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The Beard

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When coming out to your parents goes wrong.

"Have you ever heard about the term 'beards'? It is when a gay man and woman date each other in order to hide the fact that they are gay. Like the Roosevelts. So you and I are going to be each other's beards. Then we are going to win Prom King—and Queen and rule the school."
Santana, Glee

If you're looking for tropes about actual beards, see Facial Hair Index.

A character who pretends to be another's heterosexual Significant Other in order to perpetuate the deception that the other is totally, 100% straight.

Though the term "beard" is more commonly used to refer to a woman "dating" a gay man note , the trope can be used for "cover" relationships of LGBT men and women. A man dated by a lesbian to make her appear straight is known as "a frock" in British English. A frock makes a woman appear feminine much as a beard makes a man appear masculine.

Gay men who marry The Beard may do this as an elaborate refusal to come out of the closet. They "prove" it to themselves and others that they are not gay because they have a wife (that they never touch) so they most definitely are not leading a gay lifestyle. Other times, it's an open arrangement with the wife in order to abide by social standards. Women who agree to this type of bearding relationship usually socially benefit from being married/in a relationship in another way — for example, she herself might be a lesbian.

Occasionally, someone's Beard will have to be someone they're in a Will They or Won't They? situation with. It usually ends up pushing them closer, but gets a Snap Back at the end.

Not to Be Confused with Growing the Beard, where a show significantly improves at some point.

Subtrope of Fake Relationship. Compare Emergency Impersonation and Sorry, I'm Gay. Girlfriend in Canada is a related trope, when the "beard" doesn't actually exist. When this trope is inverted, see Faux Yay.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass:
    • Implied to be why Prince Schneizel keeps appearing with Nina Einstein in public—as his aide and brother drop very big hints about his true sexuality. Of course, Nina herself is desperately in love with the prince's dead little sister...
    • Possibly why Lloyd got involved with an arranged marriage with Milly. Although he's likely asexual as opposed to gay.
  • Dandelion Among Lilies: Mizuho had an older boyfriend in high school because she didn't think being lesbian would go well. It turns out he was cheating on her with another man.
  • I Want To Be A Wall: Gakurouta and Yuriko Hanazono are a gay man and an aromantic/asexual woman, respectively, in a lavender marriage to avoid further pressure from their families to settle down.
  • Maria†Holic: Kiri decides to act as a lesbian beard to Kanako so that the jealous lesbians won't think that Kanako is involved with the popular Ishima Ryuuken. Since Kanako really is a closet lesbian, this could have been a pretty original and interesting side plot... but unfortunately the matter got dropped for no adequately explained reason and nothing ever came of it.
  • Penguindrum eventually reveals that the relationship between Tabuki and Yuri is this, and is a mutual setup in order to get Tabuki's first love Momoka back—and it turns out Yuri also loved her and is gay or bisexual.
  • In So I'm a Spider, So What?, Kanata was an Armoured Closet Gay in Japan and also smitten with his classmate Shun. In an attempt to hide his actual interest, he very publicly confessed to the one girl in class certain to turn him down, Wakaba Hiiro. If anyone suspected he was gay, he could use his unrequited love for Wakaba as a beard. Wabaka, aka D, did not like the false confession and decided to "help" Kanata get together with Shun by reincarnating him as a girl.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul:Re, Matsuri Washuu is in a loveless Arranged Marriage to keep up appearances as the heir of the illustrious Washuu Clan. He readily admits to finding her boring, and had to be forced to write her regularly while working abroad. It turns out that Matsuri is actually an Armored Closet Gay, and secretly obsessed with his younger subordinate, Kuki Urie. Whether his wife is aware of her role as his Beard or not is unclear, but she admits to having very little interest in her husband's career.
  • In the Whispered Words manga, Tomoe suggests that Sumika get a fake boyfriend to help her PR while she's campaigning for student council president, and they settle for Akemiya, who happily goes along with it... and unthinkingly shows up to their date in his crossdressing persona. Or not so unthinkingly, since he knows he's trying to woo a lesbian with a soft spot for cute girls, and also feels far more at ease in the security blanket of crossdressing.

