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Hide Your Lesbians

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"This game is rated M for Mature, but dang. You can't be talking about lesbians here, bro. Just rape, murder, drugs, sex, kidnapping, and other shit. But don't be making canon lesbians until the last second. Okay, dude?"

The main character and her boyfriend share their First Kiss onscreen and, from then on, we are treated to a pile of onscreen mushy goodness (if we're lucky). The main character's best friend and the boy that was after her get together amidst cheers and blushing. But wait, weren't they hinting at another couple? Heck, the plot won't even say that there is a relationship so that technically, anyone arguing that there isn't one is not wrong. They may live together, they may never get with someone else, they may sleep in the same bed; but they will not say that they are a couple "that way". A "residue" of that is the rather odd tendency of some manga and anime to insistently call two girls "friends" even when they are explicitly and unambiguously a couple.

Canon homosexuality, except in the genres that focus on it specifically, is rare and sometimes restricted to subtext — no outward shows of affection onscreen except for that which could be interpreted as just friends if you squint hard enough. It's called "the love that dare not speak its name" for a reason. This is also referred to as queerbaiting when it's done for the purpose of catching as many fans as possible while still remaining firmly in technically straight territory.

Happens most often in series aimed at kids or teenagers — and as the name shows, most often to female characters. One of the reasons for that is a Discredited Trope: the idea that lesbianism was a form of asexuality. It was believed that the average lesbian wasn't actually attracted to women but was instead irrationally afraid of men (and therefore sex in general, because if there isn't a penis involved it isn't sex), usually because she had been hurt by a "bad guy". She chose women only because she still required emotional fulfillment, which was thought to be the only thing women wanted out of sex. This trope (and its even more harmful companion, the idea that a lesbian could be turned straight by a "good guy", even if he has to rape her) has been largely forgotten, but echoes still reverberate in many areas.

Part of the reason that Yaoi Fans and Yuri Fans alike have reputations for pairing up any two guys or gals who interact with each other; most canon couples are reduced to subtext as is, so why not elaborate?

It may be combined with Word of Gay, for cases when the characters' sexuality remains ambiguous within the work itself but is declared elsewhere by a creator

Do not confuse with But Not Too Gay; that trope is for when there is a confirmed same-gender relationship in the work, but the physical contact between the partners is much more G-rated than the different-gender couples. This trope is for when there is a same-gender couple in the work that is never explicitly confirmed as a couple. Minion Shipping is generally immune, as villains can do (almost) whatever they want without being called out on it. In an attempt to avoid this trope, Discount Lesbians could be used through its Loophole Abuse.

Also do not confuse with Closet Gay, where a character is explicitly hiding their sexual orientation, although that can be a justification for this trope.

Related to Will They or Won't They?, Bait-and-Switch Lesbians, Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?, Ambiguously Gay, But Not Too Bi. Compare No Hugging, No Kissing and Ship Tease. See also Bury Your Gays and Get Back in the Closet. Naturally rife with Unfortunate Implications. Contrast Everyone Is Bi, Cast Full of Gay, Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?, and Relationship Reveal. The opposite of Girl on Girl Is Hot and Guy on Guy Is Hot (when the characters are old enough to be sexual with each other and the act is fetishised).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In .hack//SIGN, Tsukasa became the "Most Important Person" to Subaru; "despite being a girl." 10 years later, in the manga of .hack//Link she is living with her. This off-hand comment was dropped in the commercial translation of the manga.
  • Alicia and Akari from ARIA get ever closer and closer during the course of the series, culminating in the highly romantic Arietta OVA, only to have things blow up when Alicia announces she's getting married—and not to Akari. This leads to exactly one short scene in which a seemingly heartbroken Akari gets comforted by Alicia—and that's that. Then again, she might still be marrying another woman... like her former mentor, "Grandma" Akino, the only one seen constantly with Alicia at the end of the series. The manga however heavily implies that she's marrying a mannote , despite him never showing up.
  • In Canaan, the title character and her "light" Maria are obviously in love, and Canaan's powers explicitly are tied with her love for Maria, but they never properly get together in the entire show. They refer to each other as friends, we get to see their thoughts for each other (but they never say them), and they go on dates but aren't allowed to kiss. They get like 2-4 hugs in the entire series, and hold hands twice, but are kept apart by what seems to be the power of this trope alone. They aren't even implied to finally get together in the end. Their lives are too different, so they go their separate ways.
  • The English dub of Cardcaptor Sakura managed to turn an Everyone Is Bi series into a No Hugging, No Kissing one, removing all same-gender attractions and relationships. At least they were equal opportunity; even Sakura and Syaoran's relationship was excised.
  • Sandra and Greta from Dramacon are never said to be a couple, but they certainly act like it: holding hands, sharing a bed, dancing together, etc. Greta even calls Sandra "love" at one point.
  • Fate/Zero has Waver and Rider who have been confirmed to have slept together sometime after episode 13. Too bad they don't show any affection/romance on screen.
  • Ghost in the Shell is infamous for how blatant it is that Major Kusanagi is bisexual (including a graphic lesbian sex scene). Every adaptation ever done has portrayed her as straight, with a tiny amount of teasing in Stand Alone Complex and none at all in any of the others.
  • The "lesbianism = asexuality" myth is discussed in the autobiographical lesbian manga Honey & Honey. Masako tells a potential male suitor that she likes girls, and the guy responds by vowing to protect her and asking if a man hurt her when she was younger.
  • Nanoha and Fate from the Lyrical Nanoha franchise likely have something more going on than just a romantically tinged friendship. At least, they share a bed and adopt a child together. If that is indeed the case, they keep very quiet about it, since they don't do more in public than exchange glances, gratitious touching and handholding galore. Although it's not just Nanoha and Fate - aside from Chrono and Amy, who never actually appear together after the scene that reveals they got married, none of the relationships are confirmed to be more than friendship, regardless of the genders involved, so this could be attributed to No Hugging, No Kissing. By Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid Vivio still refers to Fate as her other mother as Fate adopted her with Nanoha (as mentioned by herself in the audio commentary of the first movie). Nanoha and Fate still live with each other when Fate isn't on a mission that takes her to other worlds; they still refer to each other as "best friends" and are referred to collectively as "The Takamachi Family" as shown in the Lyrical Saijiki. (They also own a minivan.) Nanoha and Fate have been confirmed to be in a relationship with each other in this interview from the series creator and their voice actresses but the two still don't do anything romantically explicit in the series.
  • In Magical Pokémon Journey a Squirtle has a crush on a male human, Almond. The English translators tried to censor it but the Homoerotic Subtext was still there. There's also Charmander who is implied to have a crush on Eevee, but it's never very explicit.
  • Maken-ki!: The exact nature of Yuuka and Takaki's 'relationship' is never specified, despite subtle and not-so-subtle implications that they may be 'more than friends'.
    • While Takaki has been confirmed to be a lesbian, Yuuka's sexual orientation is left ambiguous. They're almost always together and Yuuka refers to Takaki by her first name, "Furan," whenever they're alone - such as during the flashback in chapter 48, where she refers to Takaki as, "her important person".
    • Near the beginning of chapter 28, they arrive together for the group's vacation as if they were a couple. And when the girls were discussing the kinds of guys they liked in chapter 37, Takaki plainly states her distaste for men. While Yuuka seconded Uruchi'snote  opinion that true love isn't limited to only having relationships with men.
    • The preface page of chapter 45 explicitly shows them engaged in foreplay while spooning together in lingerie. Though the page caption says the scene has nothing to do with the actual story and is merely intended for fanservice. Yet chapter 57 contains a scene just like it in one of the flashback panels at the beginning. Yuuka is shown healing Takaki by spooning against her, with one of her hands between her legs. Takaki's back is arched while blushing and biting down on her finger, as light radiates from where Yuuka is touching her.
  • As Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch shows, Minion Shipping isn't immune. Mimi and Sheshe's almost-kiss was cut from broadcast, while the main girls kiss their boyfriends all the time. If you take their group name literally, it could be Hide Your Incest too, but it's also quite plausible that they're not actually sisters and the name comes from either the Onee-sama tradition or their shared origin — either way, it's pretty badly hidden, all right.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury has Suletta and Miorine engaged for most of the show's runtime, their romantic arc is the focal point of the show, they openly discuss a potential marriage with clear joy, and during the Distant Finale, the two are shown wearing rings and Suletta's sibling refers to Miorine as "sister-in-law." Despite this, a magazine that referred to them directly as "married" (quoting a statement from one of the voice actresses) had this mention edited out, and an official statement from Bandai could be read as saying their relationship is "up to the viewer." This led to a massive backlash from the fanbase due to it being as an attempt to directly contradict the text of the series.
  • An odd example occurs in the manga Mugen Densetsu Takamagahara: Dream Saga. In one world, Nachi is female in mind and body, while in another, she is transgender. Her romantic subplots with Takaomi and Souta, both of whom are male, are almost exclusively given attention in Takamagahara, i.e. when Nachi looks female; in Nakatsukuni, it's reduced to Even the Guys Want Him gags.
  • In My-Otome, about 90% of the eponymous otomes are strongly insinuated to be in lesbian relationships, but we never so much as see any handholding (except for one lesbian rape scene). In the sound dramas, Yukino tells Nao that while she is quite good at finding out information as president of Aries (including that Nao is leader of the Stripes gang), and has been friends with Natsuki and Shizuru for a long time, she still doesn't quite know the true nature of their relationship, although the scene in the spa seems to indicate that Natsuki and Shizuru are in a romantic relationship. Perhaps some hiding goes on in-universe.
  • Naruto has a male example of this with Starter Villains Zabuza and Haku. Although it is never truly explained what their relationship was, it was hinted that there was more than just mentor/student feelings between them, especially when you consider Haku's absolute devotion and Zabuza's parting words at the end.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Setsuna and Konoka are heavily implied to be lesbians, but it is never stated outright. In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, it's mentioned that Setsuna got married in 2017, though it doesn't mention to who. Konoka also got married in 2017. And in the accompanying image, Setsuna is carrying Konoka, bridal style. A very, VERY happy looking Konoka. In the sequel UQ Holder!, this is furthered by Konoka having two granddaughters who look explicitly like Konoka and Setsuna as young girls (and one of them has tengu ancestry like Setsuna). The two would later explicitly confirm that yes, both Setsuna and Konoka are their grandmothers.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kaworu is very much in love with Shinji and vice versa. However, the Netflix dub makes Kaworu say "I like you" instead of "I love you", drawing the backlash of fans.
  • Noir, which did in fact contain an explicit lesbian attraction, which ended badly for one party, but the relationship between the leads is just ambiguous enough at the end that it could go either way.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Played strangely with Madoka and Homura. Nothing in the show ever says or implies that they're straight and/or Just Friends, but on the other hand, it's never said that they're in love either, though it is very easy to interpret the story that way. Possibly no longer the case as of Rebellion; Homura says that "love" is her motivation for everything she did for Madoka, but, well, she may not have chosen the best way to express her feelings. Though it could also be platonic love, as it isn't explained much further than just being love.
    • There's copious amounts of evidence that Kyoko likes Sayaka (the inverse is less clear), especially in their Together in Death scene. The manga has a clearly romantic scene between them in the afterlife. In Rebellion it's more strongly suggested, as they live together and hold hands during a battle scene as Sayaka admits that she regrets not spending more time with Kyoko in a past timeline. But they never hug or kiss except in a vague Imagine Spot, and the word "love" is never used.
    • The spinoffs treat their relationships better than the show, although they never have any kissing or anything like that. Puella Magi Kazumi Magica featured a magical girl who wished to be like her dead friend, with the witch form of a giant heart, and a scene where two characters leave for "dating" and seem to be alone when we next see them. The climax fights do feature a few declarations of outright love. Oriko and Kirika are very clearly in a relationship, perhaps one of the most clear in the franchise - for instance, a scene where Kirika rants at Mami for using "affection" instead of "love" to describe her relationship with Oriko. Nonetheless, no kissing (though hugging remains in place).
    • In the parody manga Homura Tamura, Homura is explicitly in love with Madoka (something we're reminded of over and over again) as part of the manga's Flanderization of the cast.
    • The creators of the show and its spin-offs aren't very helpful about this, as they will often jokingly Ship Tease characters (including their own art) while admitting that their musings aren't canon. This tendency is lampshaded in the spin-off manga The Different Story; in an interstitial comic, Homura suggests that she and Madoka sleep together, only for the narrator to step in and insist that the manga won't feature any of that.
  • Uranus and Neptune are lovers in Sailor Moon, although never outright stated as such. Most adaptations (of the '90s anime, never Sailor Moon Crystal) take further steps to make them plausibly deniable, or just contradict the idea altogether:
    • The Cloverway English dub of the original anime is the most infamous example of this, as the two were reworked to be cousins... while also failing to remove all the subtext, effectively making them Kissing Cousins. They did manage to imply that Uranus had a crush on Mamoru/Darien as well, though.
    • In the French version, Uranus disguises herself as a boy to protect their identity, and Neptune only pretends to be "his" girlfriend to help, with the voice indicating that she WAS a man in her civilian form. In the love contest episode, it was implied that Uranus posed as a boy. Mercury told that sometimes she wonders whether Uranus was a boy; ridiculous reactions from the others followed (because in the original version, Mercury wondered whether the two girls were lovers).
    • In the Italian and Polish dub, they were simply "close friends". The Italian dub also changed the Sailor Starlights to be the Three Lights' twin sisters, meaning the female Seiya and the Seiya who loved Usagi were two different Seiyas.
    • What takes the cake was the Hungarian dub, which explained that Uranus WAS a man in civilian form. The Russian dub did this as well (though only in the fifth season: the third, dubbed by a different company, kept Haruka female with much of the subtext left intact).
    • The anime in its original Japanese changed Seiya from a crossdressing lesbian to a woman who was genderbent into a man except in sailor form to make Seiya and Usagi's relationship visibly opposite-gender. This was done to avoid controversy caused by Uranus and Neptune.
    • And because Naoko Takeuchi apparently loves this trope, the manga (and only the manga) has Minako and Rei develop a truly intimate friendship and be in rather ambiguous scenes and pictures (some of which compare them to Haruka and Michiru). Bonus points for them being respectively Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars, whose planets are named after two mythological lovers. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon also made them closer to one another than anyone else and had them share weapons on two occasions, but never fully confirmed a relationship between them.
    • Zoisite was re-written as a woman in the DiC English dub, and was also given a female voice actress. Fisheye was also rewritten into a woman to make the scenes where he lured men in to reveal their Dream Mirrors seem heterosexual.
    • The German and Latin American Spanish dubs did not censor Uranus and Neptune's relationship, but still made Zoisite and Fisheye female. Also, official German merchandise for the show said Haruka and Michiru were close "friends".
    • Most Asian dubs, like the Korean and the Vietnamese dubs, often censored Uranus and Neptune's relationship by cutting some of their scenes. The Chinese Wikipedia even refers to them as close friends. The Korean dub also presented Zoisite and Kunzite as close friends, changed the Three Lights to women (and cutting Seiya's relationship with Usagi), and cut out episodes with Fisheye entirely.
    • The Mexican dub also toned down lesbianism in Sailor Moon Crystal by changing the scene where Haruka kisses Usagi on the mouth to a cheek kiss.
    • The anime had an episode where Makoto crushed on Haruka and questioned her sexuality as a result. This plot was dropped in the English dub.
  • Sk8 the Infinity is, for its majority, about the main protagonists Reki and Langa, with the villain ADAM increasingly injuring or attempting to injure them and their friends, even sending two to the hospital. Throughout its entirety, it has a back-and-forth of the adult ADAM being an openly Depraved Homosexual or Bisexual with a Villainous Crush on the teenage Langa, and the increasing Ship Tease buildup between Langa and his best friend Reki (in what can be summarised as a Boy Meets Boy storyline for the two, with a lot of romantic overtones)...but at the very end, despite being the protagonists, all that culminates for the latter is Langa subtly expressing that Reki is his Implied Love Interest (while Reki likely returns the crush, it's shown mainly through occasional blushing and body language subtext instead of direct words). Meanwhile, canonically gay/bi Adam gets teasing with his Extreme Doormat secretary, Tadashi. In contrast, too, the series explicitly showcases male-female romantic/sexual interest without the characters involved being villainous (though it seems it's at least in part to reinforce the protagonists' crush on each other).
  • The anime of Sound! Euphonium introduces truckloads of sexual tension between Kumiko and Reina, culminating in a scene in episode 8 so laden with subtext that it had yuri fans all over Squee in delight. And it just escalates from there in the following episodes. In the novels, it gets just as heated, but while Reina's plot point (where she has a crush on a teacher) gets dropped like a hot potato and eventually forgotten in the books that follow, Kumiko starts dating Shuichi, her Childhood Friend. Despite this, the books go even further with the subtext; but apparently an oddly detailed description of touching each other's underwear is not intended to imply any romantic attraction. In the anime Kumiko ends up with no one, however she does declare a (probably) Platonic Declaration of Love to Asuka. Shuichi's scenes were mostly either cut or made more platonic, which only made her tension with Reina more noticeable. The finale movie later gave Kumiko and Shuichi a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Symphogear pushes this trope to its limits, with girls taking each other on "dates," holding hands, and even saying they love each other. Hibiki and Miku sleep/cuddle in the same bed, say romantic things about each other, and act like a committed couple in many other ways. Despite all this, no girl ever kisses another girl or describes one as her girlfriend, giving the impression that the relationships have been technically censored away but not removed in any practical sense. Miku at the very least has been confirmed to have romantic feelings for her Image Song, while Hibiki is portrayed as being Oblivious to Love. The final portion of XV is barely subtextually the story of Hibiki learning to confess her own feelings for Miku, and the very last scene of the series is Miku telling Hibiki she has something to tell her that she's been holding in for a while, and Hibiki responding by saying she thinks she has the same thing to say. One wonders why they'd bother to hide it when there's seemingly nothing else they could be talking about.
  • Tanaka-kun is Always Listless is an odd case. All the (admittedly few) scenes between Miyano and Echizen are kept, including Miyano's outright Love Confession, but the anime notably switches around the order of some scenes from the manga, having a scene where Echizen is flustered mistakenly thinking that Ohta and Tanaka both want her to marry them come after said confession and adding some scenes not in the manga that imply Echizen having a crush on Ohta.
  • In Tokyo Mew Mew, Mint was actually allowed to give a love confession to her Onee-sama Zakuro, but they were fighting at the time, and Zakuro never gives her answer onscreen. Compare to fellow minor teammate Lettuce, who was allowed to carry out a long and involved Ship Tease Love Triangle with two males, one of whom she actually kissed. The wording used by Mint in the anime is more ambiguous than the way Ichigo and Masaya confess their love to each other, which gives Mint's line a possibility to be taken in a more or less neutral "I pledge my loyalty" sense. Although the anime itself is greatly bowdlerised in that aspect — in the manga Mint's crush on Zakuro is increasingly more blatant and hardly allows for interpretations outside of the lesbian concept. In a bizarre inversion, the English dub actually made it slightly more explicit in one scene. A scene in the Japanese version had the girls thinking of various guys they were attracted to, with Mint shown thinking of a male dancer she admired. In the English version, she is instead shown thinking of Renee (Zakuro's English name).
  • Kurogane and Fai from Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- are probably an Official Couple. But the Sadistic Lady Mangaka being who they are, and the fact that Tsubasa is a shonen manga, we never found out for sure.
  • Togo from Yuki Yuna is a Hero is confirmed to be in love with Yuna and they have a lot of Ship Tease, but it's never directly addressed as a romantic love in-series. Togo only refers to Yuna as her close friend.
  • Deconstructed in Yuri Kuma Arashi, which features a whole human civilization that consists of, seemingly, almost entirely lesbians. However, none of them are actually allowed to confirm their relationships as more than friends and have to hide any more explicit sexual relationships or they will be ostracized. This is all metaphor for the anime industry's use of this very trope.

