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Closet Key

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"I had help from a friend."
Erica Hahn: My whole life, my whole adult life, I have been with men. And it always felt, you know, fine, good, but... I never... [laughs] I mean, I did, but not... not like this. This is like needing glasses.
Callie Torres: Um, I've blinded you?
Erica Hahn: No. When I was a kid, I would get these headaches, and I went to the doctor, and they said that I needed glasses. I didn't understand that, it didn't make sense to me, because I could see fine. And then I get the glasses, and I put them on, and I'm in the car on the way home, and suddenly I yell... [tearing up] because the big green blobs that I had been staring at my whole life, they weren't big green blobs. They were leaves on trees. I could see the leaves. And I didn't even know I was missing the leaves. I didn't even know that leaves existed, and then... leaves! You are glasses. [laughs happily] I am so gay. I am so, so, so gay. I am extremely gay!
Grey's Anatomy, "Life During Wartime"

Every once in a while, you'll come across a character who has a very strong connection to a major character of the same sex. This new character will be very physically attractive and their other personality traits will appeal to the established character.

Congratulations! You have just met a Closet Key.

A Closet Key's initial purpose is to indicate to the audience, and sometimes to the established character they meet, that the said established character is gay. Fortunately, the Closet Key is usually gay too, so the relationships aren't instantly tragic. Also, it is not necessary for either character's sexual orientation to be explicitly mentioned in the text; the trope can be used as a method of "gay coding" which leaves room for much debate. In either circumstance, this may lead to (whether explicit or implied) a Bisexual Love Triangle.

Usually a Pretty Boy for men, but not always. At an extreme level you have the Relationship Sue.

Truth in Television. Sometimes, in real life, people are unaware of their true sexual orientation because they keep it buried and rationalize the feelings they do notice as normal for heterosexuals... until they meet someone of the same gender that they feel an attraction to and connection with which is too great to ignore.

Also see Stupid Sexy Flanders, which is what the Closet Key might initially invoke (and may continue to invoke in avidly heterosexual characters/audience members). In a sense, this is the inverse of the Last Het Romance in which a heterosexual character or relationship that (through its lack of chemistry or je ne sais quoi) helps the gay character realize they're gay and out themselves. See also Bi-Wildered and Unknowingly in Love.

Sub-trope to LGBT Awakening.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Adekan: Shiro appears to be this to many people. In particular, Wakabayashi says he's straight but he has made Shiro his imaginary sex slave, naked and complete with collar.
  • Griffith of Berserk is pretty and charismatic enough to cause numerous Stupid Sexy Flanders moments among men, even with main character Guts. This even extends to some men developing feelings for him which he uses to further his goals. It’s also implied that Guts is the first person he genuinely fell in love with, and he handles it spectacularly poorly.
  • Ciel's prettiness in Black Butler is shown and commented on often and he has inspired interesting feelings in fellow males. In particular, Baron Kelvin falls in Love at First Sight after meeting Ciel and quickly leaves his wife.
  • Blue Flag: Touma Mita realizes he is gay after falling for his Childhood Friend Touma Ichinose. It crosses over into Single-Target Sexuality, as he seems to be the only person the former ever felt any attraction towards.
  • Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight!: Misora develops a Friends with Benefits relationship with her fellow model, Akira, but the former insists that they're not having "sex," and she's therefore still a virgin. It takes some soul-searching, but eventually, Misora ultimately admits that Akira is her girlfriend and that she lost her virginity to her.
  • The Case Files of Jeweler Richard has Richard Ranasinghe de Vulpian, who is so overwhelmingly gorgeous it's the first thing anyone notes about him, and often the last. He struggles throughout the series with being harassed for his good looks, and narrator Seigi is constantly Eating the Eye Candy and admires Richard more than anyone else, leaving Seigi questioning his feelings and sexuality.
  • Challengers has Morinaga eventually appear as a Closet Key for Tomoe's violently homophobic older brother Souichi. The Tyrant Falls in Love more or less explores Souichi's very gradual recognition of this.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, it's made increasingly obvious that Gauron finds Sousuke to be his perfect, ideal Closet Key. Sousuke's personality traits (or lack thereof) are precisely what Gauron, in his screwed up mind, finds to be the perfect match for himself. The moment Gauron first saw Sousuke, he did a double-take, parked his jeep, and tried to pick him up. This might sound a tad creepier when one realizes that Sousuke was 12 years old and Gauron was 40-50. In the light novels, Sousuke also has male character Lemon looking at him in this manner as we find out he's bisexual based on his behavior towards Sousuke.
  • In Future Diary, Akise Aru has clearly found his Closet Key in the form of Yukiteru. Too bad for him Yuno doesn't approve.
  • Gravitation has an indirect (and likely not intentional) example in Tohma Seguchi, introduced as childhood idol and fulfiller of Shuichi's dreams. It takes the story about three chapters to make it clear that Tohma's real purpose in the story is that of Yuki, Shuichi's ladykiller boyfriend whose first and only love was a man, and never shows interest in women once Shuichi has settled in his life. Tohma is easily the campest man around with his fabulous hats and gloves, feather collar, questionable dressing choices, and frequent displays of an uncharacteristic possessiveness towards Yuki - and his true nature, as well as his actual purpose in the series, does not become evident until Yuki's tragic first love sets the Character Development running.
  • In the Fumi Yoshinaga manga Ichigenme... The First Class is Civil Law, main character Tamiya meets love interest Tohdou, who introduces himself with a kiss... but Tamiya is just irritated. His real Closet Key is a substitute professor who gives him one-on-one tutoring, and it's only after he's had a confusing encounter with him that he realises he's gay.
  • Akira and Miller in Kaguya Hime inspire crushes in both males and females just by simply making an appearance in other characters' presences. Their pheromones coupled with good looks are that enticing.
  • Gilbert Cocteau in Kaze to Ki no Uta. On meeting him for the second time, protagonist Serge pointedly reflects "I didn't notice in the fog what he was really like. He's so beautiful! With those crimson lips and boldly arching brows..." Indeed, at first, he comes across as an Expy of the Trope Namer (until we learn more about him, that is).
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury: Suletta hadn't even heard of two women marrying each other before meeting Miorine. After accidentally ending up in an Arranged Marriage to Miorine via Duels Decide Everything, Suletta only agrees to play the role of groom to Miorine's bride as a sham until Miorine can escape. After the two slowly grow closer emotionally, Suletta comes to enthusiastically embrace the idea of a wedding between the two while wearing their nicest dresses.
  • It's pretty clear in Monster that Roberto considers Johan Liebert to be his Closet Key. Given that it's Johan, you can bet that he's going to use Roberto like a box of tissues and dispose of him the moment he outlives his usefulness (he does).
  • My-HiME:
    • Shizuru is Natsuki's Closet Key, as Natsuki wasn't even interested in pursuing romance or relationships while on a quest to avenge her dead mother until she realized that Shizuru's love for her had kept her from becoming completely bitter and cynical.
    • Haruka is Yukino's Closet Key, though it's also likely a case of Incompatible Orientation, at least in the anime, given Haruka's rant at Shizuru for being "filthy" for her interest in Natsuki. But Yukino only has eyes for Haruka, regardless.
  • Nana, of all series, seems to finally be going in this direction in the manga:
    Hachi: I will look for Nana. Not because I want to make her "understand" anything. Because I love her.
  • Kaworu from Neon Genesis Evangelion is slightly different in that his appearance doesn't serve to identify Shinji as gay, but as bi, since he was previously shown to be very attracted to his pretty female co-workers and engages in... disturbing activities in the proximity of one of said coworkers in the next episode. However, it's a bit of a downplayed example, as the most explicit statements of interest come from Kaworu; it's possible to interpret Shinji as just being that desperately lonely.
  • In Octave, Yukino never entertains the idea of entering into a relationship with another woman. That is until she meets her Closet Key Setsuko, who's set up to be Yukino's perfect girlfriend.
  • Otherside Picnic gives us Sorawo Kamikoshi, who has spent her youth running from a cult that her father and grandmother were involved in. She has never been in a relationship and doesn't seem to be pursuing one when we first meet her. Enter Toriko Nishina, whom Sorawo can only describe as breathtakingly gorgeous. She learns that Torko has two moms, and then, after one incident where Sorawo nearly died, Toriko tells her she loves her. It takes a Twice Shy incident at a hot spring and a Big Damn Kiss after a life-or-death situation for Sorawo to realize the full implications of what Toriko's "I love you" fully means, and for her to reciprocate.
  • Count D wants to be this for Leon in Pet Shop of Horrors. Leon becomes properly obsessed with him, but not in a healthy or romantic way, and it's left vague whether or not Leon ever stops identifying as straight.
  • In Prism, Megu finds out that the boy she spent a romantic day with in grade school is actually a (now very pretty) girl. Although initially disappointed, she falls in love after a surprise kiss, and her enthusiasm just goes up from there.
  • The titular Revolutionary Girl Utena has inspired lots of crushes in girls by simply existing. Also, as Utena gets to know Anthy she falls in love with her despite believing she's straight.
  • Masataka of Sakura Gari expresses attraction (he gets aroused) upon being hit on by Souma who is quite the gorgeous Bishōnen.
  • Scott Pilgrim Takes Off: Wallace keeps up the trait of being able to seduce straight men into sleeping with him. In this continuation, it is Ramona's ex Todd, who falls for him after they kiss and even has sex with him.
  • Sekirei gives us two bisexual variants. Minato and Homura are this to each other, while Mikogami is this to Mutsu.
  • Kaede is Akina's key twice over in Shinozaki-san Ki wo Ota Shika ni! for both being interested in girls and being an otaku. As Akina's still in denial on both points, it's a toss-up as to which is the bigger closet.
  • In Shoujo Sect, Shinobu appears to have this effect on the other students at her all-girl school, which she relentlessly abuses to create a harem of pretty girls.
  • In Strawberry Shake Sweet, Julia is so deep in the closet note  that it takes her one full chapter just to realize she's fallen for her new assistant Ran. It's only after this realization that she starts noticing all the wacky lesbian hijinks going on around her.
  • In Tokyo Mew Mew, Minto was just a snobbish Ojou who was a Lonely Rich Kid partially by choice and didn't show any sort of interest in anyone. Then she's caught with armfuls of photo books and fan club merchandise of Zakuro Fujiwara, and when confronted, goes on to describe this beautiful fashion model in great detail with hearts in her eyes.
  • Wandering Son: Falling for Shii as a preteen helped Yuki realize that she liked boys and that she wanted to be a woman when she grew up.
  • Johan of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX according to the rabid Subtext-ers and Freud. In the second episode he appears, he instantly steals Sho's previously held role of "the hero's inseparable best friend."
  • Yuri!!! on Ice: Victor seems to have been this to Yuri when he first saw him on TV as a preteen. Many LGBT viewers felt the scene resonated with their own moments of realization.
  • Yuureitou: Tetsuo and Amano, who both identified as straight, change their preferences to include the other after they meet and slowly fall in love.

