Those moments of plot, dialogue, acting, etc., that fans delight in interpreting as homoerotic.
It probably originates from the old days, when the homosexuality taboo was serious enough that every gay pairing was considered a Crack Pairing, so when authors wrote same-sex characters as very intimate with each other, audiences largely accepted that they were just very good friends, and moved on, or when authors wrote outright references to homosexuality, most just laughed at the sheer absurdity of the thought.
With the gradual dissolution of homophobic moral codes, more and more media creators have been able to produce and share work featuring openly queer characters who are unambiguously in same-sex romantic and sexual relationships.
Cultural differences also have their say here. The level of accepted physical intimacy between close friends and adult relatives is hardly constant across various eras and nationalities, so, for example, the hugs and kisses which seemed mundane for an antiquated reader may appear blatantly erotic in the eyes of a contemporary one. In particular, the concept of Pseudo-Romantic Friendship — highly intimate yet platonic, only began falling out of use in the latter half of the 19th century.
When Ho Yay is done intentionally, it's Homoerotic Subtext, or possibly Implied Love Interest or Ship Tease. Occasionally called Les Yay when referring to two women. Queer Flowers may provide enough text to make this homoeroticism into subtext. Not to be confused with Ambiguously Gay or Ambiguously Bi, which is when a character is outright implied to be gay or bi by the work itself, although there is no official confirmation.
In the related trope called Foe Yay Shipping, even rivals or mortal enemies can get this treatment by fans and writers alike, especially if they have a more friendly past together, or one is inordinately obsessed with the other. In Fan Fic, this is the direct cause of many a Slash Fic.
Subtrope of Platonic Writing, Romantic Reading.
Before adding an example, consider whether the homoeroticism is made explicit within the work itself or comes from fan interpretations. This trope does not include genuine Ship Tease or scenes of intentional Homoerotic Subtext between straight characters. Though the line between intentional and unintentional can be quite blurry, obviously deliberate examples (e.g. it gets in-universe Lampshade Hanging of some kind) belong on those pages or one of the other Queer as Tropes. Ho Yay is an audience reaction and thus subjective, whereas deliberate examples are objective.
In addition, consider whether it's the kind of interaction you can describe with reasonable brevity as to why it comes off as homoerotic, even to someone who doesn't already ship them, and/or is already recognized by a decent number of non-invested people as such. Otherwise we'd be here forever, as every waking moment could count to someone with tight-enough Shipping Goggles.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Web Animation
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- Other Media