The "Bury Your Gays" Trope: An Incomplete History

by Alice Collins 

Content Warning: Guns, Hate Crimes, Suicide, Mental Illness, Death, Self-Harm

Spoilers: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, But I’m a Cheerleader, Lost and Delirious, Anders als die Andern, Better Than Chocolate, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Philadelphia

A grieving Willow (Alyson Hannigan) holds her dying lover Tara (Amber Benson) in  Buffy the Vampire Slayer  s6e19 “Seeing Red.”

A grieving Willow (Alyson Hannigan) holds her dying lover Tara (Amber Benson) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer s6e19 “Seeing Red.”

Humans are storytellers. From the beginning we’ve all been telling stories to each other, whether through oral storytelling around the fire, written in a book, or shown in a movie. There’s always a story to be told, and a medium to tell it in. Today’s story is all about how we as a society started to kill the majority of our queer people in literature, television, and film. It’s an unfortunate trope that permeates through centuries and many artistic mediums. It continues to this day, most recently in the 2019 Doctor Who New Years Special, which sets a whole new record! In the special, they introduce a man, Richard (Connor Calland), with a single line about his boyfriend and around 30 seconds later, he’s dead. This should be shocking to me, but unfortunately it isn’t. It’s so common that I expect every single queer character or queer-coded character to die at any given time.

The ill-fated Richard (Connor Calland) in the  Doctor Who New Years Special  (2019).

The ill-fated Richard (Connor Calland) in the Doctor Who New Years Special (2019).

When you take a look at the amount of queer representation vs heteronormative representation, there’s not a whole lot of out there. When it comes to positive representation, the number shrinks even further. The reasons for this are numerous; the storytellers and general public tend to be heterosexual so there may be a lack of interest in telling stories about different people, there have been numerous obscenity laws against depicting certain behaviors, codes of conduct and outright censorship litter the various entertainment industries over the years, as well as a general social stigma keeping queer stories out of previous eras. That exact same stigma is what is still killing those who do appear in the current era.

When I was a baby gay in the early 2000s, I would frequently stay up way too late watching movies that I was definitely too young to be watching. I had headphones with an extension cable, television remote in hand with my finger hovering over the last channel button which was always set to Cartoon Network, and one ear to the door. I had a whole system in my head so I wouldn’t get caught, luckily it worked, or my parents didn’t care about what I was watching. I’m still not sure which it was. I specifically looked for the weird, trashy, and erotic. I wanted to see what was forbidden. HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax had quite a diverse selection of movies. They showed a little bit of everything and it was different every night. One night there’d be erotic thrillers, another night sexploitation, and documentaries about sex. The next night had kaiju movies, and intentionally trashy b-movies. Periodically they’d sprinkle in classics, noir, and award-winning films. Most of the time it was horror or softcore pornography with a very thin story and beautiful performers. I tried to watch as much as I could every night, no matter the genre. I just wanted to see every movie ever. I’m endlessly fascinated by the moving image. Unfortunately at some point I’d have to go to sleep for school, and the next day I’d be like the living dead. I don’t know how I made it through all those years with such little sleep. I just NEEDED to keep watching movies.

Rocky Horror Picture Show  (dir. Jim Sharman, 1975).

Rocky Horror Picture Show (dir. Jim Sharman, 1975).

It was on one of these nights that I was surfing around the channels and stopped at HBO. There was a movie on with bright colors, weird humor, and lots of gay people!  I’d never seen anything like it before. The characters were so over the top exaggerated and campy, I was sucked in immediately. To this day I love over the top, weird, midnight movies. I caught it about ten minutes in, there was this girl who’s parents and friends give her an intervention and send her to a gay conversion camp. I was so confused, I’d never even heard of gay conversion therapy before. I didn’t find out until the next day that the name of the movie I watched was But I’m A Cheerleader. I had to track down someone who had a TV Guide just to find the title. This was what I consider my first LGBTQIA+ movie. I had seen Rocky Horror Picture Show before this but my brain had been around it so long that it didn’t even recognize it as a queer film, just a musical with horror tropes. Teenage me wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box.

