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Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?

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"Have you tried... not being a mutant?"
Madeline Drake (to Bobby Drake), X2: X-Men United

There's a certain group of people. They have normal lives to an extent, but somehow they're different. Not like other people. They're something unusual. Something that means they can never fit in. If it's at all possible, they hide their differences away from everyone else to fit in. They live in secret, ostracized from society. A subculture, upholding a masquerade of being normal by day but living out a secret lifestyle out-of-view. Chances are that if they ever tell anyone, they'll inevitably be asked, "Have you tried... not being a monster?"

In many cases, this trope is a way to introduce themes about minorities into a plot without being too specific about what is being referenced when creators feel that an allegory or metaphor will be less likely to be censored. In this way, the writer has room to create an effective allegory without any limitations. Though on rare occasion, there is no allegory at all: the trope is just the natural outcome of the circumstances the story is set in. This story is familiar to many real-life minorities, one prominent example being the queer/LGBT+ community, so it's not that surprising that it's so often used in fiction. Besides the queer community, similar circumstances may also apply to other persecuted groups like Jewish or disabled people, so a metaphor for one such group may be applicable to another.

If there is a stigmatized difference that is not readily apparent or can be disguised (especially one that appears when the character is old enough to hide it), chances are that characters will try to hide it to avoid being judged, and that if/when their secret is revealed, it will come as a definite shock... and invite mortal danger.

As one can imagine, this trope can have myriad Unfortunate Implications, especially if the Muggles have entirely justifiable reasons to fear the fictional entities in question, such as instinctive predatory impulses towards humans, genuinely being Always Chaotic Evil apart from the occasional angsty heroic one, or being able to blow somebody's head off by glaring at them really hard. That said, remember that Tropes Are Not Bad.

