Follow TV Tropes

Following

Non-Heteronormative Society

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/non_heteronormative_4.png
A society or culture introduced in a story is such that their concept of gender and sexuality is unlike that of the society in which the story is made. This often means that gender in that society is either not a concept, much broader than male and female, or maybe it's easy to switch between genders. This also extends to sexuality in which attraction to the same gender or multiple genders is extremely common or at least totally accepted as normal by said society.
Advertisement:

There are usually three reasons why this trope happens:

  • The media is aimed at a queer audience, and therefore is portraying a society that better represents it. As a form of escapism, it also allows this audience to be told a story of a world where homophobia and transphobia are non-existent or problems of the long-forgotten past.
  • The society presented is meant to be seen as alien, ethereal, and/or otherworldly by not functioning at all in the same way that human society usually works.
  • It's a historical or non-Western setting where the rules regarding sex, sexuality and/or gender are different.

Omegaverse fiction is an entire sub-genre of literature and (especially) fanfiction that portrays societies where humans have a secondary sex aside from male and female, that being alphas, betas, and omegas. This kind of literature often focuses on the romance between two men, usually one alpha and one omega, and very often portray the attraction between same-sex partners as entirely normal in that setting. There aren't exactly clear rules about how a society of this type works, and every author is free to make it their own, so some actually do address a similar version of homophobia which is the attraction between people of the same secondary gender rather than their primary ones.

Advertisement:

Related to Speculative Fiction LGBT.

Some tropes that may be present in this kind of society include:


Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • From the New World: The story takes place years and years in the future. Japan has been reduced to a fraction of its population and those who are left have Psychic Powers. In this society, people are encouraged into having plenty of sex to keep their stress levels low, and in order to improve everyone's chances, teenagers are encouraged into trying same-sex relationship, while relationships between people of the opposite sex are forbidden until later in life, prompting an entire society of bisexuals. However, there are people who are exclusively attracted to one gender or one person in the setting.
  • Love Pistols: The manga follows a sub-set of the human population, the Madararui, humans that evolved from other animals than primates, and have a secret society of themselves among humans. Because Madararui biology allows people of any sex to get pregnant by people of any sex, any sexuality is accepted among them, as long as they can produce a child. Because of the Madararui Society's obsessions with procreation, nuclear families are less common, with Tangled Family Tree families becoming more common. In the main character's family, for example, you have a trio of half-siblings, two born of the relationship between two men (David and Maximillian) and a single woman (Makio) and one born out of the two men's relationship with each other, who are raised in the house of Makio's current wife Karen and who all see her as a mother; Karen herself having a child with Makio and another with Makio's father, all parents being more os less involved in raising all the children while still being two gay couples. Even marriages of convenience also happen by way of same-sex couples, with powerful families promising their male children to each other in order to build alliances.
  • One Piece: Newkama Land in Level 5.5 of Impel Down is a place where residents transcend gender and can change their biological sex as they please with the help of their leader Emporio Ivankov's hormone-altering ability.

    Comic Books 
  • The various elf tribes in Elfquest don't care about gender or how many participate in the relationship. The main character, Cutter, is shown to be equally devoted to his male childhood friend, Skywise, and his female partner, Leetah.
  • This is basically the default in Katmandu with the Highland tribe, which the main heroine, Liska, belongs to, since, as far as we know about them, the Highland tribe was quite inclusive regarding sexuality and gender identity, not only compared with the rest of the tribes from the Plains region, but with also even from, what we know about the same topic, compared with their descendants from 200 years in the future. It's also heavily implied that cultural quirk also caused them problems with other tribes at times, though.
  • In the first issue of The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, Kya explains to Korra and Asami how the nations of Avatar: The Last Airbender treat same-sex relationships. While the other three all have varying levels of homophobia throughout their histories, the Air Nomads have treated love between any sexes as equal for as long as anyone remembers. Not too surprising considering they raised their children communally.
  • The first solo title for Midnighter saw the titular character picked up by time cops from the 95th century because he'd been blackmailed into going back in time and killing Hitler. During his ride through the timestream, Midnighter is surprised to learn one of the cops doesn't understand what it means when he says he's gay, because people of that time just casually go with one another. For instance, her two male partners are now dating because their female lovers hooked up.
  • Most of the Transformers franchise is quite vague about how gender and sexuality relate to the eponymous Mechanical Lifeforms, as they don't reproduce sexually. In The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye female Transformers stopped appearing on Cybertron (but not the lost colonies) so long ago that many Cybertronians don't even realize they exist, so same-sex couples are the norm. And it's eventually shown most female Transformers adopted feminine forms and pronouns after they were born with a masculine appearance, thus making Cybertronians fairly transnormative as well.