Despite it being in a crazy John Waters-esque reality at one of the worst places you could send a person, Jamie Babbit’s But I’m a Cheerleader manages to be charming, dramatic, and even at times very sensual and shows a very different side to queer cinema, one that is unfortunately not evoked enough. None of the characters die, no one breaks-up, and there is a relatively happy ending for the majority of the characters. It's not the perfect example of a queer movie, some of the side-characters go through the brainwashing that comes with gay conversion therapy. It of course has problematic elements but there really isn't a movie in existence without problematic elements, people are inherently flawed, and it’s people that make the movies. But I’m a Cheerleader still stands as an example of how to do better by your gay characters.  This flick set the bar really high for my first LGBTQIA+ film.

Shortly thereafter I started to seek out every LGBTQIA+ movie I could get my hands on and eBay was where I had to go. I couldn’t wait for HBO or Cinemax to ACTUALLY show some queer cinema (it was so rare), so to eBay I went. Through the trailers on a DVD I had, I found one that looked promising. It was set at all-girls boarding school, with implied relationships between the majority female staff, and there were secret meetings between the girls at night with sex scenes?! I was starved for more queer content, and immediately sold on it. I went out to get a money order and then waited at the mailbox every day until I got that DVD, I couldn’t have my parents finding out I was buying anything remotely gay, I was not ready for that conversation, I just knew I liked “expanding my horizons” in regards to the variety of movies I consumed, and that I wasn’t straight. I couldn’t possibly be gay! How wrong I was. This movie was Lost and Delirious (dir. Léa Pool, 2001). I was so excited to watch it, the beginning was promising, I was getting the butterflies in my tummy feeling, but then to my absolute horror the rest of the movie happened. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced emotional whiplash before but if you haven’t, you should have a double feature of But I’m a Cheerleader and Lost and Delirious, it’s so fun (it’s not fun).

This movie threw me emotionally through the ringer. I think I was 16 years old at the time, the depiction of the girl and her mental breakdown was so scary to me. I hadn’t seen anything like that depicted before. Despite knowing that movies and reality weren’t the same thing, I was left with many questions: Was that what I was in for in the future? Do I deserve to be happy? Is everybody going to hate me? Am I going to go crazy after my first breakup? Is this how breakups happen? I felt doomed. They destroy these girls, not only the other students, but the teachers are just as much at fault for allowing it. The movie didn’t exactly predict good things for people like me. What I was left with—the message behind the movie—was to act straight, fit in, and everything will be fine. If you hide behind subtext like the teachers, and only have clandestine meetings like the girls late at night, you’ll be ok, because if you get caught no one is going to have your back. Otherwise you’ll go insane and kill yourself. On the back of the DVD, Roger Ebert is quoted as saying that it’s, “A SUPERBLY TOLD STORY!” in all caps. A superbly told story of what? Girls getting bullied? Showing that if you don’t give in to conformity you go “crazy” and kill yourself because feelings are way too powerful? There’s a number of ways the author of the story could have decided to go, and there’s a number of ways the screenplay could have gone. Yet the author, and screenwriter decided to be lazy. Do we need to be maimed, die, or breakup to be accepted in the eyes of a majority heterosexual audience? Is that what they require to be able to connect with someone who is queer, their pain and struggle? I felt hurt by the film. Even still I craved more LGBTQIA+ content, I was more careful with my choice of film next time.

