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Queer Show Ghetto

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"Behind the Candelabra is, in some ways, a new kind of Hollywood film [...] Why wouldn't the film studios touch it? Because they thought a Liberace note  biopic was just 'too gay' to make money."

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.

What makes matters worse is that the Queer Show Ghetto is even harsher than other "ghetto" tropes, because every letter in LGBT is a distinct community in and of itself, each one with its own stereotypes, cultural norms, in-jokes, etc. A lesbian period drama will not attract large numbers of gay men. And that's not even getting into racial minorities within the LGBT community.

Naturally, this trope denotes an LGBT Fanbase, and these works are more likely than others to have queer actors, too. 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. Boys' Love Genre fiction (which features male/male romance) is also not in a queer ghetto because, despite featuring gay male love interests, much of it is written by and for cishet women.

See also Minority Show Ghetto and Girl-Show Ghetto. See Watched It for the Representation for when people tune in to a work for its LGBT representation. For LGBT-themed works that managed to find mainstream popularity, see Out of the Ghetto.


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    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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 to mainstream audiences.
  • There have been frequent rumours that Bend It Like Beckham was originally about a romance between two women interested in football which was removed both due to worries that the film would be too niche and due to not wanting to perpetuate the Lesbian Jock stereotype. Supposedly Jess' romance with Joe was added to further downplay any subtext between Jess and Jules.

  • 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.

    Live-Action Television 
  • 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.
  • New Warriors was in the works of getting adapted into a TV series as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it never reached its slated 2018 release on Freeform in spite of executive confidence, ostensibly because the network "did not have room in its schedule for the series." However, showrunner Kevin Biegel later alleged that the actual reason why it never got past its pilot was because said pilot "was very proudly gay," and that the series was shot down by a since-fired "high level exec with an agenda."

  • 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 say
    Change all the 'him's into 'her's
    And 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?