An Aesop (or Gaesop if you will) that was pretty common in The '90s when gay people started becoming more and more prominent in the media. Basically, a character will be introduced that is soon revealed to be gay or bi (or if they were gutsy enough, a previously known character would be Forced Out of the Closet). Then the rest of the episode would be spent on one of the main characters discriminating against them, or fearing that they'll turn him gay or something, even if previous characterization would indicate that he would not be so ignorant. (Truth in Television, unfortunately: one of the dangers of coming out is that an LGBT person can't always tell which way an aquaintance, even an otherwise progressive one, will jump, and it usually takes more than thirty minutes to change their mind.)
Obviously by the end, the main character learns his lesson that "homosexuals are people too" and should be treated equally just like everyone else. Unfortunately, if the gay character is not pre-established, he'll probably disappear with no further mention after this episode. If he is part of the supporting cast, the subject of his sexuality will rarely be brought up again.
Some will consider the Gay Aesop a Discredited Trope, since gay characters are now relatively prevalent (compared to previous decades), at least in Western media.
- Green Lantern #154, in which Green Lantern Kyle Rayner's personal assistant Terry Berg is beaten up by a group of random thugs while leaving a club with his boyfriend. This aesop is especially reinforced when this display of man's inhumanity to man is so bad that it inspires Kyle Rayner to abandon the Earth in favor of wandering outer space and helping random non-human species.
- Interestingly, that's the inverse of the racial Aesop famously presented in Green Lantern #76 (Hal was pretty much staying away from Earth at that time).
- In the Static comics, Static saves a couple of guys from getting beat up. Turns out one of them is his friend, Rick Stone, and that they were getting beat up because they were gay. Static starts out trying to figure out what to think on his own, but once Rick outs himself to the whole school, he starts acting anti-gay. After Hotstreak terrorizes a political rally supporting gay rights, Static comes to terms with Rick's sexuality and they become friends again.
- Pulled off (surprisingly) in A Man Called Kev. Kev Hawkins visits an old SAS mate of his who now lives in the US on a marijuana plantation with a man-eating Bengal tiger and a beautiful woman. Kev is very surprised to learn that said beautiful woman is the sister of his mate's dead boyfriend. Given that Kev is a raging homophobe, it takes him a while to come to terms with the fact that his badass ex-military buddy is gay, but he does.
- Done in the Ms. Tree story "Skeletons in the Closet". At least in this case, the homophobic character (Mike, Jr.) was one who had long-established issues with homosexuals.
- Played with in Runaways, when Molly angrily berates Klara for expressing horror at Karolina and Xavin's relationship. On the one hand, of course, Klara is wrong to call Xavin an abomination or pass moral judgments on people she's only just met. On the other hand, Molly loses her temper and ends up escalating the situation, until Klara just shuts down and refuses to engage with her. They eventually make up.
- Throughout most of The Dark Children, Gideon hides his relationship with Roderick. He officially introduces him to his mother (Belle) at his house and to his father (Rumpelstiltkin) when discussing his mother's capture, and both times they parents express that they are just happy that their son found love.
- One of the main reasons why Philadelphia has not aged well as a movie. Denzel Washington looking across the dance floor to see Tom Hanks and his partner waltzing together, and nodding as if to say "Yes... yes... gay people can dance too" was a Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped message at the time. Indeed, Philadelphia was being made at a time when homosexuals were still being scapegoated for HIV, which the film specifically addresses, not to mention that homosexuality was still illegal in several states. And ironically the dancing scene was about as much as the film was able to get away with since Executive Meddling forced the removal of several scenes depicting their relationship more intimately.
- A classic example is the 1919 silent film Different From The Others, starring Conrad Veidt (yes, that one) as a gay violinist who ends up being blackmailed by an extortionist.
- Another "gay man blackmailed" film with an anti-homophobia message is Victim, which was an Anvil dropped so heavily it is part of the reason homosexuality was decriminalized in Britain.
- The Imitation Game, based on the life of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing (who was imprisoned for his homosexuality) attempted to give this Aesop alongside Be Yourself. It was however criticised for focusing more on him being Inspirationally Disadvantaged and heavily downplaying his homosexuality.
- Theodore Sturgeon's controversial 1953 short story "The World Well Lost" is about a pair of fugitive alien lovers ("loverbirds") from the planet Dirbanu. The main characters later learn that both of the aliens are male, and that this was the exact reason for their exile. In a second, more poignant twist, it's heavily implied, if not outright stated, that the narrator has similar feelings for his partner.