    Comic Books 
  • In Afterlife with Archie it turns out Nancy's boyfriend is her beard. She's cheating on him with Ginger; however, Ginger is too worried to come out of the closet.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: Clémentine has a boyfriend, who she dumps after her attraction to a woman becomes obvious. He didn't realize that he'd been inadvertently in the role, and Clémentine didn't feel it was right to make him think otherwise any longer.
  • Domino Lady: Ellen's Secret-Keeper Lulu Chambers is married to gay movie director who is in a relationship with his favourite leading man. Lulu gets a rich and glamorous lifestyle, while her husband gets cover for his sexuality, which would be professional doom in the 1930s if made public.
  • In Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, Snagglepuss is married to Lila Lion so that the public will not suspect that he's actually gay. While she initially accepts this role, she divorces him in the final issue.
  • Ex Machina: When Mayor Hundred announces his support for gay marriage the night after a date, she assumes he's just using her as a beard. At the end of the arc he attempts to mend fences, and admits to Suzanne he might have had some ulterior motives for going out with her. Hundred remains effectively Married to the Job and dismisses questions about his sexuality as unimportant.
    Hundred: You have to understand, my mind sometimes makes...makes tactical decisions before the rest of me -
    Suzanne: Oh, cut the bullshit. Just tell me, completely off the record, are you gay?
    Hundred:...Do you mind if I come inside? (he enters, door closes) [End of issue]
  • The Good Asian: When rich heiress Victoria Carroway first began hanging out in San Francisco's Chinatown, attending some of the local clubs and such, she became friends with Chinatown's golden boy and Crusading Lawyer Terrence Chang. There was an attempt on her part at a Relationship Upgrade, but Chang is gay. The two remained friends and business partners, however, with Chang helping to direct Victoria and her family's investments in Chinatown and she also bankrolled his legal efforts to win greater civil rights and recognition for Chinese-Americans. As a result they were seen so often together that it was rumored they were together, and a man with a grudge tried to get proof so he could Blackmail them, as the story is set in the 1930s and an interracial relationship between two people of their social standing would be a scandal. The blackmailer soon gets pictures of Chang with another man instead, and Victoria is one of the people who pays to help keep him quiet.
  • There's a scene in the graphic novel Shortcomings where Ben, the main character, has to act as a beard for his gay Korean friend Alice when they go meet her parents at church. he mentions that her family might not like the Japanese, but seeing her with a Japanese boy is better than seeing her with a Korean girl.
  • Watchmen:
    • Silk Spectre (the original one, not her daughter) is the beard for Hooded Justice, though only mentioned in the comics.
    • Laurie was, in part, a beard for Dr. Manhattan. At that point he'd drifted too far into Blue And Orange (a)sexuality.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: According to Word of God Kensuke's two girlfriends originally hooked up with him to hide the fact that they were a couple. However, it eventually developed into a genuine three-way relationship.
  • The Alarmaverse: In Beauty Will Tear Us Apart, Ditzy preemptively tries to fend off Trixie's unrequited affection by claiming that Time Turner is her boyfriend.
  • The Frozen (2013) fanfic The Alphabet Story has Elsa in a Secret Relationship with a woman named Kyra due to same-gender couples being illegal in Arendelle. Kyra eventually becomes engaged to a man named Ludvig, which causes her and Elsa to break up, but Elsa herself refuses to get a beard. The fic ends a Maybe Ever After between Kyra and Elsa.
  • In Alternative Arrangements, Harry, who's gay, and Ginny, who's lesbian, get married so they can have kids and avoid societal criticism. Neville and Luna have the exact same relationship.
  • In the Frozen fic Becoming Free Elsa is in a relationship with her smith and later personal guard Freya. In a spinoff oneshot from Free, Freya becomes jealous when she thinks Elsa wants to leave her for a prince. In reality, Prince Ulrich is in a relationship with his "best friend" Lars. They pretend to be Chick Magnets in order to avoid rumors. Lars mentions that he and Ulrich in particular have an arrangement to be the beards, and vice versa, of the palace librarian and the palace butcher's daughter. Ulrich flirting with Elsa, and Lars supposedly flirting with Freya, helps dissuade rumors on the relationship between Elsa and Freya.
  • In Changing of the Guard Harry runs a one-man company called Metamorphosis which provides a "perfect stranger" for whatever your needs might be. A good chunk of its business involves his pretending to be the man (or woman) in the lives of clients who prefer not to tell their families that they're lesbian or gay.
  • Do You Believe in Fairies?: Kathy and Owen are each other's beards. It started out unintentionally. They're Childhood Friends but everyone in town saw something more, unaware that they're both gay. The duo just let everyone see them as a couple. This lasted until one day Kathy got upset about Owen's gayngst-driven alcoholism and finally revealed to Renee that she has never been Owen's girlfriend.
  • Some Fire Emblem fanfiction has half of any popular same-sex pairing marry someone of the opposite sex for the sake of public appearance, while carrying on affairs with or pining away for the other half of the couple. Awakening is particularly fond of this trope where Chrom and a male Avatar are concerned.
  • The Friends fic "Fix You" features Ross reuniting with the group after spending four years in London since his marriage to Emily, learning that Rachel is now engaged to Marco, the heir to a major fashion business. After Rachel marries Marco and Ross has officially returned to New York, he accompanies Joey to a gay bar to help Joey research for an upcoming role, only to see Marco making out with another man; Marco was actually gay and allegedly hid it from his disapproving father.
  • In Knights of the Founders Roger Davies and Cho Chang pretend to date one Valentine's Day before deciding to out themselves.
  • In at least a few M*A*S*H fics BJ and Peg's marriage is presented as a lavender marriage to beard for each other. The main point, of course, is to ship BJ with Hawkeye without the guilt or fallout of BJ cheating on Peg (and usually Peg is given a nice lady love original character of her own).
  • Princess (Laburnum Steelfang): Marlene assumes Julien was using her for cover when he comes out as a Transgender man, and is very, very angry.
    "I'm not one of your girlfriends in Canada!"
  • In The Printed Press Draco married Astoria because he was gay, she was lesbian and both were being pressured by their families into marrying a "proper" pureblood of the opposite sex.
  • In Recovery, Weiss has only dated boys but isn't interested in them. It's for appearances only.
  • In Rip Her to Shreds, Regina tries dating boys while she lies to herself about being straight.
  • In the Wizards of Waverly Place fic "Secrets Revealed", when Alex casts a truth spell on her best friend Harper to learn the identity of Harper's new crush, concerned that Harper might be falling for Alex's brother Justin again, she is shocked when Harper admits that actually her alleged crush on Justin was just a cover for Harper's real feelings for Alex herself.
  • In the Danny Phantom oneshot A Shallow End, Paulina and Dash are each other's beards. They're both gay but pretend not to be. Paulina thinks that Dash will come out of the closet eventually, but she thinks it's too dangerous for herself.
  • In You Built This House, Apple tries to use Daring as a beard, even after she's Forced Out of the Closet, because she still wants to live up to how Snow White "should be". Her roommate Raven calls her out on this. Eventually, Daring and Apple come to the agreement that it's uncomfortable for both of them.

    Film — Animation 
  • Queer Duck: The Movie: A major part of the plot is that the titular character meets and bonds with an aging actress named Lola Buzzard. Lola eventually asks for Queer Duck to marry her. When Queer Duck points out that he isn't sure the marriage would work since he's gay, Lola responds that she doesn't mind because a lot of her previous husbands were gay.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Across the Universe (2007): Prudence, who is established as a lesbian, has a boyfriend however in New York City, whom she then leaves as he's gotten abusive before accepting her own sexuality with help from friends.
  • All About E: E pretends Matt, her Camp Gay best friend, is her husband when she visits her parents. He has to butch it up significantly so this is plausible.
  • August In The City: August's husband, starting when they were just dating. Clem also pretends to find a guy attractive, saying they both "put up a front", secretly involved with each other at the same time.
  • Badhaai Do: Shardul (gay) and Sumi (lesbian) enter into a mutual bearding lavender marriage to relieve societal pressures to get married.
  • In Beginners, the protagonist's mother was a beard to her husband until the day she died, after which her husband comes out of the closet.
  • In Bend It Like Beckham, Tony plans to "propose" to Jesminder so that her parents will allow her to attend college and pursue her dreams of playing professional association football in America. Jesminder ultimately refuses, since she does not want to lie to her parents, and immediately explains the ruse behind the proposal. However, in effect she would actually have been his beard, as the film had earlier revealed that Tony was actually gay, which completely surprised Jess.
  • Bottoms: Parodied. Josie, panicking about the prospect of not losing her virginity to a girl, wails about sleeping with their gay classmate Matthieu out of desperation, getting pregnant, and the two of them needing to enter an unhappy double-bearding marriage and moving to a convent to save face.
  • Breaking the Girls: Nina pretended she's straight and married David since it would get her his money after he died. She complains of how disgusting it was to her having sex with him.
  • Cursed (2005): It looks like Brooke was a beard to Bo, since he turns out to be gay. She doesn't really seem surprised at the end when it's made clear, so she might have been in on this.
  • In Easy A Olive makes up a relatively innocent and tame story of how she lost her virginity over the past weekend, but the rumor mill spreads it so far and blows it so wildly out of proportion that she gains a reputation as a slut almost overnight. When talking to Brandon, a friend dealing with torment and bullying due to his sexuality, she mentions how drastically a person's social status can change after a single juicy story and she agrees to pretend to sleep with him in order to convince the school he is straight. This is amazingly successful (For him, anyway) and soon many other unpopular boys are coming to her for help looking cool.
  • Fear Street: In Part One: 1994 Sam's boyfriend is a beard for her, and she's concealed her attraction to Deena for some time.
  • Girls Like Magic: Jamie pretends Don, though he's Camp Gay, is her boyfriend when her homophobic parents come over. The pair are naïve enough to buy his weak "butch" act.
  • The Guard: Gabriella. She's aware Aidan is gay and that their marriage was just cover for him while allowing her to stay in Ireland. It doesn't mean she doesn't care about him.
  • The Imitation Game: Joan Clarke is content to serve this role to Alan Turing, and she is comfortable with the idea that their future marriage will be based on friendship instead of romance.
  • The Spanish film Inconcientes portrays a gay subculture where it's common for gays to marry lesbians for the sake of outward appearances. Sample line: "Would you like to dance with me? My wife would like to dance with your wife."
  • Just the Way You Are: At the beginning, Susan is engaged to her gay friend Frank. They break up a few weeks before the wedding when he finds her with another man and they realize they won't be able to satisfy each other.
  • Lizzie Borden's Revenge: An unusual example in that the beard is not a person but serves the same function. When Bobby confesses he is gay, an exasperated Dee asks him why he runs a sleazy website that sexualizes women. Bobby explains that it is to stop his mother from finding out. Apparently she is fine with him being a pervert, so long as it is women he is lusting after. Dee then describes his website as being "his beard."
  • Loving Annabelle: Ms. Bradley's boyfriend may be a beard, though her sexuality (lesbian or bisexual) is unclear.
  • In Mario (2018), Mario pretends to date his best friend Jenny to dispel rumors that he and Leon are in a relationship. Jenny goes along with it at first, but eventually becomes sick of living a lie, especially since she's starting to get serious with her actual boyfriend Sven, and "dumps" him.
  • In My Best Friend's Wedding, Julia Roberts' character asks her (gay) male friend to pretend to be her boyfriend in order to make the titular other male friend jealous so he doesn't marry his fiancée.
  • Out at the Wedding is about a woman who pretends to be a lesbian because she's afraid her family will be racist towards her black boyfriend. Her recently married sister happens to fall for her pretend-girlfriend. It turns out her husband was a Beard and she was in denial about being gay.
  • Uncle Frank: Charlotte, a female friend of Frank's, pretends to be both his and his partner Wally's girlfriend so their families won't know that they're really gay.
  • The Wedding Banquet: A gay Taiwanese-American landowner marries one of his tenants so that she can get a green card and his parents will stop matchmaking for him. Hilarity Ensues.