    Fan Works 
  • Andalites seem to be this in All Assorted Animorphs AUs; in "What if Tobias was stuck as a human in #33?", Ax doesn't understand why Tobias feels bad about being attracted to Marco.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Ash (2009) and its prequel Huntress, by Malinda Lo, take place in a world where same-sex romance and marriage are casually accepted by everyone. Young upper-class lesbians are sometimes forced into marriages with men for the sake of money and connections because there are always more wealthy men than wealthy women looking for wives, but homophobia doesn't exist.
  • Books of the Raksura: The titular shapeshifters live in colonies where social roles are influenced by inborn caste rather than by sex, apart from the rare Queen and Consort castes, which are female- and male-exclusive. Same-sex, polyamorous, and casual relationships are just as normal in their society as the alternatives.
  • Captive Prince: In Vere, bastards are such a massive taboo that most people in the country just prefer to have same-sex relations and avoid the possibility altogether. Although they marry with the opposite sex and conceive children, most of the people's sexual lives are spent having sex (plenty of it, as per their hedonistic ways) with the same gender. In Akielos, same-sex relations seem to be never remarked upon, but don't seem to be as massively common as in Vere.
  • The Culture:
    • The citizens are bio-modified from “human basic” to such a degree that, among other things, they can change their biological sex more or less with a thought (though the process, when started, does take several months to complete). Interestingly though, this doesn’t necessarily affect the individual’s gender identity or even their sexual preferences. For instance, the main character in the short story “A Gift From the Culture” was born a heteronormative female, though has converted to a male body. Contrary to her/his expectations, she/he still prefers male sexual partners after the change.
    • The Player of Games: The Azadian race has three sexes, male, female, and apex. The reproductive process involves a male fertilizing an apex, who then passes on the embryo to a female (via an invertible vagina), who brings the child to term. The apical sex enjoys enforced dominance in Azadian society. Males and females are essentially treated as inferior to apexes and have even been bioengineered over the generations to lower their intelligence.
  • The Forever War: When Will Mandella returns to Earth following his first combat tour, he finds that the world has drastically changed. To curb overpopulation, being gay is encouraged and has become the wider norm. As Mandella sees more and more future generations thanks to Time Dilation, later ones barely even remember that human societies used to be heteronormative and gender becomes pretty much trivial.
  • Heralds Of Rhimn: Gadhi may be under the heel of a religious authoritarian regime, but the country does have muted gender roles and an absence of heteronormativity going for it. Inky’s preference for men, Gildhe’s they/them pronouns, and Crislie and Navaeli’s attraction to each other are all treated as mundanely as binary pronouns and straight relationships would be on Earth. Ma Crimsworth even refers to Crislie’s potential future partner as a “spouse”.
  • Imperial Radch: The Radchaai Galactic Superpower doesn't practice marriage and doesn't have a societal concept of gender, so the Radchaai protagonist often has Pronoun Trouble when interacting with outsiders.
  • The Kingston Cycle by C.L. Polk is set in a country reminiscent of Edwardian England, but where non-binary genders and same-sex relationships are accepted as a matter of course. Some cultural groups are similarly accepting of Polygamy but practice "triangle marriages" discreetly, as bigamy remains officially illegal.
  • Kushiel's Legacy: The D'Angeline society is very open about sexual freedom, to the point of Everyone Is Bi, especially among the nobility. Certain forms of prostitution are also considered to be a sacred calling, and there is a highly respected Band of Brothels called the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers that operates as a form of nobility in their own right.
