Sometimes, a character needs a little encouragement to realize (or fully understand) that they are on the LGBT spectrum. Usually this involves falling for someone, but it can even be something as simple as seeing something in the media and realizing it fits them. Another way is that someone in the spotlight, such as a celebrity, comes out, which inspires others to come out too.
There is some Truth in Television in this. Many people don't understand what being gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual, etc. is until they see it in fiction or on the news. This is one reason why many people believe that LGBT representation in media is important.
Super-Trope to Closet Key, which is when feelings for someone provokes the revelation in people, and Last Het Romance, which is for when a character realizes they're gay after trying to date the opposite gender. Sub-Trope to Tomato in the Mirror and related to Coming-Out Story and Coming Of Age Queer Romance. Bi-Wildered is also a common trope causing one of these. See also Mentor in Queerness. Compare Queer Establishing Moment, where the narrative establishes a character as queer, whether they knew they were queer beforehand or not.
- Aoi from You're Under Arrest! is on the anti-chikan section of her police force. She was Disguised in Drag to catch people, however she ended up liking living as a woman and stayed that way full-time.
- Marika from Bokura no Hentai always felt uncomfortable being a boy but didn't know what to do about it until she saw a trans woman on TV. Afterwards she began to dress up as a princess at home and eventually that expanded to going outside as a girl.
- Nitori from Wandering Son began wearing feminine clothes and attempting to pass as female after classmates made her put on a headband as a joke. Befriending a kindred spirit, a trans boy named Takatsuki, was also a big component.
- My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is an autobiographical account of the author's realization of and coming to terms with her sexuality.
- Love Me For Who I Am: Though she already internally identified as a girl, it was Mogumo's hiring that allowed Mei Tatebayashi to realize she was allowed to consider herself a girl, and not just a girlyboy. Encouragement from the cafe's other employees also helped.
- In a chapter of How Do We Relationship? Miwa thinks back to her high school years. She notes that she had begun to develop feelings for a female upperclassman, but the event that actually made her realize what those feelings were was when she watched an American TV show where two female characters happened to kiss.
- Fun Home: Alison Bechdel's earliest memory of identifying as a lesbian was at five when she saw a Butch Lesbian dressed in men's clothes, describing it like recognizing a stranger from a home country. In Are You My Mother?, she also points to watching The Sound of Music as a child and becoming attracted to Julie Andrews.
- Clementine from Blue Is the Warmest Color starts to understand her orientation when she first met a blue-haired woman she later realises was Emma.
- In the Frozen fanfic Becoming Free, Elsa becomes interested in romance after falling for Freya, not that she realized it at first. Reading classical Greek literature, along with looking at the paintings in her art gallery and putting herself in the characters' positions, helped her to realize that she is gay.
- In the Azumanga Daioh fanfic Warmth, Minamo has been repressing her feelings towards her best friend Yukari since high school. Seeing a lesbian couple kissing in the streets gets her to acknowledge her bisexuality and her affections towards Yukari.
- In the Twilight fic "North Star", when Renesmee fled Forks to make her own life away from Jacob after she has settled into New York and made friends, it takes a comment by another member of her new group for Renesmee to realise that she is attracted to her new friend Jo, which she attributes in hindsight to the fact that she's been around male/female couples all her life and just isn't used to thinking of even the possibility of a same-sex couple.
- In Girlfrenemies, it takes Apple pretending to be Raven's girlfriend for the wheels to start turning in her head that maybe she isn't straight after all. No one in the school doubts their relationship because they're so obviously in love, with Duchess' attempts at trying to out them as liars failing because no one believes Apple and Raven aren't dating. It takes some introspection and panicking until Apple fully comes to terms with her feelings towards Raven and her attraction towards girls.
- How Do I Admit I'm Falling Apart (Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic): Seeing the media's reaction to Wave coming out as a trans woman gives Sonic the spark needed to realize his own gender identity.
- Clair De Lune: Being a Fish out of Temporal Water, Lune doesn't know that gender transitioning exists in modern Equestria. He learns about it when he sees the nightmare of a mare who believed she detransitioned. Upon learning about transitioning, Lune decides to transition himself.