See also: Space Jews, Fantastic Racism, Fictional Disability, Ambiguously Gay, Cure Your Gays, Hide Your Lesbians, Discount Lesbians, Does This Remind You of Anything?, All of the Other Reindeer, Why Couldn't You Be Different?, Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child, Rainbow Lens, and Stages of Monster Grief.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Played for Laughs in Slayers Next when heroes face the fact that a charming prankster they traveled with is millennia-old and extremely powerful Mazoku. Amelia, of course, immediately, and passionately exhorted him to "become a real human". Even Gourry saw just how grotesque this was.
  • Done in a more sensible fashion in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. It's more along the lines of "Have you tried not being a group of morally-devoid combat cyborgs?" At the end of her fight with Nove, Wendi, and Deed, Teana tells Nove that if she cooperates, she will be able to start over and enter rehabilitation, prompting Nove to respond that they, being combat cyborgs, are made to do battle. Teana responds that Subaru is a case of someone who was made as a combat cyborg but nevertheless became a kind person. Teana's three opponents get the message and enter rehabilitation, with Wendi and Nove crediting Teana as the one who inspired them to change.
  • My Hero Academia: When Himiko Toga's Quirk first appeared when she was a little girl, it had the side effect of making her attracted to blood. Her parents were disgusted and demanded she suppress both her urges and her Quirk. The standard school psychiatrist recommended the same, which didn't help. She played the part for years, until eventually in middle school she snapped under the pressure, and murdered her crush to drink his blood. She's been a Serial Killer ever since, who just can't see how her actions are wrong.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men, to the point of extreme Lampshade Hanging, where people (like Spider-Man) in some issues get gays and mutants confused. Mutants who can pass for human are sometimes referred to being "in the closet". The biggest group of people rallying against mutants are evil conservative Christians, who think their existence is a sin against God. There have been numerous attempts to "cure" mutants, as well as to kill them off as "abominations". Basically, after the racial civil rights of the '60s and '70s cooled down, the franchise was adapted to mirror the gay rights struggle, which it actually fits better in many respects (since mutants can be born to anyone, don't become different until puberty and you can sometimes tell their condition by looking at them, but not always).
    • Then during the '90s during the gay AIDS epidemic, mutants were given a disease called the Legacy Virus that was essentially mutant AIDS. When asked when it would be cured, writers responded "not until AIDS is cured". Apparently, nobody at Marvel actually expected a cure for AIDS to elude humanity for over two decades, so it became a Plot Tumor of asking the greatest scientists in the universe who can create dimensional portals and cybernetics "When is that cure coming again?", every month. So the cure was eventually found. Funny, that.
    • See the X2: X-Men United entry below.
    • Parodied in ItsJustSomeRandomGuy's Youtube series I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC:
      Superman: But I've got friends who are mutants! Like... uh, Spider-Man?
      Spider-Man: Hey, I'm not a mutant! ...Not That There's Anything Wrong with That.
    • This is taken to its logical extreme in Dark Avengers-X-Men: The Beginning, where it's revealed that the San Francisco neighborhood known as the Castro is a mutant neighborhood instead of a gay community like in real life. Vote no on Prop X and all that. Goddammit, Marvel, there are actual gay people in your universe. This is especially baffling when you consider that M-Day and other events eliminated all possible similarities between gay people and mutants. There are, at a maximum, 500 mutants alive worldwide. Theirs is the last generation; no more are being born. So, among other things, the idea of mutants as an even somewhat visible minority anymore is insanely ridiculous.
      • And then changed again in Generation Hope. With Hope's return and survival? Mutants begin being born again, thus becoming a minority again.
    • A special issue that dealt with a teenage boy being "outed" as a mutant. After training to control his powers, he went home to find that his parents, originally rejecting him, have finally accepted him; that the girl he had a secret crush on is now interested in him; and that his oldest friend since they were babies has shut him out completely. Hmmm...
    • The author of the article Ellen Page has super-powers, but why is this newsworthy? milks this for all it's worth where he writes an article discussing X-Men actor Elliot Page coming out by replacing every mention of homosexuality with "mutant with super-power" and ran with it.
    • Chip Zdarsky gave Word of God confirming the intentionality of parallels readers saw in Fantastic Four + X-Men between Reed and Sue Richards' abusive behavior towards Franklin and parents refusing to accept that their children are trans or otherwise LGBT.
    • Many real-life minority-rights groups are beginning to find the association a bit condescending, considering comics' ongoing problem with diversity, seeing it as the co-opting of a struggle for characters that are overwhelmingly straight and white. It also doesn't help the comics rarely reflect the real-life progression these groups have had.
  • Runaways played with the trope with Karolina, who felt different all her life without ever knowing why, and there eventually comes the major revelation that she is an alien. However, it turned out she was an alien and gay, and she asked herself this question. When the team had unknowingly let a vampire into their hideout, before Karolina came out to her friends, she mentions to the newcomer how she hates always feeling different and abnormal, and she decides that she wants to feel like a normal teenage girl (and since she is sixteen, and he is cute, and they are alone...). Of course, it is never that simple, and in a very Real Life way (except for the vampire and alien bits) she falls into a suicidal depression when she can not fit in like she wants to, but she also learns to accept herself, and is accepted by her friends, and eventually becomes proud and unapologetic of her heritage and sexuality.
    • This is later used when Karolina begins to date Xavin, who willingly spends time as a girl with her after finding out she is a lesbian. Some Majesdonians (Karolina's alien species) later track her down and, upon hearing that she and Xavin are in a relationship, say that it is "disgusting"...because a Majesdanian is dating a Skrull.
  • Something-verted in Young Avengers, in which Billy's parents overhear him and Teddy having an argument about which of them has to tell their parents something first. They assure the boys they already know and unreservedly welcome Teddy to the family. Thing is, they actually are a couple, but that specific conversation was about them secretly being superheroes.
