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Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock

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LGBT representation in the media has grown in prominence over the past few decades. As the visibility grew, a common romance trope was employed over and over again enough that it became cliché: A gay teenage boy (who is the Audience Surrogate) with a campy or nerdy personality falls in love with a popular, muscular and often-closeted jock.

So many gay stories use this trope for several reasons, best written by Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club.

  1. The Star-Crossed Lovers trope is Older Than Dirt and used for so many love stories already, so it stands that it can be used for a same-sex tale of romance and woe.
  2. Rule of Drama: The geeky gay and jock not only come from different "classes" (so to speak) but also face different hurdles in a Coming-Out Story: The geeky gay always is less conventionally masculine, so he doesn't have much to lose by being honest and open. The jock character, by contrast, is a Straight Gay, and by coming out may lose a lot more, especially dropping down the social ladder which can lead to tons of conflict and obstacles for the pair getting together.
  3. Most of these writers and creators are gay themselves and this trope could be construed as a form of Wish-Fulfillment: The shy, awkward boy landing a popular handsome athlete is a pretty common fantasy amongst gay men, so it stands that this convention would be pretty prominent.

In decades past when queer people had a much harder time finding partners, especially teenagers, the fact that these two boys were both gay and navigating their sexuality together would be romantic enough. But in more recent years, readers may note that, other than their sexuality, it's unlikely for them to actually have anything in common. The more thought-out stories may address this by giving the boys at least one shared interest on which they can build a relationship.

See also Sensitive Guy and Manly Man, Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple, and Star-Crossed Lovers. Frequently employs Gayngst and the Armored Closet Gay trope. See also Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy and All Guys Want Cheerleaders for the heterosexual versions of this trope.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Gotham Academy Colton Rivera starts out crushing on school tennis star Kyle Mizoguchi and his attraction to him only becomes more pronounced over the series though he never outright admits it to Kyle. While Kyle almost puts it together during the second semester he gets distracted and is still in love with Olive anyway.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Basketball Jones, a gay African-American romance novel by E. Lynn Harris featured a smart, studious man carrying on a secret affair with a basketball player.
  • The Best at It: 12-year-old Rahul is unconsciously enamored with Justin, a football jock on the middle school team.
  • Geography Club used this trope in 1998note  with the geeky Rusty falling in love with Kevin, a closeted baseball player. Gender Flipped with his best friend, the bisexual Asian and Nerdy Min secretly dating soccer player Terese, and in a later book in the series, falling in love with a cheerleader.
  • Played with in The Golden Feather. The main character is socially awkward and dorkish but also happens to be well-built. The love interest on the other hand is the classic jerkish, popular type but also happens to be short, thin, and a closet literature snob.
  • In Kiss (2007) by Jacqueline Wilson, Sylvie has an Incompatible Orientation crush on childhood friend Carl, who is secretly gay and has a crush on Paul, a popular lad on the football team.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower has Patrick, falling in love with Brad, the star athlete, as does its movie adaptation (see above).
  • "This Year's Prom King" depicts this kind of relationship, with the twist that the jock is the main character doing most of the pursuing as the gay geek is a sarcastic loner who thinks that all jocks are jerks and hates that he's attracted to one.
  • Caught Running, a gay romance novel, has this — only this time, it's ten years after high school; the gay guy is a biology teacher, and the popular jock is the baseball coach. Given that it's a romance novel, it ends happily.
  • While Simon from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda isn't specifically seeking a jock, he doesn't mind staring at them. Then at the end it turns out Blue is a jock, as Bram is on the soccer team.
  • "Educating Alex" is an early original slash webfiction about openly gay college student Ryan crushing on the athletic Alex who turns out to like him back.
  • Inverted in You Know Me Well, where baseball player Mark harbors a crush on his sensitive poet friend Ryan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Glee has Camp Gay social outcast Kurt crush on Finn, the quarterback, freaking the latter out. Later, they become friends and stepbrothers after Kurt's dad marries Finn's mom.
  • Degrassi first had the Camp Gay Marco and his relationship with star hockey player Dylan, and then later flipped the trope with popular Armored Closet Gay football player Riley and his feelings for the artistic, and very much out of the closet, Zane.
  • Undressed:
    • In an episode, former high school geek is hit on and makes out with the (closeted) former high school jock that tormented him. His Fag Hag teases him about it being the ultimate fantasy of bedding a jock, which he admits.
    • Inverted in another episode, where a popular football player, Henry, is more open about being gay than his insecure nerd boyfriend, Brian. Meanwhile, another closeted football player, Nate, is trying to break them up because he wants to be with his teammate. But Henry actually loves the fact that he and Brian are so different and is determined to hold onto him.
  • Played with on The King of Queens. When Danny goes to his Class Reunion, he is Mistaken for Gay and manages to accidentally pick up the former football team captain.
  • On The Hard Times of RJ Berger, Guillermo was having a secret relationship with Max, who more publicly dated girls like cheerleaders Jenny and Robin.
  • This was the initial setup for Billy Crystal's character Jodie in Soap: he was carrying on a secret relationship with a pro football player, and willing to undergo a sex change to maintain it publicly. The jock later dumps him for a woman implied to be The Beard, driving Jodie to a (failed) suicide attempt.
  • Kevin and Moose on Riverdale. Moose is a closeted bisexual/gay jock who is on the football team and has a girlfriend, while Kevin is an openly gay boy. They are mutually attracted to one another but have not hooked up due to Moose's girlfriend and their one attempt to do so being ruined by discovering the corpse of a murdered classmate.
  • Inverted by Love, Victor; Victor is the popular (but closeted) jock who's interested in Benji, the sensitive, openly gay artist.
  • Heartstopper Charlie (nerd) and Nick (jock), though the infatuation is mutual.

