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Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple

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When it comes to gay couples in media, this is the most common set-up for them. Whichever gender they are, one is very feminine while the other is very masculine, with gay male pairings consisting of a Manly Gay or Straight Gay character and a Camp Gay or Macho Camp one, and lesbian pairings consisting of a Butch Lesbian and a Lipstick Lesbian. This usually also shows itself in their character designs, with one being shorter and daintier (sometimes even twinky if male) than their One Head Taller, and often more muscular, lover.

This trope goes back to misconceptions that there must be a "man" and a "woman" in a relationship. It also invokes Opposites Attract. Despite the fact that it's often based on misconceptions, this trope does appear in works written by queer people. It's not remarkably rare to see couples like this in Real Life, and thus the writers take inspiration from experience.

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Pairings involving two Straight Gays (or two Manly Gays) are becoming increasingly popular in media in order to subvert the Camp Gay cliche, but couples involving two Camp Gay individuals are quite rare. Pairing two Lipstick Lesbians is extremely common, especially for fanservice reasons or in Yuri Genre works (in Queer Romance it also pops up, but so do butch-femme couples), but two Butch Lesbians in a relationship are all but unheard-of in fiction.

For more platonic versions see Tomboy and Girly Girl and Sensitive Guy and Manly Man. Also, see uke and seme for Japanese tropes heavily associated with this concept. See also Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock, where the gay guy is less conventionally masculine than the popular athlete. Depending on what sort of story we're watching, there may be a wedding with a Gay Groom in a White Tux.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted with Batwoman and her girlfriend Maggie. At first glance they fit the archetype, with Kate being femme and Maggie being butch, however, they are both in fact butch. The versions of the characters in DC Comics Bombshells are both femmes. Played straight when the earlier relationship between Kate and Renee Montoya is depicted in flashbacks, Renee being definitely butch.
  • Her level of butchness has varied over the years, but during Gotham Central, in which her lesbianism was revealed to the readers and then the other characters, Renee Montoya definitely fit into this dynamic with her much more feminine girlfriend of the era.
  • On-off lovers and central characters Maggie (femme) and Hopey (butch) in Love and Rockets. Maggie was feminine even in her most punk period during her youth, while Hopey went back and forth as a young woman but got very butch when she was older.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The femme Willow has a brief relationship with the butch Lake.
  • The Sandman: Subverted with lesbian couple Hazel and Foxglove who are both butch, then played straight as Hazel starts dressing in a more conventionality feminine way after she gets pregnant.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Downplayed in But I'm a Cheerleader. Megan is a very feminine closet case while Graham is an Aloof Dark-Haired Girl with shorter hair who acts as her Closet Key. The most butch girl at the Cure Your Gays camp actually turns out to be straight.
  • Deadpool 2 reveals that the stoic, snarky Butch Lesbian Ellie/Negasonic Teenage Warhead has a girlfriend in the peppy, more feminine Yukio.
  • I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry has a scene where Alex and her gay friend are guessing who of the titular duo is Femme and who is the Butch, which for them apparently is the same as Bottom and Top.
  • Out at the Wedding has a woman pretending to be a lesbian because she's afraid her family won't accept her boyfriend because he's black. Alex ends up invoking this when she pays a butch lesbian to act like her girlfriend. The true example is Risa and Alex's sister, Jeannie. Her recently-married sister turns out to be in the closet and is using her husband as a beard. Jeannie ends up falling for her sister's "girlfriend" and Risa, in turn, falls for her back.
  • Tomboy is about a boyish girl named Laure who moves to a new town and pretends to be a boy. She falls for a girl named Lisa and they hit it off. The ending is ambiguous. Laure's gender gets revealed and Lisa is initially upset, however, they appear to start a friendship afterward.
  • The Kids Are All Right. Short-haired and abrasive Nic is clearly the "man" in the relationship, right down to her Tomboyish Name, the fact that she's the primary breadwinner in the family, and that her partner Jules frequently complains about feeling neglected by her. Jules, conversely, is long-haired, slightly flaky—Nic cites six jobs or endeavors that she's taken on over the years—and as the neglected "woman", eventually has an affair.
  • The Killing of Sister George features the butch June "George" Buckridge with the femme Alice 'Childie' McNaught and Mercy Croft, the butch trying to break them up.
  • Ellen is more masculine and Jill is more feminine in The Fox.
  • Renato, the manly gay and Albin, the drag queen in La Cage aux Folles (1978).
    • Renamed Armand and Albert for the American remake, The Birdcage (1996).
  • Colette: Colette and Missy. Though the former experiments with masculine styles at times and the latter is more of an elegant Bifauxnen transvestite than a Butch Lesbian.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: Emma and Adèle. Emma is the more masculine, and Adèle the more feminine.