  • Played with in The Pride, where Owen's parents tried to have him "cured"... because he was obsessed with becoming a superhero, even before he discovered that he had superpowers. Surprisingly, they had considerably less of a problem with the fact that he was gay.
  • The Witch Boy takes place in a magical society where men become shapeshifters and women become witches, but the protagonist Aster is a boy who cannot transform and secretly tries to study magic. It is easily read as a metaphor for discrimination in gender roles, with men being pushed toward violent activities and women towards domestic ones. Though Aster never displays explicit discomfort specifically with being assigned male, it's shown his preference for magic isn't merely personality when Mikasi tastes his soul and discovers it is that of a witch. Inversely, his grandmother turns out to be a partial shapeshifter.
  • The Ultimates: Jan is a mutant, and nobody knows it: everybody thinks that Pym gave her those shrinking powers. When they were having a marital discussion Pym complained that, as part of her mutation, she eats insects, has a disgusting hygiene, and frequently leaves the bed filled with eggs.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has Bobby Drake's mother being completely unable to accept that her little boy is anything more than an ordinary human, despite ample evidence to the contrary - and she's in complete denial about the way his brother treats him too. His father though is more accepting and frustrated by his wife's denial. The conversation, as ever, bears more than a little resemblance to parents finding out that their child is gay. It takes a gentle bit of Telepathy from Professor Xavier to clear out the reflex denial.
  • Codex Equus deconstructs it with Phoenix King Naur. Since birth, Naur was constantly treated by Irminsul and Arvan (and by extension, the Elternteil Deer Pantheon) as a disappointment because he was born embodying Fire, and was discouraged from using his Fire domain at all. This left Naur very miserable in his youth, and it later contributed to his nasty falling out with his parents after he finally grew fed up with their abuse and toxic hypocrisy. Even after becoming a benevolent and successful Phoenix King of Caernar, Naur's abusive upbringing left him with serious issues like an inferiority complex and a really bad temper that he tries his hardest to rein in. Fortunately, he has Mentálne, Amour-De-Soi, and various benevolent family members and allies to help him through it, but it's noted that Naur's recovery is still far from over.
  • In Luminosity, vampires do simply change upon turning in a few key ways. Most of them are hard to understand, and after a few questions from her father about stuff that's perfectly normal for a vampire, Bella thinks:
    I half expected him to ask if I'd ever tried to stop being a vampire.
  • Pony POV Series: Flutternice is a major deconstruction. Nightmare Whisper has convinced her her Special Talent is inherently evil and that she should hate it and suppress it for eons. This naturally has left the girl's mind a wreck.
    Flutternice: Five times the pain for you means five times the love you know I have for you! Nonononono! Mommy said those thoughts are bad bad bad! I need to smile! But be sad when I need to hurt somepony! She said hurting you is bad, but I need to hurt you so you don't hurt yourself! Mommy is right! So that means I can hurt you and you know it's because I love you! Yippie!
  • You See Them: Deconstructed with Ren Amamiya, who can see the ghosts of others but often faces yells and protests from his parents that he was hallucinating. This left him with plenty of self-confidence issues and hesitation to use his powers, even when the ghosts of Futaba and Yusuke's mothers want him to help their children. Then comes The Reveal that his parents knew he could see the dead, but have been trying to Gaslight him into thinking he doesn't have them so they have a normal life. Ren and the other Phantom Thieves are enraged to hear that, and their confrontation ends with Ren emancipating himself from his parents and staying with his family of choice.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Blue Rajah, a cutlery-throwing superhero from Mystery Men, is mortified to be caught by his mother rummaging through her cutlery drawers, and desperately tries to brazen it out by daring her to disapprove of his superhero lifestyle. She turns out to be far more supportive and loving than he expected.
  • One of the jocks in Cursed assumed that this was what the newly-infected werewolf was concealing. As the jock in question had been hiding his own sexual orientation, confusion ensues.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Trope Namer. In X2: X-Men United, Bobby Drake's parents find out that he's a mutant and have pretty much exactly this reaction. Complete with his mother asking him if he's "tried... not being a mutant?" The filmmakers consulted Ian McKellen for the scene due to his experience being gay during much less forgiving times. Many viewers consider it narm, but this is likely the point, as many a homosexual who have endured the 'real' version of the line have likely wondered how close family could seriously ask such an ignorant question. This pops up a second time. When Nightcrawler asks Mystique why she doesn't use her shapeshifting powers to blend in with normal humans, she replies, "Because we shouldn't have to."
    • Similarly to the X2 example above, prequel X-Men: First Class has an LGBT metaphor, which is admittedly less subtle. Charles and Erik look like average humans and can completely pass for 'normal', but have still strongly affected their lives. Raven, on the other hand, can pass for "normal" at the cost of it being very exhausting and undermines her self-confidence, making her somewhat of a metaphor for a transgender person. Raven's comparison is even blatantly explained through a conversation with Erik — she doesn't have to perfectly "pass" as a non-mutant woman to be beautiful and have worth.
      • There's also Charles accidentally "outing" Hank McCoy at the CIA facility. Fortunately, his boss was cool with it and only disappointed that Hank didn't feel he could be open about his mutation earlier. Hank even says something along the lines of "You Didn't Ask, so I didn't tell."
  • This crops up in Muppets from Space when Gonzo discovers he's an alien; "But I didn't choose to be one. I mean, I've always had alien tendencies, and this just makes sense to me."
  • Jack feels this way about Greg being a nurse in Meet the Parents. Even as he's extending an olive branch to Greg and trying to be less intimidating and close-minded, he basically paraphrases the page quote.
  • White Frog: During an argument with his autistic son Nick, Oliver shouts, "Why can't you just try to act normal? I am tired of you making me feel like you're a ticking time bomb! Try to act normal or else!"
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a variant in the form of The Reveal about Tim Curry's infamous "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania" known as Doctor Frank-N-Furter. Turns out that he and his entourage are so flamboyant because they're aliens from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy Transylvania.

