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Gayngst-Induced Suicide

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"It's not always the way it is in plays. Not all faggots bump themselves off at the end of the story!"
Michael, The Boys in the Band

A common trope, often done as a commentary on Homophobia, this is when LGBT characters are Driven to Suicide because of their sexuality, either because of internalized homophobia (hating themselves) or experiencing a miserable life because of their "deviant" gender or sexuality: having to hide who they are, not finding a stable relationship, homophobia from other parties, etc.

The trope may be more common in older works, as a matter of Values Dissonance or for an exception to the Hays Code allowing homosexuals to be shown in media, as long as they were miserable. However, it is still Truth in Television: LGBT individuals are still at higher risk for suicide, even in the Western world. To wit, some 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide, as have 19% of intersex people.

It is one way for a show to invoke Bury Your Gays, but may have worse implications by suggesting that not only must gay characters die but that it must be a stereotypically dishonorable method in suicide, and also that by choosing to kill themselves they are acknowledging how their existence is wrong.

In terms of being Driven to Suicide, this may be considered a Sub-Trope but often has different motivation. The reason for the suicide must be connected to being LGBT+ and so it is more focused on this aspect of the trope, particularly the miseries of gay life and toxicity of society that enables it.

This is a highly dangerous trope as "the more frequently someone is exposed to suicide, the more at risk they themselves are[;] a community that has been bombarded with depictions of suicide should itself be more prone to it." Also, Stanford are researching the trope.

NOTE: If you are feeling this way, there are people to call. Please talk to someone. Despite any misery or bullying you may experience, it gets better, and You Are Not Alone.

No Real Life Examples, Please! As a Death Trope there will be unmarked spoilers.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Natsu e no Tobira has Claude, who is in love with Marion (a boy) and ultimately commits suicide.
  • Subverted with trans girl Hishida from Genkaku Picasso. She is Driven to Suicide after being caught in the girl's bathroom. The protagonist saves her and afterward she's shown going to school as a girl with relatively no issue.

    Comics 
  • It's suggested that John Reddear from The Tamakis' Skim was in love with another boy from his Catholic school and is part of the reason he committed suicide at the start of the story.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The 1919 German film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others) used this trope to deliberate effect. It was genuinely trying to educate the public about the senseless persecution of gays and included real life sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld giving a lecture that homosexuality was completely natural. That said, the main character still gets thrown out of school, loses all of his clients, is blackmailed and eventually commits suicide.
  • In Cloud Atlas, Robert Frobisher is the only named character to commit suicide, which he does after having his career and reputation ruined by being outed as homosexual.
  • Colonel Redl: The protagonist (an Austrian intelligence officer) is both gay and compromised as a spy, so he's basically told to kill himself by his superiors. Redl was also a real person.
  • Ed Wood's infamous Glen or Glenda? opens with a transvestite called Patrick/Patricia having killed herself with the suicide note explaining that she had been arrested for public crossdressing four times and being constantly persecuted was too exhausting, believing that she would be happier and freer in death.
  • This is what Aaron from Latter Days tries to do. After excommunicated from Mormon Church after cought kissing Christian, he found out that Christian getting close to him was nothing more than a 50-dollar bet he had with his co-workers. And then, when he told his mother he was gay, his mother slapped him and said that being gay was unforgivable. Aaron then decided to slit his wrist, but didn't die. Viewers and Christian, however, were made to believe he died for the sake of drama.
  • Subverted in the 1931 film Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform), which ends with a lesbian teenager's classmates preventing her suicide. The original stage play, Gestern und heute by Christa Winsloe, ends less happily, thus fitting the trope.
  • Ode to Billy Joe: Many people remember the sixties hit song "Ode To Billy Joe," about a young man who kills himself by jumping off the Tallahatchee Bridge, for reasons unknown. What few people remember is that in 1976, Hollywood decided to make a movie of the song that would explain exactly why Billy Joe jumped. Turns out it was the gayngst.
  • Prayers for Bobby: Teenage Bobby comes out and is faced with his mother's attempts to convert him, he fights against this until the church gets involved and then kills himself. The rest of the film is his mom coming to terms with his suicide and then campaigning against homophobia in the church to stop other kids killing themselves.
  • Subverted in Trevor: 13-year-old Trevor attempts suicide over his homosexuality but recovers in hospital, where he meets a cute, friendly candy-striper, Jack, who offers him tickets to a Diana Ross concert. Trevor decides to live — at least "until tomorrow" — and dances up the path to his house.
  • "Boy" Barrett's suicide in Victim (1961) He dies to protect the man he loves: knowing he'll be questioned by police, he hangs himself in his prison cell to avoid revealing a distinguished lawyer's involvement with him.
  • In Ma Vie En Rose, the 7-year old trans girl protagonist hides in a freezer at one point. Her suicide attempt, however, fails.
  • Invoked in Heathers. Veronica and J.D. pass off several murders they have committed as suicides by forging Suicide Notes. They make the two Jerk Jocks Ram and Kurt out to be closeted homosexuals, which makes the whole thing more credible and buys the two guys some post-mortem compassion from the rest of the community.
    Ram's father at the funeral ceremony: I love my dead gay son!

