Works involving same-gender romances or LGBT+ topics are watched/read most predominantly by members of the LGBT community. This may be caused by being assumed to only be for people who are LGBT by everyone else; a potential level of homophobia within other potential audiences; and "mainstream" creators or distributors not wanting to use a queer narrative because they believe it will be unpopular, forcing these stories to be themselves marginalized and only accessible by audiences who go out of their way looking for them — these audiences often the LGBT+ people who have been elsewhere starved of representation — making the stigma that causes the ghetto self-fulfilling.
Alternative programming channels may have large fanbases of young people and/or socially liberal people, which can extend a fanbase when queer themes are included in works shown there. LOGO used to be this in the United States; Channel 4 is this in the United Kingdom.
But Not Too Gay, Ambiguously Gay, Ambiguously Bi, and Hide Your Lesbians are often used to avoid the stigma of seeming "too gay" for people. Adaptational Sexuality is sometimes used to subvert this. Genres like Yaoi, Yuri, Josei, and the Bara are often designed specifically to be consumed by LGBT people, and therefore are not in a queer ghetto. M/M (male/male) romance is also not in a queer ghetto because, despite featuring gay male love interests, so much of it is written by and for cishet women.
- But I'm a Cheerleader remains a downplayed Acclaimed Flop; queer viewers love it, but many critics didn't, and it bombed when it first came out. It's still an obscure film today.
- In the film version of Fried Green Tomatoes, the lesbian romance was toned down to being implied instead of explicit to market at mainstream audiences.
- Bend It Like Beckham was originally about a romance between two women interested in football. That was removed both due to worries that the film would be too niche and due to not wanting to perpetuate the Lesbian Jock stereotype. They ended up tacking on a heterosexual subplot to the film at the last moment.
- Milk, the biopic of assassinated early gay activist and politician Harvey Milk, won two Oscars but is barely known (to the point that Sam Smith mistakenly thought that they were the first gay artist to win an Oscar). Of course, it was written by Dustin Lance Black, whose original productions are mostly limited to be for an LGBT Fanbase.
- My Summer of Love, a Coming of Age Psycho Lesbian religious summer movie starring a young Emily Blunt. Notably, it was the lesbian and 15-years-too-early version of God's Own Country (which is set in the same place and mixes MSOL's story with that of Brokeback Mountain), which was mainstream popular in 2017/18.
- The Imitation Game is a biopic of World War II code breaker Alan Turing, who was tortured for his homosexuality. The film suspiciously avoids any scenes with Alan and another man together and he's only said to have private affairs. Overall his homosexuality is completely downplayed, and the film amps up his eccentricities to make him a textbook case of Asperger Syndrome (which he wasn't in real life).
- Stranger was stuck in Development Hell for years because agents either wanted to make a gay character straight or take him out completely out of fear the book wouldn't sell.
- Discussed in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Holly is uninterested in the protagonist's book because it revolves around two female teachers and how one of them spreads scandalous rumors about her friend in protest of her getting engaged. Holly mentions that stories about lesbians bore her, though she doesn't mind lesbians and is bisexual herself.
- The Big Gay Sketch Show, which is basically a low-budget LGBT version of Saturday Night Live. It became marginally more famous later for having starred Kate McKinnon, who would go on to be a breakout hit of SNL.
- The American network LOGO was originally LGBT themed however it went through Network Decay to become more mainstream, and subsequently less outright LGBT material is shown on the channel.
- The L Word was a show about lesbians and bisexual women, and the showrunner said that it wouldn't have been greenlit if it hadn't focused on the Girl-on-Girl Is Hot angle to attract a straight male demographic.
- Referenced in "Radio Friendly Pop Song" by Matt Fishel, which is about how Hollywood forces musicians and actors into the closet in order to make them mainstream and conventional:
But face it, kid, if you want to get onto radio just do what I sayChange all the 'him's into 'her'sAnd just don't tell the world that you're — shh!
- Discussed, alongside the Minority Show Ghetto and Girl-Show Ghetto, in "Dumb" from Straight Outta Oz. Being a queer black man makes it harder for Todrick's music to hit the mainstream:
If I had blue button-eyes and blond hair, would I make the magazine on the best page?Be the leading man, if I was less gay?If I was a woman would you try to give me less pay?
Breaking Out of the Ghetto:
- Despite being the pun of many "gay cowboy" jokes Brokeback Mountain is well known, and was even nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
- Boys Don't Cry is a biopic about trans man Brandon Teena (though many mistake it for a lesbian story) however it avoided the ghetto by becoming mainstream. It has even won a few awards.
- Moonlight is a subversion of both this trope and Minority Show Ghetto. A low-budget indie Coming-of-Age Story about a poor black boy growing up and coming to terms with his sexuality doesn't sound like a film that would get much attention. However, it ended up being nominated for multiple awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture, which it won.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show was initially in the ghetto - as an underground Cult Classic - where the main character is a crossdresser and the White Male Lead turns out to be bisexual. But it has since become more of a mainstream film, and Tim Curry has called it a rite of passage for teenagers.
- Thor: Ragnarok had a brief scene cut revealing that Valkyrie was bisexual - although the subtext is still there if you interpret the warrior dying in the flashback to be her lover. Word of God is that it interrupted the flow of the film (despite being all of ten seconds), and many suspected it was to avoid putting the movie in the ghetto.
- Bohemian Rhapsody doesn't shy away from Freddie Mercury's bisexuality, yet it became a hit and received several awards. In fact, the film's success was largely thanks to its very positive audience reactions, as professional critics thought the film was So Okay, It's Average.
- Interview with the Vampire (based on the novel of the same name) is essentially a story about the dysfunctional quasi-romantic relationship between two male vampires, Louis and Lestat. One of them even pulls The Baby Trap on the other so he won't leave him. Anne Rice (author of the book) thought that they might not be able to make the movie (released in 1994) without making Louis a woman due to all the Homorerotic Subtext. They didn't...and the movie went on to be a commercial success (it made $223.7 million against a budget of $60 million), was generally well-received critically and was nominated for a bunch of awards.
- The Vampire Chronicles has same-sex romances and homoeroticism out the wazoo, and a bisexual main character (to be technical, vampires usually don't bother with sex, because their nature as Sense Freaks makes a great number of things immensely pleasurable and their undead nature can make some of the physical aspects of sex tricky, but they can still experience romantic love). Several of the books were bestsellers, the first three books (Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned) are generally well thought-of (YMMV regarding the other books) and the series had a massive influence on vampire fiction in the late 20th century and 21st century.
- Glee was quite popular and mainstream for several seasons, though its popularity dissolved later into the run, despite (or maybe because of) having multiple major LGBT characters and gay romances.
- RuPaul's Drag Race started off on Logo with no budget and little attention from the mainstream. It garnered increased attention each season, eventually transferring to sister network VH1 and winning several Emmys, including two for Ru Paul herself.
- 13 Reasons Why has a few prominent gay characters like Tony, Ryan, and Courtney. Although the latter two had less to do in Season 2, the same season did give Tony a love interest subplot.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Willow entering a relationship with a woman in Season 4. It didn't hurt the show's viewership, her girlfriend Tara became an Ensemble Dark Horse, and the pairing was recognised as a major trailblazer for LGBT representation on television.