  • Werewolves are treated this way in Harry Potter.
    • Rowling has said that werewolves and Lupin in particular were actually a metaphor for segregation in general, but more specifically as a Fictional Disability akin to HIV/AIDS. Lupin's lycanthropy forces him to need many special accommodations just to live day to day, such as a potion he has to take for the rest of his life, or the more elaborate quarantine Hogwarts had to set up for him as a child.
    • The movie version of Azkaban is particularly anvilicious about this. In the book, Lupin has no problem talking about being a werewolf at the end-of-the-book wrapup with Harry, whereas in the movie he hesitates and uses lots of euphemisms that make it sound like he's talking about something else entirely. Lupin's actor David Thewlis likely did this on purpose, as he was convinced his character was gay and expressed disappointment when Lupin married a woman.
    Lupin: This time tomorrow, the owls will start arriving, and parents will not want a wer... er, someone like me teaching their children.
    Lupin: Besides, people like me are... Well, let's just say that I'm used to it by now.
    • He lampshades his heavy use of euphemisms somewhere along the line, saying, "James used to call it my 'furry little problem'. Many of my classmates were under the impression that I owned a very badly behaved rabbit."
  • The world of the Mercy Thompson series plays around with this trope. There's a lot of religious opposition, especially toward the fae, but it's quickly demonstrated to be a lot more reasonable than it seems at first glance. Sticking those fae forced out of the closet onto literal reservations, however, certainly fits a version of this trope. On the other hand, there are gay werewolves, who are discriminated against both as they would be in the real world, and by werewolves that have their own discriminatory beliefs on the matter.
    • Homophobia among werewolves is partially explained by the near immortality of the species. Many or most are centuries old, born when homosexuality was unacceptable, and as they grow older they find it harder to change with the times. The Columbia Basin pack, which does have a gay member, is explicitly stated to have accepted him in large part because many of the other members were only a few decades old. And Mercy still notes that he's lower in rank than a hetero werewolf of his dominance and fighting ability would have been. And he's third in the pack.
  • In the fantasy series The Braided Path, people born with magical powers are called "Aberrant." Veteran Aberrant Asara gives protagonist Kaiku what can only be described as a "coming out of the closet speech", urging her to accept her powers and be proud of them... moments before a big Les Yay Ship Tease moment.
  • The Dresden Files invokes this trope, as wizards are supposed to maintain secrecy at all times and not reveal to the rest of the world that they exist, lest non-wizards become terrified and kill them. Averted in the case of the series protagonist, who not only puts "HARRY DRESDEN, WIZARD" on his office door and is listed in the Yellow Pages under "Wizards," but also goes on his universe's equivalent of Jerry Springer to talk about magic and promote his business. Twice.
    • Amusingly, Harry's association with White Court vampire and his half-brother Thomas Raith has led people to assume he is gay. They tend to have a Not That There's Anything Wrong with That attitude to it, and when they're prejudiced, Harry has used that to his advantage. And Murphy won't shut up about it, so he's probably never going to live it down.
  • A mild version of this is in The House of Night series. In Marked, when Zoey gets the Mark of a vampyre, all she knows is that vampyres often disappear. She then discovers that there is a school for them (the titular "House of Night") and that many celebrities are vampyres. Being a vampyre is treated similarly to being gay in this universe. Because of this, her strict Christian stepfather disowns her. Vampyres also have to cover up their Mark in public to avoid being harassed.
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, male channelers are treated like this... at the very best. Justified, though, as they are doomed to go insane, which will have disastrous effects on anything and anyone in the vicinity, and at the end die a horrible death.
  • The Twilight Saga: In New Moon, Bella pulls this pretty much straight (in wording, at least) on Jacob when confronting him after figuring out that he's a werewolf.
    Bella: Could you...well, try to not be a...werewolf?
    • In the film Jacob responds: "This isn't a lifestyle choice, I was born like this." Through a bit of conversation, it becomes clear that she has no problems with the werewolf pack simply being werewolves; the reason she wants them to stop is that she thinks they're responsible for the mysterious deaths going on in town. Upon being told that they're not, the issue is dropped. note 
  • One of the most Anvilicious examples is Raxtus, the "fairy dragon" from the Fablehaven series. These quotes make it pretty obvious:
    "I was incubated and hatched by fairy magic, and I came out...unique."
    "I'm the pretty dragon. The funny dragon. Problem is, dragons are supposed to be fearsome and awe-inspiring. Not witty. Being the funny dragon is like being the bald mammoth. Being the pretty dragon is like being the ugly fairy."
    "My father is...the king of dragons...And I'm his greatest disappointment. Raxtus the fairy dragon."
    "Guess what my breath weapon does? Helps things grow! And the only magic I can do is defensive stuff like hiding, or else healing. Again, like a fairy."
    "I can't manage to look like a person...I look like a boy fairy with butterfly wings."
  • In Hero by Perry Moore, Thom is an extreme example of this. He has healing powers, but his father, a former (non-superpowered) superhero who left in disgrace, now hates anyone with powers. Then there's the fact that Thom's also gay...
  • In Bill Brittain's book, Wings, the main character grows a pair of batlike—and ultimately functional—wings. He is forced to have them surgically removed in the end, however, at the insistence of his father.
  • Dwarfs in Discworld are suddenly going through a period of this. The series parodies Our Dwarves Are All the Same by having the genders be identical. Females have beards, dress the same as males, and dwarfish courtship consists largely of trying to tactfully find out what the other dwarf's gender is. But ever since Feet of Clay, a few dwarfs (mainly the younger ones) have started wearing dresses and makeup, and admitting they don't actually like beer all that much (they keep the beards, though). Older, more conservative dwarfs are horrified to find that some of their sons may actually be daughters.
    • It's also entirely possible that some of the dwarfs doing this are biologically male (their culture doesn't even really recognize the concept of gender; dwarfs are dwarfs), making this seem even more like a metaphor for gender identity; it's not about what they were born as, but what they want to live as.
  • H. P. Lovecraft:
    • According to Robert M. Price, "The Outsider" has compelling parallels to a coming-out story. Though the implications are probably unintentional, this story may be one of the oldest examples of this trope.