    Literature 
  • The first novel in Katherine V. Forrest's Kate Delafield detective series, Amateur City, has the very Butch Lesbian Kate starting a relationship with Lipstick Lesbian Aimee, and feeling some genuine identity disorientation when she finds herself bottoming to Aimee in bed and enjoying it.
  • Though it's not explicitly stated, housemates Misses Murgatroyd and Hinchcliffe from A Murder Is Announced fit this trope, with Hinchcliffe being the butch and Murgatroyd being the femme.
  • Patience And Sarah is a historical novel about two women in 19th century America who fall in love. Patience is a traditionally feminine well-to-do woman and her lover Sarah is a scandalous figure who wears men's clothes and does men's work. The two play around with the gender roles associated with this dynamic. Patience is a few years older than Sarah and is more assertive, while Sarah is naive and sensitive. Patience is the one who usually takes the lead and she's prone to getting a rise out of Sarah. Near the end of the novel, Sarah is the one that has an unfortunate encounter with a handsy man, with Patience being the one to rescue her before it gets more aggressive.
  • The 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness is about a woman named Stephen who is diagnosed with "gender inversion" (an outdated 'disorder' that theorized gay people are mentally the opposite gender). Stephen falls in love with a nurse named Mary while working together during The Great War.
  • Minority Monsters: Baroness Camp Von Glamor the Lesbian Harpy and Gondul the Gay Valkyrie.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand uses this sometimes. The first example is butch gladiator Barca and gentle slave Alexios, which ends tragically when Barca is murdered and Alexios is unable to defend himself from being repeatedly raped by another Jerk Ass gladiator, driving him to kill himself. Notably averted in the prequel series where Barca's previous lover Auctus is as butch as he is. In the later part of the story, hot-headed macho gladiator turned rebel Agron is paired with the gentler, calmer, and less intimidating, though still pretty deadly, Nasir. Averted with the series' main lesbian pairing, Lucretia and Gaia, who are both very feminine.
  • Discussed and defied in the first episode of Queer Eye (2018), where the heterosexual Tom asks the gay Bobby if he's the husband or the wife in his marriage. Jonathan and Bobby point out that it's a misconception, a little sexist, and that lines between masculinity and femininity are becoming increasingly blurred, even with straight couples.
    Bobby: We both wear the pants.
  • In Will & Grace, Will is the manly man to Jack's feminine man. Behind the scenes, the actor who played Will won the part over an actual gay man who was perceived as too manly to be a convincing gay man (which is Hilarious in Hindsight, because the actor in question was John Barrowman).
  • Averted in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where Captain Holt's husband, Kevin, manages to be even more straight-faced than Holt. (Holt being someone who wears the same deadpan expression whether returning from a relaxing vacation or having their house burned down.) It's implied that among their friends, Holt is considered to be the wacky one.
    • Although their professions do somewhat follow the trope, with police officer seen as a traditionally masculine occupation and teaching being seen as more stereotypically feminine.
  • 13 Reasons Why: Tony, a greaser with a leather jacket, violent past and anger issues (although he's a Nice Guy), used to date Ryan, a vain Camp Gay guy who likes poetry.
  • Tony and Steve from Reaper are two gay demons who have been together since before they fell from Heaven. While both are pretty campy, Tony is the more aggressive of the two and is more traditionally masculine, while Steve wears bright pastels and is the more effeminate and levelheaded of the two sticking with the original plan of simply being good when Tony and the other reformed demons instead try to violently slay the Devil, ascending back to angelhood in the process.
  • Orange Is the New Black:
    • Nicky and Lorna are Friends with Benefits (though Lorna later cuts off the benefits). The former is a loudmouthed Lad-ette with Messy Hair and the personality of a frat boy, the latter is a sweet, cheerful, idealistic, always dolled up Girly Girl.
    • A downplayed example with Piper, a privileged, somewhat naive, self-described WASP, and her regular Love Interest Alex, a street smart Aloof Dark-Haired Girl and former drug dealer who grew up poor.
    • Piper also serves as the feminine to her Love Interest in season 3, Stella, an androgynous girl with Boyish Short Hair and many tattoos.
    • Poussey Washington is a Sassy Black Woman who keeps her hair cut extremely short, and her looks and mannerisms are conventionally unfeminine. She later falls for Brook Soso, a bubbly, insecure Granola Girl. They become a happy couple...until Poussey's death in Season 4.
    • Season 5 has Big Boo, a Brawn Hilda who is by far the most butch character on the show, having a sexual relationship with Linda, a very elegant businesswoman (who is pretending to be an inmate.)
  • The O.C.: Marissa, a privileged rich girl, had a relationship with Alex, a bad girl bartender.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation:
    • Marco (a short Pretty Boy who loves pop music, fashion, and musicals) and his boyfriend Dylan (a well-built athlete).
    • Another prominent romantic relationship was between fashionable Lovable Alpha Bitch Paige and tough as nails delinquent/bad girl Alex.
  • Riverdale: Kevin plays up the Camp Gay and Gay Best Friend stereotypes. So far his main love interests were Moose (a macho football player) and Joaquin (a member of a biker gang).
  • Teen Wolf: has two subversions.
    • The first couple leans towards the Two Jock Gays without leaning too hard: Danny being academic & a star goalie and Ethan being the more empathetic of a pair of powerful & morally ambitious twin werewolves.
    • The second pair is Mason & Corey is more in line with the Two Camp Guys variety; being a nerdy, very good friend & an emotionally in touch Cowardly Lion respectively.
  • In a The Golden Girls episode in which Blanche and Dorothy are mistaken for a lesbian couple, Blanche is all too happy to declare that she handles the cooking and cleaning, while Dorothy "takes out the garbage."
  • Schitt's Creek: The effete, style-obsessed, high-strung and woefully nonathletic David is paired with the Straight Gay Patrick, who was closeted for most of his life.