  • Louis C.K. discussed this concept at one point, saying that he couldn't completely rule out any desire he might have in himself to perform oral sex on another guy... because he just might meet a guy with a "beautiful dick" that he would just love to suck. Having seen the junk of about 40 dudes by the time he turned 40, he just hadn't seen the right one yet, but it might be out there. Since he talks a lot about having sex with women, which he clearly enjoys doing, the joke is about the bisexual version of this trope.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Desert Peach, the eponymous Pfirsich Rommel is the Closet Key to his "fiancé" Rosen Kavalier. Rosen sees Pfirsich at a cafe and declares he wants to have him; Rosen's friend knows he's a complete horndog, but has never known him to fall for a dude before. Rosen claims he doesn't care that Pfirsich is a man, and gay sex eventually follows (rather bad such, since Rosen isn't skilled and cheerfully rushes on as he would with a woman).
  • In Doctor Who Magazine, companion Izzy sort of knows she's gay but doesn't admit it to herself or anyone else. She has a few honest moments on the brink of death and develops romantically-tinged friendships with fellow companions Fey (a queer androgyne) and Destrii (who Really Gets Around), but is still terrified of her sexuality. Both serve as a Closet Key for her: she realizes that her own problems are nothing compared to Destrii's when the two get into a violent Mind Meld and decides to stop lying to herself because of that. After which she immediately has a nice proper snog with Fey.
  • In Djinn, the seductive harem girl Jade becomes this for Lady Nelson, despite her being married. It's not a problem, they form an open relationship with her husband.
  • The Joker is completely and utterly insane and sadistic. The Killing Joke showed the not-yet Joker's pregnant wife saying that he was "good in the sack." There's also the few and far-between Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments he has with Harley. But then there’s all that Foe Romance Subtext he has toward Batman. Harley & Ivy both think that the Joker only has eyes for Batman. Joker has often professed affection toward Batman (complete with moments of desperate attention-needing) and in "Cacophony" Joker explicitly states that he wants Batman sexually. Although being the Joker, he wants him sexually only after he's dead. A lot of fanfics capitalize his worshipping of Batman/Bruce’s Adonis-like handsomeness.
  • With Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, the comics go back and forth as to whether Ivy was Harley's key or it was vice-versa. Either way, neither were originally thought of as being bi until they happened to be featured together, and Ivy was already in the comics a quarter-century before Harley's creation.
  • In Neil Gaiman's Marvel 1602-continuity, Angel is canonically gay (with the disguised (in drag) John/Jean Gray serving as his Closet Key, at least in the sense that "he" is the character by attraction to whom Angel's homosexuality is indicated). In other words, Angel thought Jean was a guy (there was much reason to) and still had the inner hots stirring.
  • Played sympathetically and Played for Laughs when Prodigy, a member of the New X-Men, reveals that being surrounded by the insanely attractive and extremely physically fit male and female members of the X-Men was both heavenly and hellish for someone who was just figuring out that they were bisexual, because everyone is hot. The fact that his powers work by automatically copying the knowledge in the minds of all around him means that he is also automatically intimately familiar with their sex lives... and how they like to wipe themselves.
  • In a twisted way, Bob is this for Starr in Preacher. After Bob rapes him in an alleyway, Starr is no longer able to be aroused unless he's sodomized.
  • In Runaways, it's never been explicitly stated that Klara is gay, but there is a scene with her desperately trying to argue that lesbianism is wrong even as her new friend Molly literally tries to break through the barriers that Klara is literally putting up around herself. The barriers hold, but at the very end of the arc, Klara finds Molly again, and this time puts up no protest as Molly embraces her, and thereafter is supremely loyal to her. Make of that what you will.
    • In the 2017 series, Nico finally admits to herself that she has feelings for Karolina, retroactively making Karolina her Closet Key.
  • In Snotgirl, Lottie turns out to be this for Charlene, who was previously dating Lottie's ex-boyfriend.