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The next one I saw was billed as a comedy which it largely is and that was exactly what I needed after the hyper-drama of Lost and Delirious. It’s a late 90s Canadian film called Better Than Chocolate (dir. Anne Wheeler, 1999). I was lucky enough to stumble upon this one on cable so there wasn’t any blind buying of traumatic films this time! I felt the homophobia depicted in the movie was pretty on par with some things I saw and heard about happening in my little part of the Midwest U.S. during that time; it rang true to my very, very limited experience. This movie is about a group of queer people who run a queer bookstore. It deals with the topics of censorship, coming out to your parents, and one particular bit that stood out to me was a transgender woman as a main character—every single character except one or two treated her as a woman and not as some kind of freak or OTHER. It was eye opening for me, this is where my brain connected the dots that The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a queer film. I can’t remember seeing any other trans characters for almost a decade after this. I’m still waiting for a positive representation played by an actual trans person without having to have all the trans tropes holding them back. At the end of the movie no one died, and no one broke up, there was a hate crime but everyone survived it with minimal scrapes and bruises. Even with no one dying, it is a rollercoaster near the end.

These four films were my introduction to queer cinema. There was so much whiplash in the representation department, I wouldn’t even begin to be able to unpack the issues within the films for years. I just continued to consume more and more queer cinema, all of varying quality.

A few years later, it dawned on me, I finally noticed a trend. I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and they killed Tara. It was so very wrong, it was cruel, and thoughtless. They broke Willow and Tara up early on in the season, just to get them back together for less than one episode, and Tara died from a stray bullet meant for Buffy. I connected so strongly with Willow and Tara. They had helped me to cement my sexual identity and my gender identity. I finally had some labels for what I was. Everything before this point was just me knowing I wasn’t straight and that was it. Buffy helped me to come to terms with that fact and become comfortable with it. Seeing those two together, up until the end was a pretty healthy relationship. Then when things just started to become patched up, they killed her. The pieces started falling into place for me. Everybody was dying, all the queer characters I grew to love, tried to see myself in. They were dying from AIDS, a hate crime, stray bullets, or suicide. Every. Single. Time. I went online and found out that it was so common, so ubiquitous that it has had many names over the years. Currently it’s known as “Bury Your Gays” which as far as I can tell was first used in 2008 on TV Tropes. (Fun Fact: TV Tropes started as a Buffy fansite listing the tropes, and many of the trope names come from the show itself, or from the staff writers of the show. Examples: “Lampshading” or “The Big Bad.”) I had known this trope previously as “Dead Lesbian Syndrome.”

I was at Wizard World Chicago in 2004 and Joss Whedon made an appearance. I got into his panel. I waited 3 hours in line to get tickets for it. Willow and Tara were what I had for role models growing up in the Midwest. There just weren’t a whole lot of gay people that I could find, so I turned to TV. I was in the middle of the BIGGEST HEIGHT of my still ongoing Buffy obsession. This occurred two years after he killed Tara. After Joss did a little talk at the panel, I saw something miraculous happen, just as the Q&A portion was to begin a line-up of many young girls and women rushed to get a place before the cut-off. The majority of them were all asking variations on the same question, “Why did you kill Tara? What was the point of that?” He admitted he wasn’t aware of the “Bury Your Gays” trope at the time and expressed regret killing her. Still, people kept on asking him the question. He was a little flustered, and seemed to come up with a story on the spot, it felt weird to me. He talked about how he would have brought Tara back. According to him at the panel, it was gonna be something involving Buffy finding these magical boots that grant a person one single wish. Buffy could’ve had anything, including her mother back from the dead, and instead she chose to bring back Tara for Willow. He said that Amber Benson didn’t want to come back unless it was for the full season and declined. Guess who was at the same con?

After the panel, I went over to Amber Benson’s table and I asked her about what I was just told and she told me she hadn’t heard that story before. She said that she HAD been offered a guest spot to come back, but it wouldn’t have been as Tara. It would have been as The First Evil, a being that literally created Evil in the world. It would’ve used the form of Tara to terrorize Willow in the season 7 episode, “Conversations with Dead People.” She saw how badly Tara’s death affected the fandom and declined to return under those circumstances because she viewed them as too cruel.