- In Beyond Varallan, we are informed that the very idea of homosexuality is rather alien to Jorenians. Then, in Plague of Memory, the Jorenian warrior Qonja and Taercal 'breed Hawkóboth of whom are dudesófall for each other. Turns out that it's not that there are no gay Jorenians; it's that there's a disturbingly bigoted streak to their otherwise quite exemplary culture. This is made especially clear when Qonja is repudiated by his clan when he and Hawk basically elope.
- Ray Bradbury loved this. He wrote several stories with a gentle but firm Gay Aesop. For some reason, all of them involve Irish or Irish-American characters.
- All in the Family's Archie was just sure that Mike and Gloria's new friend was a "fruit" but later found out it was his own ex-jock buddy who was gay. (The episode ends with him still having his doubts, however. After all, a "fruit" can't hit that hard... right?)
- Wings: Roy's son, played by guest star Abraham Benrubi.
- Averted on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Willow came out, the episode was more about her having to choose between her old love interest, Oz, and her new love interest, Tara, and the former's jealousy of the latter. The episode would still be mostly the same had both characters been male. Though, in earlier episodes, Willow hid the full extent of her relationship with Tara for a time, fearing her friends' reaction.
- Played straight with a later episode with Tara's family visiting, and horribly mistreating her due to her in-born magical talents that they feel she should repress.
- The first season Cheers episode "The Boys in the Bar".
- Ellen has Paige, the one friend of the title character who doesn't immediately accept her sexuality, take a few episodes to come around. Less subtly and much less realistically, Ellen's parents, especially her father, are initially hurt and angered at her coming out, but by the end of the same episode they've completely accepted her as gay.
- There's an Alice episode about this, featuring a childhood friend of hers who played football. She becomes fearful he'll molest her son, and eventually realizes to her chagrin that her fears are completely unfounded.
- Degrassi: The Next Generation did this with Marco, a relatively minor character at the time, who really became a headliner after he came out to the school. Some of his friends, like Jimmy, are accepting when he comes out, but Spinner is immediately hostile toward Marco. This culminates in an episode where Spinner is so worried that Marco wants to boink him that when he starts to choke, he refuses to let Marco give him the Heimlich maneuver. Upon realizing that it was only the Heimlich, Spinner is more accepting of Marco. The storyline even has Marco being gay bashed for the trifecta of this trope!
- Done on an episode of Designing Women with a fellow who has AIDS to boot. Julia chews out an eavesdropping client who bitches about the guy.
- Another episode deals with a lesbian character, whom one of the cast is nervous has feelings for her. The lesbian then explains the concept of Gaydar.
- Married... with Children gives us this story when Al and Peg meet Marcy's identical cousin Mandy, who comes out as a lesbian. Ironically, the only person who acts homophobic towards her is Peggy, a character trait that came out of nowhere, though she warms up at the very end. Mandy was an Author Avatar of actress Amanda Bearse, who had become an executive producer of the show and was coming out of the closet herself. Unfortunately, Marcy's cousin was never able to come back to visit because there were only 4 episodes left in the series.
- The War at Home has Kenny as the homosexual guy. When he told his parents that he's gay, he was kicked out of the house. Later, in the episode "Kenny Doesn't Live Here Anymore", his parents were constantly told by Dave and Vicky Gold to "accept their child whoever he is". They took him back during the ending before Kenny gets to be taken by social services.
- From this segment of Ron White's 2006 stand-up comedy special You Can't Fix Stupid: "The most useless thing you can be is homophobic [..] we're all gay, it's just to what extent are you gay."
- Which leads into ... a gay joke. Which may be Hypocritical Humor for the subject of the joke and for Ron White (if it isn't okay to use homosexuality as the focus of a joke).
- In The Hughleys, we find out the family's next-door neighbor is a lesbian (and Asian to boot), just as DL begins to fear that his son is gay.
- In The Golden Girls when Blanche's brother comes out, she doesn't take it very well. Of course everything turns out fine by the end of the episode. That is until he returns to Florida to introduce his fiance...
- In addition, there is also the episode where Dorothy's friend, a lesbian, comes to visit and falls for Rose.
- On Glee, this is a common plotline involving Camp Gay member Kurt...with varying degrees of subtlety.
- It's done somewhat more subtly with Santana and Karofsky.
- Interestingly this isn't actually played straight on Noah's Arc, though the movie has Brandon coming out to his parents and immediately getting the backlash. We never see how it resolves though.
- In the Student Bodies episode "Gay Friend" a new student turns out to be a lesbian and Emily has to overcome her homophobia.
