her midriff. The boy is right on top of the girl, and the camera lingers on them a lot longer than on the two kissing girls. When this movie is shown on American television, it gets even worse: the girl-on-girl scene is cut entirely! (We do see the girls briefly holding hands in both the theatrical and edited-for-TV versions, however.) At the very least, it's good to see that, unlike most other media depictions, the girls aren't treated more sympathetically for not being male homosexuals.
  • In the film version of Mamma Mia!, all of the adults of the older generations ended up in a romance that got development (or at least a musical number) Except for Harry. He comes to the island seemingly single, and then shows up with a boyfriend in the last two scenes without ever explaining it further. And the pair's screen time can be comfortably counted in seconds. This becomes even more prominent in the sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Harry's homosexuality does not come up at all, he is not seen with any male love interest and his backstory focuses on his romance with Donna without giving any hint that the reason it was doomed to fail was because he was gay. Instead it looks as though he was just edged out by Donna's romances with Sam and Bill.
  • The Kids Are All Right, a movie marketed on its portrayal of a lesbian couple, has one lesbian sex scene — in which the two women have unsatisfactory (and interrupted) sex, all of the action is under the covers, and both women keep their shirts on. On the other hand, the movie has numerous straight sex scenes, all of which are fairly explicit and very pleasurable for all involved.
  • Played with in Tell No One; Anne and Helene aren't shown being as affectionate with each other as Alexandre and Margot, but they act like a married couple in other ways (Helene even refers to Anne as "my wife" at one point), and even argue like one when Helene finds out what Anne knows concerning the plot.
  • Cabaret has Brian tell Sally that he's gay. But he's never seen in any relationships (not that he'd be entirely open about it in 1930s Germany anyway) and then he discovers he's bisexual by sleeping with Sally. Even when it's revealed that they both slept with Maximilian, Brian's is not shown.
  • The Imitation Game was attacked for this. The film has had accusations that Alan Turing is interested in Joan Clarke, especially when he proposes to her. The Reveal is that his flashbacks to his friendship with Christopher in school was actually a one-sided crush that never went anywhere. In the film he is blackmailed and persecuted for being gay, but never actually shown engaging in any relationships on-screen.
  • The Wrestler has a scene where Randy tells Cassidy he thinks his daughter is a lesbian. It's hinted that Stephanie and her roommate might be a couple, but never confirmed, aside from a Freeze-Frame Bonus of the photos in their house
  • Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast has LeFou be gay, but only shows him with a 'love interest' in the a quick final frame of the film. In fact, he dances with a female a few seconds before. His 'love interest' also is forced into drag earlier in the film and, of course, enjoys it.
  • Although not terribly explicit, Victoria and King are affectionate and passionate with each other in Victor/Victoria. Contrast Toddy and Squash who, when shown in bed together are dressed in pajamas and robes, above the covers, prim and proper.
  • Can't Stop the Music tries to simultaneously appeal to The Village People's gay fans and not go too far as to alienate straight viewers, such as giving the Camp Gay group female love interests and adding a Ms. Fanservice character. As put by The Cinema Snob, "It wants to have its cake and bake it too!"
  • It: Chapter Two caught some criticism for this between Richie and Eddie. Despite making it very clear that there was (at least one-sided) romantic feeling between them - something that was arguably present as subtext in the original novel, but really easy to miss - their last scene together is somehow less overtly gay than in the book. Specifically, after Eddie dies, Richie kisses him before leaving him in the novel, but not in the movie.
  • In Mean Girls, Camp Gay character Damian is never shown to be romantic with or have a crush on any specific boy.
  • Bruised zig-zags this; Jackie Justice's relationship with her boyfriend is prominently featured throughout the first half of the storyline, while her eventual relationship with her female trainer lasts barely more than ten minutes of screentime, during which it's mostly pushed into the background of the preparations for the film's climactic fight, before Jackie decides they're Better as Friends. On top of that, Jackie's relationship with her boyfriend is pretty clear-cut (albeit severely dysfunctional), while she and her trainer mostly just seem to share the same bond you'd usually expect to see between an athlete and their mentor in this kind of film. That being said, the love scene between Jackie and her trainer is actually the longer and more graphic one compared to the one she has with her boyfriend early on.
  • Glass Onion: Unlike the straight couples (Whiskey and Duke are affectionate with each other and there's a brief scene where Duke watches Whiskey seduce Bron on his bed; Claire gets a scene with her kids and husband), Blanc's live-in partner Philip isn't explicitly called such and doesn't share the screen with him.