    Comic Books 
  • Alien vs. Predator: The first run of comics had Jame Roth and her wife Cathie. In the novel Alien vs. Predator: Prey, Jame is one of the eye-level characters: the story is frequently from her point of view to the point where she could be called an outright main character. The fact that she's married to a woman is stated outright but never brought up as an issue and the pair are often overtly affectionate (and are among the few characters to survive to the end). In the comic version, both of them are shunted off into being side characters and most of their affectionate moments are cut out, to the point where you could be forgiven for thinking they're simply good friends.
  • Batman: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, from the comic of the same name. Harley especially is very enthusiastically cuddly, and Ivy seems to be her fallback from the (more) abusive relationship Harley had with the Joker. There is one scene where it did look like Ivy was going to kiss Harley, only to be interrupted by angry Ambiguously Gay characters. In the one-shot Batgirl Adventures, when Batgirl discreetly asks if they're... you know, Harley responds "What, like what people say about you and Supergirl?". The matter is quickly dropped. Made (sorta) canon in the final Gotham City Sirens storyline. Harley taunts Ivy by telling her that she's always known that she only hates the Joker because she's secretly in love with Harley herself, and the following issue has Ivy admitting that she does indeed have feelings for her. Confirmed by the writer, but within the comics and show you'll never see anything concrete between them. In the New 52 Harley solo series, there are intermittent Sexy Discretion Shots involving the two of them with very suggestive dialogue overlaid, and some other dialogue references that clearly allude to sexual activity, although there still isn't any explicit visual or verbal confirmation. Finally outright subverted in issue 41 of DC Comics Bombshells, where Harley and Ivy share a completely non-censored The Big Damn Kiss (needless to say, fans of the pairing reacted very positively to that issue). In a later issue, it's shown that they're outright sleeping together. Why is this "subverted" in this case as opposed to merely "averted", you might ask? Because while it's ostensibly less surprising in a series known for its Cast Full of Gay, it's worth pointing out that the series still takes place in an alternate-universe World War II era, where homophobia and sexism are indicated to still stubbornly exist, making it more than just an aversion like the modern-day-set New 52 continuity; in fact, the Cast Full of Gay itself makes it a repeatedly Defied Trope, and deliberately so on the part of the creative team, who have stated they are purposefully trying to "make up" for the lack of real Golden Age comics heroines of minority status, including those on the LGBTQ spectrum. To that end, not only are the lesbians not hidden but there's multiple such canon pairings; Harley and Ivy weren't even the first to get an on-panel kiss.
  • Chick Tract: Believe it or not, there is at least one Chick Tract that seems to channel this in a way that all but must have been deliberate. In "The Letter," the main character is an upper-class liberal woman who considers herself a Christian but is very upset when a street preacher questions her commitment. We later see that she is unmarried, and has another woman's photo on her nightstand, with a handwritten dedication from her "best friend" Frances. The bulk of the story then consists of a dream, in which she receives a letter from the future by Frances. The letter reminisces about their very close friendship when they "walked together by day and night": "I called you my friend in life, and I trusted you in joy and strife," and so it goes. While nothing is spelled out, the subtext appears rather obvious. And then comes The Reveal: because her Christian friend did not warn her of what are the wages of sin, Frances of the dream is now in hell, ending the letter on an anguished note. The protagonist, once awake, takes the warning seriously, and eventually decides to try to "save" her friend by converting her, "even if it costs our friendship." But not quickly enough.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): This is the whole reason why so many people like to deny the Word of Gay about Rotor; according to the writer, the relationship between Rotor and Cobar (his significant other in the story that featured it) was made subtle for a reason (alternately to avoid any fan backlash and to get people used to the idea of a gay Sonic character), but proved to be too subtle for most readers to catch on. The fact that it was introduced in a 20 Minutes into the Future storyline that has since been discredited doesn't help matters, any.
  • Superman: For much of the 80s, Superman's friend Maggie Sawyer was was just a somewhat butch policewoman, who had a very good friend called Toby Raines, and who had got divorced and didn't intend to remarry because of reasons. The writers stopped dancing around the issue eventually, and for a while Maggie was even Kate Kane's "Lois".
  • That Strange Girl is a story from an old '70s DC romance comic which advertises itself as "The Story They Dared Us To Print!" and follows the life of a tomboyish girl named "Liz". Liz plays on the school basketball team, enjoys helping her dad do yard work and DIY, and has never dated a boy. Liz is first shown arguing with her mother over her masculine clothing and refusal to get a boyfriend. Then she has a sleepover (and is strongly implied to share a bed) with her good friend Agnes, who also does not date boys and has much more "understanding" parents, and who Liz describes as "not so shy once you get to know her" while smiling knowingly. Finally, at a basketball game, she is relentlessly teased from the stands for her boyfriend-less lifestyle. She meets a boy at the game and, in the manner of romance comics, falls in love with him out of nowhere, much to his surprise, since there is apparently a rumor at school that she is (in her words) "some sort of...". The implications of lesbianism are practically solid, particularly given that (as a dodge around Moral Guardians) it was a long tradition in lesbian erotica or works with lesbian themes for the main character to "get better" and jump into a relationship with a man at the last second.
  • Wonder Woman: Despite the concept that Wonder Woman comes from an island with more than a few lesbians being a popular one, in canon very few Amazons show anything besides Homoerotic Subtext. Greg Rucka, the man responsible for re-imagining Volume 1 for the 21st century by re-inventing the character for Volume 2, has said publicly that he imagines she would have had same-sex relationships as her upbringing in a matriarchy with no men would practically demand this. The subtext would be expanded upon by later writers like Gail Simone having Diana confirm that there are plenty of happy lesbian couples on Themyscira in Volume 3. This aspect of her character was jettisoned for the New 52 reboot. Wonder Woman (Rebirth) #12 has Steve Trevor ask if Diana had "someone special" on Paradise Island and is told "Her name is Kasia". Incidentally, this is the same issue where Barbara Ann Minerva is very interested to learn that Etta Candy is familiar with the works of Sappho...
  • X-Men: A lot of characters created by Chris Claremont.
    • Kitty Pryde is probably the most prominent example of this. She's been written as Ambiguously Bi for nearly the entirety of her existence, with Claremont very heavily implying that her "friendships" with Illyana Rasputin and Rachel Summers might be something more. Despite this, her canon love interests have all been men (such as Colossus and Star-Lord), and even though her close relationships with Illyana and Rachel have been acknowledged multiple times, Marvel has always stopped just short of confirming that she has romantic feelings for them.
    • Danielle Moonstar and Rahne Sinclair of the original New Mutants (198x to present). These two were in each other's heads, by empathic link, every time Rahne used her powers. Both of them had crushes on male characters, but nothing that approached the depth of their relationship with each other until decades later in other series.
    • Mystique and Destiny. Word of God said theirs was a romantic relationship, but there was no definitive confirmation in the comics until after Destiny had died, and the confirmation was very subtle (a character refers to Destiny as Mystique's "leman" — an archaic term for "lover"). They were finally allowed to kiss on-panel in History of the Marvel Universe #2, over 38 years after Destiny's first appearance. This is also why Claremont's originally planned origin for Nightcrawler (who he had already been heavily implying to be Mystique's son) was rejected at the time: he had intended for the shapeshifter Mystique to be Nightcrawler's biological father and Destiny to be his mother. As of 2024, Nightcrawler's parentage has been retconned to Claremont's original plan, and Mystique and Destiny officially got married.
    • During an infamous period in Marvel Comics, then-EIC Jim Shooter mandated that no same-gender couples could be depicted in books. As the story goes, after there were protests against the overtly homophobic nature of a notorious scene Shooter penned in a Rampaging Hulk issue, in which Bruce Banner narrowly escaped being raped by two stereotypical Depraved Homosexual men in a YMCA shower, he decided that any depiction of gay people would be controversial. So he banned it, which included keeping a lid on Storm and Yukio (who were intended to be a couple) and the above-mentioned Destiny and Mystique, and meant that Northstar couldn't come out and plans to make Wolverine bisexual were scrapped, as well as any other plans Claremont had.