    • Lovecraft also wrote a more famous story about a certain kind of people. As children, these people don't appear distinct from anyone else, but as they grow up, they start to become...different. Some of them can pass for normal, others stick out like sore thumbs, but they all eventually join their brethren and come to terms with what they are. Initially, the protagonist feels disgust at these people's sexual practices and alien lifestyle, and he leaves their community in a panic. But afterwards, he feels drawn to their way of life and (though he initially denies it) accepts that he is one of them and joins them. Is this a story about an Armoured Closet Gay man coming to acknowledge his identity? No, it's The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and the people in this story are Fish People!
  • Speaking of dark and disturbing tales about land dwellers falling in love with fish folk, the Ur-Example of this trope could very well be "The Little Mermaid", which has been interpreted to represent Hans Christian Andersen's own inability to be with the man he loved. This would make the trope Older Than Radio.
  • In The Mortal Instruments, Clary gives Simon pamphlets about coming out to help him tell his religious mom he's a vampire.
  • In the "Nice Girls" series of vampire romances by Molly Harper, we get this played out pretty much verbatim once the lead character's newly undead status is discovered by her parents. Jane Jameson's mother actually asks if she has tried not being a vampire, and constantly brings her pot pies in the hopes that if she just tries to eat solid food... As the series progresses, Jane's mother joins the "Friends and Family of the Undead" self-help group and gets a "vampire pride" bumper sticker. I have no idea whether Ms. Harper was aiming for any form of allegory with this and the books play it all mainly for laughs, but the parallels are obvious.
  • In The Broken Earth Trilogy, orogenes are treated as dangerous pariahs who are suffered to live only under strict circumstances. In the second book, The Obelisk Gate, a conversation between a father and his (orogeny) daughter has strong connotations of a child trying to come out to her disgusted father, who mutters something about "a cure for her condition," before trying to strike her. She's eleven.
  • William's parents in the novel Proud Pink Sky – at first they work to reform his homosexuality, which starts him on the path to the world's first gay state.
  • Release That Witch: Some witches simply don't use their powers to prevent themselves from being spotted by the Corrupt Church and burned at the stake. Unfortunately, magic energy can be toxic if it accumulates too long, especially during puberty, and many witches have died from internal wounds. Not helping is that some coven leaders are oblivious to the pattern of 'useless' witches holding their magic in and typically getting the worst of the wounding, and order them to do no magic, ensuring their demise. Roland defies this trope by supporting the practice of witchcraft to the point of paying a monthly salary of one gold coin just for practicing and draining reserves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • True Blood:
    • Vampires are very analogous to gays. They "come out of the coffin" to demand civil rights and are mostly opposed by members of fanatical religious sects who spout catchphrases such as "God Hates Fangs". Also, the show sometimes casts vampires like racial minorities, made more overt due to its setting in the American South. During one scene, a bigoted policeman repeatedly calls Bill "boy" while treating him unfairly. However, due to the high number of murderous vampires in the show, there's a fair bit of Broken Aesop and Strawman Has a Point going on. Actually, for all that he is "nice" now, this used to include Bill just as much.
    • While many viewers find that it fits the trope, the creators have outright denied that vampires are an allegory for homosexuals and Alan Ball calls this interpretation "lazy." If anything, the show, and the books, are preaching the opposite moral, targeting the "everyone should all just get along" and "society is victimizing me for being special" memes from the '90s and ripping them down mercilessly. After all, even in the case of "good" vampires, the people that treat their condition as a Not That There's Anything Wrong with That thing are dead wrong, often literally. Some have criticized the implied metaphor, pointing out that gays generally have neither the urge to rip people's throats open nor superpowers to allow them to do so with impunity — although that doesn't stop it from being used to awesome effect.
      Protester: Hey, fang-banger!
      Hoyt: You better not be talking to me.
      Protester: What if I was?
      Hoyt: See that woman right there? Not that devil, but that woman, yeah, she got fangs. And yeah, you can bet your ass that we are doing it all the time because we are in love! And there is not one damn thing wrong with being in love! Now, how can you do this, and still call yourself a Christian?
      Protester: I am a Christian, God damn it!
      Hoyt: I am clearly more of a Christian than you. Because I got love in my heart. And you got nothing but hate.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer pulls this a few times. First and foremost, Joyce's reaction to learning about Buffy and vampires in "Becoming Part 2" is, literally, "Have you tried... not being the Slayer?" She later describes herself as "marching in the Slayer Pride parade." To be fair, Joyce's reaction is a lot more understandable than most examples on this page since her biggest concern is that Buffy could get seriously hurt or killed being the Slayer.
    • Granted, from time to time, Buffy has tried to not be the Slayer ("Prophecy Girl", "Anne") or been faced with the possibility that she's not even destined to be the Slayer, due to there being others now ("What's My Line, Part 1/Part 2", "Faith, Hope, and Trick", "Chosen"), etc. The Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate plays a pretty central role to Buffy's character arc throughout the franchise.
    • In "Phases", Larry is suspected of being a werewolf, and Xander has a talk with him about having urges and desires he can't control... but it turns out that Larry's not a werewolf, he's just gay.
      • The Angel episode "Disharmony" then reverses that: Cordelia misreads the signals she's been getting from the new vampire Harmony and ends up thinking Harmony's a lesbian. She calls Willow to ask "why didn't you tell me?" and the conversation is full of mixed signals. Finally:
        Cordelia: Harmony is a vampire? That's why she — oh, my God, I'm so embarrassed! All this time I thought she was a great big lesbo! ...Oh, yeah? Really? Well, that's great! Good for you.
    • Not to mention Willow and Tara's "witchcraft = lesbian awakening" subplot. Lanterns were still being hung on that one in the final season.
      Anya: [about to do a spell with Willow] This isn't gonna get all sexy, is it?
      Willow: I'd be shocked.
    • Subverted by Tara's family. The women in the Maclay family are raised believing they must always struggle not to become demonic monsters — which turns out to be a lie to keep the women subjugated. The allusions to a homophobic family are also strong in "Family".
    • Doyle from Angel, who is half-human and half-demon has to deal with the issue of "passing" as a human, and in "Hero", he meets some demon relatives who look too much like demons to ever have the luxury of making the choice that Doyle does.