  • In Jenny's Wedding, Jenny and Kitty are very rarely physically affectionate and only have a couple of chaste kisses throughout the movie.
  • In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Javi declares love to his assistant, Gabriela, and to his favorite actor/screenwriting partner, Nick, both of whom love him back. However, since Nick and Javi are both Ambiguously Bi, only Gabriela receives a kiss from Javi, before the two of them hold off the Big Bad's goons from chasing Nick and his family. The closest Javi and Nick come to sharing an kiss involves them simply hugging after their movie earns a standing ovation.
  • Despite the revelation that the late Whitney Houston was dating a woman, the movie "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" never depicts a single moment of intimacy between her and her girlfriend. No sex scenes, not even a kiss. Although this might be justified whenever they're in public so as not to enrage the public, it makes no sense for when they're in the privacy of their home.

  • The Black Magician Trilogy: When it comes to the gay couple, characters claim that Everyone Can See It, but what it is that they see is a mystery. Unlike the straight romances in the trilogy, there is no sex, no kissing, no cuddling, no touching that isn't triggered by a life or death situation (and even then it amounts to two hugs and two cases of grabbing each others' shoulders), no meaningful looks and no reference to any physical affection or attraction whatsoever after they get together. Mind you, this includes scenes where the reader gets to see them alone together and thinking about each other.
  • 1982's Annie on My Mind is considered by many to be the quintessential LGBTQ teen novel. Despite this, the earliest covers didn't make it clear that Annie and Liza were a couple. It wasn't until the 1992 cover that they were shown holding hands.
  • Temeraire: Granby and Little show no signs of being in a relationship other than making occasional kind gestures to each other and being on a First-Name Basis (which is itself exceptional in the 19th-Century setting). Justified since homosexual activity is illegal in Britain at the time, so they need to avoid being Court-martialed.
  • Kushiel's Legacy: Many gay characters do exist in the series (though no lesbians, oddly enough), but none are ever shown even kissing, let alone getting a sex scene. While that is partly due to them all being supporting characters, even minor ones are seen getting it on otherwise in the books. Everyone Has Lots of Sex except the gays (bisexuals do explicitly get some).
  • Star Wars: Aftermath: Jas, a female Zabrak, has (non-explicit) sex with a male human. Sinjin is gay, and gets a boyfriend. Norra's sister Esmelle is married to another woman. Sinjir and Esmelle are not even described as kissing their partners.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Captain Holt and his husband Kevin have never kissed throughout the entire series. However, they're both such hilariously uptight stoic dorks that for them, a handshake in public is considered a scandalous display of emotion. At least until season 8, where they go through a rough patch in their relationship, briefly split, subsequently reaffirm their love for each other, and have The Big Damn Kiss.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Played straight with Lord Renly Baratheon and Ser Loras Tyrell. Their physically intimate moments together are not nearly as sexually explicit as the heterosexual pairings on the show.
    • Ditto for the "Kissed by Fire" sex scene between Loras and Olyvar, a spy and prostitute in the employ of Littlefinger. Although Olyvar is completely nude, the Knight of Flowers is nearly fully clothed, save for his bare chest and feet. We never see the two men do more than lie in bed and kiss. If you contrast this scene with Theon Greyjoy having intercourse with Ros in Season 1, there's a definite discrepancy between how gay sex is portrayed on the series in comparison to its heterosexual counterpart.
  • Bad Education: Played straight with the teachers, averted with the students.
    • In Season 2, Rosie starts dating a woman, but although it's often talked about, we only see the couple together for a few minutes, holding hands. Made all the more obvious because Rosie kisses Alfie twice.
    • On the other hand, there's the students Stephen and Grayson. Several straight students mention having boyfriends/girlfriends or are seen flirting, but only Stephen and Grayson are seen kissing.
  • Modern Family was criticized by many when gay couple Mitchell and Cameron hugged each other after a reunion at an airport, in contrast to straight couple Phil and Claire kissing each other. Of course, it was noted that none of the couples were overly affectionate with each other, but this was a big sticking point. Fortunately, this wasn't a long-term thing, as the next season revealed that Mitchell was adverse to being affectionate in public, and in the episode after that, Mitchell and Cam kiss in a visible and casual scene.
  • As the World Turns:
    • Gay couple Noah and Luke actually had a fan instituted countdown in between their kisses. They went 211 days in between two kisses, and it took them 514 days from their first meeting to get their first love scene. This is unusual, particularly in the Soap Opera media where romance and love scenes happen frequently.