    Fan Works 
  • An in-universe incarnation appears with the Hyrulian Creation Myth in In Sotto Voce. It's mentioned that early on the Three Goddesses were seen as lovers. Eventually Hylians sanitized this interpretation so that they were instead sisters. Sheikahs, however, still believe the more ancient incarnation.

    Film — Animation 
  • One of the superhero bios in The Incredibles mentions a male superhero called Thunderhead living together and raising several kids together with his roommate Scott. They're never explicitly referred to as a couple. It could have an in-series explanation as the film takes place in the '60s, though the out-of-universe reason is likely this.
  • Zootopia: Bucky and Pronk Oryx-Antlerson, who are the next-door neighbors of protagonist Judy Hopps have exhibited a lot of behaviors similar to that of married couples including bickering. They were only seen very briefly onscreen walking by Judy’s room and their names were only revealed in the credits. In addition, their bickering and shouting also made them sound like obnoxious college frat boys, making some people believe that they were step-brothers due to their last name. The director later clarified that Bucky and Pronk were indeed a couple.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The film Bend It Like Beckham. The heterosexual romance seems very tacked-on compared to the chemistry between the leads; it was originally written as a lesbian story (look at the title!) but was changed based on the assumption that (1) it would narrow the appeal, and (2) it would perpetuate the stereotype that sporty girls are all lesbians. To make up for it, the writers added a subplot about the heroine's male best friend coming out as gay. The film also pokes fun at the hypocrisy behind Gay Panic in modern culture, with the parents' reaction to what they believe is a lesbian relationship between the two leads. Initially the mother is distraught, in tears, and yelling at her daughter...until she finds out the relationship is platonic and cheerfully switches to claiming there's nothing wrong with lesbians.
  • When the Italian Horror Anthology Film I Tre volti della paura was dubbed into English as Black Sabbathnote , the segment "The Telephone" got this treatment: in the original version it was a plot point that Rosy and Mary were lovers, whereas in the English-dubbed version, they were apparently just close friends. To save it from any Dub Induced Plot Holes (and possibly also to make it fit in more with the other segments), the ending was also significantly changed to involve the supernatural.
  • The Celluloid Closet: A number of movie characters are displayed that were heavily implied to be a gay or lesbian couple (sometimes even kissing or embracing passionately), yet never explicit nor resolved.
  • The Color Purple is a book about a woman named Celie who falls for a woman who helps her escape her abusive husband. Celie in the book is very clearly lesbian, repeatedly mentioning her disgust at men and lusting after Shug Avery from the moment she sees her photograph. The two end up forming a relationship. The Film of the Book The Color Purple (1985) almost completely removed the Queer Romance between them, instead making it into a close friendship. The only references are Celie's fawning over Shug Avery and a single kiss scene.
  • The Danish Girl: An odd example, as the film deals openly with LGBT themes, but this is still applied to Gerda. The film has her leave Lili after her transition, and explicitly states that her coming out ended their sex life. In real life, they never stopped living together, and some comments from Gerda indicate that Lili's coming out did not diminish her attraction to her. Gerda also had been known for painting lesbian erotica, scandalizing many people at the time, and strongly encouraged Lili in her transition, indicating she was at least bisexual.
  • Farewell, My Queen: The Queen at least says all but explicitly she's in love with Gabrielle and asks Sidonie if she finds women attractive, while they may be more than simply friends. However, it's not made explicit. Sidonie is also hinted to be attracted by the Queen beyond simply devotion from a servant and looks at Gabrielle sleeping naked in obvious interest. It's never made clear that Gabrielle even knows of Marie-Antoinette's attraction though, nor if she actually reciprocates it or they're in a relationship. Real rumors of Marie-Antoinette and Gabrielle having been lovers were circulated in the 1780s, though there's no hard evidence of this (they may have actually been slander by their enemies, given the homophobic period).
  • Foxfire (1996): Legs being lesbian is only said by Maddie once (though the word isn't used) and otherwise isn't shown (aside from possibly the suggestive tattooing scene and her stereotypical "butch" look). Goldie is lesbian in the book, but here her sexuality doesn't come up (although she also gets coded this way with butch looks).
  • In the movie adaptation of Fried Green Tomatoes, the lesbian relationship between the two main characters (the ladies in the story, not Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy) was toned down to being only heavily implied, so the film could be marketed to a more mainstream audience, a decision which led to lively criticism upon its release.
  • In an interview with The Daily Beast, Paul Feig heavily implied that Holtzmann from Ghostbusters is a lesbian, but that he wasn't allowed to make it explicit because of Executive Meddling from Sony.
  • In The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery, it is strongly implied that Egan and Willy are in a homosexual relationship. They have been constant companions ever since Egan 'protected' Willy in prison, and share a hotel room. Egan comments on how Willy is getting fat, and reminds him how pretty had had been when he first arrived in prison. And Willy gets jealous when Egan takes an interest in the handsome, young George Fowler and invites him to join them in Mexico after The Heist.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie is subtly hinted to be bisexual, with actress Tessa Thompson saying that the female warrior who died to save Valkyrie in a Flashback was her lover. There was going to be a scene confirming Valkyrie's sexuality by showing a woman leaving her bedroom (implying they'd had sex), but it ended up being cut from the finished movie. She got back at them by openly announcing at the 2019 Comic-Con that Valkyrie would be the new ruler of Asgard and "looking for a queen" in the next film, which many suspected was her deliberately painting the studio into a corner so this wouldn't happen again. Thompson had said she's bisexual (without using the label) in 2018, thus she probably has strong feelings on the matter.
    • Black Panther (2018) features Ayo, a lesbian member of the Dora Milaje in the comics, but omits her girlfriend Aneka and never brings up her sexuality one way or the other. Aneka appears in the sequel, Wakanda Forever, and while their relationship is shown this time around, it's only in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in the denouement.
  • In the 1931 film Millie, Millie's two friends are heavily implied to be a lesbian couple. They're casually seen in the same bed, in just their lingerie at that, and they also went on vacation together. Nothing is ever mentioned about their relationship.
  • In the book Ready Player One, it's an important plot point that Aech's player, Helen, is a lesbian. The Ready Player One (2018) movie largely glosses over this—the conversation in which it comes out in the book never happens in the movie. However, during the exploration of The Shining, Aech is shown to be quite willing to go along with being vamped by a naked woman, until she turns out to be a zombie.
  • Played straight in the The Rise of Skywalker in some countries on release, where, after the writers claimed there would be same-sex representation, the representation was confined to one shot that was quickly edited out in foreign releases. The shot in question was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it part of a crowded celebration screen, where one minor, female character, passionately kisses a female pilot. John Boyega and Oscar Isaac have been very vocal about how they wanted their characters Finn and Poe to become a couple, and apparently at least some of the behind the scenes staff were also on board with it, only for the Disney overlords to come down on it like a ton of bricks.
  • In Saving Mr. Banks, amongst the many changes made to the actual story of P.L. Travers and the making of Mary Poppins is a complete absence of Madge Burnand, with Travers apparently living alone.
  • The original script of Sunshine Cleaning made it more obvious that Norah was really a lesbian and Lynn was her Closet Key - including kiss scenes between them and a booty call for Norah that shows she has no interest in. The final film removes most of that, and there's a scene where Lynn gets a little close to Norahnote  and the latter looks uncomfortable - leaving it vague as to whether Norah was looking for a girlfriend or just a friend. The booty call Randy had all his scenes cut, except one where he's sleeping with Norah.
  • The original movie adaptation of The Children's Hour, These Three, wrote out the lesbian plot and replaced it with a heterosexual one. It changed the concept that Karen and Martha are having an affair to the notion that Martha is cheating with Karen's fiance. A large amount of dialogue was swapped around due to the change. The second adaptation keeps the original plot intact but no one ever actually says any LGBT-related terms.
  • In the novel Thirteen Women, Hazel is a lesbian who falls in love with a woman named Martha. The 1932 film adaptation instead has Hazel married to a man, with Martha Adapted Out entirely. The movie was originally going to feature Martha, complete with the implication that she and Hazel were having an extramarital affair, but the strict censorship imposed by the Hays Code resulted in all of Martha's scenes being cut.
  • In Wonder Woman it is hinted at that there is lesbianism among the Amazons, but we never get to see a lesbian couple kiss or anything else.
  • The Ken Burns documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History has been widely criticized for misrepresenting the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hicks as a friendship as opposed to a romantic relationship (which may or may not have involved sex, depending on the historian you consult, but was explicitly romantic, erotic, and physically intimate, as shown in their letters—which are in the public domain and easily accessable). To make matters worse, when asked why he portrayed the relationship this way, he replied that he wanted to depict an "intimate history, not a tabloid history", because apparently heterosexual affairs are 'intimate' but same-sex ones are too scandalous to depict.