  • The Left Hand of Darkness: The people of the planet Gethen change their sexual identity on a regular basis. For twenty-four local days out of each twenty-six-day local month, they are androgynous (Asexuality and No Biological Sex). For a two day period, they become either male or female, as well as sexually active and fertile.
  • The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet and its sequels portray a Galaxy where same-sex and interspecies relationships are utterly unremarkable. Our protagonist Rosemary ends up in a relationship with the female a space reptile, Sissix.
  • In The Machineries of Empire, although the Hexarchate is a pretty nasty society, it is free of heteronormativity, with cis and trans men, women and agender people accepted and no prejudice or discrimination against same-sex relationships. There is some disapproval remaining against actual gender reassignment procedures, but only among a small, very old-fashioned element of society.
  • The Murderbot Diaries: Non-binary and transgender people, non-heterosexual relationships, and various forms of Polyamory are everyday facts of life in the sci-fi setting, from the utopian Preservation colony to the most brutal slave states of the Corporation Rim.
  • Seraphina: In the country of Porphyry, each person can choose their own gender and even personal pronoun others use to address them.
  • Mages in Skulduggery Pleasant. The original series Word of Gay saying "There IS no straight when you're 400 years old". The revived Phase 2 series of books say In-universe that most mages experiment after a while and bisexual and gender-fluid mage teenagers seem common.
  • Steel Crow Saga: Gender Is No Object in the setting, including in recognition of romantic partnerships. One historical Tomodanese ruler is offhandedly mentioned as having a same-sex spouse, and it's no complication at all to one character's potential marriagiability to the Steel Prince that he transitioned during their time apart.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • The Parshendi default to four genders: male, female, malen, and femalen. This has to do with how they are almost completely asexual outside of Mateform.
    • In Alethi culture, homosexuality isn't really looked down upon, but it isn't remarked on much either. However, Vorin cultures tend to have strict norms relating to what genders do in terms of dress, behavior, and food (i.e. adult women cannot show their left hand, men cannot learn to read, etc). At one point one of the soldiers in Bridge Four jokes that because one of the men in their unit is in a relationship with another man, that he is "extra manly."
    • In the Azish kingdoms, which have an obsession with bureaucracy, recording information, and following proper procedure, the only issue with someone being nonhetero is that they have to fill out the proper forms.
  • Tales of the Jokka: Jokka society discourages relationships between their three sexes because childbirth has a high risk of inducing mind death in the mother. And anadi are often treated like children or livestock because of said mind death while eperu are stereotyped as asexual so basically the only socially acceptable romances are between two or more emodo. The protagonists of the stories tend not to conform.
  • The Vampire Chronicles: The vampires in the story don't seem to be quite interested in sex, aside from a way to lure their prey, but they do form long-lasting emotional relationships with each other, which seem to be made regardless of the gender of their partners. In his review of the novel, Dominic Noble describes them as being asexual and panromantic.
  • Straight Outta Fangton by C.T. Phipps in the The United States of Monsters universe has a similar situation with its vampires. Vampires equate blood with sex and sex with blood so all of them eventually become bisexual/pansexual. They also polyamorous and keep harems of mortals for feeding purposes, at least the rich and powerful ones.
  • Winter's Orbit: Same-sex relationships in Iskat aren't remarked upon and are even used for political marriages. Gender in Iskat is also apparently fluid, as the material of accessories are the way people express their gender (wood for male, flint and silver for female, glass and other materials for nonbinary).