This is a good example of how straight cis men react to being confronted when they mess up. They don’t know how to deal with the ramifications of their decisions, and the privilege they hold. They try to minimize feelings and/or manipulate them by coming up with an emotional return that’ll never happen. I fully realize this is a strawman argument, but keep in mind, he had an official continuation of Buffy for 11 years in comic form. It came out with five new seasons that happen after the show’s initial seven. He never even used that idea in the comics. It really makes you wonder. Did he come up with that on the spot, or was it truly an idea he had during the creation of the show? Willow was shown with new partners afterwards, she never went back to men, and they stayed true to her character, but the emotional pain of Tara’s loss was used at every conceivable moment, turning the knife. The character that murdered Tara was even brought back from death in one of the first issues! It felt like they wanted to keep her dead to wring out every single bit of pain they could. I fully realize that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a fictional story, but representation matters. It matters to those girls out in the middle of nowhere that feel like freaks. It matters to every queer person. You need that bridge, you need to see that possibility that yes there is a future out there for you, here’s an example of a queer person. You don’t need to be them, but look at them exist just like you, you are not alone. You will be able to find another person, just keep growing, keep existing, keep being you, and don’t hide.

In media, there’s usually only one queer couple among a group of straight couples. You kill them and not only is your representation gone, you’re alienating your queer audience. You see straight and/or cis people all day, everywhere. You can pick nearly any show or movie on Netflix/Hulu/Prime and find a straight character that has a happy, healthy relationship, but you have to seek out and vet queer cinema if you want to see a good queer relationship portrayed.

As quick aside, while I was doing research, I found reference to the Roman historian Tacitus, who claimed around 98 AD in his book Germania that early Germanic Tribes would literally bury their gays. Tacitus used the words “corpores infames” which translates in English to “thoses who disgracefully abuse their bodies.” Anybody found to have relations with someone of the same sex were either beaten and strangled to death prior to being sunk or you were one of the unlucky ones and were buried alive in the peat bog. I’m not saying this is the origin of the trope, but it’s something interesting that I felt should be included here before I get deeper into the history. It’s a LITERAL burying of gays.

As far as I can tell the trope has been around throughout all of history but became more prominent in literature near the end of the 19th Century with classics such as The Picture of Dorian Gray, carried on strong through the 20th century in film and tv such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Lost and Delirious. Unfortunately it is still pervasive today in the 21st century. The earliest iteration of this trope that I’ve been able to track down is a German film from 1919 called Anders als die Andern which translates in English to Different from the Others. The main character is expelled from school, blackmailed, and eventually commits suicide because of his treatment by society.

The trope is used purposefully and was trying to educate the public about the persecution of homosexuals. The movie includes an appearance from a sexologist, co-writer of the film, and a gay man himself named Magnus Hirschfeld who has a speech about how homosexuality is not to be feared and completely natural. Title cards within the film say, "The persecution of homosexuals belongs to the same sad chapter of history in which the persecutions of witches and heretics is inscribed... Only with the French Revolution did a complete change come about. Everywhere where the Code Napoleon was introduced, the laws against homosexuals were repealed, for they were considered a violation of the rights of the individual... In Germany, however, despite more than fifty years of scientific research, legal discrimination against homosexuals continues unabated. May justice soon prevail over injustice in this area, science conquer superstition, love achieve victory over hatred!" Unfortunately, no one listened to these powerful words.

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Magnus Hirschfeld deserves an article all to himself. Historians have called the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, which he created, the first ever organization to study and fight for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people in the history of the entire world. Founded in 1897, the SHC listened to the personal experiences of gay and transgender individuals, helped give them a voice, a safe place to gather, and plan to fight for their rights. Hirschfeld felt a need to do something when he was noticing that a very large amount of his gay patients couldn’t even say the word “homosexual,” had many self-harm scars, and were killing themselves at a much higher rate than his straight patients. Oscar Wilde’s obscenity trial was also a large factor in the creation of this organization. The SHC was the first to show statistical evidence that homosexual individuals were far more likely to commit suicide than straight individuals. Hirschfeld felt that by bettering the scientific understanding of homosexuality, exposing straight and cis people to homosexual and trans people, that it would bring about familiarity, breed less hostility, and hopefully sow the seeds of compassion. He even coined the term transsexual during this time. He felt that using this new artform of film he could show more people the plight of what his patients and he himself have been going through.

