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

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Thinking you’re hetero before figuring out your identity

Since the LGBTQIA+ community is obviously diverse, even in respect to each specific identity, it’s difficult to say whether most gay, lesbian, pan, and bi+ people initially think they’re straight before they realize their true sexuality. Some may have always known they weren’t straight, whereas others have thought they were straight before they actually discovered and accepted their sexuality.

However, if we were to pick any flick in your LGBTQIA+ movie watchlist, you’d probably find a film that revolves around a coming out story in its main plot or any of its side plots. That coming out experience likely retrofits a common pre-out theme where a gay character thought they were straight before they realized their identifier in the community.

Whereas Love, Simon features commentary on compulsory heterosexual crushes so Simon can conceal his sexuality, some shows rely on a heteronormative portrayal of sexuality to visibly show a character’s coming out story. Just like we aren’t on board with how Atypical misrepresents autistic people, the series also includes a trope in its representation of Casey Gardner’s coming out story.

Don’t get us wrong: We never knew we needed a romantic arc complete with Casey and Izzie’s rivals to friends, back to enemies, and finally to lovers themes. However, Atypical clearly depicts Casey’s character as straight, and she thinks she is straight, before finally showcasing her sexuality.

Although many of us real-life LGBTQIA+ folks did think we were straight before we realized our real sexuality, there are ways to depict lesbian characters without including a heterosexual arc. Recent episodes of Riverdale, which illustrate that Cheryl is lesbian and has always been comfortable with her sexuality despite being coercing into repressing it because of her homophobic family, are good examples.

While it’s valid for one to think they were heterosexual and/or cisgendered before realizing their identity, pop culture distributes a prevalent amount of coming out stories that feature LGBTQIA+ characters who initially think they’re cishet or have to work some (or a lot of) compulsory cishet ideations or stereotypes out during their self-discovery process.

Where are the stories of individuals who thought they were bi+ but realized that they’re gay or lesbian as a second coming out story, for example?