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: Rosa and Sammy get married in 1941 for a double-purpose: Rosa is pregnant by another man, who had then run off (for an unrelated reason), and so needs a husband, and Sammy is secretly gay.
  • In Reinaldo Arenas' memoir Before Night Falls, Ingrávida Félix agrees to marry Reinaldo in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to protect him from being arrested and sent to a concentration camp for his homosexuality.
  • In Bloody Jack's The Wake Of The Lorelei Lee, the titular ship is taking a group of female convicts to Australia. Since they have a cool captain, the crew of the Lorelei Lee are allowed to get married to the prisoners, if the women agree. Pretty much everyone on board likes this idea, so they all pair off... except for Jacky, who is promised to another, and Higgins, because he's gay. The two of them act as the beard for each other.
  • In Boy Meets Boy, Tony's parents think Joni and Paul are dating so their gay son can hang out with them while safely not realizing Tony is hanging out with another single gay boy as friends.
  • In Captain Freedom, Tzadik's efforts to settle down and marry his on-again-off-again girlfriend Kaeko fall apart when she finds out that he's already married. He insists that it was only a beard marriage for the sake of a lesbian acquaintance.
  • The Comfortable Courtesan:
    • Clorinda, the main character, is supposedly the mistress of Gervase, Viscount Raxdell. They are extremely close friends, but he's gay and she's acting as his public signifier of heterosexuality.
    • Lady Zellen is unhappy that her husband hasn't slept with her since their second son was born.note  Clorinda persuades him to confess to her that he's gay, and then he finds a boyfriend for her.
    • The lesbian Lady Jane marries Admiral Knighton because her sexual relations with an actress were being gossipped about in society, and because he needed someone knowledgable about farming to manage an estate he inherited, and also because All Lesbians Want Kids. She does subsequently admit to Clorinda, however, that she found the necessary activity for conception much more enjoyable than she expected.
  • At the start of the Dexter series of novels, he explicitly refers to Rita as a beard and a disguise used to make him appear more ordinary and normal. Of course, in his case, being gay would be a lot more socially acceptable than the real story.
  • Elemental Series (Kemmerer): Quinn becomes a pretend girlfriend for Nick, who is gay.
  • In the Emberverse, Rigobert de Stafford and his wife Delia are beards for one another in the neo-medieval (and extremely homophobic) Portland Protective Association. She even refers to him as "my dear beard" in a letter. Thanks to a turkey baster, they have several children together. Meanwhile, Delia is in a monogamous relationship with Lady Tiphaine d'Ath.
  • Girls Don't Hit: Unbeknownst to him, Joss married Colin solely for a "normal" cover in her job—she's actually a lesbian.
  • Good Behaviour: Played with in that Aroon seems to believe that Richard truly does love her, but their relationship only develops when Aroon's father begins to get suspicious of Richard's close relationship with Hubert.
  • The Hainish story "Mountain Ways". People on the planet O have four-person marriages between moieties where everyone is expected to be bisexual. A lesbian gets the idea to disguise her lover as a man to complete a marriage, and eventually their partners come out as straight, making a marriage that's effectively two pairings with all four acting as beards for the relationships they're supposed to have but don't want to.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: As part of her work with the Corellian Resistance, Bria serves as an anthroposexual beard to Moff Sarn Shild (under a false name), since his sexual tastes aren't for human females (it is implied he likes members of other species, which the speciesist Empire he serves wouldn't tolerate).
  • The Inheritance Games: Thea and Xander pretended to be in a relationship to hide the fact that Thea was actually dating Rebecca.
  • In Kill the Boy Band, this is the true nature of Rupert P. and Michelle Hornsbury's relationship; he's actually gay and in a relationship with his stylist. He pays little attention to her, including stranding her in New York without a hotel room; this is the last straw for her, and her motive to murder him.
  • The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali: Rukhsana and Sohail, a man whom she's matched with, both decide to temporarily be this for each other. She's a lesbian, while he's gay, which their traditional families would never accept, so they agree to be engaged then run away to the US on the eve of the wedding so it's unexpected.
  • In the Mary Russell novel Justice Hall, Marsh and Iris are both gay, and knowingly got married to each other to conform to early-twentieth-century social mores. They were already great friends, and both kept long-term same-sex partners throughout the marriage with the knowledge of many sympathetic friends and relatives. Although they did have sex a couple of times, which ends up as a plot point.
  • Naked Came the Stranger: Willoughby Martin has had sex with men who have married to fool the straight world, but he finds them unsatisfying. With their phony marriages and secret lives, he finds them more pitiable than sexy.
  • In Olga Dies Dreaming, after being elected to City Council, Prieto is approached by the Selby brothers, economic developers who let Prieto know they know he is in the closet that his neighborhood would not want to be represented by a gay man. Afterwards, he is desperate for a cover and for distance between his real self and his public life. He marries a nice woman from the neighborhood and becomes a father. It doesn't work too well as a cover with his family.
  • Outlander: Played less idyllically with Lord John and Bree from the later books. She's pregnant. He's gay, and a good many years her senior, as well as close friends with her dad. Considering the time period, it's not the unhappiest of matches—they get on pretty well after awhile—but she doesn't seem to see him as much more than a human shield to cover up being vastly preggo. (Her way of persuading him to declare their engagement? Threaten to publicly out him. Which would mean public disgrace and death. Nobody said she wasn't a bitch.) Naturally, this doesn't last. She gets her man, and... well, he doesn't die. And that's good. Right? Don't worry. She gets... better-ish.
  • Red, White & Royal Blue: First Daughter June goes on a couple public dates with Prince Henry to cover up the fact that he's actually dating her brother, Alex. Similarly, Alex and his best friend Nora go on a date to distract people—though they actually did have a fling years before the book started. It didn't work out, but the press still ships them in their Tabloid Melodrama, and they often encouraged the rumors they were together even before Henry is in the picture, purely for the comedy.
  • Something to Talk About: Jo's publicist suggests she defuse the rumors that she's dating Emma through being seen going on a date with a man. She immediately rejects the idea. Jo is not out as a lesbian to the public, but won't go along with any "cover" like this.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Margaery Tyrell is The Beard for Renly Baratheon, who is more interested in her brother Loras. It's something of an open secret that Renly and Loras are lovers, but Renly's supporters don't seem to mind as long as he's not too gay to father an heir on Margaery. The ruse is so transparent that no one finds it surprising or worthy of suspicion when Margaery (truthfully, so far as the reader can tell) claims that their marriage was never consummated.
  • Super Powereds: In his backstory, Titan was married with children, and when his orientation was discovered it created a massive scandal that drove him from the public eye for a decade. He returns in Corpies, where he finally decides to get back into things and repair his image.
  • Tarot Mysteries: After meeting Clarice's boyfriend, Alanis figures out that he's gay and she's serving as his beard for his parents sake. Turns out that she's a lesbian, and he's also serving as her beard.
  • In Thrones Dominations, the "boyfriend" of a missing actress tells Lord Peter Wimsey that their relationship is only friendly; she dates him to scare off an unpleasantly lecherous colleague, and he dates her because it makes him appear straight.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: James Franco hires Jenna to be his beard for the tabloids, in order to throw off rumors that he's in a relationship with an anime body pillow.
  • Acapulco: Maximo pretends to date Roberta so no one will figure out that Roberta is actually his sister Sara's girlfriend. This causes some shenanigans when he ropes Memo in to bring Sara as his "date" to the Las Colinas holiday party while Maximo brings Roberta, intending to give them a night out...only for Don Pablo to bring their mother to the party.
  • Another Period: Victor and Albert are obviously in a relationship with each other, but are married to two of the Bellacourt sisters. They have several kids with their wives, but only have sex when required and aren't romantically in love. Beatrice, Albert's wife, is in love with her brother anyway.
  • Batwoman (2019): Tyler was unknowingly a beard for his wife Sophie. He later realizes she never loved him. Sophie later admits it herself. It seems that she was trying to convince herself of being straight through marrying him (though she does show fondness for Tyler).
  • Better Things: Frankie serves as the date to her gay, closeted friend so his parents won't find out.
  • The Big Bang Theory: In "The Transporter Malfunction", Raj goes on a blind date with a girl his parents found for him. Things seem to be going well, until she reveals that she is a lesbian and thinks that since Raj is also gay they should get married so they can get their strict Indian parents off their backs. Raj indignantly says that he is not gay, but considers actually getting married to her because he thinks he will never get married otherwise.
  • In Bomb Girls, Betty starts dating Ivan after she's nearly outed and fired for being gay.
  • The Boys (2019): Homelander and Queen Maeve are officially a couple, but in private this isn't the case. Queen Maeve is bisexual, with Homelander being her beard (she isn't shown having genuine attraction toward him).
  • Bridgerton: A secondary character is a gay nobleman who is married to a woman. She's aware of his sexuality and that he's in love with another man, but goes along with it for the freedom and status that being a married woman grants her, and because he doesn't mind her having lovers of her own. She has a brief affair with Beckett, who is massively uncomfortable when her husband tries to have a freindly chat with him about it.
  • Call the Midwife's Trixie mentions the fact that she "provided discretionary cover" for a young gay doctor that she knew while training as a nurse, appearing on his arm in public in order to protect his career from any accusations of homosexuality (which was still illegal in Britain at the time).
  • Class of '09: Hour married a nice man whom she liked to hide her lesbianism, afraid of coming out to her parents. She expresses guilt about having wasted years of his life when their marriage ends.
  • In Claws, Ana outs her brother as gay to her parents. When her parents are okay, Ana snaps they turned on her when she came out. Her mother responds that they "turned" on Ana because she went to jail and "who cares if you're gay? I'm gay! Your father's gay!" As the pair stare, their parents explain that they've been each other's beards for years because of their families. "You really think Lucia is your aunt?"
  • On The Cool Kids Sid married a woman but came out to his wife in 1999 because he was afraid he'd die during Y2K.
  • Dates: Erica has been in relationships with a number of men, but admits it was just to please her family and provide cover, since she's lesbian. Callum is just the latest of the bunch. With him, she resolves not to keep up the charade any further.
  • Degrassi:
    • Ellie pretended to be Marco's girlfriend during high school to throw off suspicion, until they started developing a co-dependent relationship because of it.
    • Toby was J.T.'s beard to push away Liberty's advances.
    • Alex and Paige invoked Girl on Girl Is Hot to get into a party before they were dating (and before Paige knew she was bi).
    • Jay started out as Manny's beard to annoy her parents.
    • Anya was unknowingly Riley's beard, and then Fiona took the job when she figured out Riley was gay.
  • Doctor Who: "Time Crash": The Doctor discusses the latest appearance of the Master with himself.
    5th Doctor: Does he still have that rubbish beard?
    10th Doctor: No, no beard this time. Well, a wife.
  • Eli Stone: One of the cases the titular character takes involves a Pakistani woman fighting not to be deported because she married a gay man in order to obtain a green card.
  • Empire:
    • Hakeem and Tiana serve as each other's beards. For Hakeem, Tiana is a "proper" girlfriend close to his age—they're both musicians in their late teens—as opposed to the much older Camilla. For Tiana, Hakeem is a man as opposed to her secret girlfriend. Interestingly, while Hakeem views the relationship as purely a PR move, Tiana genuinely likes him and is not opposed to polyamory, though they would arguably still be each other's beards by presenting as monogamous.
    • Jamal's ex-wife Olivia served as this to make him appear straight when he was 18 and his music career was starting off. The marriage was arranged by Jamal's music executive father Lucious, who disapproves of his son's sexuality. It's implied that divorcing her was Jamal's first step toward making his own way musically.
  • Equal: Many gay men in the early 1950s were married to women. One activist from then says he knew more in this situation than the opposite, since it was good cover. Harry Hay, one of the gay rights' movement's founders, himself was married twice and had children. This was also the case for lesbians, with Lorraine Hansberry focused on.
  • Fellow Travelers: In 1950s America, many gays and lesbians maintain straight relationships to cover themselves, including marriages. Hawkins Fuller marries Lucy Smith to make her his (unwitting) beard (though she learns soon enough).
  • For All Mankind. Ellen and Larry become this to each other since their careers would be over if NASA found out that they were gay. Because they hang out together due to their mutual interests most people already assume that they are romantically involved which makes the ruse easier. When the FBI starts to investigate them, they have to get married to maintain their cover.