    Live Action TV 
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: LGBT+ people in this world (or at least the US) are completely integrated and accepted. Raelle's relationship with Scylla is treated no differently than any opposite-gender couple, with them entirely open about it. The only exception is the Imperatrix, who's charged with arranging witch marriages, given that Raelle flatly refuses to marry a man and have children like she wants.
  • Intergalactic: From what can be seen, human society in the 2140s completely accepts LGBT+ people. No one bats an eye at same-gender relationships in the show, nor even mentions the fact about a couple.

    Podcast 
  • The Adventure Zone: In all campaigns, queerness is seen as no big deal and barely even worth commenting on — in Balance, multiple significant characters are gay or bisexual, and Taako's long-lost sister Lup is very casually mentioned to be trans precisely once. The next campaign Amnesty follows suit, with several casually out gay characters.
  • Brimstone Valley Mall: The story takes place in Pennsylvania in The '90s, but no one bats an eye at Asmoraius being as Camp Gay as it gets, or Misroch being non-binary.
  • Gay Future has a successful gay agenda led by Clai Aiken start a revolution re-educate everyone into gays or lesbians, so homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuals are an oppressed minority. There are entire towns full of only men or women in committed relationships, and all adoptions are handled via a horrifying and horrifyingly cheerful adoption agency/factory that gestates babies out of the womb.

    Video Games 
  • BioWare:
    • Dragon Age:
      • The Orlesian nobility views sex as just another weapon in the Grand Game of courtly intrigue, meaning that gender and biological sex have no practical bearing on which Orlesian noble sleeps with whom. This goes all the way up to the current Empress of Orlais, who is a lesbian in a long-term relationshipnote , and extends as far down as the "bards" — a euphemism for traveling assassins/spies for hire, who get into their marks' good graces with music and seduction.note  Celene's predecessor Florian was likewise rumored to be romantically involved with his cousin Meghran, which is why the latter was reassigned to act as Ferelden's regent; it was the part about them being cousins that was considered scandalous, not that they were both men.
      • Elsewhere, however, it's a mixed bag, and those of noble birth are still expected to carry out their "family duty" to continue the bloodline. Dorian Pavus, a nobleman from the Tevinter Imperium, is gay. This in and of itself isn't that big an issue in Tevinter (or anywhere else in Thedas), but Dorian refused to "live a lie" and marry a woman to carry on his family lineage, so his father planned to use a Blood Magic ritual to literally change his brain and make him straight. Dorian also mentions that, in Tevinter, same-sex relationships are viewed as fun distractions rather than serious partnerships, which is why he has trouble wrapping his head around the Inquisitor wanting something more than just sex.
        Dorian: Where I'm from, anything between two men...it's about pleasure. It's accepted, but taken no further.
      • The Qunari take it in a different direction. They're so casual about things like sexual orientation that they barely recognize it as a concept and consider transgender individuals to be whatever they identify as without question, but they also have ironclad gender roles. One recurring issue caused by this is that when confronted with woman soldiers they have a hard time grasping the concept that this doesn't make them trans men by default.
    • Mass Effect: The asari are a One-Gender Race of blue-skinned women who all seem to be pansexual. Because of their biology, they can reproduce with anyone, of any gender and any race (though the child will always be an asari), and their relationship to other women is pretty normal, though they are discouraged from reproducing with each other due to a genetic defect that happens in a small number of so-called "pureblood" asari. To say nothing of the various romance options available to the Player Character and the relationships between the party members. Cortez? A gay grieving widower. Kaidan? Bisexual. Mordin? Asexual, but admits that if he were to "try" a human, Shepard (of either gender) would be a good option. Samantha Trainor? Lesbian. Kelly Chambers? Boldly Coming Extreme Omnisexual. It's implied that 150 years in the future, humanity has largely gotten over its hang-ups regarding sexual orientation.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The angara race doesn't make any distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. A news bulletin on Aya mentions two families being united by the marriage of a son from each, which is treated with the same matter-of-factness as if they were a son and daughter.
  • Borderlands takes place on a faraway planet in the distant future. Multiple characters seem to not be straight and it's never remarked upon. In the third entry of the franchise, Sir Hammerlock is dating and planning to marry Wainwright Jakobs, the only opposition seems to come from Jakobs' father, and less because he is marrying a man than the fact that he will leave the family business to marry him, and even that is uncofirmed.
  • Catherine: In the Fullbody version, Angels/Aliens are a One-Gender Race of beings that take the form of androgynous, pink-haired men when among humans. Rin is one of them, and when he falls in love with Vincent, the other members of the race don't really care about the fact that he's in love with a man, but rather with the fact he wants to stay on Earth and be with Vincent rather than return to their planet. They do eventually come around and give Vincent their blessing to be with Rin.
  • Hades is centered on ancient Greek gods and their culture, who're much less adept to heteronormativity than the current society. Same-sex and polyamorous relationships aren't things people are particularly bothered with.
  • Monster Prom: The game takes place in a world inhabited by monsters of various kinds. It seems that every character in the story is bisexual to some degree.
  • NieR: Automata: Because no character in the story has biological sex (they're either Androids or Machines), the concept of gender and sexuality is a bit hazy. According to side material, Androids can choose to install or not to install a component resembling genitalia, and even choose to imitate a pregnancy just to experience it. Both Androids and Machines are implied to have gender in an attempt to imitate humans, and some machines have a pretty basic understanding of it, which translates in simply wearing bows or tuxedos. Among Androids, the attraction between androids of the same gender seems to be so common that they won't even bat an eye to it, some of which includes A2 being in love with her teammate A4, 6O being openly attracted to another female android, and 16D, a female android in a relationship with her mentor 11B, who was also female.
  • Exaggerated in Dwarf Fortress, where non-heterosexual orientations were simply something added to Procedural Generation of personal traits, not personal or societal ethic, thus it's literally impossible for any in-game character to be homophobic. Somewhat annoyingly, people don't even pay attention to the sexual orientation of domestic animals, which can lead to frustration when the player is buying animals for breeding.
  • In Divinity: Original Sin II, Gender Is No Object in the government or military, same-sex marriages are an unremarkable part of the world, the Romance Sidequest options aren't at all restricted by the player character's gender, and sexual orientation isn't mentioned beyond one person asking if the PC has a preference for an Optional Sexual Encounter.