    Literature 
  • Alexandre's suicide in Les amities particuliares (Special Friendships) (1943) after being cruelly separated from his boyfriend by hypocritically-moralising priests.
  • Subverted in Mary Renault's The Charioteer — the main character believes Ralph is about to commit suicide, but manages to interfere in time, resulting in a relatively happy ending. Considering the book was published in 1953, when homosexuality was still illegal in the UK, this came as a genuine surprise.
  • 13-year-old Manuela's suicide in Das Kind Manuela (or Das Maedchen Manuela, novelization of Mädchen in Uniform) after being punished for declaring her love for a female teacher and told she can't see the teacher again. It more closely fits the original play in its ending, and was written by the playwright.
  • Ashley's suicide over his homosexuality in Lord Dismiss Us (1967).
  • 10-year-old Serge's suicide in Quand mourut Jonathan (When Jonathan Died). Serge's mother decides to keep him away from his adult lover, Jonathan. Serge runs away to go to Jonathan, but on the way realizes he'll never make it and jumps in front of a car.

    Live-Action Television 
  • In the Cold Case episode "Best Friends", a butch lesbian dies and her girlfriend lives after they try to commit suicide by driving off a bridge, while being chased by her homophobic brother.
  • In the first series of Damages, Patty Hewes tries to force her miserably closeted gay rival Ray Fiske to settle his client's case in her favour, and join her firm, by blackmailing him over his sexual orientation. She genuinely seems to think that he'd be happier either working with her or getting outed, but his response is to eat a gun in her office, seriously shocking her.
  • In Glee, Karofsky gets bullied at his new school when he is Forced Out of the Closet and in less than a week he feels so terrorized that he chooses to hang himself, but survives.
  • In an episode of Grey's Anatomy a teenage lesbian couple with strict parents think they won't be allowed to be together in life so lie down on train tracks together; when they are being treated at the hospital it turns out their parents are mostly OK with it: they'd never come out and assumed the parents would separate them. One of the girls' mother is shown to be a bigot, though, attacking Maggie — a black doctor — for putting the ideas in her daughter's head before she arrived, but they do get a happy ending.
  • In Season 3 of House Of Cards, Michael Corrigan — the show's only gay character — commits suicide after Frank and Claire Underwood try to strong-arm him into renouncing his principles.
  • Agatha Christie's Poirot: In Hallowe'en Party, we learn that Beatrice White and Elizabeth Whittaker were lesbian lovers, but once their relationship was found out, Beatrice drowned herself, leaving Mrs. Whittaker heartbroken and alone.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Season 7 had Mary Louise and Nora, members of the Vampire/Witch Hybrids known as The Heretics, kill themselves in a fiery car crash while escaping from a vampire hunter, Mary deciding she'd rather die with her lover than spend the rest of their lives running or separated in the stone.