  • Frasier: There was a Running Gag throughout the series about Deb, who never appeared on screen, but was the very camp Gil Chesterton's very butch wife.
  • Friends: Phoebe married a gay ice dancer so he could stay in the country... though it later turned out he was actually straight or at least bi.
  • Game of Thrones: Shows up much more blatantly than the vague, scattered hints in the books. Margaery Tyrell is King Renly Baratheon's beard; he made her his Queen after he allies himself with House Tyrell. However, he is romantically involved with her brother Loras, and the three are perfectly happy with this arrangement.note  The trope is later Deconstructed long after Renly's death when Margaery is questioned on why they never had children; she dances around the fact that his gayness made him unable to have sex with her.
  • The George Lopez Show: George and Angie discover that Carmen's boyfriend Noah is gay and is using her as a cover, but it turns out that Carmen is using him as her cover so that she can see Zach Powers behind their backs.
  • Glee:
    • Quinn points out this is what people are going to think she is after her boyfriend Finn joins Glee Club.
    • Kurt attempts to be more like his father (i.e. straight) and dates Brittany.
    • Sam dating Santana. Later, when she learns that Karofsky is as deep in the closet as her, she blackmails him into going to the prom with her as part of a scheme to get Kurt back and increase her standing with the rest of the club (specifically Brittany). In fact, all of Santana's heterosexual relationships—romantic and sexual (and there were many in the first two seasons), can be considered this, seeing how she defines herself (after coming out) as strictly into women, and expresses suspicion of bisexuals.
  • Godiva's: Two characters of Indian descent, Ramir and Rajni, are pressured into an Arranged Marriage. While they do like each other, Ramir can't stand the thought of being a married man, and Rajni is a lesbian. She lets Ramir know, and proposes a union of mutual beardship, where they would live together but sleep with other people. Ramir agrees, but has a change of heart and leaves her at the altar.
  • Halt and Catch Fire: In the series finale, Hailey brings home a boy named Kenny, who's clearly gay himself and goes out to the movies with him, later Hailey says that she and Kenny broke up but Donna and Cameron have already figured out that Hailey's a lesbian.
  • On The Hour, this is the only reason Ruth and Adam get engaged—so he can hide his homosexuality, which in the 1950s would have been a real problem for his career. He was actually told to marry her by his lover, who happens to be Angus McCain.
  • House of the Dragon: Rhaenyra tries to make the best of her Arranged Marriage to Laenor by telling him (in medieval-ish metaphor) that she knows he's gay and that they can seek their own pleasures as long as they fulfill their marital duties. He agrees and the two convincingly play the part of a happily betrothed couple until their wedding feast violently goes sideways.
  • iCarly: In one episode, a minor character asks Carly to be his girlfriend. The dialogue seems to imply this, by making it because his mother doesn't believe him about something regarding girls or a girlfriend.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): Before meeting his Closet Key Lestat de Lioncourt in "In Throes of Increasing Wonder...", Louis de Pointe du Lac tries to maintain his straight credentials by seeing a prostitute named Lily.
  • Just Shoot Me!: In "Mayas and Tigers and Deans Oh My" Nina's magician boyfriend sure seems to be gay, and she's happy being his beard because he's very nice, glamorous and rich. However, it turns out that he's actually straight—it's just his persona.
  • Law & Order: SVU:
    • One episode has a woman accidentally find out that she was this for her boyfriend, a closeted NFL star. She is decidedly pissed about it.
    • In another episode, a Tibetan woman married to an American man is found murdered. The detective discover that she had dinner with her husband's business partner the day she died and assume they were having an affair which the husband found out about and killed her. They then discover that the husband and his partner are actually a gay couple, and the woman is their friend who married one of them to get a visa and escape Tibet, where she was wanted by the Chinese government. They didn't admit it earlier because they didn't want to get caught breaking immigration laws.
    • The Victim of the Week of a much later episode is an MMA fighter who is quickly revealed to be gay and preparing to come out. When the detectives question his wife she reveals that she knows he's gay and has known for years. They've been best friends since childhood and started "dating" in high school because he was afraid of coming out in the small midwestern town they grew up in. The actual attacker turns out to be his boyfriend/trainer, who was angry that he had no intentions of divorcing his wife even after he came out, because he loves her platonically, even if he's not sexually attracted to her.
  • The League of Gentlemen: Herr Lipp is married to a woman, but the Transparent Closet he's in makes this a moot point.
  • Luke Cage: In season 2 it's eventually revealed that Mariah Dillard was this to her late husband Jackson, their marriage having been one of convenience both to allow Jackson's parents to continue deluding themselves that their son wasn't gay, and to pass off Mariah's daughter (actually the result of her rape by her uncle) as his. Mariah does claim that she still loved him, just "in all the ways a straight woman can love a gay man."
  • In The L Word, back during Dana's Transparent Closet phase, she and her male tennis doubles partner pretended to date each other... a highly ineffective ploy, considering her tendency to absent-mindedly ogle women, and his over the top Camp Gay personality. And in a later season, Jenny and the actress who's playing her in the movie she wrote are in a relationship, but at her agent's insistence, the actress takes a male date to her public appearances.
  • The Man in the High Castle: Thelma and Wayne Harris appear to be using each other this way (assuming both aren't bisexual), since they're shown in same-sex relationships on the side.
  • Motive: The Victim of the Week in "Overboard" is married to a gay entrepreneur, allowing him to continue seeing his boyfriend while maintaining an acceptable facade for his Catholic family, with the wife to be richly rewarded after five years of marriage. Although the cops investigate this angle, it turns out to be a Red Herring that has nothing to do with the murder.
  • Murdoch Mysteries sees beards a few times due to laws against homosexuality in the period:
    • In "'Til Death Do Us Part", the murder victim has a best friend who is gay and yet got married for social reasons. His wife proves to be aware of his feelings but also says he has treated her well by giving her a secure home and a child. The victim himself was also getting married to satisfy family members and inherit half the family business.
    • In "Monsieur Murdoch", the hotel owner and brother-in-law of the missing woman turns out to have married for this reason. His wife tells Murdoch and his French counterpart that she knew what she was getting into when they married.
    • The husband of the victim in "Murdochophobia" admits that both he and his wife were gay and had a mutually beneficial arrangement in their sexless marriage. He says he was also fond of his wife and had no desire to lose his social cover, so he had no reason to want her dead.
    • Lilian Moss is a lesbian and in a relationship with Dr. Emily Grace. Lilian has an arrangement with a gay man and occasionally they act as each other's partners in society. She introduces him to Emily as her uncle, but he later admits he's merely a friend.
      Wayland Porter: Having Lillian on my arm at the right events kept such rumours at bay.
  • Noah's Arc: Guy's fiancée is apparently unwittingly a beard.
  • The Office (US): A story arc in Season 7 involves Angela dating a (state) senator whom Oscar believes to be gay. The implication is that the senator is using Angela as a beard. Foolishly, Pam denies that this trope even exists. Oscar is eventually proven correct, and he and the Senator begin an affair.
  • One of Us is Lying: Keely willing pretends she's Cooper's girlfriend to cover up that he's gay, as they're best friends.
  • One Tree Hill: In a later episode, Alex agrees to pose of Josh's girlfriend so he won't have his career ruined by being outed as gay, and he agrees to pose as her boyfriend so the media will pipe down about the sex tape of them that was released, which could ruin her career.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Piscatella mentions that he brought a beard to his senior prom when he makes it clear to Chapman that flirting with him won't get her anything, since he's actually gay.
  • Pan Am: Amanda seemed to be the perfect match for Teddy...until she kisses Maggie on the lips. When Ted eventually finds out, she proposes that they get married anyway so that they can see the people they really want to see while still being married. Ted agonizes over it, but eventually calls it off even when Amanda tries to get Laura, who she correctly deduces has a mutual crush with Ted, to be Ted's mistress. However, then Amanda tells Ted she's pregnant...
  • Perry Mason (2020): Della (who's a lesbian) pretends to date Burger (a gay man), which serves as cover for them both.
  • Pretty Little Liars: Ben was this to Emily. She was never attracted to him, but continues to go out with him (and lets him tell everyone they're having sex, though they aren't), to give her straight bravado credibility.
  • Seinfeld: In an episode called "The Beard", Elaine becomes the beard for a gay man that she ends up falling for.
    Elaine: He went back to playing for the other team. Here's the thing. Being a woman, I only really have access to the, uh... equipment, what, thirty, forty-five minutes a week. And that's on a good week. How can I be expected to have the same expertise as people who own this equipment, and have access to it twenty-four hours a day, their entire lives?
    Jerry: You can't. That's why they lose very few players.
  • In Sense8, Lito is publicly dating Daniela at the start to hide the fact he is gay. This is because he likes to play tough action heroes in movies in his homeland of Mexico and fears he will be dropped if the public (and, importantly, the film producers) find out. Daniela initially believes they're really dating and discovers the truth when she barges into Lito's apartment and finds his boyfriend. She immediately accepts them and becomes their biggest ally, devising ways for all three to go out in public together.
  • Skins:
    • JJ was this for Emily when he was her date to the Love Ball in season 3. Naomi's Anguished Declaration of Love to Emily in season 4 also suggests that she's had a lot of beards, when she says she "screwed guys to make [her feelings for Emily] go away."
    • In the American remake, Tea admits that she lets her parents set her up with the sons of family friends to keep them in the dark about her lesbianism.
  • On The Sopranos, Marie Spatafore is this to Vito—although she has no idea (and goes deeply in denial when she finds out). One could probably add Vito's "goomah", aka mistress. With both women, it's clear that Vito paid them no sexual interest whatever. The Mafia being a pretty homophobic institution (albeit one with a few pockets of "who gives a shit as long as the guy's a good earner"), Vito had to hide his sexuality.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Rejoined", Jadzia Dax wants an excuse to have dinner with her ex-partner (in a previous host) Lenara Kahn, but as this is against the norms of Trill society she ropes in Julian Bashir to maintain the pretext that she was actually having dinner with him and invited Lenara to join them. Cut to Bashir looking bored as the two happily chat away, ignoring him the whole time until he's called away for a medical emergency. After he leaves, Lenara notes what a good friend he must be to Dax to put up with that. Unfortunately with Bashir gone they start Holding Hands which is seen by another Trill.
  • Tattletales was a 70s/early 80s gameshow featuring famous married couples. As well as on occasion Charles Nelson Reilly and Dick Sargent with "their gals" Marcia Wallace and Fannie Flagg. Host Bert Convy would just substitute the words "your gal" for "your wife" when reading the questions.
  • In That '70s Show, when Hyde is dating Jackie, Jackie convinces Hyde to shave his beard by saying that attractive men don't have beards. She uses a Ken doll as an example.
    Jackie: Ken doesn't have a beard.
    Hyde: Barbie is his beard. No straight man wears shorts that tight.
  • In Ugly Betty, Marc "dumps" Amanda as his beard, and she gets revenge by forcing him to use Betty as a new "girlfriend" to show off to his mother.
  • In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus agrees to be a sham boyfriend for an apartment renovation show host whose brand relies on his viewers believing he's gay. This rare inversion is referred to as an "Eyebrows".
  • Vera: In "Broken Promise", the Victim of the Week is secretly in a relationship with a Jerk Jock. The victim's best friend is the jock's girlfriend, and is secretly being used as a beard to hide the relationship.
  • Whitechapel: Inverted. Jimmy Kray's "boyfriend" later gets revealed to be a cross-dressing girl who pretends she's male so that he can come off as a gayngster like his alleged father Reggie Kray.
  • Why Women Kill: Simone learns she was unknowingly serving as a beard to her husband, Karl, who's a closeted gay man.
  • Workaholics: In one episode, Adam meets a beautiful young woman who asks him to a wedding as her date. It all seems too good to be true and at the end Adam begins to believe she may be his true love, but when they get to the wedding, it turns out the whole relationship was a sham. The girl was a lesbian, and wanted to make a point to her disapproving father by dating the schlubbiest, most obnoxious Manchild she could find, so that the prospect of going out with another girl would seem much better by comparison.
  • You Me Her: Discussed due to people who know them thinking Jack has been this for Emma all along once they enter a throuple with Izzy. Jack also worries, though it turns out she's bisexual like she had said and this isn't the case.