    • Luke and his second boyfriend Reid never got to have sex before Reid was killed off.
  • Averted on The New Normal. The main couple, Bryan and David, kiss in nearly every episode (sometimes multiple times) and show a normal amount of affection for a committed couple.
  • This trope is a common criticism of Will & Grace regarding Will's flaccid love life. It wasn't until the two very last seasons that he could actually kiss someone (the early kiss with Jack doesn't count, seeing as that was an eyes-open smack on the lips) — the last season was the only time he could have a proper, goddamn finally make out with a Special Guest. Ironically, the show actually parodied and called out this tendency at times; one episode has Will and Jack conspire to kiss live on The Today Show as retaliation for a major primetime drama cutting away from a gay kiss to a fireplace at the last minute, as was a common occurrence in shows like Melrose Place.
  • South of Nowhere dipped in and out of this trope. TeenNick apparently had no problems with cute pecks and hugging with the two lesbian characters Spencer and Ashley, but this was in contrast to the straight couples fully making out and displaying more affection for each other. And most of the time, they didn't even touch other.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow and Tara were a couple for about eighteen episodes before they so much as kissed on-screen, probably partly for this and partly to avoid claims of sensationalism. This was The WB's doing. Joss Whedon made sure to put their first on-screen kiss in "The Body" because it was a good character moment and it would keep the kiss from being the focus of the promos. When The WB initially refused to show the kiss, he threatened to quit (to the point of starting to pack up his office) and they relented. When the show moved to UPN, the lack of a standards & practices department allowed him to do what he wanted, leading to the first lesbian sex scene (at least one not played for fanservice) on network TV. Willow and Tara were also shown doing far more couple-y things after that.
  • The Wire featured fairly regular straight scenes and one lesbian scene, but the fairly prominent gay character of Omar never gets a sex scene, and over three boyfriends and five seasons, only has two on-screen kisses (three if you count kissing Brandon's forehead in an early episode): he barely even touches the third boyfriend, Renaldo, even in a non-sexual way (possibly as a result of some controversy about the fairly steamy make-out scene with his previous boyfriend, Dante).
  • Ellen DeGeneres's first sitcom was criticized for focusing too much on gay issues and lesbian relationships after she (and the character) came out. When she got a second sitcom with CBS, the character remained a lesbian, but it wasn't much of a focus. Likewise, Ellen herself is criticized for downplaying her sexuality in order to appeal to mainstream America with her talk show, but she has mentioned her wife Portia de Rossi and marriage several times, and even before she became a national star, Ellen's comedy routines never put much focus on sexuality, either gay or straight. Even so, she did star on If These Walks Could Talk 2 in 2000 playing one half of a lesbian couple who did have sex scenes.
  • Melrose Place had far more explicit scenes for the heterosexual characters versus the scenes for the token gay character Matt Fielding who wasn't allowed to kiss on screen.
  • Desperate Housewives
    • The lesbian couple who only stays for a couple episodes have two on-screen kisses — which is basically the same as what you'd get for a straight couple. Bob and Lee, however, only kiss once and usually don't touch even though they're recurring characters on the show for several seasons.
    • Andrew and his boyfriend kiss a few times in the first couple seasons, where Andrew is evil and tries to drive his homophobic mother insane, but none after he turns good. In Season 5, when he and his fiance move into their own home on Wisteria Lane, they lean in for a kiss... and the front door closes before their lips actually meet.
  • The Camp Gay Marc on Ugly Betty never got to kiss any of his love interests, and yet he did kiss both Betty and Amanda for comedic reasons. However, they were able to show a ground breaking kiss between the 15-year-old Justin and Austin, since the show had already been canceled by that point so there wasn't much risk.
  • Sal, the only major gay character on Mad Men (a show where the straight characters are seen banging each other all the time and in various combinations), is deeply closeted due to the time and place the show is set, so his gay love life mostly consists of resisting the advances of other men, and unrequited crushes on straight guys like Ken. There are two exceptions — one (a hookup with a maintenance man in a hotel room) is cut short by a fire alarm before anything happens, and the other (in which he's about to try cruising in Central Park) gets a Fade To Black at the end of an episode. The character was then written off for good.
  • Shadowhunters has been a victim on this trope. Their heterosexual characters often get more explicit love scenes, including Alec's siblings) while the main m/m couple were relegated to a fade to black and have yet to be shown being intimate on par with the straight characters.