  • The Vampire Diaries hilariously discusses and plays with this trope upside down and sideways. Caroline, a young vampire, is seriously discriminated against and tortured by her father who is trying to cure her of her vampirism through punishment. Her mother's explanation for her father's behavior? Her parents were "raised a certain way to believe certain things" about vampires that aren't necessarily true. He even chooses to die instead of becoming a vampire because his beliefs are all he has. Irony of ironies? Her father is gay and left his wife because he could no longer live a lie. Needless to say, Damon points out the incredible... quirkiness of the situation.
  • The live-action series The Tick (2001) had an episode of this trope, centered around Arthur coming out as a superhero to his mom and sister. Tick is referred to as Arthur's "Partner" and "Special friend". In one scene the mom and sister, upon first entering the restaurant Arthur and Tick frequent, notice a superhero leaving and ask, "Is this one of those kind of places?" Creator Ben Edlund later regretted putting this in people's minds when they made the episode about the relationship between superhero and sidekick, which he described as "very marriage-like" in the commentary.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Invoked in "The Abandoned" when Odo tries his hardest to convince a found Jem'Hadar to pursue interests other than killing or fighting.
    • Also invoked with respect to Dr. Bashir's genetic enhancement. Bashir is outed as having a trait that is not only considered revolting and wrong by the general public but is also illegal and can lose his military job and even his citizenship, even though Bashir wasn't the one who chose the trait in the first place. "Dr. Bashir, I Presume?" reads as if it's a metaphor for the forced outing of gays. However, they kind of spoil the Aesop by having Julian be the only "augment" ever to appear in the show who's neither a wannabe Übermensch (Khan Noonein Singh, those kids created by Data's identical great-to-the-power-of-umpteen grandfather in Star Trek: Enterprise) nor some more mundane shade of cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs like the Blessed with Suck augments who show up in "Statistical Probabilities" and ultimately fail to be of any help whatsoever.
  • Dinosaurs has an episode where Robby suspects that he might be (GASP) an herbivore! Herbivores are treated the same way in dinosaurs society as gays are, complete with "herbivore bars" and being called "Vego" as a slur. Fridge Logic makes this weird once you realize that several of the dinosaurs characters, including Robby, are based on (B.P. Richfield's Triceratops comes to mind, although he did try to eat Robby once) are herbivores (in Robby's case, Hypsilophodon).
  • Dexter use this trope. And in that case, when they say 'monster', they mean killer.
  • In Merlin, Camelot's oppression of magic users can be read as an allegory for homophobia. Part of the prejudice against sorcery is based on the belief that it's a learned skill, mirroring the real-life debate over whether homosexuality is innate or a "lifestyle choice". In the series four finale, Merlin even tells Agravaine that he "was born with it" (meaning magic). And there's the constant Arthur/Merlin Ship Tease...
  • Deconstructed in The League of Gentlemen's Christmas Special, which dealt with the Unfortunate Implications of equating gay people with bloodsucking vampires.
    I am not a vampire! I am just a queen.
  • Completely inverted in Swedish comedy show Hjälp (Help), whenever resident sissy Benjamin tries to explain to his family that he's just an average guy. When came out to them and told them he was straight, his sister called him revolting, his mother started crying and his father disowned him. Causing Benjamin to meekly tell them that he was only kidding, of course, he's really gay.
    • Taken to ridiculous extremes in the third season;
      • When he accidentally becomes a bank robber, his father gave him his old Luger that he used to rob the post office with and offered him to come along to Denmark for a hit ("some pesky witness that needs shutting up"). Then there's the family tied up in the bathroom...
      • When he ends up being recruited by some Nazis, his parents start recollecting how they first met at a Nazi rally and how proud they are of him following in their footsteps.
      • When he's forced to convert to Islam (as part of a knife-point marriage), his parents proudly reveal that they are actually part of an Al Qaeda terrorist cell and asks him for help in bombing the local Danish hotdog stand.
  • A Joel-era episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 equates robots with homosexuality. Tom and Crow both come out as robots.
  • Played with in the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch about men who live as mice.
  • In Glee, the character of Bryan Ryan crusades against show choir, because he's resentful that his time in New Directions didn't turn into lifelong stardom. It turns out that he's "living a lie," and tells his wife he goes on business trips but instead goes off to New York to see Broadway plays, and has a stack of playbills in his basement which are "like porn." Possibly a parody of the trope, since Glee features openly homosexual characters and has dealt directly with gay issues in other plotlines.
  • Heroes originally had this as a major plot point. Claire's friend Zach was going to embrace his homosexuality, mirroring Claire's embrace of her new powers. Although Executive Meddling nixed the gay reveal, which is perhaps why Claire ends up wangst ridden for the rest of the series.
  • Choujin Sentai Jetman had two that tried to be legit monsters of the week, but failed. And in one instance, one of the Vyram elite is subject to this.
    • Dryer Dimension tries to be a terrifying menace, but can't resist helping people in need. By the end of the episode he gives up evil and becomes a hairdresser. Really. By that extent, that makes him the only creature from Vyram to survive the series.
    • Trash Dimension was the same. He never wanted to do no harm to anyone in the first place, because the main part of his mind comes from a teddy bear which Ako used to care a lot for when she was a child. Anyway, he came back to his senses thanks to Ako/Blue Swallow, only to have a disgusted Maria kill him, inadvertently angering Blue Swallow in the process.
    • In the weirdest twist, this happens to Count Radiguet of all people. After his attempts to overthrow Empress Juza ended with him being banished to Earth and changed into a human, Radiguet actually began to undergo something of a decent, benevolent life, even saving the life of a terminally ill girl named Saki and becoming her boyfriend. He eventually regains his memories and returns to evil, killing Juza out of revenge. But shortly after his murder of Juza, Saki appears in front of Radiguet in his true form of a Vyram rather than the more handsome human he once was. Nevertheless, Saki still cares for him enough to stretch out to his feelings. She begs to know if Radiguet enjoyed being a human and could actually feel love. This gives Radiguet pause, as he actually seems to consider his options, and it looks as though he may actually have a little humanity in him... but in a horrific Fauxshadow moment, he vaporizes Saki in a fit of rage and disgust, retorting that he has no such affinity for something as "meaningless" as love. This ultimately cements Radiguet as the cruelest bastard in the entire show, and making it evident that he is Beyond Redemption and will never accept that he could ever be a good person. It won't end well for anyone who suggests such a thing.
  • Parodied in an episode of Misfits, in which a series of misunderstandings involving Finn's powers and his attempts to hide them cause Greg, a gay muggle, to believe that Finn is gay and fall in love with him.