  • The Divine Comedy: "Diva Lady" references a mutually beneficial beard arrangement.
    She's got a famous boyfriend
    They go out in style
    She makes him look hetero
    And he helps her profile
  • Garfunkel and Oates: "Gay Boyfriend" is, as one might imagine, sung from the perspective of the beard.
  • Jens Lekman sings "Nina I can't be your boyfriend/So you can stay with your girlfriend" in "Postcard to Nina"; she wants to spare the feelings of her Catholic father.
  • MILGRAM: Kazui Mukuhara married a woman for social credibility and the hopes of changing. She died after he told her the truth. It's heavily implied that he's gay because of his constant talk of how he can't be the way he was born and how he has to keep lying. In his second song, "Cat", when he's shown proposing to her, he sings:
    Maybe, perhaps... or... could it come true... like
    It's for the sake of true love, who wouldn't lie for that?
  • Panic! at the Disco: "Girls/Girls/Boys" is told from the perspective of a man who is a woman's beard.
    Pose, you've gotta save your reputation
    They're close to finding out about your girlfriend
  • Pet Shop Boys:
    • "Can You Forgive Her?" is about a beard who finds out about the subject's sexuality and torments him about it.
    She's made you some kind of laughing-stock
    Because you dance to disco and you don't like rock
    She made fun of you and even in bed
    Said she was gonna go and get herself a real man instead
    • They also did "Bet She's Not Your Girlfriend", which was reportedly inspired by a photo of George Michael with a beard, and written about the singer's experiences dating one.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Jae's a lesbian, but heavily in the closet. She briefly dated her fellow gang member Devin so that people would stop asking about her lack of love life.
    • One flashforward shows Benedict (established as gay) in a relationship with a woman. When Zia comments on it, assuming that he's bi, he clarifies that their romance is a front to throw pursuers off his track.