  • The now discontinued sitcom The Class (2006) has a very jarring scene where one half of a gay couple finds out that his partner sabotaged a school application for a friend because they didn't want to spend more time with her. The punchline to this is his reaction to this: exclaiming "I've never loved you more!" and then ... give his partner a hug and a peck on the cheek. Shortly afterwards, he was Put on a Bus, leaving his partner free to make plenty of comments about his sexuality and their love life without having to actually show anything.
  • In Friends, Ross's gay ex-wife and her significant other never kissed on-screen, not even at their wedding. One episode even featured a reunion at an airport very similar to the one in the page picture above: Ross and Emily kissed, Carol and Susan only hugged.
  • A recurring problem on True Blood. Straight characters either explicitly have sex or we see them lying in bed after having clearly done the deed. Meanwhile, the gay relationships are uncharacteristically chaste. It becomes disturbing when you think of how there have been three explicit rape scenes, and that is somehow more okay than a same-gender couple having consensual sex. The show defied this this trope in the final season. When it was decided that Jessica's boyfriend James would leave her for Lafayette, James' actor Luke Grimes refused to act out a same-gender romance. The character was promptly recast with Nathan Parsons and the storyline went along as planned, sex and all.
  • Pretty Little Liars, in the series at least. While all of the other girls' got an average of two fairly steamy make out sessions a piece, Emily's share consisted of one kiss early on and one make out session in one of the last episodes, in between which she and her love interest barely talked due to a serious lack of communication about how open they should be. She got even less action in the second season.
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager. When Ashley's friend Griffin did get a love interest (Peter), both of their screen times shot down to almost nothing. They've only appeared once since they got together, though they at least got a decent onscreen kiss in that appearance.
  • This is both averted and played straight on Brothers & Sisters: Kevin and Scotty make out as much as any married couple on the show, and before the marriage Kevin made out with plenty of hot guest stars. Saul, however, rarely has an onscreen kiss.
  • In the UK, there was an example a few years ago that beautifully illustrates this trope. A newspaper started a campaign complaining about the increasing amount of "filth" shown on television, and its examples were gay kisses and straight sex. (That the newspaper in question was The Daily Star, owned by a pornographer and not above cross-promotion, just makes things even more delicious).
  • On Glee, it became a point of contention in the first three seasons that the same-sex couples are given less screen time and love scenes than the straights. This became less pronounced as time went on, and averted by the fifth season, when Finn's death bumped up the show's other long-term relationships. Kurt and Blaine became the Official Couple, followed by Brittany and Santana, with Sam and Mercedes coming in third at best. By the time Kurt and Blaine live together by the end of the season, they show a very generous amount of affection, which continues into the the sixth and final season. The show actually adress this trope directly in an episode where Brittany and Santana are about to kiss in the hallway only to get called in the principal's office due to complaints about their affection, and Santana invokes this trope with force.
  • Shameless (US) has this problem when it comes to character Ian and his love interests. Although he sleeps with both his older married boss and a classic Armored Closet Gay several times, all we ever see is shelves rocking and occasionally we hear moaning as the scene ends. Justified in that the actor portraying Ian was a minor until partway through filming the second series, and becomes Averted from the season 2 finale onwards; after Cameron Monaghan (who plays Ian) becomes of age, the character has a lot of hot scenes, most of them with the aforementioned Armored Closet Gay Love Interest. Particularly noticeable in Season 4, half of which he spends giving lap dances on a nightclub - on screen!
  • Torchwood:
    • In the first series, we had Gwen and Owen's affair getting constant references, Owen's love affair with a time traveller getting two sex scenes and kicking off the final story line, and Tosh's affair getting its own episode. When it comes to Captain Jack though, he had one love affair that never amounted to more than a kiss, and apparently he also had a thing with Ianto, to which we get exactly four hints over course of the series. Resolved from Series 2 onwards, when Jack's same-sex activity is far clearer.
    • Also notably averted in Season 4, where Jack gets a relatively explicit gay sex scene. This single scene results in a lot of trolling on Torchwood message boards, and the insistence that Torchwood is now officially a gay-niche show, in spite of the large number of straight sex scenes played out in the rest of the series.
  • Gossip Girl gives Eric and his relationships less time than others.
  • Even when Skins made its lesbian characters Naomi and Emily an Official Couple and arguably one of the two Alpha Couples of that series, it got some pushback for relatively non-explicit and few-and-far-between their sex scenes were compared to the various heterosexual couples in series 3-4, some with far less build-up.