  • Two of the Mauve Shirts in the Ciaphas Cain novel Caves of Ice, Sgt. Grifen and Cpl. Magot, were heavily implied to be involved, to the extent of keeping each other centered while wandering through a Necron tomb, but don't get any real confirmation. Compare this to opposite-gender Mauve Shirt couple from For The Emperor, who are much more touchy-feely although Aliens Made Them Do It, literally. In the next book The Traitor's Hand he's amused when somebody wrongly thinks he is involved with Magot because he knows she's gay, but again never acknowledges that she's with Grifen. The effect is downplayed, though, since the Unreliable Narrator is very careful not to "notice" their relationship — their being women is totally fine in his books, but being of different ranks (and in one another's chain of command) is a serious breach of Guard protocol.
  • In the Circle of Magic series, the relationship between Rosethorn and Lark is apparently present the entire time, though completely invisible apart from a hint in the fourth book unless you know what you're looking for (they even sleep in separate rooms). However, in The Will of the Empress, it is stated as fact, after Daja realizes that she is in fact a lesbian herself.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo has this with Eugenie Danglers and her "best friend" Louise d'Armilly.
    • It begins subtly, by comparing her beauty to that of Diana—who was virginal, preferring female company to male company. Diana also had at least one follower, Callisto, who was apparently in love with her, since Jupiter seduced her in Diana's form.
    • She is incredibly quick to admire the beauty of other women while attesting no opinion of the good looks of any male characters.
    • Then the narrator describes the glances of Eugenie's admirer as being deflected off "Minerva's shield," which "once protected Sappho." Sappho, of Lesbos.
    • They are found sitting on the same chair in front of the piano, making duets out of solos by each playing one hand of the song.
    • When they're planning to run away together after Eugenie's engagement ends in disaster, they are extremely affectionate and flirty, calling each other "my sweet" and comparing themselves to classical lovers such as Hercules and Queen Omphale (who liked to switch clothes with Hercules for fun).
    • Finally, in case you still had your head in the sand: In one scene, an unexpected visitor drops into a hotel room they're staying in (two paragraphs after the text makes a point of telling the reader that the room has two beds) and finds them sleeping together in the same bed. Yeah...
  • The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank once mentioned in her journal how she was attracted to a (female) friend, and even was aroused by the female form, "that it was so beautiful" it made her cry. This part was edited out, for her privacy or the anti-LGBT stigma of the time. Later unedited versions have often been banned in schools.
  • (Jill) Banford and (Ellen) March in D.H. Lawrence's novella "The Fox", though any Literature teacher would tell you otherwise.
  • Played with in a Judge Knott book. One lesbian couple in the small southern town the series takes place in remain very deeply closeted and it's a significant plot point in the book.
  • In Just as Long as We're Together by Judy Blume, narrator Stephanie mentions that her school guidance counselor has long, manicured fingernails on one hand, and on the other, three nails are short and unpolished. There's a picture of a baby on her desk, but not one of any husband. It has a certain...lesbianish vibe to it, but in 1986 even a Judy Blume book was unlikely to get away with having an openly lesbian guidance counselor.
  • Maria Watches Over Us excels at setting up beautiful, romantic relationships between female characters that never quite make the leap into text. The original light novels are heavier on the implications than the manga or anime adaptations, but even then no confirmations of crushes are given, besides Sei being openly gay.
  • In MARZENA, Lauren's dream suggests that Livia and Marian could be this, although it's not clear whether this is the case or not. It could also just be Lauren's own repressed inner feelings as being Alexythemic she's unable to know that she doesn't know what her emotions are. Because of Unreliable Narration, it could also so be that the allusions are really a reflection of the narrator's fantasies rather than the characters themselves.
  • Played straight in Ovid's The Metamorphoses with Iphis and Ianthe: despite loving each other deeply, Iphis has to be turned into a boy via Deus ex Machina in order to happily marry her.
  • In-universe with Monstrous Regiment. Lofty and Tonker are romantically linked; when Polly sees through Lofty's Sweet Polly Oliver disguise, she immediately concludes that they are a couple, but becomes confused when she realizes that they are both female (as the story takes place in a particularly socially conservative part of a Gaslamp Fantasy world, and Polly was a bit new to the idea of that being a thing that could happen). It extremely clear to the reader, however, given how fervently devoted Tonker and Lofty are to each other and the fact that Blouse goes through the same kind of confusion when he's finally told that his squad are women, including both Tonker and Lofty.
  • The Agatha Christie novel A Murder Is Announced, features two unmarried, middle-aged women, Miss Hinchliffe and Miss Murgatroyd who live together. Miss Hinchliffe looks and acts like a man and dislikes men, and she's devastated when Murgatroyd is killed. The exact nature of their relationship, however, is not specified, and it's possible that the subtext isn't even intentional. Since there were certainly Real Life arrangements like this in a Genteel Interbellum Setting, it's even possible Christie based them on a genuine couple without realising that was the relationship. (The television series Marple ditched any ambiguity and made the characters a full-on lesbian couple for its adaptation, and also young and good-looking.)
  • While romance is a large focus for almost all of the characters in The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, a romance between two girls is only hinted at and could be easily ignored. That is, until Volume X: Forever Princess, when it's stated outright that the girls' dates are only to hide the truth from their parents.
  • Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell in A Song of Ice and Fire have a relationship that is only hinted at in the books. Word of Gay says they had a sexual relationship. In the TV adaptation they don't try to hide it at all.
  • The Mord-Sith in Sword of Truth have significant numbers of same-sex relationships, but the only one between two named characters had one of them die in the next book after she was introduced. The surviving member of that pair is implied to have started up a new relationship with another named Mord-Sith in the last book. All of the relationships were basically informed attributes, such that if they weren't stated to be a couple readers wouldn't know necessarily they're not just friends.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • Lalasa from Protector of the Small, Kel's maidservant, is a lesbian. Aside from some subtext with one of her friends, it's never mentioned in the series proper, due to Lalasa being a small enough character that there wasn't space for it without invoking Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?.
    • Thom and Duke Roger from Song of the Lioness were intended to be a couple (something had to compel Thom to bring Roger Back from the Dead, after all), but the publisher wouldn't allow it. Fan reaction was split when Tamora Pierce revealed this, as some were uncomfortable with the only gay characters in the series being villains.
  • In Stephen King's Under the Dome, the relationship between Dodie Sanders and Sammy Bushey is referred to in conversation and in Dodie's thoughts as "you-know" and as "kid stuff" that they should have grown out of by now. Sammy has been married and has a baby, but it's also implied that many people in town know she has inclinations towards the other team; Dodie mentally equates her lesbian experiences with other immature and possibly immoral things she has a weakness for, such as smoking weed. The whole relationship is quickly obscured when Dodie is killed very early on. Sammy later kills herself, which could make this a case of Bury Your Gays if almost everyone in the town didn't also eventually die.
  • The bisexuality of several characters is hinted at early in The Vampire Chronicles books, but isn't outright stated until The Tale of the Body Thief. It's been theorized it was softened in the earlier books by editorial mandate, and by the fourth book Anne Rice had enough clout to spell it out explicitly.
  • Violeta: Miss Taylor, Violeta's governess, is involved with activist Teresa Rivas with the utmost discretion. It is explicitly mentioned that in Chile during the 1940s only artists or the wealthy could have a same-sex relationship, the former because they don't care about society's rules, and the latter because they are very discreet.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Two different writers have stated that Talltail and Jake were in love, but the publishers insist that they're only close friends.
    • Similarly, Barley and Ravenpaw are an Official Couple according to Vicky, however they're not able to say this in-series.
  • The Wheel of Time has what are euphemistically known as "pillow friends", same-sex relationships that usually arise out of Situational Sexuality, like with the isolated trainees of the White Tower. For most of the White Tower's instances, the relationship dissolves about the time they become full Aes Sedai. Moiraine and Siuan Sanche, for instance, had such a relationship in the prequel, only to distance themselves and in later books become involved with men. The issue of "pillow friends" is complicated by how the same term can denote either such relationships, or simply mean "close friends". Though fortunately there are non-ambiguous examples, since in particular Elaida, Galina, and Thereva are clearly into women, and two of the Forsaken are bisexual. Sadly, the explicit lesbians fell into unfortunate stereotypes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In-Universe example in American Horror Story: Asylum. When Lana finally escapes Briarcliff, she writes a book detailing all the things she's been through. When on the subject of her roommate Wendy, she omits to mention that she was also her lover because it would apparently "distract" her readers from the message of the book.
  • In Babylon 5, there were definite, though plausibly deniable, indications that Susan Ivanova and Talia Winters were bisexual and involved with each other. The clearest one was a scene in "Divided Loyalties", where Talia, staying in Ivanova's quarters, reaches across the bed and is surprised to find the other side empty. The Word of God on the subject is that this relationship would have been more thoroughly developed if there had been more time before Andrea Thompson left the series. Ivanova more or less confirms this herself in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark".
    Ivanova (confessing as part of Delenn's Rebirth Ceremony): I think I — loved — Talia.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Admiral Cain and Gina at one point share a quick kiss, but no more. Compare this to practically any heterosexual relationship in the series, which at times seems determined to blur the line between space opera and soft porn. Still, it's made clear they're lovers.
    • Cries of this also went up when Gaeta and Hoshi shared a kiss... in a series of webisodes that never aired on TV. After that, their sexuality and their relationship are never mentioned again, even after Gaeta flips out, stages a mutiny, and is executed when it fails. In fairness, the webisodes were made after those mutiny episodes despite being set and aired before them, and it was originally going to be Narcho (also a man), not Hoshi, that was Gaeta's lover. Actor availability struck again.
  • Betty and Kate in Bomb Girls until the final episode of Season 1. Justified in that being an out lesbian in the 1940s was not exactly safe, and the creators wanted to take the relationship slowly.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Faith is heavily implied to be in love with Buffy, but the only definite thing is said by a villain (impersonating another villain). The original script for "Enemies" had Faith kiss Buffy on the lips, but the network changed it to a more ambiguous forehead kiss.
    • Tara and Willow were on the line between this and But Not Too Gay or Pseudo-Romantic Friendship originally, with a lot of their relationship confined to innuendo and implications. The first character to recognize their relationship was Faith, who blithely said to Tara "Willow's not driving stick anymore" and cruelly mentioned Willow's former heterosexual relationship with Oz. They only had their first kiss after one and a half seasons (while Buffy and Angel/Riley have plenty of loud make-outs and simulated sex on screen) in a scene that had to comply with a ridiculous number of restrictions. When the show switched networks, the couple became a lot more touchy-feely.
  • Apparently Mary Beth Lacey was married off to a man to avert initial audience reactions that Cagney & Lacey were a "couple of dykes".
  • Doctor Who:
    • Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint went through various stages of this. The BBC's official profile of Jenny originally said she and Vastra are "good friends" and "A Good Man Goes To War" relegated their relationship to subtext. "The Snowmen" has Vastra state that they're married but they rarely showed any affection, never mentioned their relationship afterwards, and while the Doctor kissed Jenny, Vastra certainly didn't. Their interactions in "The Name Of The Doctor" are somewhat romantic, but they still come off like a case of But Not Too Gay. "Deep Breath" averted this almost entirely, with them repeatedly mentioning that they're married, openly flirting with each other (and Jenny admonishing Vastra for flirting with Clara), and Jenny outright stating she loves Vastra. They still haven't gotten that kiss though (the one in the episode was an "oxygen transfer," though it was still filmed much like a regular kiss). For the sex-genre-savvy, their relationship also seems to have a Dom/sub element. The claim that Jenny has to pose as Vastra's maid in order to live with her is obvious nonsense since Victorian England was more tolerant than ours of women living as "dear friends."
    • While subtext between the Doctor and the Master has always existed, the new series did all it could to imply that they were or are still in love, with show-runner at the time Russell T Davies saying that they're "practically soul mates" in an interview. True to the trope, nothing definite is ever stated in the show. When they finally do have an onscreen kiss, the Master has become the Mistress.
  • Santana and Brittany on Glee both slept with all the boys... and each other. They were very close and made tons of comments that hinted that they were more than friends. Viewers finally had enough and demanded the subtext either be dropped or for it to become canon and in Season Two, Santana began her bittersweet journey of coming out as a lesbian. In Season Three, she and Brittany officially became a couple.
  • Idol x Warrior Miracle Tunes! has a Camp Gay character who is explicitly confirmed in-show to be gay and he falls in love with the leader of the Quirky Miniboss Squad. In the European remake, his counterpart was changed into Camp Straight and he falls in love with the token female of the group instead.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is notorious for the relationship between Hello, Attorney! Alex Cabot and Action Girl Olivia Benson. While they both acted as if they were in love with each other ("Loss" being a particularly obvious example), there was never any confirmation that they were together. The producers figured this out and decided to roll with it, and have been including Ship Tease scenes on purpose since about Season Three. Even Stephanie March has said that it is as likely that they have been quietly in love all these years as not. Olivia has only been shown to have relationships with men thus far though.
  • ITV's Marple adaptation of Endless Night by Agatha Christie does everything it can to imply Robbie is in love with Michael: he talks about feeling that they are "more than friends"; Ellie mentions "the way he looks at [Michael]"; he comes to Michael's house one last time to deliver an important message, implied to be a Dying Declaration of Love. This makes it all the more noticeable that nobody actually says that he is in love with Michael, even during the emotionally charged reveal.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In general, the TV side of the MCU is slightly better about this than the films: in Jessica Jones (2015) and Runaways (2017), lesbians and bisexual women are central characters and their relationships get ample screentime. However, you may have noticed another Double Standard in effect: almost all the queer representation in the MCU involves women. While some series eventually introduced a few gay men (Jessica Jones, in particular), they are all Bit Characters with only one or two scenes, and most recurring characters end up being written out. For example, the gay relationship in Cloak & Dagger (2018) is only mentioned briefly and one of the men dies so his lover can live. Season 2 of The Punisher (2017) has the antagonists covering compromising pictures of a gay politician as a plot point though the character himself is never shown kissing or flirting with other men onscreen.
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
      • Agent Victoria Hand is a lesbian in the comics, but here she is killed by Agent Ward before there is any in-universe confirmation of this.
      • The writers considered revealing that Isabelle Hartley from Season 2 was Victoria's former lover, but cut any mention of this from the script since they thought Hartley's death would cause people to accuse the show of exploiting the Bury Your Gays trope.
      • For the longest time, the only gay man to appear in the entire MCU was Joey from the series' third season. But despite being the first character introduced in the season, it's clear that he just wants a normal life, only sporadically appears, and leaves SHIELD as soon as he's able and never appears again. Meanwhile, Yo-Yo, a straight woman also introduced in the third season under the same circumstances, goes on to become a series regular.
    • Ms. Marvel (2022): In the comics, Zoe Zimmer is a closeted lesbian, but her sexuality is never mentioned in the show.
  • This scene from Once Upon a Time is said to be the one in which Mulan is revealed to be either lesbian or bisexual. However, its ambiguity leaves Mulan's sexual orientation up to the viewer's interpretation. She never explicitly says whether she is in love with Aurora or her husband Phillip. Although she was previously a series regular, after this scene, she has less than two more minutes of screen time. After this, she leaves to become the first woman ever in Robin Hood's band of merry men. However, although Robin's band of merry men returns to Storybrook, Mulan is not among them. Though in a later season she returns and teams up with Dorothy and Ruby who both end up being the show's first official female couple and the show was a little bit more forward about Mulan being in love with Aurora.
  • An in universe version happens in Outer Range when Sheriff Joy Hawk and her wife and their daughter attend the community church as part of her election campaign. The speaker pointedly calls her wife Joy's "friend" and gives a speech about marriage between being one man and one woman. Joy's wife is furious with her for making her come along.
  • In Roseanne, before the 2018 retcon, Bev Harris and Jackie Harris were revealed to have been lesbians (not together) throughout the entire series run (Bev in Roseanne's book; Jackie in real life). Justified since Bev outing herself as a lesbian was a part of Roseanne's book and Jackie always told Roseanne she herself was gay but Roseanne thought she was better off with a man.
  • Star Trek:
    • All series are infamous for this, despite Gene Roddenberry himself asserting that humanity would have advanced beyond anti-gay prejudice in his idealized future, and claimed he would introduce a gay character on Star Trek: The Next Generation. His statements were disregarded by later producers to an almost militant degree. Complaints from fans were usually met with half-hearted appeasement in the form of Very Special Episodes that relied on Bizarre Alien Biology as a metaphor for being homosexual, bisexual, or transgender. No human characters are ever depicted as anything other than heterosexual, although they will frequently engage in Interspecies Romance so long as their partner at least identifies as being of the opposite sex.
    • This would eventually be pushed into the limelight just a bit more in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, though the two characters in love were the genderless Trill that just happened to be reunited when both were in female bodies. They share an on-screen kiss, which ended up causing the producers' fears to be realized due to the ensuing homophobic backlash the network faced. (Although other sources point out that the negative reactions were much less intense than expected.)
    • Finally averted in Star Trek: Discovery, in which major character Lt. Paul Stamets is unambiguously a gay man with a steady male partner. Then, in the first season Stamets's partner Dr. Culber falls victim to Bury Your Gays when he is brutally murdered onscreen. This resulted in such a public backlash that the producers were forced to spoil that Culber would be coming back, through his personality being saved in the ship's spore drive and eventually given a recreation of his body. The show also later added explicit lesbian and trans nonbinary characters.
  • Stargate Atlantis writer Joe Mallozzi has announced that Alicia Vega, a minor recurring character in season five, was gay. However, in true hiding fashion, the scene meant to imply this fact (her asking Dr. Jennifer Keller on a date) was cut from her introductory episode, along with all her other scenes meant to set her up as a character of importance. So, not only did they remove the oblique reference to her sexuality, but all the other scenes she was in, and then killed her off in her next appearance to make sure they never managed to squeeze it in later. He also stated that he thinks of one of the male recurring characters as gay, but he will not say who. Still, we don't want whoever that is ending up dead too.
  • One of the last episodes of Supernatural has Castiel confess to Dean that he's been in love with him the whole series, but it's specifically phrased in such a way that there is still room for viewers to interpret it as an admittance of platonic or familial love instead, and thus needed Word of God confirmation afterwards to confirm that it was indeed romantic. Interestingly, leaked scripts indicate that the scene was originally intended to play out less ambiguously and thus not be this trope, including Castiel giving Dean a Longing Look before experiencing a Love Epiphany, as well as later embracing him before pushing him off to safety.
  • In-universe example on UnREAL (2015), set behind the scenes of an Expy of The Bachelor called Everlasting: in "Truth" Faith, a Christian smalltown girl and one of the more popular contestants, reveals to the crew that she's a lesbian in love with a friend of hers (and vice versa). While she resolves her questions and wants to come out on the show, her friend is much less willing (as she tells main character Rachel, "Does Matthew Shepard ring a bell?"). Rachel does succeed in keeping it quiet.
  • The Untamed, the live-action adaptation of Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi, relegates the original work's canon gay couple to subtext with no explicit confirmation of their relationship. Given China's extremely strict censorship laws, this was a necessity to be able to make the adaptation at all.
  • The Walking Dead: Actors Nadia Hilker (Magna) and Eleanor Matsuura (Yumiko) approached show creators requesting more on-screen intimacy between their characters as it was not explicitly clear they were in a relationship. Their first on-screen kiss is shown 10 episodes after their introduction. So little of their relationship was shown before the kiss, that many viewers thought they had only just gotten together despite them actually being in a long-term relationship.
  • Myka and H.G. Wells from Warehouse 13. Helena's only claim to canon bisexuality is the half-joke, fully deniable "Many of my lovers were men". Myka doesn't even get that much. All her outright-stated relationships and crushes have been on men. Nevertheless, they are quite obviously desperately in love, although circumstances prevent them from getting together. Come on, H.G. abandoned her plan to destroy the world because she couldn't bear to hurt Myka, and Myka is clearly hurt in the episode where she finds out H.G. is in a long-term relationship and wants nothing to do with the Warehouse. At the end of the series, it is stated that H.G has gotten into an off-screen relationship with a woman and Myka gets together with Pete.
  • On The West Wing, none of the main characters is gay, but it's hinted in a sixth season episode that Margaret, Leo's assistant, might be into ladies. In the episode a string of men find laughable excuses to stop by an office to stare at a beauty pageant winner, and so does Margaret.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess:
    • The show features one of the best-known and longest-running examples of this trope in the implied relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. Though the subtext becomes more and more explicit throughout the series, particularly during the final season, they're never officially confirmed to be anything more than Heterosexual Life-Partners, and both characters are seen engaged in serious relationships (in one case, even a short-lived marriage) with male characters at various points throughout the series.
    • One episode set in the modern-day, with the Xena TV show existing had Xena reincarnated in one of Joxer's identical descendants, marrying Xena reincarnated in one of Gabrielle's identical descendants. Their friend was Joxer reincarnated in one of Xena's identical descendants. Then a later episode showed Ares appearing to switch them back into the bodies that look like they used to look, with the result being that Gabrielle and Xena were alive in the modern era and were about to get married as wife and wife. And they were cloned, with heavy implications that their modern-day clones were a couple. And they met up as a completely separate reincarnation in the 1940s which ended up with the pretty explicit implication that Xena, reincarnated in her identical ancestor, and Gabrielle, reincarnated in her identical ancestor, would become life partners, though at the time same-sex marriage was illegal.
    • In You Are There, a camera crew spends the entire time harassing Xena and Gabrielle about whether or not they're sleeping together. The trope is practically lampshaded in the final scene when they force Xena to sit down and actually answer the question and then their camera's battery dies just as she starts to spit it out...