  • Ang Huling El Bimbo: Anthony marries a woman at the behest of his homophobic father, leading to an unhappy and unfulfilling marriage.
  • Westeros: An American Musical: A heavily implied side effect of Renly's wedding to Margaery, as he's established quite early to be in a relationship with Margaery's brother Loras.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout 4: Depending on the player's characterization, the spouse of the protagonist could potentially fall into the beard realm. Unlike the past games in the series where the protagonist's origins are only vaguely framed ("Vault Dweller", "Tribal", or "Courier"), Fallout 4 establishes that the protagonist is in a heterosexual marriage and has a son, meaning that anyone wishing to play their character as homosexual would likely rely on this trope. Of course, given that the game takes place in a 2077 that has the social sensibilities of 1950s America, it makes sense that homosexual people might "fake" being straight to avoid ridicule.note 
  • Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories has Toshiko Kasen, wife of Yakuza boss Kazuki Kasen, who is trapped in a loveless marriage with a man who "prefers the company of his men". To that end she hires Toni Cipriani to dismantle his organization and eventually kill him. After the deed is finally done Toshiko decides to truly "free herself" by jumping out of a window.
  • In The Sims 3, two men in Roaring Heights are romantically involved despite one of them being married. Ironically, Mark's wife is also in love with a woman and neither know of their partners sexuality.