- Japanese drama series Tumbling has an episode where Mizusawa is "outed" by a rival from another school (who'd overheard him confessing his crush on Kiyama), leading to the whole team being subjected to homophobic insults and Mizusawa's teammates refusing to work with him. Thankfully, protagonist Wataru is there to deliver the Aesop, and everything's back to normal by the end of the episode.
- In Drop the Dead Donkey, Helen's sexuality is an issue on and off throughout her entire run and she doesn't tend to get beaten up for it. However, her anxiety over coming out to her parents is played with when her father dies of a heart attack the day after she writes to them about it - and it wasn't anything to do with her coming out; in fact they always knew and her mother told her about other family members who would also have approved.
- There was a scene in an episode of the short-lived Sitcom The Associates where a representative of an LGBT anti-defamation organization comes prancing into the room, limp wrist, lisp, completely over the top, before switching to Straight Gay and pointing out how everyone there expected and accepted that he would act so flamboyantly and "talk like Sylvester the Cat".
- Played with and parodied in How I Met Your Mother, with Barney's gay brother James. Barney is shown to be highly supportive of James's lifestyle, even helping him pick up guys. However, when James reveals to Barney that he's engaged, Barney is against the idea of James getting married... because he's against anyone getting married. He also believes that if gays are allowed to get married, it'll strengthen the institution of marriage and inspire everyone to start doing it. He does learn to accept his brother's decision, but only after hearing that James wants to be a father, as Barney loves children.
- Dawson's Creek had Jack, who was originally brought along as a contender to Joey's heart, until he was revealed to be gay. Around this point he also became a main character, in a subversion of the classic trope.
- Beverly Hills, 90210 had a played down version with Kyle Conners, who was also brought along as competition for Brandon in his quest for Kelly. He then comes out to her as gay. She was shown to be very accepting. However, he didn't have any appearances on the show afterwards, so his arc was never actually completed.
- Later seasons played the trope very straight with the gay frat boy Mike, who was accidentally outed by Steve. His fraternity had to learn to accept him, and Steve learned an important lesson about support, privacy and acceptance.
- Though that lesson wasn't enough for him and his other friends to comprehend the possibility of a friendship between a straight and a gay woman. When Kelly befriends her fellow fire-survivor Alison, who is seriously crushing on her, her friends mock her mercilessly.
- Irony hit a peak when it Steve's mother turned out to be same-sex inclined, and starts an affair with another woman. In the Aesop department, this arc was used in order to show the differences between Steve's and Janet's (his fiance) families, and how their love was strong enough to beat her family's general bigotry.
- In the Titus episode "Tommy's Not Gay", Tommy's dad comes out of the closet, and Tommy disowns him, fearing that everyone will think that he himself is gay. This earns him the disgust of his friends - even the otherwise-bigoted Ken - especially after his dad gets beaten up and Tommy insists that he deserved it. Eventually, Tommy comes around and reconciles with his dad.
- That '70s Show:
- The West Wing dealt with queer issues a number of times, but one of the most striking was in "Take Out the Trash Day". President Bartlet is about to sign in a hate crime bill that was spurred by the brutal murder of a gay teen, and his press staff are making arrangements for the boy's parents to be there. However, they get an odd "quiet" vibe from the father, making them worry that he's actually displeased about his late son's orientation, thus he doesn't even support the bill and will say things the administration will regret if he talks to the press. After agonizing over the right course and finally inviting the couple in to vet them, they find that indeed he is very unhappy with the president's position. He thinks Bartlet's gay rights stance is far too weak. Moral: While guarding against bigotry, beware of reverse bigotry. The sad twist is that, humbled as the staff are, they're obliged to cancel the parents' invitation after all. Badmouthing the president in any direction is just not something the press office can enable.
Mr. Lydell: Lady, I'm not embarrassed my son was gay. My government is.
- A mid-90's storyline on All My Children had a schoolteacher coming out of the closet to his students. Some parents immediately began a campaign to get him fired. Surprisingly, some of the "good" characters had a problem with his sexuality, while a few of the supposed villains had no problem with it.
- During roughly the same time period, One Life to Live tackled the issue as well. When a local teen confessed to the local minister that he was gay, the man kept his secret. Unfortunately, a young woman angry that he had rebuffed her advances spread rumors that he had seduced the boy. The ensuing chaos nearly ruined the man's career, but he was ultimately exonerated, while the boy went on to a happy life, even eventually reconciling with his parents.
- Party of Five delivered several, which wasn't surprising, since it was set in San Francisco:
"Just because he's gay, doesn't mean we don't have things in common."