    Fan Works 
  • Played with in A Beacon of Our Desires. Jaune's childhood best friend Harley kisses him before their family moves away, which helps Jaune realize he's just as interested in boys as he is girls. Several years later, they meet again and Jaune learns that Harley is actually a tomboy and She Is All Grown Up, though it doesn't change Jaune's bisexuality.
  • Lan Wangji for Wei Wuxian in The Beast Of Gusu. He isn’t even aware that he likes men before he realises that he likes Lan Wangji, but is quick to accept both facts.
  • In the Frozen fic Becoming Free, Elsa's key is her new stable-worker Freya. Elsa had never thought much of romance due to other preoccupations being on her mind, however meeting Freya helps her figure out her lack of attraction towards men.
  • The Life Is Strange fanfiction Bloom:
    • A somewhat complicated example between Max Caulfield and Rachel Amber. Max had always known that she was attracted to women, but she is also Transgender and had believed that her attraction to women would go away once she started physically transitioning. A brief encounter with Rachel proves this false.
    • Max herself serves as this for Kate Marsh.
    • Rachel herself realized that she was bisexual after kissing Victoria Chase.
  • In the Story of Seasons one-shot Butterfly Nets, Angela acts as one to Candace. It takes a while for Candace to realize her feelings, but she recognizes the jealousy because she was once jealous about a boy she liked as a kid.
  • Ochako Uraraka in Changing Gears always thought she was strictly heterosexual but her instant lustful thoughts upon meeting Itsuka Kendo causes her to realize she's actually bisexual, especially it makes her realize how attractive she finds her various female classmates.
  • Child of the Storm has Ginny Weasley have a slow and somewhat painful realisation about her own bisexuality, thanks to her classic crush on Harry in her early years at Hogwarts, and then falling for Diana and going into rapid denial (because the Wizarding World is not the world's kindest atmosophere to a non-hetero person). When the two kiss, Ginny finally comes to truly accept it - after a brief freak out. Harry, meanwhile, is an enthusiastic Shipper on Deck.
  • In Daphne Greengrass and the Boy Who Lived, although Daphne's mother has teasingly told her daughter that she'd be happy if Daphne married Harry Potter or Ginny Weasley given their interest in quidditch (Daphne's mother was a former player who now owns a team while her daughter has never been that keen on the game), Daphne only acknowledges her own bisexuality when she finds herself drawn in by the Veela allure at the Quidditch World Cup.
  • Doing It Right This Time: Asuka did such a good job of helping Rei Clean Up Nicely it gave her a crisis of sexual identity!
  • In The Enchanted Library, Rarity assumed she was straight until she fell in love with Twilight.
  • In Excuses... Excuses..., Twilight Sparkle only realizes that she's bisexual after going on a date with Applejack. She had a Delayed Reaction on what dating a mare could mean for her sexuality.
  • The Victorious fic "Fever" sees Jade serve as this to Tori in a sense; after Tori suffers from amnesia after a car accident and loses her memory of her time at Hollywood Arts, she realises that she has strong feelings for Jade, although Andre eventually affirms that she had such feelings before the accident and just didn't get around to acting on them.
  • A Green Dragon's Hoard, Manami causes Mitsuki to realize she's bisexual, especially with how distracting the older woman is for her when in her pajamas.
  • Guys Being Dudes: Arlo's first response to Spark asking if he even liked guys was "Not sure. Want to find out?", implying Spark is his first male partner. It turned out that he did.
  • Hero Chat:
    • A unique variant where Marinette's Nice Girl and caring personality had caused many of her classmates to have a crush on her, with the exception of those that like only boys or don't have a soul. Max, having never had a crush on Marinette, takes it as confirmation that he's gay.
    • Meanwhile, Chloe mentions having several crushes on female characters that really should have clued her in on her own sexuality, but she only started to figure it out when she realized she was attracted to Alix. At which point she realized she was only attracted to her female classmates.
      Luka: How the actual fuck did you ever think you were straight?
      Chloe: A lot of denial. Like a LOT.
  • Here by Accident, Staying on Purpose: Trixie mentions that she realized she was bi as a child after learning that her friend Timantha was actually a kid she knew named Timmy.
  • Happens a lot in The History Boys fandom, especially with Posner and Scripps.
  • In If Them's the Rules, Harry is, unfortunately, one to Arcturus Black despite not being particularly handsome or beautiful.
  • In Kira, Sweetheart L to Light:
    This was L's fault. What with that long dark hair and slender frame and the way he'd curled his toes cutely into chair cushions as he'd lick the frosting off a doughnut with that talented tongue of his that tasted so nice...
    That was just it. L was... girly and confusing. His habits arousing protective instincts even in his enemies... Yeah, that must be it! Well played, Ryuuga. Well played.
  • In Learning To Bloom, Weiss and Pyrrha are this to one another. Weiss has previously had feelings for other girls but always chalks up her feelings as nothing important.
  • Marge has Dead Sparks with her husband in marge simpson anime. She instead begins falling for her married neighbor Maude, but Maude dies before anything can come out of their relationship. Maude's death serves as a catalyst for Marge's journey of self-discovery.
  • In A Minor Miscalculation, Ryuko insistently shrugs off all implications that she's not straight for much of the story but realizes she's a lesbian pretty much the moment Mako — who has always been openly bi — finally works up the nerve to confess her feelings. Not that this surprises anyone else.
  • In Moving, Karen's friend Elizabeth takes her to a gay nightclub, where Karen ends up dancing with both men and women. She ends up kissing a nameless woman and that acts as the "key" to discovering her bisexuality.
  • While initially believing it to be a cause of If It's You, It's Okay, Rei eventually causes Asuka to realize she's bisexual in Neon Metathesis Evangelion when she checks out some other girls in the locker room and finds herself interested.
    • Much like canon, Kaworu causes Shinji to realize he's bisexual. Not that it matters as Shinji is already in a three-way relationship with Rei and Asuka.
  • Maya ends up being this for Ritsuko in Nobody Dies. It works because of two factors. First, since Yui didn't die, Gendo is off the market. Second, Ritsuko helped come to this conclusion via the sight of Maya shaking her groove thing in a plugsuit. Still took a few dozen chapters before anything serious came of it.
  • "Only One Year": Elsa has incestuous feelings for her own sister Anna but isn't sure if this makes her a lesbian or not. Unaware of the issue and to try and help her explore her sexuality, her bisexual friend Rapunzel invites her out to a lesbian club. Shortly after arriving, she meets Esmeralda; they hit it off quickly and she invites Elsa to dance. Despite her shameful feelings for Anna, Elsa is surprised that Esmeralda rather easily turns her on. After a very sensual dance which culminates in a passionate makeout session, Elsa confirms that whatever she is, she definitely isn't straight.
  • In Pattern in Rubies, Rin realizes she's bisexual when finds herself admiring Archer's (here a female Gilgamesh) body.
  • In The Power of Seven, Fleur is eventually revealed to have been this for Ginny in terms of helping Ginny realise her own bisexuality. When Ginny starts acting on her attraction to other women after forming a soul bond with Harry, she initially assumes she's just being influenced by Harry's own attraction to women, but thinking back on her reactions to seeing Fleur around the Burrow the previous summer helps Ginny accept that she's bisexual on her own.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves: This trope is inverted with Coco and Ilia. Both of them are head and shoulders into girls. And yet they find themselves oddly attracted to Jaune and Sun respectively. In the former's case, it is because she finds him to be an intelligent and resourceful guy. In the latter's case, she finds his abs to be that awesome.
  • Ranma, or rather Ranko, in Ranma Saotome, Chi Master causes Akane to realize she's bisexual as she finds herself fantasizing about him in both forms.
  • In the pro wrestling story, A Ring Of Their Own, Beth Phoenix is this to Layla, including sing-songing "I turned you gay" at her.
  • In Science: Saving Humanity without regard to Morals or Ethics , Mari sees a Kimono Fanservice picture of Misato Katsuragi and immediately thinks "Oh no, I'm gay". At least until she remembers Shinji and promptly declares that she's definitely bisexual.
  • In The Search for the Sublime, Raven had only ever been interested in men prior to falling for her childhood friend Chelsea.
  • This is weaponized against Kim in the Kim Possible fic So the Trauma. While fighting a skimpily-clad Shego, Kim feels attracted to her and wonders what that means to her. Shego also notices Kim's reaction and correctly guesses that she likes girls. An android called Erica is then created to act as a way to get to Kim. Kim's still at that age where she's figuring herself out, so Erica being her first girlfriend means a lot to her. When it turns out that Erica was a robot all along, Kim becomes distraught. She gets so mad that she almost kills Shego, but Kim decides to let her live.
  • In Sparkling Shimmer, Sunset doesn't realize she likes girls until Twilight tries to kiss her.
  • The Unwanted Harem, all stallions chasing after the same man, of A Stallions Man generally don't acknowledge when Barrett says in no uncertain terms he's straight as an arrow, but the few who do try to invoke this trope as they are certain they can change his mind, so him repeating it really solves nothing. Dusk Shine is especially keen on this because somehow Barrett himself was Dusk's closet key and when Dusk was overwhelmed at being rejected, Barrett gave him a pity kiss, so now Dusk is extremely confident, to an unbearable & even depraved extent, that he himself is Barrett's key in turn, as he refuses to believe Barrett couldn't have done it without returning his feelings. Why? Rule of Funny, of course!
  • Draco was Harry's key in Surviving. Harry described it to Blaise Zabini as Draco "finding his inner gayness."
  • In Teachers Outside of the Classroom, Molly McGee is this for her best friend, Libby Stein-Torres.
  • In the Hannah Montana fic "Thirst", when Miley learns that Lilly likes girls after a casual bullying remark at school, it sets Miley on a period of self-analysis where she eventually realises that she's wanted to be with Lilly since her friend revealed that she was interested in girls in the first place.
  • In Tickles your Fancy (NSFW), it is mentioned that the morning after Beast Boy's first gay experience, his partner woke up swearing off girls (and, as of the time of the story, is in a most dedicated and loving relationship with another guy), while BB himself woke up determined to further explore his Extreme Omnisexual side.