  • Discussed in The Golden Girls. In one episode, Blanche spends some time trying to get used to the idea of her brother Clayton's sexuality. She accepts it and they move on. In a later episode, her brother introduced her to a man he planned to marry. This episode is again spent on Blanche accepting her brother's homosexuality, because she was okay with it as long as it was only a word and a thought, not an action.
  • Although Fair for Its Day, this is used in Soap. This being the seventies, Jodie was one of the first homosexual characters on television. All of the homosexual relationships are done purely by words, hugging, and a lot of suggestive phrases.
  • Thomas of Downton Abbey has a kiss in the first episode, and is rebuffed by a guest in the third. In the second season, he has a crush on a wounded soldier that never really goes anywhere as the soldier dies, leaving Thomas devastated. Apart from that, his sexuality is rarely mentioned. There is some justification for this due to homosexuality being illegal at the time, which gets explored in in Season 3 where Thomas falls in love with fellow servant James who rebuffs him and alerts the authorities. Some viewers pointed out that England did have an underground queer culture in the 1910s even with the anti-gay laws, which, while never brought up in the series, was eventually explored in Downton Abbey The Movie where Thomas visits such an establishment and even gets to kiss his new Love Interest.
  • The Sarah Silverman Program had a gay couple who were very much Straight Gay. It so blatantly invoked this trope that, during the gay wedding, the minister directly says "no one wants to see [you two kiss]" and fistpump at the end of the ceremony.
  • Parodied in The Kids in the Hall, with a sketch about three gay men going to see a Hollywood Coming-Out Story. They get let down when the show is mostly tedious dialogue scenes, many of which feature a topless woman, and two emotionally stilted male leads who never kiss on screen.
  • Steve from Warehouse 13 is the only Warehouse agent in the show not to have had a partner or potential partner onscreen. His ex-boyfriend eventually does show up for one episode and they work through some of their issues, leading to a very touching...hug. And some canoodling implied only through dialogue.
  • Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves averts this. Gay couples are not just shown kissing and having sex, the main couple in the story (Rasmus and Benjamin) are very physically affectionate with one another. The actors portraying Rasmus and Benjamin made a deal before shooting that they could touch and kiss each other anywhere at any time and they definitely do.
  • Doctor Who: Jenny and Madame Vastra, despite having appeared in quite a few episodes and being married, did not kiss on screen until season 8's "Deep Breath" and even that was an "Oxygen Transfer" rather than a romantic kiss. This may have something to do with Madame Vastra's green lizard makeup, but that's part of another trope.
    • Mind, they're also from infamously prudish Victorian London (where their relationship is a scandal), and it's only the 11th Doctor's run that gets unusually kissy (10 infamously didn't romantically kiss anyone, and 12's only on-screen kisses are with Missy, whom he views as an estranged friend).
  • In one episode of Castle, it turns out that the (male) victim was bisexual and had a boyfriend. After the initial reveal, the boyfriend is then referred to as the victim's "friend" for the rest of the episode.
  • Danny on Teen Wolf is mostly a Token Gay. While his sexuality is mentioned almost every time he appears onscreen, and he had a boyfriend during the first two seasons of the show, he is not a regular character and was never shown to even touch the boyfriend (possibly explaining why they later broke up).
    • Though it should be mentioned that this trope was very averted during on episode the third season, when Danny was given a pretty steamy love scene with one of the alpha twins. He's still little more than an undeveloped side character, though.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Mulan is revealed to be a lesbian or a bisexual and in love with Aurora. Mulan tells Robin Hood that she wants to tell an unspecified person that she loves them. She then goes to see Aurora, who interrupts her to tell her that she is pregnant with Prince Phillip's baby. Mulan then leaves, crying. Whether Mulan is in love with Aurora or Phillip is open to interpretation if you don't listen to the creators. Subverted (but not with Mulan herself) when Ruby falls for Dorothy and even wakes her from a Sleeping Curse with True Love's Kiss.
  • Waterloo Road did this with Josh and Nate. They are together for a full nine episodes, and yet aren't once shown hugging. The closest interaction is a comforting pat on the shoulder in the background of a busy scene. This despite a non-consensual kiss earlier that series (Josh kissing his best friend Finn), and a later kiss between Josh and his drug dealer in series 7.