  • This is the entire premise of 'The Football Song' by Matt Fishel.

    Music Videos 

  • The Bright Sessions: One of Dr Bright's patients, Caleb, an empath, befriends lonely classmate Adam on her recommendation after having difficulty shutting out Adam's powerful negative emotions. As they start to genuinely become friends, Caleb begins describing how he feels butterflies from Adam. Caleb realises the butterflies he's feeling are also coming from his own emotions and they get together.

    Pro Wrestling 


    Visual Novels 
  • Coming Out on Top: Brad, the star quarterback for his college's top football team, is a romance interest for Mark, if you play your cards right.

    Web Animation 
  • In a Heartbeat plays with this. Sherwin has a huge crush on the popular boy Jonathan, but he isn't a jock, and Sherwin is afraid of being outed. Plus, they're both in middle school.

    Web Comics 
  • Omocat's Pretty Boy kind of inverts this trope; the jock starts to fall in love with a pretty little gay Otaku (and Yaoi Fanboy as one panel reveals). They eventually get married.
  • Check, Please! seems to avert this, as Bittle, a gay former figure skater and hockey player, never seems to have an interest in anyone through his whole freshman year. Second year plays straight, as he falls for Jack, the team captain. By the end of Bitty's Sophmore year, they start to date.
  • Happens with the possibly bisexual Teddy in Best Friends Forever, where he has some unspoken feelings for his best friend and star quarterback Vincent. Interestingly, it's inverted as well, since a lot of the conflict for Vincent in the story is dealing with the fact that he's in love with Teddy and discovering that he's gay.
  • In Avialae, Gannet is initially very keen on getting a chance to "wrestle" with Luke, the only member of the wrestling club who doesn't act homophobic towards him. He ultimately ends up with bird geek Bailey instead... though it should be noted that Bailey is also a member of the track team and has the build to show it.
  • Inverted in Questionable Content, as Lovable Jock Gentle Giant Elliott, who already knows he's bisexual, pines for and works up the courage to nervously court tiny nerd Clinton, and serves as his Closet Key.
  • Heartstopper: out gay high school student Charlie crushes on apparently straight rugby jock Nick, who is surprised to find himself reciprocating.