Lili Elbe.

Lili Elbe.

He then founded the Institut fur Sexualwissenschaft in 1919, which is where sexual science was established. It is also the building in which the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee was housed. Some of the first sexual reassignment surgeries were performed here. Most notably Lili Elbe, painter, model, and subject of the book and film, The Danish Girl. It was revolutionary. When the Nazis took over Germany before the outbreak of the World War II, they burned all of Magnus’s books publicly, and eventually bombed the clinic, destroying the documentation within, leaving it in rubble. The site now sits with nature reclaiming the area. This act from the Nazis set back sexual reassignment surgery by decades. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that more research into transgender surgeries began again.

Throughout all of this historical stuff going on in Europe, in the United States, the rights and representation of queer people were just as bad. Here we got different censorship boards and codes of conduct like The Hays Code in Hollywood. The Hays Code forbade many things from mixed-race relationships, showing illegal trafficking of drugs, ridicule of the clergy, and of course the famous “inference of sexual perversion.” In those days, the only way to get around this censorship and be able to show what they forbade was to give the “morally ambiguous” characters what they “deserved.”  A type of “moral retribution”—anyone immoral must be punished. Anyone shown in the movie to be gay was killed. It became standard protocol.

This is also where modern queer coding of villains is born. Coding plays into this trope heavily, almost to the point where they’re inextricable from each other. Coding is where you take the traits of a group and put them onto one character without explicitly stating that they are a part of that group. If you make them act gay, you know they’re evil because all gay people are evil and die in movies because that’s just how it is, right? So much homophobia is grown out of censorship, it’s where hatred breeds. Human brains are wired to be afraid of what they don’t know or don’t have experience with; if you’re not exposed to queer people, how do you think an individual will react? They’ll react in the way they were raised, and in most places, that’s to fear what is different rather than embracing our differences and becoming stronger together because of them.

Not so strangely enough, this trope has different effects on queer characters based on their gender. Men tend to die of AIDS a lot. Seeing this happening in real life led to a glut of dead gay men from AIDS in cinema. 1985 was a breaking point for this trope. The first movie to deal with AIDS was released in September of ‘85 and is called Buddies, written and directed by Arthur J. Bressan Jr. The first time AIDS is even mentioned by a US President was a mere 5 days after the film’s release. Buddies came out and then promptly was forgotten, its impact only rediscovered and restored very recently thanks to the wonderful people at Vinegar Syndrome. This film just like Anders als die Andern was made to show the plight of gay people, to humanize them. It was made to show how brutal AIDS was at a time when barely anyone in the mainstream would even talk about it. The amount of misconceptions about how you could get it and how gay people with the virus were treated was appalling. People thought they could get infected from sitting on a toilet seat! It was treated in the media as the “gay disease,” even though it can affect anyone regardless of gender or sexuality. So the film was made with the idea to show people and to get them to think about and see what’s going on as well as humanizing those with the illness. Less than a month later, the first mainstream actor to die from AIDS was Rock Hudson in October of 1985. His death from the illness made the issue even more visible to straight people, and study of the virus began to pick up speed.

This gave birth to a subtrope of movies where the only reason for their existence is to watch a queer person suffer, such as Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia. It’s the quintessential “Bury Your Gays Nobly” film. Philadelphia was released at a point where there were more movies about queer people dying than there were about queer people themselves. By the time the 90s rolled around, the general public had AN IDEA of what AIDS was and with that in mind, what easier way for a lazy writer to give a gay character some “depth” and just use AIDS as character growth?! The only other plotline that gay people seemed to be able to have was the whole “coming out” plot with some bullying thrown in for good measure. While understandably during this period, there’s a lot of Burying Your Gays because at that moment that’s exactly what was happening: gay people were dying left and right from this unknown disease with no known way to fight it, and their government didn’t give one iota of care about them.