  • The Police's Roxanne. Essentially telling a prostitute to not be a prostitute.

    New Media 
  • After Elton, a gay entertainment site, addresses this trope:

    Tabletop Games 
  • Much of The World of Darkness.
    • Especially the Changelings of Changeling: The Dreaming, since the other supernatural creatures are born or turned from sires or parents, but Changelings may be born to any family, love theater, sex, and the artsnote , and have a miserable time fitting in with "banal" normal society. Changelings also either come into their fae identities in early childhood (realizing they're "different" from the other neighborhood kids) or during puberty (dealing with this new rush of sensations and body issues).
    • This is also found in Werewolf: The Apocalypse (Old World of Darkness) and Werewolf: The Forsaken (New World of Darkness). Although they're technically born as a werewolf (or other Changing Breed/Fera), they don't awaken to their true nature until a dramatic, life-changing event that usually happens no earlier than puberty. That said, lycanthropy seems to be just as related to puberty itself, especially considering the whole monthly-cycle connection (for further exploration of this theme, see Ginger Snaps).
      • There's also the minor detail (at least in Apocalypse) that the rate of Garou births in their established families, one in ten, is the same as the oft-cited estimate of the percentage of gay people in the general population.
    • Beast: The Primordial uses this trope heavily, associating Beasts with numerous marginalized groups, relying heavily on the ideas of found families (even among other supernaturals), coming into your own by embracing that which you fear or view as aberrant (recognizing the monster in your nightmares as the other half of your soul), and dealing with enemies who hate you because they see you as an abomination. This clashed... roughly with the idea of Beasts being nightmare monsters that survive by feeding on fears they inflict on mortals (Word of God says lack of editorial oversight led to the "queer found family" and "you are a ravaging monster" themes not meshing well). In the draft given to Kickstarter backers, the Unfortunate Implications (and the fan reaction to them) were intense enough that the developers decided to revise it before the final publication (for instance, the coming-to-power narrative of Beasts got retconned away from Coming-Out Story and more towards "you let the monster in your nightmares conquer you," but there was still room for the earlier interpretation).
  • Traveller (the old SF RPG) balanced psionic characters by making psionics illegal in the Imperium.
  • And there's Paranoia, of course, where everyone (EVERYONE!) has an unregistered mutant power but having an unregistered mutant power means a death sentence from the COULD register your power but that puts you under suspicion. Get your clone warmed up.
    • Not to mention everyone also belonging to highly treasonous secret societies.
      • And it being entirely possible to be a secret member of the anti-mutant league while being a secret mutant...
      • Something that at least one edition of the game compared to "passing for white as a member of the Ku Klux Klan."
    • Everyone having a mutant power is a treasonous rumour spread by commie mutant terrorists. There are only registered mutants and the occasional mutant terrorist. Please report anyone saying otherwise to your local termination center. Remember: Rumours are treason. Have a nice daycycle!
      • There are versions/variations of the game where not everyone has a mutant power - why pass up this opportunity for increased mayhem? Because there are also variations where not everyone who has a mutant power knows that they do. This works much better when the players believe it's possible that they genuinely don't have a mutant power.
  • Trinity Universe has hints of this with Magneto-like Big Bad Divis Mal, who is gay; Word of God is that the title of Aberrant refers to him and that the metaphor for the response to his sexuality is deliberate.