  • The Kidz Bop cover of "Born This Way" by the (openly bisexual) Lady Gaga left out the lyrics acknowledging LGBT people, in the process destroying the original point of the song.
  • Referenced in "Radio-Friendly Pop Song" by Matt Fishel, which is about how gay musicians have to pretend to be straight in order to become popular in the mainstream music scene.
  • The song "History Hates Lovers" by Oublaire is about this, commenting on how homophobic historians cover up stories of queer people of the past, claiming people in such relationships to be "anything but lovers".
    How many decades of hiding?
    Twenty-one centuries of hate
    Some things may not have been okay back then
    But it's sure alright today
    Too afraid to call it what it is
    Doesn't take a scholar
    To understand this

    Tabletop Games 

  • Pygmalion/My Fair Lady: Higgins and Pickering. Nothing is remotely explicit, and in the musical Higgins has a Maybe Ever After with Eliza, but the Ho Yay is very much there.
  • Brandon and Philip in Rope.
  • Elphaba and Glinda in The Musical version of Wicked. The original book by Maguire shows the two of them sharing a bittersweet goodbye kiss and oodles of sexual tension. The musical has... a hug. Though some of the actresses have improvised and added a kiss, especially in foreign productions. There is Word of Gay in both the musical and book continuities, however it's hidden under thick subtext in the musical.

    Video Games 
  • Despite the source material she's based on, Carmilla from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is depicted as being heterosexual, with her literary love-interest being relegated to her adopted daughter.
  • The relationship in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls between Komaru and Toko fits this perfectly, especially on Komaru's side. Over the course of the story (and continuing into Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School), the two develop an incredibly close bond, with Komaru being downright emotionally dependent on Toko and the relationship culminating on Toko giving Komaru a Cooldown Hug. Granted, this is lessened somewhat in Toko's case given her characteristic Single-Target Sexuality towards Byakuya in the original game. Komaru on the other hand is never shown to have any interest in boys, mentions offhand to have gotten teary reading a yuri manga, and, unlike previous main characters in the franchise, otherwise lacks a love interest.
  • Regarding the relationship between Fang and Vanille in Final Fantasy XIII, the term "hiding" doesn't really apply. Even people who are not convinced that they are a couple agree that Square Enix definitely tried very hard to make it appear that way.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, most paired endings are given to romantic couples, with the exception of three: Marcus and Merlinus, Lyn and Florina, and Raven and Lucius. While the first appears to be mostly a business partnership, the others are a lot harder to brush off. On one end, Raven tells Lucius that he wants to live with Lucius because he needs someone to go home to, and says that he doesn't need a bride when he has Lucius. On the other, Lyn tells Florina that she wants to live out the rest of their days with her, regardless of her role as nobility, and Florina in general seems to be nursing a crush. However, the game never uses "married" to refer to them, and only ever calls them "friends" at the most.
    • While Ike and Soren in the Tellius games are two steps away from Official Couple, the localization of their A support in Path of Radiance tries to tone it down by changing Soren's last line to "you're my only friend". However, there's still the fact that Ike doesn't have paired endings with any women in the sequel-the only other person he can possibly end up with is Ranulf. So the attempts to hide it were paper-thin in the first game and completely dropped by the sequel.
    • In the Japanese version of Radiant Dawn, the thief Heather explicitly says that she joined the army to "meet pretty girls". Oddly, in the localizations, where that line is taken out, she is still flirty. Her attraction to women is still fairly explicit in the English localization at least, where she has to be recruited by the Shrinking Violet Nephenee and seems to join your side specifically based on how attractive she finds Nephenee. She stays with your army under her fangirlish obsession with Queen Elincia, reviled at the fact that a man might take her crown from her.
    • Kyza's line about having the love of his Commander Ranulf is taken out in localization, but he does still seem much more eager to have other men stay close to him in battle than the women (and hopes others are feeling as fabulous as he is). His crush on Ranulf is one-sided, however.
    • Soleil from Fire Emblem Fates openly flirts with girls in every support conversation she has, but can only marry male characters, despite being the first game in the series with same-sex relationships. Even her personal skill gives her a buff when she's paired up with a woman, but it's called Sisterhood, which is ill-fitting because it's very, very rare that she sees a woman in that way instead of romantically.
  • Lillet and Amoretta in GrimGrimoire. Lillet turns down the closest thing to a male love interest, announces her love of Amoretta, and lives with her in the end, but they don't technically "do" anything.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Story of Seasons:
      • In Harvest Moon DS Cute instead of marrying a male character you can do the dating events with the Special Girls to increase your "best friend meter" with them. When it gets high enough the proposal item becomes available, at which point you can have a "best friend ceremony" with them. After this, it's no longer possible to have a relationship or marry a male character, and you can even adopt a child together, but you are still only "best friends". The American version has the Blue Feather event disabled, so you can do everything up to the ceremony. The bachelorettes decline your proposal.
      • Subverted in Story of Seasons (2014), which was released several years after Cute and by a different translator. It contains the first explicitly gay character in the series. He wasn't censored in the English version.
      • Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town makes it so that Everyone Is Bi, but the Japanese version still brings back the "Best Friend" system instead of calling same-gendered couples married. The English translation, on the other hand, outright calls it romance.
    • Harvest Moon: Light of Hope does not have Gay Options, however you can still see a few of the Note Events even if you play as the same gender as the character. These events include blushing and romantic subtext, but you still cannot marry the character.
  • Mia Warren from High School Story is canonically not straight, but it's easy for an inattentive player to not notice this. She mentions her ex twice, but only uses the pronoun she once. She also has quite a close relationship with Katherine (whom Pixelberry introduces as Mia's ''very special friend'') and if a player put them together as a couple, they're acknowledged as such in the main story quest, but their relationship could be seen as just a very close friendship. And even though there are several strong hints and double entendres about Mia not being very interested in boys, it's always done very subtly, and never mentioned outright. This is most likely done so that players who have Mia paired with a boy won't feel bad, but they could've easily been clearer about her not being straight and just avoided mentioning what exactly her sexuality is. The visual novel, which is hosted on a platform that averts this trope, finally states that Mia and Katherine dated... and had a messy breakup. Mia then gets another girl, Sydney Kym, as a love interest.
  • Belaya and Juhani in Knights of the Old Republic. If you play a male Light Side character, the closest thing to a hint that they're even friends is Belaya's relieved reaction when you convince Juhani to return to the order. If you kill Juhani, on the other hand, Belaya talks about how close they were, before leaving the Jedi, joining the Sith, and attacking you when you go to Korriban. Juhani is a Love Interest for female characters only... consisting of five or six lines of dialogue, is completely ignored in all possible 1st-game outcomes setting up the second game, and Juhani is the one party member from the first game to never be mentioned or referenced in the second game. According to developer interviews, they had intended Juhani to be a more prominent party member and fully-fledged romance for a female PC, but LucasArts blew a gasket at the idea of a lesbian Jedi, and only allowed Juhani in with almost all of her content cut. The relationship is incredibly blatant in the Dummied Out dialog; Juhani actually says that she loved Belaya.
  • League of Legends:
    • Former lore writer Runaan wrote a Twitter post where she accused Riot of queerbaiting with Graves and Twisted Fate after the Double Double Cross cinematic portrayed the two (business) partners as outlaws who bickered Like an Old Married Couple. Within the post, she explained she had been trying to write the pair as married for years and faced open hostility about it from her higher-ups, only for the same higher-ups to claim the Homoerotic Subtext between the pair was intentional after the fandom responded positively to it, suggesting that teasing the pair was okay but actually having the two be married was unacceptable. At the very least, seemingly out of provocation from Runaan's posts, Riot did officially tie the knot and confirm they were in a gay couple with the short story "The Boys and Bombolini", which goes out of its way to use the big G-word to describe Graves and TF's relationship, just in time for Pride Month 2022.
    • The relationship between Diana and Leona was also heavily teased for a long in this state, partly as a result of their character dynamics being retconned in and out over the years (Diana was introduced being hinted as having an unrequited crush on Leona, but then their childhood friendship was completely undone in 2016, then reintroduced into canon a few years later), but it was still evidently an issue as their writer repeatedly hinted at them being like lovers-turned-enemies, and it was only after he left Riot Games that he fully confirmed that Diana was meant to be gay. This also wasn't helped by how skin-based Alternate Universes repeatedly tease them as being lovers, but not in canon. 2021 saw Riot finally throwing away the subtext following the release of "Rise With Me", explicitly confirming that both Diana and Leona were romantically involved and having their first big damn kiss with each other.
  • In Lily's Garden, Regina was originally supposed to come out as a lesbian on the 28th day, and this was supposed to be the reason for her finally leaving her husband. However, Tactile became concerned about how this might be received in foreign markets, and thus rewrote the script so that she leaves her husband because she didn't want kids and he did.
  • Similar to Harvest Moon, Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times' Gay Option is referred to as "Becoming Best Friends" with someone. You can reach a level where others describe the relationship as "bound by a strong connection". This is despite the fact that the game has an openly gay character, and it's exactly the same as dating (Ho Yay and all).
  • Mass Effect:
    • While the first Mass Effect game gives Female Shepard and Liara the same amount of screentime as Male Shepard and Liara (though this romance has its own problems), the game contains Dummied Out code and sound files for same-gender romances with Kaidan and Ashley. Oddly, while Kaidan is finally reinstated as a same-gender love interest in Mass Effect 3, Ashley isn't.
    • Played straight in Mass Effect 2. The sole same-gender romance option, Kelly Chambers, gets almost no development, no romance scene, and you do not gain the Paramour achievement for going through with it. You can get a scene with Liara again, though, if you romanced her in the first game and have "Lair of the Shadow Broker".
  • Ustvestia in the Japanese version of Phantasy Star II is written to be a homosexual, which explains why he gives men a 2000 meseta discount in learning the Musik technique. This trait was written out of the localization, but the discount remains.
  • The differences between the dialogue that characters give the male and female protagonist are minimal in Pokémon Sun and Moon. One scene with a noticeable change, however, is the one on Exeggutor Island between Lillie and the protagonist. Though most of the Les Yay is intact in their friendship, when talking to Selene, Lillie mentions that she admires you. In the Elio version however, she states she wants to go on a journey with him, which shifts her more into the Implied Love Interest territory.
  • Franke and Kitty from Psychonauts are presented as best friends in-series yet an official website parodying Friendster (called "Campster") states that they're a couple. Kitty is described as bisexual while Franke seems to be lesbian. It's possible that, despite the campsters' precocious behavior, they're so young that relationships are treated identically to friendships.
  • The Sims:
    • In the PSP version of The Sims 2, Nervous Subject, who is canonically gay, is said to have had a girlfriend before he died. Since he's also dead, it counts as this and Bury Your Gays.
    • In addition, the console versions of the game have a bad habit of not allowing same-sex relationships at all, despite them always being allowed in the PC version.
    • In early 2013, it was announced that a DLC town for The Sims 3 named Aurora Skies, was to include a same-gender couple for the first time in the series' thirteen-year run. (There had previously been a few single characters who were implied to be gay, but had no explicit love interests.) The family portrait shows two men with their arms around one another's shoulders (the standard pose for married couples in the game) and a young girl with a portmanteau of their surnames who is apparently their daughter. Upon loading the household, however, it emerges that the girl is the adopted daughter of only one of the men, and the other is not his boyfriend or husband but only his "Best Friend Forever".
  • Splatoon: Played straight by international translations at first when it came to Pearl and Marina's relationship, and gradually reduced until this trope was dropped entirely when the developers made it so unsubtle that most translations just gave up trying to hide it. International localizations of Splatoon 2 downplayed any potential romance between Pearl and Marina by insisting they were just very good friends. This was done partially by making Marina's dialogue toward Pearl significantly less affectionate, but also by doing things such as changing Marina's title on the Splatoon Base website from "Young Lady in Love" to "Real Sweetheart", and the "DEAR SENPAI" Shifty Station to "MC.Princess Diaries" in English and "Eternal Friendship" in most European languages. This lessened as time went on, with the two getting more affectionately teasing lines toward each other and (most notably) Pearl telling Marina "you know I love you". And then in the Splatoon 3 DLC expansion Side Order and in material after that, the developers ramped up the amount of romantic subtext to a significantly higher degree both in the literal text (to the point where they're pretty much flirting practically every other interaction at least) and visually note  that most international translations just stopped bothering even trying to hide it anymore.
  • The relationship between Nel and Claire in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. In addition to the care and concern they have for each other, one of Nel's level-up quotes is "I did it, Claire.", and in one of the endings Claire goes off on her father for suggesting she marry one of the male characters.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, there is one female NPC in the main character's hometown that has a habit of talking about resident Action Girl General Cecille with hearts in her text boxes and saying things like "If only I were born a man". Unfortunately, this woman is hidden in an area of Baticul Port some players may constantly overlook in all of their playthroughsnote , making this more like a literal case of Hide Your Lesbians.
  • Walter and Matthew from episode two of The Walking Dead: Season Two. You meet Matthew before you meet Walter (Matthew is on a watch for strangers and Walter stayed in the cabin resort up the mountain). Nick ends up shooting Matthew in the neck due to a misunderstanding, so we never actually see the two men interact. They call each other "my partner", which can be interpreted as romantic, but it can also mean that they are just Heterosexual Life-Partners. Walter breaks down when he sees that Clementine has Matthew's knife with her, which can again be interpreted as grief over his friend, and not necessarily his lover. Walter ends up being killed during Carver's raid on the ski resort they live in, so this also counts as Bury Your Gays.
  • Yggdra Union:
    • Word of God has always had interesting things to say about the antagonists Gulcasa and Nessiah, claiming that Gulcasa trusts Nessiah more than anyone else and that the two are closer than anyone else in the Imperial Army. The issue is resolved in this particular game by never having them both onscreen at the same time, although Nessiah (a strict user of keigo) is shown to be on first-name, no-suffix basis with Gulcasa regardless. Three years after Yggdra Union was released, Yggdra Unison came out, which allows everyone to interact with everyone—and in Nessiah's route, where he's portrayed as a Villain Ball Magnet hated by almost the entire cast, nary a conversation between Gulcasa and Nessiah goes by without some form of playful flirting being exchanged. Blaze Union, in which Gulcasa is the protagonist, has their relationship finally graduate into But Not Too Gay and spent its quota of subtext on the metaphorical equivalent of Their First Time under extenuating and symbolic circumstances.
    • Zilva and Elena, whose relationship reads rather a lot like Star-Crossed Lovers. Blaze Union adds credence to the theory that there's something going on between them, implying that Zilva has come to view Elena as a Replacement Goldfish for another girl she once had a crush on, a character who dies in the canon route of that game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Riki and Kyousuke of Little Busters! are...kind of a confusing example. The two are extremely close and there are countless jokes and comments throughout the game about them being basically like a couple. But it all reaches a new height in one out-of-the-way scene where it's revealed that Riki has a crush on Kyousuke... in such a casual way it's hard to believe the game really confirmed what it just did. Which counts for double since his feelings are never stated so explicitly ever again, though the subtext gets darned close at times. In the end, it's never stated who Riki ends up with, which only makes the situation even more ambiguous. But while the subtext lives on in each supplementary material and adaptation, none have ever managed to clarify whether it really was canon way back in the original, and so the two seem to remain 'those two super close friends who act just like they're in love, wink wink'.