  • VH1's basketball soap Hit The Floor both averted this and played it straight with the gay couple introduced in the second season, Jude and Zero. Show creator James LaRosa (a gay man himself,) citing frustrations from previous examples of this trope, such as Matt on Melrose Place, took it as a point of pride that the gay sex scene in one episode was on par with the heterosexual sex scene earlier in the episode in terms of how steamy it was. However, almost immediately after that first scene, the characters in question immediately started enduring relationship drama that left them not even so much as hugging each other for the rest of the season (also not helping things was the fact that one of the characters was a still-closeted pro athlete, leading to a scene after a championship game where everybody was kissing their significant others, and all they could do was stare at each other across the room.)
  • Parodied in Queer as Folk (US) (which averts this good and hard) with the Show Within a Show Gay As Blazes. The characters mention that they're gay every five seconds which is the only indication whatsoever of any of their sexual orientations. Brian calls this out immediately, while the others take a while to lose patience with the show.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • The first thing we learn about Luke is that he is gay, but he is one of the few characters in the show to not have a Love Interest.
    • Averted in Season 7 with Lesbian couple Mary Louise and Nora, who kiss several times.
  • Averted in The Originals with werewolf Aiden and vampire Josh, who get about as many romantic scenes as the other couples.
  • Averted in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. As the second season's only stable couple, there are more instances of Titus and Mikey kissing or being physically affectionate than from straight characters.
  • Averted in the acclaimed Norwegian series Skam where season 3's gay couple, Isak and Even, are shown kissing just as much as the show's straight couples, as well as being given a subtle sex scene. The casual and intimate portrayal of a gay relationship is the main appeal of the show's massive Germans Love David Hasselhoff status with both US and Chinese fans, among others.
  • Black Sails had plenty of heterosexual sex scenes and even a few lesbian scenes that were quite explicit, but there have only been two kisses between men and no sex scenes despite the fact that Captain Flint, the protagonist, was revealed to be bi. The creators mentioned they had plans to show more, but that was Starz executives nixed the idea, presumably because having the protagonist of a gritty action series being bi was pushing already enough boundaries, a male/male sex scene would have been far too much.
  • While the Philippe, the Duke of Orleans and his lover the Chevalier de Lorraine from Versailles, show plenty of romantic affection, they are almost always fully clothed, in contrast to King Louis XIV, who engages in an explicit sex scene with one of his mistresses nearly every episode.
  • Discussed in Kim's Convenience by Mr. Kim, who claims to not be homophobic but doesn't seem to appreciate gay people celebrating their sexuality at all let alone be affectionate. In the pilot episode "Gay Discount", Mr. Kim says he has no problems with gay people but doesn't like the Pride Parade because it's crowded and noisy.
    Mr. Kim: Why can't you you be quiet, respectful gay like Anderson Cooper? Or Neil Patrick Harris, you know?
  • In The Last Ship, Lt. Granderson was revealed to be a lesbian in the very first episode, but her girlfriend died without ever appearing onscreen, and she was single up until the final season, and even that relationship is incredibly subdued.
  • thirtysomething. The episode "Strangers" featured two men post-coitus who were not allowed to touch because of Executive Meddling. They barely even look at each other.
  • Production stills for an episode of Happy Endings showing Max kissing a male guest star were released but the episode as aired had them awkwardly fist bump. Showrunner Jonathan Groffnote  was so concerned about invoking this trope that he pre-emptively reached out to a gay-interest pop culture website to address it.
  • One of the murder victims in the iZombie episode "Five, Six, Seven, Ate!" is discovered to have had an affair with another man. This is revealed when Liv has a vision of the guy's girlfriend walking in on the two... Holding Hands.
  • Dates: The series shows Kate and Erica post-coitus in bed together, rather than actually having sex. Many straight couples explicitly get it on.
  • Twenties: Discussed in regards to gay characters on TV series who often have a non-existent onscreen sex life. The show itself averts this-although not explicit, the very first scene is of two women having sex. Queer characters continue to have sex lives no less active than the straights.
  • The Brittas Empire: Although it is evident that Tim and Gavin are in a romantic relationship, the only time we ever see any kissing between them was when Gavin gave Tim a comforting kiss in a blink-and-you-will-miss-it moment in "Surviving Christmas". Compare it to the Brittas/Helen relationship (with some episodes having Helen passionately snog him and others even ending with her about to have sex with him) and the Unresolved Sexual Tension relationship between Brittas and Laura, which first comes into play when Laura gives a good snog to Brittas in "Sex, Lies and Red Tape".