  • In Total Drama Legacy, Carter ends up being this for Marlin. After Marlin sees Carter naked in "Campfire Emblem Awake-ening", it "awakens something" in him and he realizes he's attracted to men.
  • Total Trauma: Sierra was this for Heather. They became close friends after the events of World Tour, with Sierra helping Heather cope with mental issues, and Heather stayed up late contemplating whether her love was romantic or if she was just not used to having friends. As it turns out, Heather is a lesbian.
  • In To Romance a Magician, Twilight Sparkle believed herself to be a heterosexual with a lot of natural self-control. Until she realized that same self-control completely went out the window when a certain boastful magician was concerned.
  • In Unity (Finmonster), Pamela/Honey Lemon (Big Hero 6) is the first woman Susan/Ginormica (Monsters vs. Aliens) has been attracted to, the two meeting on a night out arranged by new mutual acquaintance Violet Parr (The Incredibles).
  • In the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 fanfic What the Snuff is a "Dyke"?, Eunie was raised in a sexless dystopia and only received The Talk about a week ago. The doctor didn't really go over sexuality, just the basics (they didn't even know what children were), so she's a bit confused as to why she doesn't feel any attraction to men like the doctor said she should. When she asks Monica about the subject, Eunie admits that yeah, she sort of likes Ashera, and she stares at her female teammates a bit when they're changing, but that's just normal, right? Monica takes a deep breath, explains what a lesbian is, Eunie is probably attracted to Ashera, and she should definitely stop staring at her female teammates while they're changing.
  • In Xendra, Xander/Xendra causes Willow to eventually realize she's bisexual. While initially, she was very put off by the idea of doing anything romantic or sexual with another girl, Willow does develop an attraction to Xendra. She's just horribly conflicted due to her overbearing mother not approving. She eventually gets over this and has no problem being involved with either form.
  • Ranma seems to act as one for Louise (though in her case she's bisexual) in Zero Interface in a rather odd way. Due to their connection, Louise feels every emotion that Ranma does. So when he starts having lustful thoughts towards Kirche, so does Louise. This leads to Louise walking in on Ranma and Kirche making out only for her to make out with both of them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Adam (2019): Gillian tells Adam she's never dated a trans guy (he's actually cis) but is open to the idea, and starts a relationship with him. She realizes she's bisexual, not a lesbian, after this.
  • Alto: Frankie shows surprise upon realizing she's attracted to Nicolette. She's engaged to a man, apparently having never felt this way before.
  • Below Her Mouth: Jasmine is quickly attracted to butch lesbian Dallas, though she always thought of herself as straight before. They begin a passionate affair.
  • In Besties, the feelings of protagonist Nedjma for her neighbor Zina make her realize that she isn't straight.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: While Adèle doesn't identify as lesbian or bisexual nor is the film clear on where she places on the Kinsey Scale, Emma serves as this for her since she found out that she can be attracted to women too.
  • In Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie realizes that he is bisexual after band manager Paul kisses him one night while he's composing.
  • Bonnie & Bonnie: Yara doesn't seem to have been attracted by women before meeting Kiki.
  • It appears Hank is going to become this for Alan in The Boys in the Band. Alan seems immediately attracted to Hank and repeatedly seems on the brink of coming out, but he's appalled at the behavior of the gay men at the party and leaves though not before asking Hank to leave with him.
  • The two male leads in Brokeback Mountain, for each other. Or at least Jack, for Ennis. There's some evidence to suggest that Jack had accepted his own sexuality before meeting Ennis.
  • Cassanova Was A Woman: Her attraction to Lola makes Cassanova, who had believed she's straight (and is married to a man) realize otherwise. She's actually bisexual like Lola.
  • An unfortunate example occurs in The Children's Hour. Possibly in denial, or confused, about her feelings for several years, it takes a child's Malicious Slander to make Martha realize that she's gay. It doesn't help her stress and only makes her feel more guilty and terrible.
    Martha: There's always been something wrong. Always, just as long as I can remember. But I never knew what it was until all this happened.
    Martha: (...) I never felt that way about anybody but you. I've never loved a man. I never knew why before. Maybe it's that.
    Martha: It's funny. It's all mixed up. There's something in you, and you don't know anything about it because you don't know it's there. But then suddenly one night, a little girl] gets bored and tells a lie, and there for the first time, you see it. Then you say to yourself, "Did she see it? Did she sense it?"
  • The key for Zac from C.R.A.Z.Y. is his cousin's boyfriend Paul. However, it's another interesting variation in that he denies that he's attracted to Paul, even to himself. So it's more like Zac just puts the key in his pocket and looks at it from time to time, but refuses to open the door.
  • In Cupcakes Straight Gay Assi falls for Camp Gay Ofer. They keep the relationship a secret for a year, but eventually, Assi gets the courage to come out publicly and stand up to his rich parents, who want him to maintain his image as the eligible presenter of the family company.
  • D.E.B.S.: Lucy for Amy. Falling for her makes Amy realize she likes other girls.
  • Elena Undone: Elena at first denies any attraction to women but then realizes she's fallen in love with Peyton, having an affair with her.
  • Eloïse's Lover: Àsia shows no sign of ever finding women attractive before meeting Eloïse, who stirs desire in her.
  • Entre Nous (2021): Elodie was the first woman Laetitia had been attracted to, saying she had only ever had straight relationships before getting together with her.
  • Feast of Love: Jenny appears to be the first woman Kathryn has found attractive, as the former notes.
  • Giant Little Ones: Ballas and Franky seem to ambiguously be this for one another as it's implied that prior to their sexual encounter, both assumed they were straight. Franky's dad also tells him about how he met his boyfriend, realizing that he's gay by doing so.
  • Girls Like Magic: Maggie thought of herself as straight before meeting Jamie, whom she slowly falls for.
  • The Guest House: Invoked almost by name with Amy; when getting matching tattoos of lockets and keys, Amy refers to Rachel (who is implied to at least be bi) saying: "She's my key!"
  • The introduction of Juliet in Heavenly Creatures. Not only do her personality and interests perfectly compliment Pauline's, but she is also constantly shot in a romantic/idealised way, never more so than when Pauline visits her house for the first time. Whatever the true story was, the film frames it as a love story between Pauline and Juliet-and Juliet is most certainly the Closet Key.
  • Luce, in the film Imagine Me & You, is this to the main character Rachel. They meet on Rachel's wedding day, and the rest of the film is Rachel's increasing denial about her feelings.
  • The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love: Evie was never previously attracted to women before meeting Randy, and initially she's confused because of it. She quickly accepts her attraction though and starts dating her.
  • It's a Wonderful Knife (2023): Bernie, another girl, appears to be this for Winnie, who begins the film by dating a boy without being depicted as liking girls before her.
  • Keeping Up with the Joneses: Invoked. Karen pretends Natalie made her realize she's a lesbian, kissing her and passing over a knife while doing so as a way of distracting the bad guy.
  • Kissing Jessica Stein: Jessica realizes she's attracted to women by meeting (later dating) Helen.
  • In Kiss Me (2011), Frida seems like this for Mia at first, since she's engaged to Tim. It's subverted later though as Mia shows such experience having sex with Frida that she realizes this can't have been her first time with a woman. When she asks, Mia admits it's true, she had been with a woman in the past but didn't tell Tim or anyone else.
  • Love Is Not Perfect: Adriana is the first woman who Elena has ever been attracted to. It turns out that it's mutual, and Elena is her first as well.
  • Maggie & Annie: Annie says she has never found any woman attractive before meeting Maggie.
  • In Margarita with a Straw, Khanum causes Laila to start questioning her sexuality. After consulting with some books, she decides that she's bisexual.
  • Naomi And Ely's No Kiss List: His attraction to Ely made Bruce realize (or admit to himself) that he's into men.
  • In Out at the Wedding Risa is this to Jeannie. Jeannie was in denial about being gay and the movie begins with her marrying her boyfriend. Eventually, she begins falling for Risa, and by the end she's broken up with her husband.
  • In Plan B Bruno tries to invoke this trope with the reportedly bi-curious Pablo to make him confused enough to break up with Laura so that he can get back together with her. He succeeds, but discovers that Pablo has become his own Closet Key — or at least a Sometimes You Just Fall In Love With Another Guy Closet Key — too.
  • Room in Rome: Natasha tells Alba she's never been interested in a woman before her, though like everything she says this may not be true.
  • Sappho: Before meeting Helene Sappho doesn't seem to have ever been attracted by women, nor even knew about what her own name signified.
  • Naomi and Michelle for each other in The Secrets. Both are completely surprised and dismayed initially (as they're Orthodox Jews) with their mutual attraction.
  • Shelter (2007): After getting kissed by Shaun, his best friend's older brother, Zach spends a bit of time in upset and confused brooding, but once he realizes that it's what he wants, he's actually quite eager to be with Shaun.
  • Show Me Love: Agnes for Elin, possibly. She shows no sign of being interested in girls before her.
  • Thelma: Thelma discovers she's attracted to women by meeting Anja.
  • Tombstone: Billy, played by Jason Priestley, has a reaction along these lines to the lead actor of a traveling theater company, played by Billy Zane. He's enraptured by the actor's performance, inviting him to sit at his table in the saloon; his Heel–Face Turn is later prompted by the man's murder.
  • The Truth About Jane: Taylor is one for Jane, who realizes she's gay by her attraction to her.
  • In When Night is Falling, uptight conservative teacher Camille Baker (who has a boyfriend) meets free-spirited circus performer Petra Soft, with whom she eventually falls in love.
  • The World Unseen: Miriam falls for Amina, despite having a husband, making her realize she's attracted to (at least some) women.

