A Lesbian Responds to Gay TV Tropes
Editor’s Note: This piece was first published on AE under a different headline in June of 2016. Since then, the author has gone on to make her own web series in which she omits all gay angst (gayngst). Stay tuned!
Everybody in Los Angeles has a web series. It is the bare minimum to live here, along with owning a juicer. I am by nature an underling. Someone high enough up to bully others but still low enough to be bullied. A Colonel. It was only a matter of time before I created my own web series in order to join the creative orgy. After five months of moderate effort, I have written what I feel comfortable in referring to as a masterpiece heretofore unparalleled. Viewers will fall on their knees, sobbing with humor and crying “#pathos #chloe #advocates is the best thing I’ve ever seen.” During the writing process, I challenged myself to be conscious, and wary, of gay tropes.
Since Clexa and, like, every movie and television show ever, there’s been a lot of talk about “Bury Your Gays,” the pervasive trope that gay characters will die. Their deaths are unnecessary, tied into their homosexuality, and used to add titillation to the show/make important straight characters all sad and shit.
Unfortunately, BYG isn’t the only toxic gay trope everyone should know. Here are some I was careful to avoid. You will be depressed by how many gay tropes you recognize, and then heartened by your newfound ability to call them out. Righteous indignation and whatnot.
There she is, there she isn’t. The “Bait and Switch Lesbians” trope is just what it sounds like. Writers inspire the fandom by hinting there will be a lesbian relationship on the show. Then, once the viewers are caught, the writers furiously backtrack by relegating the relationship to a romantic friendship, inserting a male love interest, or simply pretending it never happened. Classic queer baiting that stops short of showing a lesbian relationship with women sexually unavailable to men. Because that would be just offensive. The TV Tropes example section of “Bait and Switch Lesbians” is mostly filled with anime and manga, but I’ve seen this trope countless times in TV and movies.
HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR the GIRL likes GIRLS even tho she’s hot THAT’S CRAZY HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE PICKED UP ON SOCIAL CUES OR BOUNDARIES THAT INDICATE A WOMAN IS NOT INTO YOU UNLESS SHE AGGRESSIVELY REJECTS YOU, NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU, BUT BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T LIKE ALL MEN WHICH IS CRAZY BECAUSE WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN HAR HAR HAR LESBIANS THO THATS HOT BUT I’M SAD WHAT DOES MY DICK DO HAR HAR HAR.
Ahhh, the fickle gays are sad because they’re gay, and then something tragic happens because they’re gay, and then people are cruel to them because they’re gay, and then they hate themselves because they’re gay and then straight people give themselves a pat on the back for deigning to watch something about those sadsack homosexuals. “Gayngst” is gay angst aka the trope that all gay characters are miserable for a reason rooted in their gayness.
If two girls kiss and a guy isn’t there to see it, is it still hot? NOT AS HOT AS IT COULD BE BECAUSE BITCH ON BITCH AMIRIGHT. “Girl On Girl Is Hot” is the trope of men objectifying gay women without their consent. But in a fun, playful way! A Megan Fox/CeCe/culturally accepted way. This trope is widely accepted by straight and gay audiences alike because, for some STAGGERING reason, most people still don’t see a problem with men loudly declaring sexual gratification from gay women without those women’s’ consent. “Girl On Girl Is Hot” is when two girls kiss and a guy is like STUNNED but then TURNED ON and the entire interaction between those two women becomes about THE GUY and HIS FEELINGS.
TWO GIRLS KISSING MUST ALWAYS ENCOURAGE IN A SEXUAL REACTION IN A GUY, AND EVERY MAN UPON SEEING TWO GIRLS KISSING MUST GET EXPRESSIVELY AROUSED BECAUSE TO NOT OBJECTIFY TWO WOMEN IS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE. THEIR FEELINGS ARE FAR, FAR LESS IMPORTANT THAN HIS SEXUAL GRATIFICATION ESPECIALLY SINCE NO MAN CAN CONTROL THEIR URGES OR EYES IT’S SCIENCE CAVEMAN TUCKER MAX.
This is the worst. I can’t express how damaging I find this trope. The vast majority of women who are raped (SO MANY LIKE 25% of them THANKS FOR NOTHING YOU PIECE OF SHIT WORLD) do not seek comfort and safety in other women. You wouldn’t know this by watching television, where a large portion of queer female characters are portrayed as rape victims finding PEACE after MEN in WOMEN. Ugh. It’s incredibly sexist like no woman would want to be with women unless a man fucked her up—like bad things have to happen to you to be gay. Like women are the second choice of damaged other women.
“Rape and Switch” is also a cute, coy way to slip in a rape AND lesbian plotlines, just to really entertain that 18-34 male demographic Hollywood caters to above all other. It reinforces the pathetic male belief that no woman would give up dick without trauma. “Rape and Switch” is sexxxy lesbianism, but not so dykey it leaves men out of the fun. And by fun, I mean of course the voyeuristic rape of queer female characters. A FIESTA. Seriously, if you’re a guy and wanna write about a lesbian who was raped, I suggest you never say that in my presence because I will flip a shit. OOOH THIS MAKES ME SO MAD.
Ah, the TV trope tied to a character’s fear of being outed. Someone is gay but doesn’t want to come out because a. the character hates herself for being gay and b. other characters might hate the character for being gay. This plotline happens CONSTANTLY and reinforces the perception that being gay is abnormal, loathsome, and dangerous. It’s been done to death and with gay marriage being legalized and most Americans being cool with homos, is increasingly inaccurate and irrelevant. “Forced Out Of The Closet” is a tired, tedious, insulting, exploitive, and unnecessary trope that should be shelved along with gay shame.