- In Season 1, Claudia's violin tutor Ross (who had been a recurring character) reveals to her he's gay when she tries to set him up with a waitress at Salinger's. Refreshingly after Claudia accepted it, Ross remained on the show for six season and even had a story arc about trying to convince the courts to let a single gay man adopt a child.
- One of Claudia's teachers is also revealed to be gay when he starts dating Ross. Ross is initially supportive of the teacher's desire to keep his sexuality a secret so as not to be bothered at work, but breaks things off when he realises that he doesn't want to make it public at all.
- Season 2 has an offscreen friend of Justin's visiting for the weekend. She reveals she's a closeted lesbian when she makes a pass at Julia. After Julia rejects her, she tries to pretend she's straight by hooking up with a random guy in a bar. But the episode ends with the implication that she'll come out to her parents.
- Sarah dates a boy called Elliot in Season 4 and the two try to have Their First Time - only for Elliot to end up making a pass at Bailey instead. The end of the episode has them going to the theatre together anyway.
- Parodied in The It Crowd, in the episode The Work Outing. While Moss initially seems repulsed at Gay! The Musical, he doesn't care that it has themes about sexuality, he objects to seeing it because it's set in The '80s. He even comes around to it in the end.
- Although not explicit in itself, the song "Jumper" by Alternative Rock band Third Eye Blind is a Gay Aesop. According to lead singer Stephan Jenkins, the song "comes from a story our manager told us about a high school friend of his who was gay. He went to a conservative school in San Diego [with] all sons of military types. Being gay was just not acceptable. He offed himself—he jumped off a bridge."
- Lady Gaga concerts have a very strong theme of saying that you should feel free to be yourself. In addition to that a lot of her concert themes are about giving full rights and freedom for gay people.
- "Feed Jake" by Country Music band Pirates of the Mississippi has one. This is quite a surprise, considering it was released in 1990 in one of the most conservative musical genres:
Now if you get an ear pierced, some will call you gayBut if you drive a pickup, they'll say no, you must be straightWhat we are and what we ain'tWhat we can and what we can'tDoes it really matter?
- Lightly and humorously distributed in Pink Martini's "Bitty Boppy Betty," about a charismatic D.A. who dresses up as a woman on the weekends, and what's wrong with that?
- Similarly, Miranda Lambert's "All Kinds of Kinds" has "a congressman with closets full of skeletons and dresses that he wore on Friday nights".
- The Vocaloid song "Magnet" implies this. The original version involved Miku and Luka being together but their relationship being condemned by those around them, resulting in a Star-Crossed Lovers scenario. Granted it's never explicitly stated that their love is forbidden because they're lesbians, but considering the fact that it's about "forbidden" love and the characters in question are both girls...
- "My Heart Beats For Love" by Miley Cyrus is at least partially a tribute to this concept. Inspired by a friend and his mission to find love.
- "We R Who We R" by Kesha is this.
- "American Triangle" by Elton John, an account of Matthew Shepard's tragic death, is one, along with being anti-hate crimes.
- Macklemore made a song called "Same Love", which has the message that love is love regardless of gender or race. The video goes through the life of a gay couple, and even has a message at the end to support Referendum 74, which would overturn the ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Washington.
- "Anti-Homophobe" by Brutal Truth is an Extreme Metal example of this trope.
- Played for Laughs in "I Love Fags" by MC Frontalot, which skewers anti-gay bigotry.
I'm insisting on containing my temper, but listen up!You shouldn't ought to be intolerant about who queers like to fuck.
- "Follow Your Arrow" by Kacey Musgraves:
Make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls, if that's what you're into...
- Pretty Balanced has "Floating", a song about two schoolboys in love who can't find acceptance.
Why is it that even in this day and ageThey're beat down, they can't just say "I love you"?
- "Fuck Anita Bryant" by David Allan Coe is the first Country Music example of this trope.
- The message of this video for the Jefferson Airplane version of David Crosby's "Triad" is that it's OK for a guy to participate in an MMF bisexual threesome.
- David Crosby's original song was about a man who wants to be with two women. Crosby is open about the fact that having two wives or girlfriends has always felt right to him.
- Avenue Q plays with this trope. Rod has much more trouble accepting his homosexuality than any of his friends do.
- "If You Were Gay" is basically this trope in song form.
- Subverted in Nicky, who (unlike the Urban Legend of the character's inspiration) is straight, living with a man everyone knows not only to be gay but to have a crush on Nicky. Not only is Nicky surprisingly unfazed by Rod's confession during a dream, when Nicky gets evicted, nobody makes comments about lover's spats. When Nicky returns, he does so with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute who looks just like him, but with a better body, as a hook-up for Rod.
- Sort of the whole point of The Normal Heart, although the characters are diverse in personality and shown to be just as flawed as straights, avoiding the Magical Queer trap.
- The purpose of La Cage aux Folles was to demonstrate that gay families are as stable and as equal to straight families.
- Welcome To Room 305 has a number of gay messages to put across, justified that it's a Korean comic and that's a lot of anvils.
- Daughter of the Lilies has a "drath" (a damned soul put into the body of an animal, used in a necromantic ritual) mocking a teacher about his gay son as part of a Thanatos Gambit so it can Fusion Dance with him. If he had been more accepting, he wouldn't have gotten his soul eaten.
- The Simpsons:
John: Well, Homer, I won your respect, and all I had to do was save your life. Now, if every gay man could just do the same, you'd be set.
- On episode involved Homer unknowingly befriending a gay man, (wrongly) fearing that Bart was gay, and various other things along those lines. He ends up getting saved from a herd of angry reindeer by the gay guy.
Marge: Just because you're a lesbian, it doesn't make you any less of a bein'.
- A later episode involved Patty getting outed as a lesbian when she wants to marry her girlfriend. Marge had a hard time with this at first, but learned to accept it.
- Family Guy:
- There was an episode where Lois did not accept Brian's cousin Jasper's gay wedding, but turned around at the end of the episode when she found out that her parent's marriage is not happy (if unhappy straight marriages are apparently sacred, exactly what makes happy gay ones wrong, essentially). Brian holds the mayor at gun point in order to get gay marriage legalized, though Lois calls him on it, saying that he's no better for resorting to such an act.
- Pulled off awkwardly in "Family Gay". Peter gets injected with the "gay gene" and instantly becomes the Camp Gay stereotype, which undermines the Aesop.
- Also an episode where Quagmire's dad transitions into a woman. Despite a few flickering moments of sympathy for her (and MacFarlane saying it was gonna be awesome for trans individuals), other characters frequently refer to Quagmire Sr. as "it", and Brian vomits like a fire hydrant upon learning that he had sex with a former man. GLAAD and many other LGBT groups were extremely unhappy with them about this one.
- American Dad! actually has three episodes devoted to gay rights ("Lincoln Lover", "Surro-gate" and "Daddy Queerest"), but, unlike Family Guy, the Aesops are pulled off incredibly well (except the first example, which is rather biased):
- In "Lincoln Lover" Stan learns to accept general homosexuality after meeting the Log Cabin Republicans and discovers that being gay is not a choice. How? He himself tried to be gay. He concludes that they should discriminate towards Democrats instead, as being a Democrat is a choice.
- In "Surro-gate", Stan is more friendly toward gays, but he thinks that gays shouldn't raise children, and actually kidnaps the gay neighbors' newborn baby so he can put her in a "righteous" foster home. He changes his mind when he sees that the children from a lesbian couple behave very similarly to his own children.
- In "Daddy Queerest", Stan is now a gay rights supporter, and tries to make Terry's dad accept his son's homosexuality. He fails, but the Aesop is that if somebody doesn't love you the way you are, then he doesn't love you as much as you think.
- Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride on South Park.
- And later in "Cripple Fight" Big Gay Al is kicked out of Boy Scouts for being gay and fears he'll molest the kids. Then the scout leaders unintentionally hire an actual pedophile who later is arrested. After the boys get the Supreme Court to force the Boy Scouts to let him back in, Al says he doesn't want to go back. He hopes that one day the Boy Scouts will choose to change their policy on their own, but doesn't want to impose his will on others in the meantime. Then Gloria Allred, the woman helping him, calls him a homophobe.
- In "Death Camp of Tolerance", Mr. Garrison learns that if he gets fired for being gay, he can sue the school for a load of money. He gets a new teaching assistant (and boyfriend) Mr. Slave, and they perform raunchy sexual acts when teaching and the kids are justly horrified. The adults tell the kids that they're being homophobic and are sent to the eponymous Auschwitz-like tolerance camp. Mr. Garrison receives award after award for his "courageous behaviour" until he finally snaps and tells everyone that being overly-tolerant is just as bad as being intolerant. He is judged to be a Boomerang Bigot intolerant of his own homosexuality and sent to the tolerance camp himself, although that might have just been a flimsy excuse the principal made up to punish him, since at the end of his angry rant, he accidentally let slip his plan to sue the school.
- In Rocko's Modern Life, at the end of the episode "Closet Clown", the title character suffers this when he admits he likes rainbows. Suddenly his friends turn against him and chase him down with rakes.