  • In Adaptation., Reese's attraction to Amber makes her realize that she is bi.
  • In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, known gay character Sammy Clay encounters radio actor Tracy Bacon who is described as "well over six feet tall, broad-shouldered, with a dimple in his chin and glossy blond hair" with "distinctly visible" muscles. While Sammy's attraction to Bacon is not a revelation to himself nor the reader, it does open the closet doors to Sammy's family; Sammy's mother knows after one dinner with them that their interest is romantic, even before Sammy himself notices.
  • Annie for Liza in Annie on My Mind. Liza didn't have any particular interest in dating until she met Annie. She quickly fell for her and realized she was gay.
  • The Beebo Brinker Chronicles: In Odd Girl Out, Laura admits that "her own high school crushes had been on girls", but she doesn't believe they meant anything. Her relationship with Beth helps her accept that she really is homosexual.
  • The Black Magician Trilogy:
    • Tayend is a pretty classic example of this. The very first thing the reader learns about Tayend is that he's beautiful. His long blond hair and form-fitting clothes are described constantly, and all from Dannyl's point of view. Dannyl's open-mindedness does make the situation a little easier. This is actually a pretty unusual example, as Dannyl was once aware that he was gay, he'd simply started subconsciously using magic to suppress it to the point where he "forgets" and Tayend was on hand to remind him again.
    • Lilia also thinks Naki is unusually gorgeous and wonderful at first sight.
  • The Change Room: Shar enjoys having awakened multiple women to their sapphic desire when having sex with them as part of a threesome to indulge their male partners.
  • The Charm Offensive: Dev for Charlie. It had never occurred to Charlie that he might be attracted to men before falling for him. Furthermore, by realizing his lack of attraction to everyone else, he realizes that he might be in the asexuality spectrum.
  • In the novel version of The Color Purple, Celie describes the epiphany she has while bathing the sickly singer Shug: "The first time I got a full sight of Shug Avery's long black body [...] I thought I had turned into a man."
  • At various points in Cut and Run, the protagonists discuss what each of theirs was. In the seventh book after Zane tells Ty and the rest of Sidewinder his story, he finds out his closet key was actually Ty the whole time.
  • Darkover: In The Heritage of Hastur, Danilo Syrtis is this for Regis Hastur, in more ways than just the sexual; Danilo's magic power is to release that of others, and magic is linked to sexuality. Technically, Regis is also the Closet Key for Danilo, in an If It's You, It's Okay kind of way.
  • Different Season: In "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" Red mentions that some inmates didn't realize until prison that they're gay or bisexual, having never been with a man before getting into a relationship with one while inside.
  • Girls Don't Hit: One half of a same-sex female couple who Joss meets hadn't been attracted to any women before meeting her wife.
  • In Go Tell It on the Mountain, the protagonist John Grimes spends a lot of time admiring his Sunday School teacher, Elisha, especially his "leanness, and grace, and strength" and would often be too distracted to follow the lesson. James Baldwin, who was himself gay, freely admitted that the novel is semi-autobiographical.
  • Robby is this for Austin in Grasshopper Jungle. It really sparks after Robby convinces Austin to kiss him, so he, Robby, could at least know how it feels to kiss another guy.
  • In The Harem Protagonist Was Turned Into A Girl!! And Doesn’t Want To Change Back!!!?? protagonist Svetlana acts as this to both Thisbe and Augusta, though Thisbe reacts a lot better to it than Augusta. Inverted with Vivian who says pre-transformation Svetlana (who was presenting as male even to herself - she used to be called Kevin) was the only reason she thought she might be bisexual, turns out it was more a case of If It's You, It's Okay.
  • Harry Potter: J. K. Rowling's revelation that Albus Dumbledore was in love with Gellert Grindelwald is not surprising in light of this trope. At almost every opportunity in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Grindelwald is variously described as a "handsome," "merry-faced" man whose "golden hair fell in curls to his shoulders". He was also the nearest Dumbledore ever had to an equal, in intellect and talent, besides Voldemort.
  • In Heart Block by Melissa Brayden, Sarah has no idea she's gay until she meets Emory.
  • Heart In Hand:
    • Alex, for Darryl. Although Darryl does not express attractions to other men even after meeting Alex, he identifies as gay by the end of the story.
    • Darryl for Alex is a downplayed example. Alex states that he has "fooled around" with male partners before, but it's implied that Darryl is the first time he had fallen in love with a guy and that Alex did not consider himself bisexual before.
  • Heretical Edge:
    • Flick realizes she's bisexual after finding that she's looking at Avalon Sinclaire and Shiori Porter the same way she's looking at the guys on the team.
    • In Shiori's backstory, she ran into the rare Incompatible Orientation version with a friend named Gabby.
  • Played with in Keeping You a Secret, which literally starts when Holland sees her Closet Key Cece for the first time (helped by that Cece wore her one of many LGBT-shirts through the book, and her being out as hell) helping Holland to realize she likes Cece. But once Holland accepts to herself that she likes Cece, a lifetime of memories finds their place within herself; how she fell in love with her favorite teacher in Junior high, and how she unknowingly kept "getting crushes" on one of her two best friends through their childhood.
  • Just Juliet: Lena realizes she's bisexual due to falling for Juliet.
  • In the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy, Herald-Mage trainee Tylendel is this for Vanyel; in fact, he's the reason Vanyel discovers that homosexuality even exists, his homophobic family having done their best to prevent him from ever learning about it.
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club: Lily has felt drawn to certain photos of women, and she found herself intrigued by the lesbian pulp novel Strange Season however she doesn't realize she's a lesbian until Kath’s feelings for her are pointed out and she realizes that she feels the same way.
  • In Leah on the Offbeat, the sequel to Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Abby's crush on Leah makes her realize that she is bisexual.
  • Loveless: Rooney has all her casual hookups with men, but falls in love with the female Pip, which helps her realize she isn't completely straight.
  • Diane from Love Over Gold was attracted to both boys and girls as a teenager. Her classmates were incredibly homophobic, so she convinced herself that she was straight and that her attraction to women was just a phase. As an adult, she's had several relationships with men, even though her attraction to that gender has faded over time, while her attraction to women hasn't. She never considers that she might be a lesbian until Katrien kisses her. Alarmed by how the kiss made her feel, Diane flees Katrien's apartment in a panic. The next day, she talks to Katrien about her feelings and admits her attraction to women, and the two start dating.
  • Clive Durham from Maurice. He helps Maurice realize his homosexuality. However Forster really only describes his physical appearance once (and very vaguely too).
  • May the Best Man Win: Lukas realizes he's gay when he becomes attracted to his dead brother Jason's old friend Terry Gould. The two make out in the woods behind the school. Terry later steals thousands of dollars from the school so he can move to California to be with his boyfriend, but the experience helps Lukas realize that he's still attracted to Jeremy, who was Lukas's girlfriend before he came out as trans.
  • Mermaids of Eriana Kwai: At first Meela doesn't understand why she isn't attracted to Tanuu and thinks her attraction to Lysi is just because of mermaid hypnotism. It isn't until the end of Ice Massacre that she realizes she's in love with Lysi.
  • Middlesex: The Object (short for "The Object of My Desire,") serves this purpose for Calliope, hence the nickname.
  • In the Millennium Series, Mimmy was not Lizbeth's first female sexual partner (she had previously experimented during her time with the Evil Fingers), but Mimmy was the point at which Lizbeth realized that her encounters with women were part of her sexuality.
  • In The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Arthur Bechstein constantly describes Arthur Lecomte's appearance in obsessive detail, commenting on his shoe brand, the stubble on his jawline, the color of his chest hair, and the way he blushes, among other characteristics. He even admits that he's fixated on him hours after meeting him, after a page-long soliloquy on Lecomte's homosexuality. It doesn't really come as a shock to anyone when they do it, though it takes about 2/3rds of the book to get there.
  • In Luck in the Shadows and Stalking Darkness, the first two books of the Nightrunner series, Seregil is this to Alec, first introducing him to sexuality in general, then easing him into the strange notion of bisexuality as a social norm, then they fall in love. It takes until the middle of the second book, but the way is pretty clear from the beginning, with Alec getting all kinds of confused when seeing Seregil in drag, and later choosing a female prostitute who reminds him of that look.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Dennaleia realizes over time due to falling for Mare that she's a lesbian, explicitly stating she'd never known what attraction or love were earlier.
  • Second Apocalypse plays with this trope. Cnaiur urs Skiotha is a Proud Warrior Race Guy whose culture values manliness and treats homosexuality as an extreme taboo. Cnaiur was seduced by Anasurimbor Moenghus, a superhuman manipulator, and Cnaiur's gay fling haunts him for the rest of his life. It's unclear if Moenghus simply awakened and exploited something already hidden deep within Cnaiur or if Moenghus is simply so masterful at manipulation that he is able to seduce a straight man in spite of extreme cultural bias against it.
  • In Smoke and Shadows, protagonist Tony Foster proves to be this for his crush, actor Lee Nicholas.
  • In Sparks Like Ours, also by Melissa Brayden, Elle is, if anything, even less enthusiastic about men than Sarah was. She still doesn't put two and two together until she becomes friends and then lovers with surfing rival Gia.
  • Spellster: Dylan never really was attracted to men before Tracker. Though he had found some a bit interesting, those feelings never went further or clicked with him.
  • The Teresa Knight Trilogy: Hooking up with Ayako makes Teresa realize that she's bisexual. Although she had sexual fantasies about women before, it just didn't sink in. She put that down to pent-up sexual energy rather than specific attraction.
  • Kitty Butler of Tipping the Velvet is a female instance of this trope. Since she's a masher — a music hall artiste who dresses as a man — she appeals to the heroine in both male and female guises. Thanks to this being a Sarah Waters novel, the relationship is not left to subtext.