    Webcomics 
  • El Goonish Shive: Magus's home universe (which hasn't been seen outside of a brief flashback) is apparently this to some extent, as discussed in this strip, this one, and the one after. Magic is common there, and the locals haven't had any hang-ups about homosexuality, gender changes, etc. for centuries. If the opposite gender better suits someone's career choice (such as a battle mage), it's easy to switch. But the local mentality on gender roles regarding people's default physical forms is "If you want to do stuff that requires a lot of physical strength, be a man!" Because of this (and possibly other reasons unknown to Magus), they don't make strong female default physical forms.
  • Homestuck: Trolls are considered bisexual by default, as their means of reproduction involves supplying material to one large mother grub rather than reproducing with each other, so any pair of trolls has the same reproductive effectiveness. They don't even consider the concepts of "straight" or "gay," as trolls who are exclusive to a single-gender (such as Kanaya) are considered having a strong preference more than anything. Additionally, troll society is matriarchal, and their non-traditional views on sexism are explored through the social-justice-oriented characters of Kankri and Porrim.
  • Mage & Demon Queen has a Cast Full of Gay, and even the princess Leora formerly being Prince Leo doesn't seem to be an issue. Word of God says that the society basically assumes that everyone is pansexual by default.
  • Les Normaux: This trait is actually contrasted with the current real world. Sebastien, the main character, moves to the Catacombs, a fantastical version of Paris hidden beneath the city where monsters and humans that use magic co-exist. Sebastien's family disapproves of him learning magic and of his homosexuality, so moving there was a plan to escape from it. In the Catacombs, he is introduced to a society where queer identities and romance are all very well accepted and fairly common.
  • In Slightly Damned, Median society doesn't seem to have any particular homophobic leanings, and even the highly regimented and ordered society of Heaven doesn't seem to have any issues with homosexuality (Kazai's worries about his relationship with his boyfriend are about him being a fire angel while Kazai himself is a water angel), and while Heaven doesn't approve of crossdressing, due to how angels have a firm dress code, a non-binary angel has been seen with no indication of discrimination.
  • Val and Isaac plays this very straight in its form of Space Fantasy: same-sex relationships are depicted as quite common, with just about everyone in the cast having been involved in one (barring Isaac, who's just not interested in general), and one of the more prominent characters, Space Dread, is transgender. There's never been any signs of them facing prejudice for this, even in places generally seen as repressive or conservative.