    Music 
  • "Narcisse Noir" by Ali Project is about a girl remembering her first love, her brother's gay lover. He and the brother drown themselves.
  • Heather Dale's version of the Irish folk song "I Never Will Marry" reinterprets the lyrics to involve a lesbian romance. The protagonist is singing about her lover who killed herself instead of marrying a man.

    Theatre 
  • The protagonists of bare: a pop opera, Jason and Peter, are a gay couple at a Catholic boarding school. Jason ultimately dies of a drug overdose in an implied suicide, though Peter survives to admonish the school for driving him to it.
  • In The Children's Hour, two schoolteachers, Martha and Karen, have their lives and reputations irrevocably shattered after one of their beastly students spreads a rumor that they are lesbian lovers. After a bitter confrontation with the student's grandmother, and even after the women lose their court case for slander, the big twist is that Martha really did have those feelings for Karen, but never knew how to articulate them until they were spoken by someone else. Karen is accepting of her friend, and suggests they move away and start a new life together. In both the 1960 film and theatre version of the story, Martha kills herself before the night is through. The 1930s film adaptation These Three averts this as Martha is straight and doesn't attempt suicide.
  • Fun Home: Throughout Alison Bechdel's autobiographical musical is the contemplation of her closeted gay father's death and its later ruling as suicide. She deals with this during accepting her own homosexuality, a contrast to the bright colors and upbeat songs. It aimed to be a heartwarming family story, but was still nicknamed the "lesbian suicide musical" by its marketing team.
  • The play Gestern und heute is about a teenage girl at an all-girls school who fell for her female teacher. She ended up committing suicide in the end.
  • This seems to be a favorite trope of Tennessee Williams, much of the anguish motivating the protagonists of his two most famous plays, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof revolves around gay men who commit suicide.
  • McQueen opens on Alexander McQueen as he debates killing himself, and this underscores the whole play, with one interpretation being that Dahlia coming to him is an imagined Manic Pixie Dream Girl version of himself who reminds him of his loves and ambitions, but does so by taking him on a journey physically from West to East London, but figuratively from the present backwards through his life to his birth. The fact that it is a Girly Girl who appears, and how she helps expose his complicated feelings for women, also relates that it is in some ways philosophising on his sexuality. The play is set around 2008, the real McQueen killed himself in 2010, listed as gay-related (likely a combination of depression and his mother's recent death).

    Video Games 
  • In the Japanese Mai-HiME computer game, if you as the main character choose to date Natsuki Kuga, her best friend Shizuru Fujino is so hurt that she kills herself.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • In the alpha version of Katawa Shoujo Misha, who has unrequited feelings for her best friend Shizune, falls into a depression and kills herself by standing in front of a car. The alpha is incomplete, as many of the arcs were vastly rewritten and it was accidentally leaked, but there's no apparent way to stop this. She dies in both the bad and good endings. Misha is an example where her gayngst is only a part (albeit a major part) of why she committed suicide. She also had many self-esteem issues.
    • In the final product some of Misha's lines imply that she's suicidal, but she doesn't attempt it.

    Webcomics 
  • Cuanta Vida has BLU Sniper Liam and RED Spy Gabry, who are in a gay relationship. After Gabry is killed taking a bullet for Liam, Liam commits assisted suicide.

    Web Original 
  • The short movie Heterophobia is about a Bizarro Universe in which homosexual relationships are the norm and heterosexuality is punished by society. The story is about a teenager who fell in love with a boy, but she's bullied because this goes against homosexuality and in the end she's Driven to Suicide. Basically the story is an analogy of this trope but with an inverted Point of View, reinforcing the toxicity of its causes.

    Western Animation 
  • Happens in one episode of South Park ("Cartman Sucks"). Butters gets sent to a straight camp after being Mistaken for Gay and many of its young residents commit suicide because of the harshness of being told they are confused.


Alternative Title(s): Gay Related Suicide

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