  • When the Angels Left the Old Country: By the end of the book, Essie helps Rose realize that she's a lesbian.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Almost Family: Amanda Doherty serves as this for Edie, who'd never realized her sexuality before.
  • During the 21st season of the The Amazing Race, Brent mentioned that his partner (now husband) Josh is the only man he’s ever been in a relationship with. They were both in their early thirties when they met.
  • As the World Turns: Luke is this for Noah while Kevin was this for Luke.
  • Avocado Toast: Molly having a relationship with her girlfirend "The One" in England made her realize she's bisexual.
  • Obligatory Buffy the Vampire Slayer example: Willow is, aside from a few hints, considered entirely straight; then, after her break-up with Oz, she meets Tara, and suddenly is no longer interested in the "stubbly" side of things.
  • On Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, White Josh is this for Darryl. Darryl has an ex-wife and a daughter, but when White Josh kissed him on the cheek, suddenly he started having feelings. At first, he insisted that he wasn't gay... and then, later on, realized that he was bisexual. He and White Josh are now a couple.
  • Several examples from Degrassi: The Next Generation:
    • Paige and Alex are each other's closet keys, with Alex explicitly being a lesbian and Paige either being bisexual or a case of If It's You, It's Okay. After being friends for a while, they kiss after a fun party and end up dating.
    • In a roundabout way, Peter (who is straight) acts as a closet key to Riley, though Riley was in firm denial about it for a long time.
    • Fiona realizes she is gay when she realizes she has a crush on her best friend Holly J. Later on, she works as a closet key for Imogen when they start dating.
    • Miles, who previously thought he was straight, starts a relationship with his best friend Tristan after impulsively kissing him and being surprised that he liked it. Now Miles is very proudly bisexual.
    • Zoe realizes she likes girls after developing a strong crush on her new best friend Grace who, after they have sex, confessed that she is straight.
  • In Emmerdale, Robert Sugden slept with both men and women but insisted he was straight up until he met and fell madly in love with Aaron Dingle. After fighting his feelings for about one and a half years, he eventually started a relationship with Aaron and eventually admitted his bisexuality, saying "I just want to be myself now, with you."
  • ER: Kerry Weaver was apparently completely unaware that she was gay until meeting Lipstick Lesbian Dr. Kim Legaspi. Even then, it's not until Kim points out Kerry's behavior—frequently calling on her for consults, etc, that Kerry realizes that she's been acting like someone with a crush. They soon begin a relationship but break up due to Kerry's constant wavering. Not until several months later does Kerry blurt out that she's a lesbian, and even then, it's not to Kim, it's to someone making derogatory comments about her. Although it doesn't work out between the two, following this, Kerry pursues several lesbian relationships with ease, even marrying and having a child with one woman.
  • Euphoria: Her attraction to Jules made Rue realize that she's only into women (she also finds her friend Lexi attractive), reflecting on having sex with guys but never really enjoying it.
  • In Everybody Loves Raymond, Robert tells Ray about a fellow police officer who had no idea he was gay until he met his Closet Key on vacation in Hawaii. Ray then considers the possibility that everyone has a Closet Key, and that neither of them has met "Mr. Right". This mentality lasts at least until the end of the episode: when confronted with an extremely attractive UPS worker, Ray is extremely uncomfortable until he leaves. At which point, he passionately kisses his wife just to make sure.
  • Friends: Susan was this for Carol back when the latter was married to Ross before the series began. This gets lampshaded when Susan starts hanging out with Ross's girlfriend Emily, and Ross fears she'll turn Emily into a lesbian as she did with Carol.
  • Gentleman Jack: Miss Lister is this for her lover Miss Walker, who, after admitting that she is attracted to her, realizes she has been ever since they first met over a decade before — and that the idea of being with a man romantically or sexually is outright nauseating to her.
  • Glee:
    • Brittany to Santana. An odd example where the two of them already had been best friends and sexual partners for a while when the Key-moment happened. What happened was this: Brittany and Santana were playing the Friends with Benefits-game, having numerous male partners while "just having fun" with each other behind closed doors. This worked until Brittany got a serious boyfriend, and asked Santana to stop her bullshit and explain what she meant to her. A lot of thinking made Santana realize that she was only interested in Brittany and that all those guys had been her way to hide her feelings from herself.
    • Kurt is this for David Karofsky.
    • Another odd example is, again, with Kurt. In the first season, he had a crush on Finn, and despite Finn being straight, Kurt kept trying to seduce him anyway. He ended up trying to turn himself into Finn's Closet Key, and was somehow convinced that he could somehow turn Finn gay for him - and he ended up doing some pretty manipulative things to try and make this happen. It didn't work, but considering that they're now step-brothers and happy with that, then you could argue that that's a good thing.
  • Gossip Girl (2021): Aki realizes he's bisexual due to his attraction toward Max.
  • Gotham Knights (2023): Stephanie becoming attracted to Harper makes Steph finally realize that she's a lesbian before kissing her. Harper, a bisexual girl, was attracted to Steph already so she reciprocates.
  • Callie is this to Erica in Grey's Anatomy, although the metaphor she opts for in a heartbreaking monologue is "glasses," referring to the stunning clarity provided to her the first time she got glasses as a child. Erica, in turn, shows Callie that she is bisexual...and then tells her that "you can't be kind of a lesbian," and then leaves the show forever because the powers that be didn't think their relationship "sparkled" enough.
    • In Season 15, Levi tells Nico that he didn't know he was gay until Nico kissed him and "I felt like I existed and everything fell into place"
  • Hightown: Leslie tells Jackie she realized she's gay due to being with her, which came as a surprise given it's at 35 after she'd been married to a man before. Jackie was the first woman she's ever been with.
  • Played with in How I Met Your Mother. The Mother's college roommate realises she's a lesbian when she's attracted to the Mother, but because Tracy is heterosexual nothing ever happens between them, although they apparently do stay friends.
  • Impulse: Kate, a girl Jenna meets, is the final confirmation she's attracted to girls, with the pair sharing a kiss. After this, Jenna admits her attraction. It had been hinted before through different things.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): The handsome and charming Lestat de Lioncourt is this for Louis de Pointe du Lac, who was in denial of his homosexuality until Lestat seduced him. Unlike his prior "floating-on-a-sea-of-vodka type encounters" with other men, Louis wasn't drunk when he and Lestat made love, and he was forced to concede that he had developed romantic feelings for Lestat. After their Relationship Upgrade near the end of "In Throes of Increasing Wonder...", Louis stops pretending that he's straight.
  • Irma Vep: It turns out Laurie was the first woman Mira has been with. She admits to Zoe that it's left her with some confused feelings, although Mira doesn't appear concerned either.
  • Jane the Virgin: Jane Ramos is this to Petra. After a long history of dating men, many of whom were abusive and/or manipulative, Petra falls for JR and realizes she is bisexual. Lampshaded when she admits that she lied when she said she'd been with women before to get JR to have sex with her for the first time.
  • In Legacies, Ben is this for Jed Tien. Jed, in episode 11 of season 4, struggles through trying to explain why it is he feels he needs to avoid Ben while under the influence of truth serum, saying that he feels as if he's going to say something stupid. In the episode finale Jed tells Finch he has realized the confusing feelings bubbling up inside him are romantic ones for Ben, and he doesn't know who else to talk to about it.
  • Played for Laughs in the The Mighty Boosh episode The Party, after Vince kisses a desolate Howard to pretend that they're a couple, in order to save himself from getting killed from the head shaman (whose wife had previously flirted with Vince). Caught in the moment, Howard temporarily declares himself as gay, stating that Vince was the key to his self-discovery. However, he quickly forgets about it when he sees a woman whom he was after since the start of the episode. Vince initially appears jealous but quickly gets over it and leaves with a woman as well. Like most events in the series, this is never brought up again.
    • Vince believes himself to be everyone's closet key.
  • Never Have I Ever: Fabiola kinda falls in Love at First Sight with her eventual girlfriend, Eve.
  • No Tomorrow: Kareema appears to realize she's bisexual from feeling attracted by Sofia and gets into a relationship with her.
  • Once Upon a Time: It's not clear if Ruby is a Lipstick Lesbian or bisexual (she had a boyfriend when she was a teenager and flirted with August March), but her One True Love Dorothy Gale is the one who makes her realise she is attracted to women.
  • Chris Keller for Tobias Beecher in Oz. While Tobias points out that he has been in sexual relationships with men before (usually without his consent, not that he's willing to refer to it like that), he never loved another man before Keller and finds it difficult to understand how they can connect like a "man and a woman" would.
  • On Schitt's Creek Patrick realizes he's gay after meeting David. Pansexual David appears to realize he's homo-romantic after falling in love for the first time with Patrick.
  • Alec realizes he's gay on Shadowhunters through falling for Magnus.
  • Teased, then averted by Claire and Edie in Six Feet Under. Claire is coming off of several bad relationships with men when she experiments with lesbianism with Edie, but it doesn't work out. She comes to the conclusion that it was partly If It's You, It's Okay, partly Even the Girls Want Her and partly that she was just feeling temporarily disillusioned with the opposite sex, but ultimately she is still more or less completely straight.
  • On Supergirl (2015), Alex expresses no interest in dating women until Maggie flirts with her. Her initial panicked reaction gives way to realizing she's suppressed feelings towards women ever since she was a teenager.
  • Tipping the Velvet (2002): Nan didn't know she was a "tom" before she met Kitty, while in retrospect saying that it explains her lack of attraction for her fiance.
  • Torchwood:
  • Two Sentence Horror Stories: In "Bag Man" Zee is implied to be Gabbi's, as she says Zee's the first girl she's ever liked.
  • Willow: Kit and Jade both serve as this for each other, with them realizing over time that they're in love. Boorman already saw the two's feelings, but they didn't lay it out until Jade confesses she loves Kit (Kit's passionately kissing her before preparing to leave though was a sign in retrospect).