    Web Videos 
  • Carmilla the Series is noted to take place in an extremely accepting world, where homophobia never even comes up — not even in the flashbacks to Victorian times. Even Carmilla's Evil Matriarch doesn't seem to care that Carmilla's gay; it's that she keeps falling for humans. The one exception is that Perry has difficulty accepting that her childhood friend LaFontaine is non-binary and now goes by they/them, but she's the only character to have such issues and she's portrayed as being unambiguously in the wrong. She also gets over it.
  • Critical Role: The Exandria campaign setting is a high-fantasy world where non-heterosexual, transgender, and non-binary people are socially and legally accepted as an ordinary fact of life. This goes all the way up to the top, as the pantheon includes at least one non-binary deity, as well as two goddesses in a relationship.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Dragon Prince, there are plenty of homosexual relationships shown, including two queens who shared the rule of their kingdom. It's never remarked on.
  • In The Owl House, Word of God is that LGBTQ+ discrimination is basically nonexistent on the Boiling Isles, despite the government generally being very conformist. In season 2, the non-binary Raine Whispers even becomes the Bard Coven Head Witch, an extremely prestigious position, at least until they're discovered to be a traitor against the Emperor's Coven.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Etheria is a world where LGBT people are extremely common and never judged on it:
    • Both main character Adora and main villain Catra are lesbians, and it's never seen as odd or milked for Gayngst. The two of them end the series with an Anguished Declaration of Love, a Big Damn Kiss, and a Relationship Upgrade (in that order).
    • A nonbinary villain named Double Trouble uses gender-neutral "they/them" pronouns, and everyone respects that (including the villains).
    • Bow has two fathers. He's worried less about his friends finding out he has a gay couple as parents and worried more that they'll show off all of Bow's baby pictures.
    • Side characters Netossa and Spinnerella are an established couple for who knows how long. Both of them are women, and use the word "wife" to refer to each other, showing that same-sex marriage is also accepted in Etheria.
    • The Horde Empire on the other hand, shuns all forms of love and attraction, standing as a polar opposite to Etheria, which is only a small part of the larger universe it controls. Since Galactic Horde society is conformist and centered on worship to their emperor, Horde Prime, any semblance of individuality is looked down upon, so it goes without saying concepts like sexual orientation or gender expression are non-existent, let alone foreign. Somewhat interestingly, this means that heterosexuality is also taboo- any form of expression is prohibited. Every single current or former member of the Horde that displays any kind of attraction in the show is gay.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The gems are an alien race of sexless female-presenting beings from another world. Most Gems have been shown to be attracted to other Gems (or humans of both sexes.). Since their understandings of gender and sexuality are very different from humans', they don't have the concept of "same-sex attraction".
    • Queer relations and individuals aren't treated negatively by any of the humans: Despite Kevin being a womanizing Jerkass, when he thought Connie and Steven both had a crush on him, he didn't give Steven any particular grief. Also, while he initially assumes Stevonnie is a girl, he respects their pronouns in subsequent appearances despite still being the aforementioned womanizing Jerkass. Basically everyone in Beach City ends up attending a wedding between two gems (Ruby and Sapphire). And when Sadie starts dating the nonbinary Shep, the only objection comes from Steven, and only on the grounds that he was a Shipper on Deck for Sadie and Lars. And he admits that they make a great couple when he gets over it.

Alternative Title(s): Queernormative Society, Queernormative Setting, Queernorm

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report