    Visual Novels 
  • Da Capo: Junichi acts as Mako's beard to help her get rid of an unwanted female admirer. While the motive is genuine, the very first day of acting she's already feeling awkward and begins to treat it more and more as though they were really going out.
  • Desire & Decorum: Bartholomew Chambers, who is gay, offers the protagonist a marriage of convenience, knowing that she needs a suitable husband as soon as possible, and promises that she can still be with the person she truly loves. She takes up his offer if she pursues Annabelle Parsons.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Kanon pretends to be Jessica's boyfriend during the School Festival in EP2, since her friends have been teasing her about not having a boyfriend (though Jessica does in fact have a crush on Kanon). However, the series heavily implies and later confirms that Kanon and his "sister" Shannon (who's also Jessica's oldest friend) are actually the same person.

    Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss: Moxxie's father Crimson accuses Millie of being a beard as he just thinks Moxxie is gay. Moxxie then clarifies to his father that he’s bisexual.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: In the second season, Than dates Brittnay in an attempt to prove he's straight. The two actually have a decent amount in common and he does make an effort to be a good boyfriend, but it's very clear he isn't interested in her sexually, despite his claims to the contrary. She eventually figures out what's going on and breaks up with him.
    Brittnay: Look, Than, it's fine if you're gay. Just like it's fine if I'm famous now. We just can't date. Like, ever again.

  • Alfie: Vera Tolman, nee Brooker, ended up as one when she and her friend Derek had sex (on his part mainly to figure out what the big deal was) before she set out to see the world, only to realize she had fallen pregnant and return home rather than risk wandering the about alone in her condition. Derek promptly did the Right Thing over the objections of his family ("She's a Brooker!") and despite his having entered into a clandestine relationship with a fellow named Bernard in the interim (which Vera discovered the hard way after the fact). So, the tale begins with a bitter, resentful, rage-filled, and yes frustrated middle-aged deuteragonist wondering why her twenty-one-year-old daughter is so distracted over the recently arrived caravan.
  • Cyanide and Happiness: A kid comes out of the closet, which leads his mother to reveal she's also gay, and her relationship with the father was this. Then the father also comes out as gay, meaning both parents were unknowingly being each others' Beards, and they both split up, leaving the kid alone.
  • El Goonish Shive has Conversational Troping in a non-canon NP strip, in which Susan goes to a video-game barber to get facial hair:
    Susan: You can really give me a beard?
    NPC: Of course! For ten gold a day, my associate Antonio will insist that he's your boyfriend!
    Susan: What? No! Like, a beard on my face.
    NPC: Sorry, Antonio doesn't actually swing that way.
  • Fans!: Shanna pretends to be a closeted lesbian in high school, and starts calling her boyfriends "beards." Her friends aren't fooled, and sometimes don't realize she's even ''trying'' to be a lesbian. Later, when she's no longer pretending to be closeted, she's still pretending to be a mundane, but she has started watching classic science fiction late at night. Katherine agrees to be Shanna's "beard," this time giving her an excuse to be with the fans she won't really admit she likes.
  • Friendly Hostility: Leslie Rudd dating Kitty might have started out as her being his beard, but it is a valid ship in its own right per Word of God, and Leslie/Kittie/Deringer can be read as a canon ship by the end of the series if the reader wants it to be.
  • High Class Homos: The plot of the comic revolves around this, with the gay prince and lesbian princess pretending to love each other so they can be with their same-sex lovers in secret.
  • Misfile: Rumisiel is Ash's beard, to Ash's eternal annoyance. While it makes Ash's life easier because she doesn't have to deal with guys hitting on him because he is currently transformed into a girl, Rumi's presence has strained Ash's relationship with one of his best friends, netted her Rumi's angelic ex-girlfriend as a psycho-stalker, and forced her to be Rumi's beard for his brother, who Can Not Tell A Lie and therefore isn't allowed to find out the real reason they are together.
  • Fred and Daphne from Penny and Aggie, for one another, at least initially.
  • In Rain, Gavin is a beard for Maria who is a lesbian.
  • Scandinavia and the World:
  • In Sfeer Theory, Camp Gay Luca is married and has a son. Considering the time period, it's rather expected. Also an Arranged Marriage.
  • Something*Positive:
  • In Welcome to Room #305:
    • Nina and Hom pretend to be a couple so Sung Jyung doesn't find out Hom is gay.
    • Yoona had boyfriends in high school when she was heavily closeted about her sexuality and forcing herself to be straight. In college she comes to the conclusion she shouldn't lie to herself but she doesn't wanna be gay so she decides to never date, though this train of thought doesn't last too long.
  • Discussed in Wilde Life: when Oscar agrees to go to a show with the openly-gay Eliza, Eliza's girlfriend Darcy refers to him as her "beard." The Alt Text likewise quips "Be the best beard you can be."