  • In "I Kissed a Girl" by Jill Sobule, the protagonist and her friend Jenny are both in relationships with men but are uncertain about their feelings toward them. While hanging out together they end up kissing. It's unknown if anything happened between her and Jenny, however, the protagonist is certainly changed by the kiss:
    I kissed a girl
    And I might do it again
  • The Kinks' "Lola" is about a naive young man in a sleazy club who meets a hot woman, discovers that she isn't a woman, and then realises he doesn't mind. Maybe. note 
  • What Lil Nas X aims to be towards his closeted gay lover in "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)".

  • The Knight of Chiffreville is this to Don Juan in the French re-writing of the famous play.
  • Allison's roommate Joan in the musical adaption of Fun Home helps Allison figure out her sexuality by kissing and having sex with her, which leads to Allison singing about how amazing she feels and that she's finally not afraid of her feelings towards women.
  • "You Happened" in The Prom indicates that Emma was this for still-in-the-closet Alyssa, as Alyssa confesses she hadn't been honest with herself before they started dating.

    Video Games 
  • According to the creators of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, Roth was one for Jacob Frye, with the "Take That!" Kiss being the moment when he released his bisexuality.
  • Janey Springs for Athena in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, though Janey's much more intent on pursuing Athena than most examples. Potentially crossed with Single-Target Sexuality, since Athena's detached personality and less than emotionally-healthy upbringing mean that Janey's the first person in the series in whom she's shown any romantic interest whatsoever, especially after Athena's surprise and hesitation about someone actually being attracted to her personally. In Tales from the Borderlands the two have become an Official Couple.
  • In the Full Body version of Catherine, Qatherine/"Rin" ends up being this to Vincent after an accidental Unsettling Gender-Reveal. After some introspection, Vincent realizes that being with Rin makes him happy because he feels he can be himself around him. Unlike the relationships with the women in the main love triangle, there is no societal pressure, expectation, or manipulation involved. He also realizes that gender doesn't matter to him (a sentiment that Rin earnestly states earlier in the game), and even publically outs himself to his friends. Notably, almost everyone else ends up totally on board with this, even Katherine, the girlfriend/would-be fiance he's been with for 5 years who ends up amicably breaking up with him. The only two people who aren't for it are the Big Bad and Catherine, who never even realized Rin was a romantic contender, or the fact that Vincent is either gay or bisexual. Once she does, she immediately gives up her scheme; even with all her succubus powers, it's got to be hard to seduce a man who doesn't necessarily want a woman in the first place.
  • Euden proves to be one for Orion in Dragalia Lost's "Valentine's Confections" event, with Orion concluding after their date that he might as well add men to his potential dating pool, bluntly declaring in the epilogue that he's happy to take all comers, and then immediately flirting with Prometheus.
  • In Gone Home, Lonnie ends up being this to Sam. Or at least she is the person that Sam dared to open up to since she late at the game refers to herself (and her sister) "having known since She-Ra". And possibly vice versa, but it's less clear whether Lonnie was aware of her sexuality before meeting Sam.
  • Knight Bewitched: Ruth had dated men before starting a relationship with Gwen. She never noticed she was attracted to women up until she started feeling attracted to Gwen.
    Ruth: To be honest, I never thought I'd be in love with another woman. If I never met you, I'd probably stay single forever.
  • The Life Is Strange series usually has one per game, usually the player's Gay Option.
    • The first has Chloe, Max's childhood friend whom she finds after returning to her hometown. Max and Chloe are both taken aback if Max takes up Chloe's offer for a kiss.
    • The prequel Before The Storm has Rachel Amber for Chloe. While Chloe is implied to have always had feelings for Max, Rachel is the first girl whom Chloe acknowledged her feelings for other women with.
    • True Colors has Steph but uniquely it's not for the player character Alex, who is openly bisexual. Rather if she is asked to seduce Diane the other characters note she awakened something in her. Steph says that it wouldn't be the first time.
  • A Downplayed example from the Mass Effect series. This is implied to be the case for Kaidan Alenko, in Mass Effect 3. Kaidan is the only love interest in the series that passes from an exclusively heterosexual choice in his introduction, to one that can be romanced by both sexes in the third. When romanced by a male Shepard, his dialogue implies that his friendship and care for him is what made him realize how much he truly loved him after so many years.
  • One could say that Big Boss is this to Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Also, it's suggested that Raikov is this to Volgin.
  • In My Time at Portia, the Player Character is one for Merlin, but with a twist — going on a date with the PC causes Merlin to realize that she doesn't feel romantic attraction and is in fact aromantic.
  • Persona:
    • Jun Kurosu from Persona 2 is the only, explicitly Gay Option in the Persona series to date. His appearance and mannerism makes it abundantly clear that he has never even been in a closet.
    • Played with in Persona 4. Naoto at first appears to be Kanji's Closet Key, but then it turns out Naoto's a girl. When he discovers this, Kanji has already decided that he's comfortable with his sexuality, so it's less of a eureka moment and the game is ambiguous enough to leave Kanji's sexuality as, well ambiguous. Is Kanji gay but has an If It's You, It's Okay thing for Naoto? Was he straight all along but actually confused thanks to his love of sewing and cute things? Is he bisexual? None of the above? Heck, the game doesn't even say outright if Kanji and Naoto ever got together or not after it was all over.
  • Anna to Ashley in SIMULACRA. The latter has spent years double dating with her best (and, she later admits, only) female friend while wondering why she hates all her bestie's boyfriends and can't ever make it last with her own. Things click for her towards the end of the game.
  • The Player Character of Stardew Valley can easily be this: all of the possible love interests can be romanced by a character of either sex, but several of them will note that they've never felt this way about another guy/girl before.
  • Violet seems to be this for Clementine in The Walking Dead: Season Four. Clem only had one crush in the past, on a boy named Gabe, and Violet seems to be the first girl she ever fell for. She's noticeably more tense when confessing to Violet than to Louis, her male romance option.

    Visual Novels 
  • Heidi is this for Kathy in Daughter for Dessert. She flat-out tells the protagonist that Kathy is bisexual, and actually asks Kathy about it. The two of them end up having fun together, with the protagonist having the opportunity to join in.
  • In Fate/stay night, Saber acts as this for Rin, who in the uncensored version of the "Fate" route outright admits that she didn't know she was into girls until she had to arouse Saber during a mana transfer ritual with Shirou.
  • In Melody, Sophia gave the title character her first sexual experience, and the two of them can have more fun together during the game, which can lead to eventual threesomes with the protagonist. This can also be subverted if the player has Melody reject further advances from Sophia at any point.
  • In Murder at Homecoming, Tyler is initially presented as straight, having been in a relationship with a girl that turned out to be fake, in order to hide the fact that the girl was secretly in a lesbian relationship that her girlfriend's parents wouldn't have approved of. However, if Blake (the main character) is male or non-binary and romances Tyler, he will comment that he used to think he was straight until Blake kissed him, and that he isn't straight after all.