  • This installment of Books of Adam highlights how far some people will go to not acknowledge lesbian relationships.
  • Exaggerated for laughs in Ennui GO! where Izzy, Darcy, and Tanya are listed as "Gal Pals" in a newspaper article, even after they have a threesome in the middle of a park to make it clear to the public that they're in a relationship.
  • In the Outsiders, this is a continual trope throughout the series, most notably with Siobhan. While Ebony is more confident and isn't as reluctant to either reveal or discuss her sexuality (though she often addresses the relationship between her and Siobhan as cousins to avoid trouble), Siobhan constantly struggles with her bisexuality and how it could affect her future. She even goes so far as to falsely write on her application forms that she's heterosexual for fear it may compromise her chances at getting a job. Fortunately, when she reveals her sexuality to her boss, he is understanding and doesn't fire her.
  • Haruka and Michiru's relationship in Sailor Moon is brought up in this installment of Moon Sticks.
  • In Spinnerette, Silver Age Spinnerette is heavily implied to be in a romantic relationship with her "partner" Mecha Maid, but claims that getting blatant about it would violate The Comics Code.
  • Thinking Too Much to Think Positively: Discussed in "Lesbian Lizards" when Xan mentions how the female-only Pokémon Salazzle is based on the New Mexico whiptail, an exclusively female species of lizard that reproduces asexually:
    Xan: However it seems that a lesbian Pokémon was deemed insufficiently family-friendly, and so they made it a dominatrix instead.

    Web Original 
  • In Dino Attack RPG, the only thing that actually sparked any controversy was when Andrea Jackson, the RPG's first explicitly gay character (and really one of only three, though one of the other two was The Ghost) was introduced. This led to the initial decision to keep her sexuality ambiguous, though a sub-plot implying a lesbian relationship with Action Girl Maria was hinted at (complete with an implied sex scene). Fortunately, the parties which objected to this eventually relented, and this trope was ultimately averted.
  • In the Dragon Games special of Ever After High, Darling Charming gives Apple White a Kiss of Life to help her out of a magical coma. It was never confirmed as romantic (Dragon Games was the second-to-last special before the series was put on a "hiatus"), however the novelization still felt the need to censor it. In the novelization, Darling only gives chest compressions to Apple. It's made even more noticeable by the fact she didn't even give any compressions in the cartoon.
  • Parodied in the Kilian Experience video on Disney remakes where he proudly claims will feature "for the first time ever in a Kilian Experience video, gay representation!" The "representation" in question consists of a video the size of a postage stamp of two guys sharing a handshake tucked in the top corner while Kilian gets friendly with a woman.
  • Pirates SMP: Discussed in Owen's introductory monologue, where he recounts his backstory before sailing to the Faction Isles.
    Owen: Anyway, it took me to the ripe old age of 20 to be cut from my inheritance and estranged from my family for all on account of caught being… as the history books would call it, "really good friends" with the stable master of the estate.
  • Reddit has an entire subreddit called Sappho And Her Friend dedicated to this. While some examples are fairly ambiguous and could be reasonably interpreted as platonic, many people ignore the just-as-logical possible LGBT explanations for characters' actions. Other examples are obvious yet still being explained away as simply just close friends, roommates etc.
  • Ultra Fast Pony discusses this trope in the episode "Pirate Shipping".
    Scootaloo: <How do we know Cheerilee's not gay?>
    Apple Bloom: No, Scootaloo, this is a kid's show! I mean, I get that they're trying to be accepting of all ponies, and that's good. But I doubt they'll actually put any gay ponies in.
    Sweetie Belle: Yeah, Scootaloo, the gays and the Mexicans don't exist