We can see that the trope was born from a homosexual man trying to educate heterosexual people about the perils of what can happen if you treat homosexuals as subhuman creatures. Its intention was to inform and educate while trying to engage a heterosexual audience. As is wont to happen with good intentions, they get twisted, disfigured.

The trope takes an even darker turn when we turn the lens on queer women dying in media. As is the case with literally everything, women are treated differently. White, straight, cis men run the entertainment industry, that cannot be denied. They make the decisions in entertainment. Queer women die on television and in movies far more often than men. The reason for this is twofold, many men are raised to be misogynistic in some way whether they realize it or not. It’s the society they were born into, it was hammered in to them as they grew up hearing about the “weaker sex,” seeing the way society treats women by catcalling, ignoring their pain at the doctor, seeing a crying woman and just thinking she can’t control her emotions and is “hysterical.” It doesn't mean men can’t change these thought processes, it’s just unfortunately an undeniable fact for the heteronormative patriarchal rape culture society that we all live in. The second part is how men fetishize women. Men have been fetishizing lesbian couplings between women since before it was socially acceptable for women to have an emotional and sexual relationships together. The massive amount of lesbian porn out there is a testament to this, and it’s obviously not shot for women, it’s shot for men by men, full-on male gaze.

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The fetishization of queer women led to a long line of pulp lesbian novels popping up in the 1940s and 1950s in which the only acceptable endings were for one of the two women to die (usually a stray bullet meant for someone else) with the other character returning to a heterosexual relationship at the end OR one of them went insane since at the time homosexuality was still considered a mental illness. It wasn’t until 1987 that homosexuality was finally removed from the manual that the medical community uses to diagnose mental illness. It’s called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders; DSM for short. It was first published in 1952 and has had a measly 5 updates since then disregarding many new discoveries in mental health care. The most “recent” edition is from 2013.

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The “Bury Your Gays: Dead Lesbian Syndrome” trope from these sapphic pulp novels continues today across various media. GLAAD reported that the deadliest years for queer women in media have been these past 3 years. There’s more queer representation than ever, yet this trope still persists. Queer people account for less than 10% of all the characters represented in media yet they die at a proportionally higher rate to the straight characters.

One recent example: fan-favorite bisexual, biracial Maya (Bianca Lawson) being killed off after only two seasons on Pretty Little Liars.

Here’s where the misogyny comes in, there’s a thought that’s been expressed by many people over the years and it’s that straight men are only interested in seeing women together sexually but not in an actual relationship. I’ve had this experience watching The L Word with a straight male friend. He only wanted to see the sex scenes, that’s all that mattered. He described the rest of the show as if he were suffering through it just to get to the sex. Men seem to only want to see the sexy interactions yet still want the lesbians to be available to them at the end of the story which is where I think we get the whole lesbians-going-back-to-men trope. This one is put on display very prominently in Kissing Jessica Stein.

As much as I would love to say that the media we watch doesn’t color our views unless we allow it to, it does have a way of working its way in there, that’s why propaganda works. You watch something enough times and with enough repetition your brain is going to start to unconsciously take in the little things it sees. You have to be very cognizant of what you’re watching and be conscious of what messages a certain piece of media/art is trying to convey to you. It’s easy to hide social commentary in film without the general public noticing it. They’ll still have seen it and internalized it, but they may not have thought too deeply about what they saw. Which leads us to a toxic culture where people see queer relationships as intrinsically doomed. It influences creators who see killing queer characters as the natural thing to do. To them it’s only an emotional beat for their story.

No art lives in a vacuum, you can say that your work isn’t political and that’s fine, that’s your right, but your work still has influences, it comes from somewhere. It comes from personal experiences, it comes from other media, not all people are apolitical. Your influences had political ideas and I guarantee you they came out through the way they expressed themselves, even if they themselves didn’t realize it.  So no matter how much you want your art to exist in a vacuum it just can’t. Art is inherently political. I’m not here telling you that you can’t kill a gay or lesbian character, you just need to be aware of the tropes you are putting out there into the world and be sensitive to outdated ones that actually hurt a community of people. Here’s an idea: make more main characters queer, it makes them less disposable and forces the writer to come up with something different for motivation. Get creative!