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • The Smiths' gay neighbor Terry promises his partner Greg that he'll come out to his domineering father...but gets cold feet at the last minute and instead claims that Stan's wife Francine is his girlfriend, and that Stan and Greg are "the homos from across the street". Terry's dad seems to buy it, despite the obvious signs and Stan not doing a single thing to act gay.
    • In "Haylias," Stan tries to set Hayley up with the obviously-gay son of a senator. He can't see it, but she can and flatly refuses until Stan Mind Controls her into doing it.
    • Unintentional example: Francine joins the Ladybugs, a group of popular, powerful housewives who turn out to all be cheating on their husbands. When Francine finds out, they plan to kill her, since they don't have any scandalous information to blackmail her with. Just then, Francine's friend Linda appears, asks to say goodbye, and kisses Francine. The Ladybugs take this to mean that they are secretly lovers and let them go, accepting this as blackmail material. Francine thinks this was just quick thinking on Linda's part, but it's clear to the audience that this was actually meant to be a Dying Declaration of Love.
  • Archer: In "Bloody Ferlin", Camp Gay Ray Gilette is called back to his home in West Virginia by his brother who thinks Ray is straight and married to a woman. Lana Kane volunteers to act as his beard but Ray turns her down as a black woman isn't going to be very welcome in his conservative hometown. Instead he brings Cheryl who's such a Cloud Cuckoolander she thinks they got married for real and she was just blacked out for the ceremony. Ray tries to correct her but Archer tells him it'll probably be easier for everyone if he just lets her believe it.
  • Bojack Horseman: Back in the 80's Charlotte was a beard to Herb, a closeted gay man in a time where public knowledge of his sexuality could (and eventually would) destroy his career. Upon realizing this, she left Hollywood.
  • The Cleveland Show: Cleveland's boss Mr. Waterman occupies a Transparent Closet but has a wife. In the first episode where she appeared, Mr. Waterman is putting together a Santa costume and calls for his beard, at which point Mrs. Waterman appears...holding his Santa beard.
  • King of the Hill, After Dale's wedding, his dad Bug was flirting with an attractive Filipino caterer when Dale entered the room. He quickly grabbed, in his own words, "the nearest thing in a dress"—which happened to be the bride, Nancy. Twenty years of estrangement followed.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The time Troy married Selma to resurrect his career in light of rumors of his fish-related "sexual abnormality".
    • And with Marge's other sister, Patty, her onetime relationship with Skinner might've been a retconned form of this, since Patty was eventually revealed to be a lesbian.
  • The Venture Brothers:
    • An episode has Doctor Zin's wife claim that she thought she was his beard. This was because after many tries to have a son their marriage eventually became sexless until they discovered she was barren.
    • Colonel Gentleman was married and had a daughter, Dr. Quinn but never showed any sexual interest in his wife and neither did she in him.

    Real Life 
  • English actor Charles Laughton married Elsa Lanchester (of Bride of Frankenstein fame) yet continued to see men. One day, Lanchester came home to find Laughton on the sofa in flagrante delicto with a rent boy. She told him that she didn't mind, but went completely mute for three months in shock. She later told a friend that she'd had no idea Laughton was gay, but added, "Remember, he was a great actor!" They never divorced.
  • Circa 2008, journalist Ian Wishart claimed that the then-Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, was a lesbian with a gay husband. Controversy ensued.
  • In China, because of the immense pressure to get married and have kids, somewhere around 80% of the gay population marries straight people. This has resulted in an interesting phenomenon where various places will host "fake-marriage markets" where gay and lesbian people can meet and look for someone who is willing to play the beard for them (and vice versa).
  • Played for laughs — English comedian Barry Cryer was classified "honorary gay" by his close friend Kenny Everett. Kenny insisted that his wife of 40 years and four kids were just a smokescreen.
  • Rock Hudson's three-year marriage to Phyllis Gates was done for beard reasons.
  • Fran Drescher lived this trope for 18 years before her husband found out he was gay. It became the basis for her show Happily Divorced, and she and her ex-husband are now very much Amicable Exes after a period of not speaking to each other.
  • Alan Turing, despite being gay, was engaged to Joan Clarke at one point. Clarke knew about his homosexuality; she later revealed that he himself admitted it to her and she had not been all that surprised.
  • Arthur C. Clarke had a very, very, very brief marriage, entered into with very little notice and exited within a period of months. Despite his admission (in his biography Odyssey) of bisexual experiences and his statement that "we're all a little polymorphously perverse", he never formally came out of the closet. Later in life he faced accusations of paederasty and homosexual paedophilia, which delayed his acceptance of a knighthood (at his request) until they had been put to rest. One is left to draw one's own conclusions.
  • Portia de Rossi was married to Mel Metcalfe and indicated that she married him for two reasons: US residency and to help her acting career by appearing straight. She is now married to Ellen DeGeneres.
  • Betty White revealed in an interview that she had sometimes served as the beard to Liberace, in case that would have convinced anyone he was straight.
  • The "Invisible Boyfriend."
  • Cole Porter and his wife, Linda, were mutual beards. Their marriage allowed Cole to hide his homosexuality and allowed Linda to be seen as socially acceptable without having to have sex, which she was turned off of after an abusive first marriage. Despite not being romantic, they did genuinely like each other, and remained married until Linda's death.
  • W. H. Auden and German-Jewish actress Erika Mann were mutual beards, though the main reason why they got married in the first place was so she could get British citizenship to escape Nazi Germany. They were friends and remained technically married until Erica died from a brain tumor in 1969, but for obvious reasons, there was no romance involved between them.
  • Oscar Wilde didn't technically even try to hide the fact that he was gay but he did have wife and kids.
  • Many historians believe that Anne of Denmark was a beard for King James VI and I of Scotland and England, who seemed much more interested in the company of his male favorites.


Video Example(s):


The Truth About Thomas & Ruby

Everyone thought the story about Thomas Winterbone and his fiancee was romantic until the truth is they're both gay and only marrying each other as a front.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheBeard

Media sources: