12 LGBTQIA+ tropes we don’t want to see in pop culture anymore

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Bury the gays

From Battlestar Galactica, Degrassi, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to a lengthy list of other series and related media, a lot of our binge-worthy content has an unhealthy tendency to kill off gay characters. Sometimes, movies and series kill off openly gay characters shortly after they’ve come out about their sexuality or gender identity.

The trope is so common that it even happens in series that celebrate and mindfully represent the LGBTQIA+ community like Killing Eve, where Bill dies in the same episode that he opens up about his sexuality. However, Killing Eve obviously gives us a lot of positive representation.

On the other hand, content that’s based on comics or books sometimes attempts to undermine this negative trope by erasing canon gay characters and killing those same characters that have been suppressed from their sexuality in the comics or otherwise. The Walking Dead mid-season finale tiptoed into the trope when the show killed off Jesus. Unlike Jesus’ comic predecessor, his on-show counterpart isn’t explicitly gay. However, the show does have a recurring history of killing off its few LGBTQIA+ characters only to replenish its gay character lineup shortly thereafter.

Speaking of comics, recent comic runs aren’t immune from the bury the gays trope. In DC Comics’ ongoing comic run, Heroes in Crisis, the series not only fridged and killed a canonically lesbian character, Poison Ivy (Pamela Isley), it sexualized her deceased body and used it on the cover of issue no. 7.

While this cover was edited with darker shadows before it made it to print, the lighting wasn’t the issue with the simultaneous sexualization and murder of a lesbian character. It was the pose and obviously the tropes and mistreatment of the character.

Particularly with lesbian women in media, who appear to be leading the bury the gays trope at least on TV, their characterization is objectified. There’s a long history of how lesbian and sapphic women have been coded in media solely to appease heterosexual audiences (primarily cishet men). And seeing Pamela killed off, even in a murder-mystery-themed comic, only to be used as a pin-up promotion for the next issue’s cover only feeds into the long-standing history that lesbian and bi+ women cannot exist in media unless it appeases the heterosexual gaze.

Granted, some media have been able to revert its self-imposed bury the gays trope. For example, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jadzia Dax is canonically a gender fluid and pansexual character. Because Dax is a symbiont when their humanoid form died, Star Trek revived Dax and their consciousness in another host form. Although their previous host body died, it’s implied that a gender fluid and pansexual character continued to live on through the symbiotic being.