    Music Videos 
  • The official lyric video "Unconditionally" by Katy Perry features a feminine-looking woman singing the lyrics to a more masculine-looking woman, who is played by androgynous model Erika Linder.

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age II lets you play with this. A male Hawke (especially the default with the beard and rugged look) seems pretty "butch" compared to Fenris or Anders (your uncle will even say that he doesn't have to ask "which one of you is the girl" if you're romancing one of them). Hawke can be designed and played much less butch, but the male love interests are pretty no matter how you swing it.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition:
    • If neither Camp Gay Dorian nor Manly Bi Iron Bull are romanced by the Inquisitor, they will eventually fall for each other.
    • Also, since the Inquisitor's looks and personality are entirely up to the player, any gay or lesbian relationship they pursue can end up like this.
  • Life Is Strange:
    • There is Max and Chloe. Max is shyer and traditionally feminine than Chloe, who's a Ladette punk girl. Downplayed in that Max is still far from the most feminine member of the cast, and when they were kids, Chloe was an outright girly girl before she Took a Level in Cynic (whereas Max stayed more consistently feminine as she grew up).
    • Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is a prequel that focuses on Chloe (the Player Character this time) as she takes said level in cynic in Max's absence, including her relationship with Rachel (whose disappearance drives the plot of the original game). Once again she's the butch, in a relationship with a Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak.
  • Mass Effect: A lesbian Commander Shepard is always the "butch" one in every relationship, whether it be with Liara, Kelly, Samantha, Diana, or Samara. Although the last one is a Lady of War only slightly more femme than Shepard.
  • Pokémon X and Y features a subtextual version between Brawns & Brawn Frank and Sly. Psychics are effeminate looking young men while Black Belts are muscular and masculine. Frank and Sly have some heavy Ho Yay in their dialogue.
  • In the Distant Finale game of Power Instinct series, Groove on Fight (also called Power Instinct 3), there's Rudolph Garthheimer (selectable character and also Sub Boss) and Damian Shade (NPC in Arcade version and Secret Character in the Sega Saturn port), which also are the first gay couple in the series.

    Web Comics 
  • Dillon O'Brien from Ménage à 3 and Sticky Dilly Buns is a flaming Camp Gay character whose partners are usually masculine, Manly Gay or bisexual characters. These include the promiscuous underwear model Matt and the hunky construction worker Jerzy. It's also made explicit that Dillon "always bottoms".
  • Rock and Riot is about two rival Greasers cliques in The '50s. Connie is a cool butch greaser while her girlfriend Carla is a Seemingly-Wholesome '50s Girl. Connie is a lesbian while Carla is a panromantic asexual.
  • Sun Jing and Qiu Tong from Their Story. Sun Jing is One Head Taller than Qiu Tong, wears a tie in her Custom Uniform, and is tomboyish while Qiu Tong is more feminine. Official artwork that predates the comic depicts Sun Jing as even more butch, having short hair and wearing more boyish attire. In the webcomic itself, Qiu Tong is initially Oblivious to Love and initially rejects Sun Jing's Love Confession however they end up the Official Couple.
  • In Friendly Hostility, Bootsie asks Collin and Fox at one point which one of them plays the woman. Collin is incensed and chews her out, saying that a gay couple doesn't need one member to be more feminine than the other and that his love of cock has no impact on his masculinity. Fox, however, correctly guesses that Bootsie was actually referring to the plaid skirt she found while doing their laundry and explains that Collin sometimes likes to roleplay as a slutty Catholic schoolgirl while they're having sex. So Collin is more feminine than Fox, but not by that much considering that he's also an aspiring dictator who Hates Everyone Equally.
  • Ebony Larsson and Siobhan Pattinson in Outsiders. Based on their personalities and what they wear, it is clear that Ebony is the more masculine of the two, while Siobhan is the more feminine.
  • In El Goonish Shive, both Ellen and Nanase and Catalina and Rhoda. The former pair have shifted over time as to who is more masculine/feminine but they're rarely equally butch/femme. The latter pair are clearly butch/femme with Catalina being a Tomboy and Rhoda being more of a Girly Girl.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • American lesbian culture post-World War II. Lesbians identified and presented as butch or femme (or "kiki" for those who didn't align closely with either group) and rarely if ever did two butches or two femmes date. The butch took the masculine role of breadwinner and the femme acted like a housewife. This extended to such things as the butch lighting the femme's cigarettes, ordering for her in bars and restaurants and so forth.

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