  • There's a comedic short play called Jimmy the Antichrist about a boy coming out to his parents as, well, the Antichrist (though he's not as evil as that title would suggest). It's all very Does This Remind You of Anything?, complete with the parents saying "Have you tried not being the Antichrist?" This is lampshaded several times by Jimmy's sister, who keeps asking him whether he's sure he didn't mean to say he was gay.
    • This was performed excellently at NFL (National Forensic League, not National Football League) Nationals in 2006.

    Video Games 
  • In Blaze Union, Baretreenu was so adamant that her young son Gulcasa never realize that he was a demon that she placed a powerful, permanently damaging seal on his powers and concealed his true identity even from himself. Over a decade later, when he realizes he has demon blood anyway, a very big deal is made out of his choosing to live as the person he was born as. Gulcasa points out that demon blood in and of itself isn't a bad thing, and what's important is whether he personally makes good or bad choices with his life; his mentor Medoute retorts that his demonhood is absolutely an inherently evil thing and that she can't forgive his decision to be true to himself. This, among other things, makes the scenario read very much like a Coming-Out Story.
  • Mass Effect touches on this with biotics - people who gain Gravity Master powers from exposure to Element Zero while in utero. To make the most of their abilities, they need special implants attached during puberty (unless they're asari). As humans are still new to the galactic community, many human biotics face discrimination due to fear, religious reasons or false ideas of their abilities. This also applies to the turians, who've been around a lot longer - their military mistrusts biotics due to their use as spies or assassins during the Unification War. Turian biotics are grouped together in 'cabals', with mixed results.
  • In the Dragon Age series, mages are basically magical mutants born with a stronger connection to the Fade than others. Due to the role of ancient magisters in creating the Darkspawn, as well as their vulnerability to Demonic Possession, mages are immediately taken to Circles to be trained and constantly watched by Templars, who also double as Mage Killers if they become possessed or try to escape. The only way to remove someone's magic is to be made Tranquil, which is essentially a magical lobotomy.
    • There's also questioning of this kind toward Qunari following (or 'failing' to follow) the Qun as well (but with racial and cultural/religious overtones), and the way the mercenary responds to Saemus after killing Ashaad seems to carry both the Fantastic Racism and disgust toward the kind of she might have thought they were having.
  • Baldur's Gate will have this invoked if you have good and evil characters in the same party.
    Khalid: (to Montaron) I don't mean to be confrontational, but could you be a little less... evil?

  • Played with in Irregular Webcomic!. (The Rant has a link back here.)
    • Also "have you tried not being a Nazi" (about Ervin)
  • Also played with in a now-defunct superhero webcomic called Queer Nation, where everyone gay got superpowers from radioactive dust given off by a pink comet and was written as X-Men with the subtext changed into text. Oh, and bisexuals got superpowers too, but they only worked half of the time. Asexuals and pansexuals weren't addressed. Trans people had powers that were mostly useless until something amazing would happen that would kick them into god-tier. One of the main characters was a transwoman who called herself Miss Thang and started with the ability to manipulate clothes (first just moving them, then morphing them), but it was implied that it would one day extend to complete metamorphic control over all matter.
  • Used in Darken. A werebear character can suppress the bear inside him by an act of will. But apparently trying to concentrate on not being a bear is hard.
  • Parodied in this strip of Amazing Super Powers.
  • Played for laughs near the beginning of Keychain of Creation, where Marina claims N-Word Privileges for 'anathema', the term Immaculate Dragon-Blooded use to denounce Solars and Lunars like her as soul-stealing demons.
  • This Robot Hugs strip, in which the creator's mother suggests their depression is a result of being queer, and maybe if they stopped that, they'd feel better?
  • During a flashback in Sister Claire, Oscar naively suggests those with magic abilities could just stop using them to fit in. Clementine and Magpie quickly remind Oscar how painful it is to deny your true self just to fit in.

    Western Animation 
  • In the South Park episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" Stan finds out his dog Sparky is gay and tries to command him to not be gay the same way you would command a dog to do tricks.
    Stan: Don't be gay, Spark. Don't be gay.
  • In Milo Murphy's Law the title character's The Jinx status is genetic and treated more as a Fictional Disability than a Hereditary Curse, with the result that his best friend Melissa's father reacts to the chaos his presence causes in this way.
    Mr. Chase: Does this Murphy's Law thing have an off switch?
    Milo: I haven't found one yet!
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "My Fair Jet", Sean and Sydney try very hard to get the alien Jet to behave like a human so he can blend in and not risk his true identity being exposed. They try to get him not to be an alien even though that's pretty much impossible, and Jet's alien quirks end up saving the day in the end.

    Real Life 
  • People with clinical depression are often told by others to "cheer up", "get a better/more positive attitude", or "get some exercise",note  rather than being encouraged to seek therapy and/or medication.
  • A common Heteronormative Crusader response to LGBT people, completely discounting the fact that coming out isn't something done on a whim without having spent time questioning.
  • A common response to autistic people as wellnote , to the point that autistic people are even taught to not perform behaviors that are mostly harmless (like stimming).
  • A frequent tactic of Victim-Blaming. Many a Bully Magnet have essentially been told "Have you tried not being a Bully Magnet?"
  • This trope can apply to many a mental illness, disability note  and crippling condition that isn't immediately visible and apparent, especially if the condition, illness, or disability in question has ups and downs or largely functional good days and debilitating bad days. People who see the good days (or the up periods) may assume that the afflicted are able and ready to make every day a good day without realizing that those good days are often the result of preparation or sheer chance not entirely within the afflicted's control. Alternatively, the good days are followed by an unnoticed period of recovery from the strain and stress of the afflicted forcing oneself to act "normal" and cannot be done every day without negatively impacting the person's mental and/or physical health.
  • A primarily historical example: back when being left-handed was regarded as a 'sign of the devil' (which is still the case in some communities today) it was commonplace for steps to be taken to correct what was considered just an aberrational behaviour. Shaming was the least of it, as proponents of this belief forced kids through a wide variety of harms both psychological and physical, all in service to the notion that one could simply learn to be right-handed, with a bit of effort.

Alternative Title(s): Fantastic Homophobia