    Web Animation 

  • Best Friends Forever' has a confusing situation since you don't really know who between Vincent and Teddy are in love with each other, or even if there are such feelings between them. It's later revealed that Teddy was this to Vincent.
  • Cuanta Vida: Bleu for BLU Scout. Doesn't stop him from calling Bleu homophobic names, though.
  • Stell for Gilly in Dork Tower. When she learned Stell had a crush on her, she suddenly realised she felt the same way, and phoned her brother with a panicked "HOW DO I GAY?"
  • Dumbing of Age:
    • Billie may have been this for Ruth, who admits they "found out I was into girls" together.
    • Ethan seems to have become this for Danny. They first meet because of their shared concern for Amber, but hit it off due to their nerdy interests and Danny's banter starts sounding flirty quite quickly. One Suggestive Collision later... (Too bad that post-timeskip Ethan hates him, for some fairly understandable reasons.)
    • Once again, Leslie seems to be this for Robin. It's more complicated this time due to Robin's status as a conservative politician in the more realistic setting.
    • Played With for Becky, who didn't realize how she actually felt about Joyce until they'd spent time apart from each other.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Ellen, a magical Opposite-Sex Clone of Nanase's ex-boyfriend Elliot. Nanase certainly loved Elliot, but broke the relationship off because it always seemed to lack a "spark". Ellen's creation involved a glitchy Magitek device capable of turning men into beautiful women with "super pheromones", combined with an ancient magical artifact ostensibly designed to remove curses, but actually spawning a clone of the victim's cursed form in the process. When Nanase started spending time around Ellen, she assumed any physical attraction she felt was the result of those pheromones, but Susan eventually informed her that the pheromones had worn off before Nanase met Ellen, triggering Nanase's realization that she's a lesbian. note 
    • Despite Diane's... complicated... feelings about Nanase, she doesn't realise she's attracted to girls until Lucy admits she's been in love with her their entire lives.
    • Susan is a really odd example. When her friend Catalina asked her out on a date she turns her down, not being attracted to girls but wishes she could have said yes. Later she realizes that she finds both guys and girls sexually attractive, but is turned off by the thought of herself doing anything sexual with either of them. She doesn't seem to know whether she's somewhere on the asexual spectrum, or whether this is just caused by her trauma or her issues with touch or some combination of those reasons. The author, Dan Shive, says that a lot of her feelings about sexual attraction are based on his own so labeling her would feel too much like labeling himself. She is probably bisexual/biromantic though.
  • Played with in Exiern. If this two-page spread is any indication and Peonie is implying what it sounds like, Denver may retroactively be one for Tiffany. The twist is that by the time they meet, Tiff had already been afflicted by her Gender Bender curse, and was changed from a closeted gay man to a straight woman.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Kat and Paz appear to be this for each other. At one point, Paz mistook Kat's compliments for flirting, which led to a fairly awkward moment at the time. But later we find out that this caused Paz to realize she actually likes Kat. So Paz asked Kat out... and Kat said yes.
  • Heartstopper: Nick realizes he's bisexual as he begins to reciprocate Charlie's crush on him.
  • High Class Homos: Prince August, for Percy. He only realises he’s gay after gaining an interest in the prince and talking to Lucas about his newfound feelings.
  • Karkat from Homestuck seems to have been this for Dave Strider.
    • There's also implications that it was John instead, however, especially in Dave's Pesterquest adventure. See it here for yourself.
      • And lest we forget this moment from very early on in the comic:
        TG: i should probably text him soon
        TG: see whats up
        TG: because
        TG: i love him
        TT: I know.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Cio is this to Allison. Allison only realises she's into girls as she continues to interact with Cio and comes to the realisation that she didn't really care much for Zaid as a romantic partner and only saw him as a way to lose her virginity. Cio and Allison eventually hook up between Seeker of Thrones and King of Swords, but with one of them being a devil and the other The Chosen One their relationship is rather fraught.
  • Ménage à 3 has two slightly variant versions:
  • Ash of Misfile might be a double unlock. Emily is ambiguous since she herself isn't sure if her attraction to Ash is regardless of her gender or if her being female is a factor. Missi, on the other hand, didn't know about Ash once being male and became interested in girls through her as a result.
  • In My Dragon Girlfriend, Casey is utterly certain that she's 100% straight — right up until Louie changes to human form in front of her. The meter immediately swings the other way.
  • ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST is this for Artie in Narbonic. Antonio is straight, but he's the first person Artie has a crush on.
  • The author of Niels heard this phrase used to describe the title character and decided to run with it. Also inverted in that meeting his wife Natalie helped Duncan realize he was bisexual, rather than gay.
  • Possibly alluded to in Rip and Teri, when Tatanya uses the book The Picture of Dorian Gray as a conversation topic while trying to ascertain whether Teri likes women.
  • Pixie Trix Comix:
  • The titular character of Omocat's "Pretty Boy" is this for the other protagonist, a Lovable Jock. They eventually end up Happily Married.
  • Questionable Content:
    • As a teenager, photos of fetish model Veronica Vance helped Dora realize she was bisexual. Years later, she ends up dating Veronica's son for a while.
    • Faye becomes friends and business partners with the AI Bubbles, which ultimately grows into a romantic relationship. This is a twofer, as she was blindsided by being attracted to a female robot, though nobody else was surprised in the slightest.
    • Clinton realizes he's interested in men when someone describes what it would be like for him to get a shirtless hug from Elliot.
      Pintsize: How is this even a question? You're about to blow a fuse and she hasn't even gotten to the dick stuff yet.
  • Sandra and Woo: Zoey appears to be one for Sandra. When Zoey confesses that she's had a crush on Sandra, Sandra is flattered but says that she doesn't swing that way. However, after getting extremely hot and bothered by a collection of steamy fanfics Zoey wrote about the two of them, Sandra appears to be at least open to the idea of experimenting, as she invites Zoey to join her, Larisa, and Cloud at a weekend study session, and then greets Zoey with a passionate kiss.
  • Sandra on the Rocks:
    • Alex accidentally brings out Christophe's bisexual side.
    • Alex himself spends a period of time Sweet on Polly Oliver, though whether this actually awakened a bisexual side in him or not isn't confirmed before the comic ends, since she's the only "man" he's ever shown being attracted to.
    • Cammi has a similar effect on Sandra, a bit more consciously and deliberately. In the final strip they get together.
  • Leslie may have been a very slow-acting version of this to Robin in Shortpacked!. Robin's first girl-crush was Amber, but Robin only realized this herself after she started dating Leslie (and she continued to identify as "straight with an exception" for a good while after that).
  • In Skin Horse Tip might be a crossdresser, but he identified as straight (and is quite the womanizer) until he met Artie. While Sweetheart bonded with Unity long before she would admit to herself she was into girls.
  • Spinnerette realized her feelings for her teammate Mecha Maid after the latter's Anguished Declaration of Love, having considered herself straight up until then. Although with how Bottom Lefty had been acting around Mecha Maid, the closet was fairly transparent.
  • Star Fighter implies that Keeler is this to Encke, though their very relationship has only ever been implied so far.
  • It wasn't until falling for Qiu Tong that Sun Jing began thinking she was a lesbian in Their Story.
  • In World of Fizz, Dawn reveals early on that she had a crush on Kelli since the first grade, and the two later enter into a relationship.

    Web Original 
  • The Tumblr image gallery "Am I Gay?: A Journey of Self-Discovery with Shang" has fun with the Sweet on Polly Oliver aspect of Mulan by giving the story from Shang's perspective. Before he learns the truth about her actual gender, he thinks of "Ping" as his Closet Key.
  • In-universe, Malcolm has a crush on The Nostalgia Critic, and tells Hyper that he's trying to come to terms with new feelings.
  • Out With Dad: Rose and Vanessa both are this for each other. After practicing kissing, it stirs a mutual attraction which both initially have anxiety over. Rose realizes that she's a lesbian as a result. Vanessa takes longer, but later realizes that she's actually bisexual.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    • Duke Devlin. This is what Joey Wheeler says of Duke: "What does he have that I don't got?... Besides the fangirls?... And the pretty hair?... And those gorgeous green eyes?" Duke then reminds Joey about his "sweet ass," and Joey admits, "Yeah, and a sweet ass too! But other than that, he's got nothing."
    Narrator: Warning: This episode contains copious amounts of Duke Devlin. Women with heart conditions are advised not to look directly at Duke Devlin. This also applies to women without heart conditions. See? See how pretty he is? He's very pretty. I want to run my fingers through his hair, and I'm just a voice. Anyway, enjoy your crappy anime cartoon.
    • Also, Florence for Marik. There were indications he was gay before they met (in flashbacks, anyway), but the two have a ridiculous amount of UST going on, and in Marik Plays Bloodlines part 6, Marik finally admitted that he was gay and had a thing for Florence. Florence, on the other hand, has been out all along.

    Western Animation 
  • Big Mouth: In season 2, Jay and Matthew start having some sexual tension between each other as Matthew becomes particularly bitchy towards the former. During a massive sleepover, Jay kisses Matthew when they are playing Spin The Bottle. The end of season 2 and beginning of season 3 has Jake coming to terms with his newfound bisexuality after kissing Matthew again when they're alone later that night.
  • Clone High: Joan, while disguised as a man, is one for Cleo. Cleo is initially disgusted by the reveal that "John Dark" is Joan, then reconsiders and admits she's not against it. In the second season, Cleo gets into a relationship with Frida, with zero issues over her sexuality.
  • Subverted in Daria. Despite initially freaking out when guest star Allison makes a pass at her, Jane visibly begins warming up to the idea soon after. However, much to the chagrin of fanfic writers everywhere, learning just how much of a self-serving bitch Allison really is finally puts Jane off girls. However, Word of God states that Jane might at least be bi-curious after all, so time will tell.
  • Subverted in Futurama as Captain Brannigan believes he's falling for a man but it turns out to be Leela in disguise in one episode.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Korra and Asami serve as this for each other. In the sequel graphic novel Turf Wars, they acknowledge that they were surprised by their feelings at first, but ultimately happy.
  • According to Word of God, Luz is this for Amity in The Owl House, as the former was described as the first person the latter felt romantic feelings toward at all. Prior to them becoming an Official Couple, Amity drew self-insert ship fanart of herself with a male fictional character, indicating that until she met Luz she assumed she was heterosexual.
  • Craig and Tweek from South Park may just fit this trope. As of the episode "Tweek x Craig", the two ended up in a relationship together to keep the town happy, despite previously stating that they're not gay. However, by the end of the episode, the two begin smiling at each other in a way that seems... more than friendly. Couple that with the fact that about a minute before, Craig's dad gave him a speech about how he loves Craig, even if he is gay, and you've got this trope. Later episodes confirm that the two are in a legitimate, loving relationship.
  • Total Drama: The 2023 reboot has Raj realize he's gay after flirting with Bowie. His best friend, Wayne, spends several episodes waiting for Raj to come out to him.

    Real Life 
  • From Not Always Romantic: Through a phone conversation with the narrator, a woman comes to realize that she reciprocates the feelings that her female friend has confessed to her.
  • From Gay Star News: an ostensibly straight guy has a Green-Eyed Epiphany about his gay roommate, and ends up getting together with him, after a long process of experiencing confusing feelings which he mistook for latent homophobia, posting on Reddit about them and receiving feedback, and finally showing the Reddit post to his sister who caught on immediately and called him an "oblivious walnut".
    "(Plot twist: it turns out I don’t have any problem with Alex kissing guys if it’s me he’s kissing.)"
  • Comedian Camron Esposito in one of her comedy specials describes her first kiss with her first girlfriend as "a one-move rubix-cube solve for my little gay body." [1]
  • Elvira, Mistress of the Dark revealed in her 2021 memoir that she'd been in a committed relationship with Teresa Wierson for nearly twenty years. She said Wierson was the first woman she'd ever been attracted to; they met at the gym, became close friends, and moved in together before they realized they were in love.
    "What the hell was I doing? I’d never been interested in women as anything other than friends. I felt so confused. This just wasn’t me! I was stunned that I’d been friends with her for so many years and never noticed our chemistry.”
  • Comedian Tig Notaro was this for Stephanie Allynne though Allynne was initially in denial about her feelings. After their first kiss, she wrote Notaro a long, heartfelt email saying that as much as she enjoyed the kiss, and spending time together, she was still straight. Notaro sent an email back that simply said “okay, dyke”. They’re currently married with two kids.