The whole confluence of bringing together bury your gays, queer coding, misogyny, and censorship has brought us to where we are today. A world in which most gay characters die STILL and the only people seemingly yelling about this issue are the queer ones. Hollywood won’t listen, they’re still gonna do it. It’s something familiar a writer can rely on to get a reaction out of the audience. Throw some AIDS at them, have them beat to death because of who they are, or have a stray bullet hit them. It’s easy to do, too easy, it’s downright lazy.

At the end of it all, thinking about this for so long, and writing it, it makes me tired. I’m not even angry, or feel righteous indignation. I’m just sad, tired, and exhausted. When I started this article, I had an idea of what I was getting into, but as I kept digging further, the roots became darker. I entered this darkness to learn about my own history as a queer person and to write about my experiences and what I found while researching. On top of all of the death I’ve been reading about, I’m also seeing how absolutely terrible bisexual and transgender representation is, and—with the notable exception of some very bi-positive characters on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Brooklyn 99, and the beautiful and talented trans cast of FX’s Pose—there’s next to none.

In the entire history of television there’s less than 30 queer characters to come out unscathed. Most of those are from The L Word and Queer As Folk: shows ABOUT gay people, with a majority gay cast. If you were to take those shows out of mix, you’d have less than 20 queer couples that have lived, and not broken up in over 100 years of TV. Never let anyone tell you that representation doesn’t matter. It does, it matters a lot. You try to find connection through movies and TV. You can definitely find someone to identify with, but will you be lucky enough to find someone who lives too?

When you get down to it, nice and simple: these characters are gay for a reason and that reason is to die, giving the main (majority) straight cast of characters a cause to rally behind. It’s like we’re supposed to be a sacrifice to show how bad the situation is at that moment (see the above example with Angel from FOX’s RENT LIVE). Then afterwards, we’re (usually) forgotten. Maybe there’s a scene of a partner at a grave, but that’s it. Nothing more, no respect shown. Burying your gays is about having a gay character, one to be used to give others meaning, it’s not about having a character who happens to be gay.

For Further Reading:

Homosexuality as a mental disorder - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201509/when-homosexuality-stopped-being-mental-disorder

EVERY lesbian and bisexual character to get a happy ending in TV since the beginning (The number has grown to 29) - https://www.autostraddle.com/all-26-lesbian-and-bisexual-tv-characters-who-got-happy-endings-331601/

EVERY single dead lesbian and bixexual character from television (The number has grown to 202) - https://www.autostraddle.com/ALL-65-DEAD-LESBIAN-AND-BISEXUAL-CHARACTERS-ON-TV-AND-HOW-THEY-DIED-312315/

Information about Buddies - https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bj3apz/the-first-movie-to-tackle-the-aids-crisis-is-a-buried-treasure

German LGBT History - https://www.gsafewi.org/wp-content/uploads/German-Timeline-Student-Teacher-Copy-UPDATED.pdf

Tacitus - Germania - Peat Bog -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germania_(book)

First Private Sexology Institute -  https://magnus-hirschfeld.de/ausstellungen/institute/

GLAAD Where are we on TV - https://glaad.org/files/WWAT/WWAT_GLAAD_2018-2019.pdf


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BIO:

Alice Collins (@VampAly) is a writer, musician, 'Your Horror Tran', and general weirdo. She has a variety of interests, most centered around film, especially those known as the "lesser genres". Give her your sexploitation, nunsploitation, horror, sci-fi, b-movies, low budget/no budget, and weird stuff and you'll make her a very happy girl. She is extremely sex positive, queer, trans, kinky, and full of all sorts of other labels.

Check out her other recent work:

https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3551989/trapped-gender-gonna-get-scary-introduction/