- Part of Steven Universe fancomic Rainbow Delivery Service involves Kevin coming to terms with being bisexual after getting a crush on the nonbinary but masculine-presenting Rainbow Quartz; he initially tries to deny it by making himself think Rainbow is a girl, but is forced to confront it when Rainbow outright tells Kevin he isn't a woman.
- In Where Talent Goes to Die, Kaori Miura has a variant when she gets aroused by looking at a magazine with pictures of naked women. In her case, she had known she was attracted to girls before but realizes that since she's 18, she can no longer dismiss it as part of the Gay Romantic Phase, and is forced to acknowledge that she's actually a lesbian.
- In Mishima A Life In Four Chapters, the famous painting of a bare-chested Saint Sebastian being pierced by arrows is what prompts Kimitake's first act of masturbation.
- The Kevin Kline film In & Out is entirely about this trope. Howard Brackett is a teacher who is outed by one of his former students on national television. Except that Howard doesn't believe he is gay. In fact, he's about to be married to a beautiful woman. However, as his friends start to consider the idea, they notice that the evidence is pretty strong. Eventually, after many shenanigans, Howard finally realizes that the evidence is so strong because it's true.
- But I'm a Cheerleader has Megan believe that she is straight, more so because she doesn't fully understand same-sex attraction until she is sent to a gay conversion camp by her parents. Here she is told that she is a lesbian, and forced to come out in order to start therapy, to the point that she realizes her feelings for one of the other girls there isn't platonic.
- The Danish Girl portrays the titular character as realizing she's trans after being asked to wear women's clothes by her wife for a painting. While technically accurate regarding the life of the woman it was meant to be a biography of, some liberties were taken.
- The 2008 documentary When I Knew is based around interviews of people describing when they knew they were gay. Several examples are of this sort, such as one man being attracted to an actor on television and another guy who was attracted to a shirtless drawing on a pain medicine package as a child.
- In the Italian comedy Le Comiche 2, after a patient mix-up, a male character undergoes an accidental breast augmentation. Later in the movie he has a comedic underwear exposure, revealing he is wearing a bra supporting large breasts (despite still presenting as male). The shame and embarrassment of the character is Played for Laughs. It is implied that some time has occurred so it remains unknown why he didn't medically correct the issue (embarrassment to seek help? lack of time/money? or started to develop feelings towards his newly acquired assets?). Shortly after he ends up in an hospital and he is given an equally accidental sexual reassignment surgery. Completely turned into a woman, she ends up enthusiast about her new gender and life, despite the rather convoluted journey.
- I Am J: J first heard about trans people at age 11 when channel-flipping and coming across an exploitative talk show episode about trans women. The next day he began researching online about being trans. J stopped researching after being dissatisfied with what he found on SRS. It took 6 more years for him to start wondering about transition again.
- In Microserfs, a group of computer programmers leave their jobs at Microsoft (where they have pretty much a work/eat/sleep lifestyle) and found a startup in Silicon Valley, where they end up having a much more balanced lifestyle. One programmer, troubleshooter "Bug Barbecue", announces he's gay after they have lived in Silicon Valley for some time; his proximity to San Francisco and access to its gay community seems to have played a role in his coming out.
- Stone Butch Blues: When Jess first meets Roko, a transitioning trans man, they are immediately transfixed. They later explicitly imitate Roko and seek advice both from him and from his girlfriend.
- Supergirl (2015): In season 2, Alex becomes friends with Maggie, a lesbian cop, and tries to console her when she gets dumped by her girlfriend, which Maggie takes as hitting on her. She initially replies that she's not gay, but then begins to re-evaluate the situation because of conversations with Winn and her own experience of not liking men and enjoying feeling close to female friends — this especially, the remembering of a romantic discovery that she'd buried, leads her to come out.
- Played for Laughs in My Family, this happens in the episode "Imperfect Strangers"; Ben inadvertently causes this to happen to another hotel guest when he's given the wrong room card and winds up lying naked in bed in another man's room instead of his wife's room. The next day, he gets a bouquet of flowers and a card from that male guest, telling Ben that "Last night you opened my eyes".
- In the Raising Hope episode, "The Men of New Natesville," Jimmy and Frank decide to take revenge on their old high school bully, but are flabbergasted to find he's transitioned to female. She reveals that a run-in with Jimmy's mom, who scrawled lipstick on the bully's face and called him a girl, made her realize that she was actually transgender. She apologizes to them for her behavior (which unfortunately isn't enough for Frank, who attacks and causes her to beat up him and Jimmy again).
- In The Smoking Room, Robin has spent the entire series pining after Ben from the post room, while also being deeply in denial about being gay. In the final episode, he ruins Janet's announcement of her engagement and she outs him in a searing The Reason You Suck speech. He makes one last-ditch attempt at denial, before finally accepting it.
Robin: I am not... I'm not very... Oh, shit. You all know I am.Lillian: I knew as soon as I met you.Robin:: I didn't know, then! I had a girlfriend. [beat] She knew.
- Control Z: Gerry slowly realizes that he finds men attractive along with women, first indicated given that he's fascinated by gay porn. In Season 2 he admits his feelings, and starts to date a man he meets.
- One character in the Pathfinder adventure path "Wrath of the Righteous" was forced to escape while Disguised in Drag. It felt so natural that she realized that's how she was meant to be.
- In the 3rd Edition of Unknown Armies, an FBI agent was at the site of a visitation from the Naked Goddess. The visitation opened the eyes and removed the self-delusion of everyone present, causing the agent to come out as Transgender and become the Goddess's primary avatar.
- This is played tragically in The Children's Hour. It takes a girl's Malicious Slander of an affair between her and her best friend for Martha to realize she's gay and in love with her friend.
- Discussed in the stage version of Fun Home (above). Along with the examples listed in the original comic book, "Telephone Wire" has Alison and her gay father (attempting to) talk about their experiences figuring out their sexualities.
Bruce: Fourteen years old
In Swanson's barn
It was cold
Lots of boys messed around, you know
For them, it was a game they outgrew
But I always knewAlison: Dad, me too!
Since, like, five, I guess
I preferred to wear boys' shirts and pants
I felt absurd in a dress
I really tried to deny my feelings for girls
But I was like you, Dad
- An extra in Guild Wars 2 named Sya mentioned that she came out as trans after being a part of a relief effort. The experience made her realize how short life could be and how she should be truthful to herself.
- Lonely Wolf Treat: In the fifth game, if you talk to Danny at the hot springs, they reveal that they feel anxious about bathing with other male rabbits and wonder whether they themself really feel like a male. Later on, they begin figuring out their gender with help from Chai (a nonbinary fox) and start using they/them pronouns.
- In Khaos Komix Amber began having Homoerotic Dreams involving her and the Senshi after watching subbed Sailor Moon episodes with her friends. It also helped reveal her crush on her friend Nay.
- Played for Drama in Exiern. Typhan-knee describes how s/he originally realized s/he was gay (or a trans woman; the comic is ambiguous on this point due to multiple writers and a Gender Bender spell that turned the biologically male character into a woman in the first chapter) when he failed to get aroused by two women he intended to rape during a raid as a tribal rite of passage, but then was aroused when he went after a farmboy.
- Tedd from El Goonish Shive didn't know being nonbinary was a thing until Grace taught him about being genderfluid.
- Nanase didn't know or even consider that she might be a lesbian until she developed a crush on Ellen, allowing these feelings only because she mistakenly believed that Ellen gave off pheromones that made her attractive to everyone.
- Diane discovered very abruptly that she was interested in dating Lucy.
- In Mercy, the companion piece/prequel to Sunstone, Anne finds out that she is bisexual during a concert involving Miriam, a female symphonic rocker.
- On Asexuality Archive, the guy realizes he's asexual after watching a sex scene on TV and realizing that he's never found anyone hot.
- BoJack Horseman: Todd doesn't seem to have thought about his sexuality much until he reunites with Emily in season 3 and she, after unsuccessfully pursuing him for a while, asks if he's gay. He admits that he doesn't really know what he is, and thinks he might be 'nothing.' By the next season, he seems to understand himself a little better and says that he might be asexual, which is confirmed as he attends an asexual meetup and realises he does relate to the other people there and has some of his own misconceptions (most notably, that asexuals can't want relationships) corrected.