  • Somewhere Boy: The second half of the first season focuses mostly on Aaron having a crush on Daisy and having to confront Danny who is still angry at Daisy's father for killing his mother. Danny (who is the main character nonetheless) only gets one storyline in Episode 7 showing him discover his sexuality and having a brief relationship with Ash. This plot is intervined with the FlashbackBPlot and the C Plot with Aaron's. Making the gay relationship only the focus of about a third of the episode. Even the sex scene between Danny and Ash is just one kiss and the next scene they are seen post-coitus.
  • Succession: While Lawrence is shown in bed with a man and takes a man, presumably his husband, to meet Roman, he's never shown engaging in anything physical or even discussing his personal life. Could be considered justified in that the show doesn't often depict romantic or sexual interactions between anyone, let alone a character with such minimal screentime.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): Downplayed Trope. Although the story is a Queer Romance and the Official Couple Louis de Pointe du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt share two sex scenes while naked in Season 1, they're far fewer in number, shorter in length and tamer than the heterosexual sex scenes in the other AMC Immortal Universe show Mayfair Witches. In the latter, there's thrusting when Rowan is having sexual intercourse with her male lovers, but there's no thrusting with Louis and Lestat, so the penetration during anal sex is merely implied. It's very plain when comparing the two series that the bigwigs at AMC are far less comfortable with depicting sex between two men than between a woman and a man.


    Video Games 
  • Curtis, the protagonist of Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, has three love interests — two women and one guy. The women both get multiple sex scenes. The guy? Well, they almost kiss. Apparently, showing men actually kissing is much edgier than showing fairly explicit straight BDSM.
  • Jade Empire shows a big, long kiss between the Spirit Monk and a heterosexual love interest (Dawn Star or Silk Fox if the character is male, Sky if the character is female). With a homosexual pairing, however, the camera cuts away just before the two lock lips. There are a few mods that fix this on the PC, but Xbox players are out of luck.
  • Bully offers you the chance to kiss both girls and boys, and receive health bonuses after doing so. Problem is, there exists only one kissing animation for boy/boy couples, as opposed to at least three for boy/girl couples. Also, boy kisses can never progress past the second stage of health upgrades. If you want to get the most bonuses (and even to progress the story), you have to kiss girls.
  • In Mystic Messenger, the female PC can get close to her choice of four men or a woman. Each of the men get kissing scenes and love confessions with her, but the woman doesn't and there's nothing in her route that even confirms that she and the PC are or become anything more than really good friends. Some DLC do make it a bit clearer that they have romantic feelings for each other, but they still never get a full kiss or love confession.
  • Downplayed in The Last of Us Part II: While Ellie and her girlfriend, Dina are quite affectionate, even exchanging a few passionate kisses, their sex scene is quite tame: you see them make out and take their clothes off, then Fade to Black, and you see them lying on the couch wearing bras and boxer shorts. In comparison, the sex scene between Abby and her sort-of boyfriend, Owen that happens much later in the story is much more explicit.
  • Final Fantasy XVI features multiple actual sex scenes involving straight couples, showing just about everything but the women's nipples and the genitals. The gay couple kisses once, briefly, while fully clothed. (The game still got banned in Saudi Arabia, likely for refusing to cut that scene.)

    Web Original 
  • Brain Dump has Goofball, who is stated to be gay, but pretty much never shows any actual, unfaking attraction to a male. The most genuine sexual attraction he ever showed anyone was, ironically, to a girl.
  • This episode of Black Box TV. The main character and his secret boyfriend are only referred to as "different" and are only shown hugging.
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: Jamie and Jason are stated to be more than just friends, and the epilogue implies they are a couple after they grow up.
  • One TikTok video mocks the concept and how it's used in 2010s American banking commercials. The spoof shows various heterosexual couples who have various onscreen moments of physical intimacy...and one gay couple, who is only allowed to stand next to each other and smile at the camera. By the end of the commercial, the couple is royally pissed at the narrator for downplaying their relationship and forces them to acknowledge the couple once, and the narrator reluctantly obliges in a backhanded way (by finally saying they also "f**gots").

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane has a case of this, albeit informed by the context the series' timescale and the nature of certain relationships. Caitlyn and Vi become deeply emotionally attached to each other, and various creators behind the show are blatant on social media that the two are interested in each other in a very gay way, but given by the first season's end, they've only known each other for a few days, neither seems interested in pushing for a deeper relationship. Meanwhile, the show has no problem with showing a straight sex scene between Jayce and Mel, though their particular relationship had been going on for years prior to that point (and functionaly, it's not even about fanservice, but the ethically grey schmoozing Jayce has warmed up to for his political goals, which is placed in contrast right next to his best friend Viktor breaking from his failing health).