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Ever since "What Was Missing" there have been major hints - especially in the comics - that Bubblegum and Marceline are or were in a relationship with each other, but they're ultimately only hints and always sidelined by the numerous opposite-gender attractions and relationships, which are always explicitly stated. Olivia Olson, the voice of Marceline, made a comment at a book signing about how someone on the show's crew told her that PB and Marcy used to date, but they would never outright say it on the show because of the problems it could cause. Their relationship was fully revealed in the show itself in the series finale “Come Along With Me” when they unambiguously share a romantic kiss on screen together, resulting in this trope getting thrown out the window for them.
    • The Lemongrabs, with such things as a (naked) Headbutt of Love within seconds of meeting each other and starting a family together in "All Your Fault!", but they never get any sort of confirmation that the other couples did. All of this is moot with the events of "Too Old", however.
  • Courtney from As Told by Ginger has a friendship with Ginger that is heavy on the Les Yay. One episode even parallels her feelings for Ginger to Darren's romantic feelings for Ginger, though Courtney's was played more comedically.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • There is a retroactive hiding to be found in Officer (later Detective) Renee Montoya as a character created for the show and then added to the comic continuity; since her role in the series was a police officer who occasionally assists the Bat-characters in their crime-fighting, without delving into her history or personal life, there was nothing that dealt with her sexuality in any way. However, after B:TAS had ended she became a starring character in Gotham Central, with a story-arc involving her being outed to her friends, family and coworkers, and the revelation that she had been in the closet since she was fifteen; according to the writers this was not a Retcon, they were not "making her gay," but rather she had been gay the entire time and was just only now revealing it to the other characters (and the readers).
    • Harley and Ivy, as stated above, are all but stated to be romantically involved. They put in as much as they could and the spinoff Harley & Ivy comics are much more blatant about it but in the cartoon, they're not half as affectionate as Harley and the Joker.
  • One reason the third season of Braceface never aired in the US was the blatantly gay character Dion.
  • The Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "The Mask" has an extremely obvious example with Kitty and Bunny. Bunny’s abusive boyfriend Mad Dog threatened Kitty because of how close she is to Bunny, a minor character laments how good they were for each other and is saddened that they're apart, and their last scene is a tearful reunion in each others' arms, but you can make a drinking game out of how many times the phrase "best friend" is used to describe them. Naturally, this part of the episode - a thinly-veiled lesbian relationship - was what got the show tons of angry letters accusing them of promoting themes inappropriate to children (the disturbingly realistic portrayal of Domestic Abuse was apparently not worth comment.)
  • This is the reason why the Cow and Chicken episode "Buffalo Gals" was banned after its initial airing. The episode's titular group was a biker gang of stereotypical lesbians that randomly breaks into people's houses and chews on their carpets.
  • Jessica Cruz (Green Lantern) in the DC Super Hero Girls episode "House Pest", tells a houseguest that she's bringing her parents (plural) home from the airport. Though Jessica's mentioned her mom (but never her dad) a few times before on the show, this would be the first time they appear. When Jessica returns, both parents are women. Nothing gets said to confirm or deny the implication, as the scene's focus is instead on a disaster the guest causes.
  • Oscar and Wilde from George and Martha are never seen without the other, act like a couple, have spats similar to a couple, live together, and go on vacations together. One of them also has a lisp. They're never confirmed as a couple though, but the names are a big hint.
  • While Gravity Falls was able to get away with a lot of disturbing stuff, Disney censors forced the team to change a scene in "The Love God" in which the eponymous character made two old ladies fall in love despite Alex Hirsch's efforts. However, the censors were so worn out by Hirsch's insistence that when Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland declare their love for each other in the finale and fire a cannon to show their relationship is canon, they didn't send a single note about it.
  • In Hey Arnold!, Arnold's teacher Mr. Simmons was gay. He was portrayed as somewhat of a hippie and a wimp, which caused people like Big Bob to throw homophobic slurs at him such as "fruit cup" and "tea cozy". In the Thanksgiving episode, he arrives with his "friend" Peter, who his mother blatantly disapproves of. In actuality, Peter was Simmons' boyfriend, but they couldn't say it out loud due to LGBTQ topics being taboo in kids' media in the 1990s. In Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, Mr. Simmons and Peter's relationship is made more explicit, and it helps that it aired in 2017, when LGBTQ themes in kids' media became more prominent.
  • Ready Jet Go!: The series aired on PBS Kids, who banned an episode of Postcards from Buster in the 2000s for featuring lesbian mothers. Jet eschewed heteronormative and cisnormative roles and was stated by Bartlett to like "a little of both [guys and girls]" after the show ended, but due to the fierce backlash that fellow show Arthur received for having Mr. Ratburn marry a man, RJG could never do what it wanted, but they made it as obvious as possible. Following the cancellation of RJG, more PBS shows are coming out of the woodwork with LGBTQ characters, like Samantha's mothers in the 2019 Clifford the Big Red Dog reboot and Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum featuring gay and lesbian heroes like Billie Jean King. However, these characters are rather minor in order to slip under the radar of moral guardians.
  • Jem has the infamous episode "The Bands Break Up". In it, Kimber and Stormer leave their bands and by circumstances end up becoming a duo, despite normally being enemies. The episode is brimming with Les Yay however, this being an American cartoon from the 80s, nothing ever becomes of it. The two women still insist they're only friends when their relationship plays up a certain cliché, their bandmates act more like they disapprove of them being romantic than them being friends (one of the songs even has the lyrics "She'll break your heart in two"), and their friendship is quite intimate. There are implications of them living together, Stormer stares at a picture of them together that she has by her bed, and they walk on the beach holding hands together in one of the music videos. Kimber and Stormer's "friendship" is considerably stronger and more grounded than even Kimber's canon love interests. The 2015 IDW comic reboot just ignored this trope and made them an Official Couple from issue 2 onwards.
  • Korra and Asami of The Legend of Korra became increasingly close over the course of the series, achieving a level of intimacy that they never reached with Mako, their mutual male love interest, essentially becoming an Official Couple in all but name, culminating in them walking hand-in-hand through a spirit portal in the final episode, gazing into each other's eyes in a recreation of the final shot of Aang and Katara in the previous series. Due to Nickelodeon S&P it was never outright stated onscreen, but the writers pushed the implication as far as they could possibly get away with. It was later confirmed by Word of God and the followup comic series that Korra and Asami are an Official Couple (though they're bisexual, not lesbians).
  • Seeing how many Arabic-speaking countries are extremely conservative due to Muslim beliefs, Howard McBride, one of Clyde's fathers on The Loud House, was changed to a woman in the Arabic dub... albeit coming across as a pretty masculine-looking woman in the process.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • The show drops heaps of subtext between Juleka and Rose, and between Nathaniel and Marc, but never confirms anything for either pair, and both Rose and Nathaniel had more open (but temporary) crushes on opposite-sex characters (Ali for Rose, and Marinette and Ladybug for Nathaniel.) Even as late as the third season, where the two have already had quite a few seemingly romantic scenes, Reflekta (akumatized Juleka) refers to Rose as her "BFF". Word of God has said that Rose and Juleka are intended to be a romantic couple, but the show doesn't make it explicit in order to avoid being banned in other countries (the episode Marc debuted in already got banned in Russia because of the subext).
    • In the New York special, Olympia/Majestia and Barbara/Nightowl behave very much like lovers, but their daughtersnote  each only ever refer to one as "mother".
    • Eventually averted in season 5, where Zoe admits that she has a crush on Marinette (though Marinette doesn't return it), and Ms. Bustier shares a kiss with newly-introduced character Gisele.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Played for Laughs in a way. Memetic Bystanders Lyra and Bonbon are the One True Pairing for much of the fandom. The Lower-Deck Episode that confirmed a lot of fanon referenced this but not explicitly. They never refer to each other as lovers but they're best friends who live together. Their dialogue throughout the episode mentions them being "best friends" (with a noticeable emphasis on the term) too many times to be unironic. The first thirty seconds of them being on-screen is almost nothing but them mentioning what amazing friends they are and specifying how close they are. Bonbon and Lyra give each other romantic looks several times as well. Lyra gets extremely offended when Bonbon reveals she is really a secret agent named "Sweetie Drops" and questions if their 'friendship' was all a lie too, causing Bonbon to say "It was all real. You're my very best friend" while cradling Lyra's face. The discussion sounds exactly like it's Lyra questioning their romantic relationship except they never actually refer to it as such. Eventually, the two became an Official Couple where it's offhandedly shown that they got married in the series finale.
    • The book Ponyville Mysteries: Riddle of the Rusty Horseshoe reveals that Scootaloo lives with her parents, however they're often busy (thus explaining their absence). Scootaloo is instead more-or-less raised by her aunts, Lofty Love and Holiday. Word of God is that only one of them is biologically related to Scootaloo and there's one scene where Holiday kisses Lofty on the head. A series of tweets heavily implied that they're a couple, however Hasbro has yet to confirm it. It also took quite a while for the characters to appear in the series proper.
    • Rarity and Applejack are sometimes Like an Old Married Couple, but also support each other quite frequently and are close friends, despite their apparent differences. Various background gags also have at times hinted at a particularly close relationship between the pair, including a bit in the comics where Rarity brings along a picture of Applejack on a trip. Some of the Equestria Girls episodes veer very much into hinting at a relationship between them with their body language and interactions, which was confirmed to be intentional by Word of God.
    • The Distant Finale shows Applejack and Rainbow Dash arguing about chores Like an Old Married Couple. Word of God says they were one of multiple couples pitched for the finale. They eventually decided to leave most of the new pairings ambiguous.
  • The Owl House:
    • Subverted in the original series. Originally a rival and mean girl stereotype, Amity Blight slowly develops a crush on main character Luz to the point of wanting to ask her to a school dance. Word of God says that while Disney Channel was initially hesitant in allowing this, they eventually gave in. In the show's second season, Luz develops a crush on Amity, and they start dating — without any attempt at framing their relationship as anything but romantic — before the season is even halfway over, with Amity spending the next episode feeling anxiety about trying to be an "awesome girlfriend".
    • The Taiwanese dub covers up Luz and Amity's relationship as being "best friends." Despite their subplot in "Knock Knock Knockin' on Hooty's Door" blatantly taking place in a Tunnel of Love, Amity asking Luz out is replaced with Amity asking Luz if they want to "dress up and travel together."
  • Solar Opposites: Zig-zagged with Terry and Korvo The show always dances around the nature of Korvo and Terry’s relationship. The two bicker like a couple, own a house with kids, share a bed, and even kissed in one episode. Their relationship with touched upon in a couple of episodes including the season 1 finale. In addition, both Korvo and Terry were revealed to be bisexual but their sexualities were revealed outside of their relationship due to inviting other partners into bed with them. Their confusing relationship was clarified by Word of God saying in an inverse magazine interview, stating that they became a gay couple over the course of the first two seasons.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In the original version Ruby and Sapphire are explicitly in a romantic relationship. This didn't carry over to the French dub, however. The song "Stronger Than You", which originally was about The Power of Love, was translated to instead be about The Power of Friendship, to many a fan's anger and frustration. Unusually, this turned out to be unintentional; the change was stated to be a translation error and they redubbed the song later with the romance intact.
      • The entirety of the Season 5 episode "Reunited", covering Ruby and Sapphire's wedding, was shot as a big ol' middle finger to this trope. Want to call Ruby a boy? She's the one wearing the dress. Call it a "friendship ceremony"? The big ol' lip lock says no to that. Cut out the wedding? Okay, but the previous episode and the second half of this one won't make any sense. Cut the episode entirely? It's too important for that to work - the second half covers the climax of the last three season's plotlines, including a fight against BLUE AND YELLOW DIAMOND.
    • The Arabic dub went even further, cutting out Sapphire and Ruby's reunion (which came complete with joyful twirling and a cheek kiss) entirely, so that the two instead just run up to each other and then suddenly fuse. Of course, given the typical laws regarding homosexuality in the Middle East, you couldn't expect much more.
    • The UK broadcast kept the above, but it did edit out some shots of Pearl and Rose dancing romantically together in "We Need to Talk", adding in more shots of Greg watching while playing the guitar instead. You might be mistaken for thinking they were taking out any romantically charged content regardless of sexuality, but later in the episode, Greg and Rose dance similarly and then kiss and this remained. The official statement was that this was due to Values Dissonance: In the UK we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.
  • Captain Maggie Sawyer was a recurring and supporting character in Superman: The Animated Series, and was originally part of Superman's extended supporting cast in the comics. She has been an open lesbian in the comic books since 1988, but in the series, there was nary a mention of her sexuality. In "Apokolips...Now!", where Maggie is hospitalized after an attack by Intergang, she is visited in the hospital by a woman who comforts her and holds her hand. However, this woman is never identified, nor is their relationship explained. The credits and DVD commentary reveal her as Toby Raines, Maggie's long-time partner in the comics, and the producers explain that her inclusion in the hospital scene was their way of acknowledging the relationship in the comics, which could never be spoken aloud in the series.
  • In the Teen Titans Go! episode "The Inner Beauty of a Cactus", in an attempt to improve her speech Starfire kisses all her fellow Titans except for Robin and Raven. While she attempts to kiss Robin later, at no point does she consider kissing Raven. Though she does attempt to kiss one woman among the many males around the city she kisses or attempts to kiss.
  • The exact nature of Shiro and Adam's relationship is never made clear in Voltron: Legendary Defender. The only thing saving them from being Ambiguously Gay is the Word of Gay that occurred before Season 7 aired and even this had to be pushed past executives who wanted Adam referred to as Shiro's "best friend". The lines were recorded but ultimately cut from the final episode. However, the Audio Description track on Netflix uses the cut lines, and that scene plays this trope straight. The Japanese version adapts the censored script as well. After Adam dies in the season 7 finale, Shiro hooks up with a minor character named Curtis. The details of their relationship were never explored until the last minute but nevertheless, they get married and kiss in the final scene of the series finale, not only subverting the trope but metaphorically giving it the finger as well.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hide Your Gays, Avert Your Gays



The English dub really thinks they're that slick in hiding the lesbian subtext between Haruka and Michiru, huh? (Compilation by Jake Folsom)

How well does it match the trope?

4.97 (31 votes)

Example of:

Main / HideYourLesbians

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