  • Lyra and Bon Bon got this in "Slice Of Life" on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. While the couple insisted with heavy emphasis that they were "best friends", their body language was incredibly romantic and the context of their conversation was akin to a lover's quarrel. It was mostly done tongue-in-cheek to parody Shippers (as the entire episode was a Shout-Out to the Periphery Demographic), but there's little doubt it was also done this way so they could deny everything if the Moral Guardians took offense.
  • Word of God is one scene in Clarence was censored so that two men on a date kissed on the cheeks instead of on the lips.
  • Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny: Outside of some hand holding, and a scant few sweet words, Wing and Wong never show any real signs of being a couple. They only hug one time out of a time that isn't fear (like Shaggy and Scooby-Doo), and that one hug almost feels like it's Lampshading this trope, because they explicitly only hug just to show everyone how "madly in love" to announce they're a couple, and then they never hug out of affection again. In the first episode they appear, they don't even do that much and show zero signs of being a couple. Their relationship and sexuality is so poorly developed that a lot of viewers ended the series thinking either that they weren't gay due to a pregnancy joke that goes nowhere, that they weren't really a couple due to Rooster indirectly implying that he made up that they're a couple, or both.
  • The final episode of The Legend of Korra shows that Asami and Korra are now a couple because they're holding hands as they enter the spirit portal (where heterosexual relationships were fine with hugging, kissing, nose-rubbing, etc.). The comics set after the finale make it clearer (and reveal other characters as homosexual/bisexual when there had been no indication on the show).
  • The Loud House: Luna Loud and her girlfriend Sam Sharp have never kissed on the lips on-screen. They have only kissed on the cheek, with Luna kissing Sam's cheek in Season 4's Purrfect Gig, and Sam kissing Luna's cheek in Season 7's Force of Habits. Meanwhile, Luna's sister Luan has kissed her boyfriend Benny Stein on the lips in Season 3's Stage Plight, the episode where the relationship between the two officially began.
  • Rick and Morty: Rick Sanchez is pansexual according to Word of God, but the only time he actually tries to sleep with a man (as in, not out of accident or humiliating someone else) is in the Vindicators comic, where he tries to pull the moves on Vance; and one episode where he explicitly states that he had feelings for (and still holds a torch for) Bird Person. Otherwise, he sleeps with women in the show, comics and everything else plenty of times.
  • In season 7 of Voltron: Legendary Defender Shiro and his ex-boyfriend Adam only share a single flashback scene together where they don't have physical contact or even look at each other beforehand, and then Adam unceremoniously dies later in the season to which Shiro only briefly grieves. The nature of their relationship is never really made explicit. If it wasn't for Adam asking his boyfriend "How important am I to you?", you'd think they were just friends. Somewhat justified because the scene was animated when Executive Meddling insisted they remain platonic, before they were able to make it more explicit at the last second, but still jarring.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Zombizou", the Monster of the Week has turned most of Paris into kiss-happy zombies, leading to many same-sex kisses Played for Laughs... and yet the kiss that transforms Juleka into a zombie, which could only have logically have come from a zombified Rose (they were in a bus that was sealed off from all the other zombies), happens just off-screen. Later, when Zombizou is defeated and everything goes back to normal, all the major couples have on-screen kisses, except for Rose and Juleka, who merely share a hug.
  • Inverted in The Owl House. There are no less than eight on-screen kisses between same sex couples over the course of the seriesnote  and three of them are clearly on the lips. Meanwhile, most heterosexual couples do nothing more than hug or hold hands, and they don't go any further than a single Almost Kiss between Skara and her Grom date.
  • Zig-zagged in Teen Titans Go!. Monsieur Mallah and The Brain manage to be Truer to the Text than past animated incarnations in this show and are portrayed as being a gay couple like in the comics. In an episode such as "Villains In A Van Getting Gelato" where the Brain is going to casually hang out with other villains, Mallah is shown kissing him affectionately before he leaves. But in an episode such as "The Brain of the Family" that focuses on Brain and Mallah's day-to-day drama, their romantic affections are toned down and them being a married gay couple is subtlety implied through them living together, their robotic minions being presented as their children, and Mallah getting mad at the Brain's annoying family member coming over to disrupt the peace like an angry spouse.