Hi, friends! Andi here!
So my colleague and podcast buddy Lise Mactague and I just posted our latest episode of the podcast we do, episode 56 of Lez Geek Out!.
We post twice a month (Geekly Biweekly!), and this latest episode deals with something that pisses us both off (so we may have gotten a little ranty).
Specifically, queerbaiting and its evil sibling, the Bury Your Gays trope. Both of these are devices used in media (generally TV and movies, but the trope(s) can appear in fiction, too — the BYG trope has a looooong history in literature.
Queerbaiting is a shitty marketing technique to attract — “bait” — queer viewers. Specifically, it’s creating a (usually) same-sex flirty kind of relationship with no intentions of making that relationship actually go full-on queer.
Queerbaiting is used to attract queer fans but also to ensure that the show doesn’t lose cisgender heterosexual consumers, so it serves as a double-edged sword: continually screwing over the queer characters and denying them intimate relationships while also buttressing heterocentric content, because usually, one or both of the two in the faux-queer relationship are shunted off to opposite-sex cisgender love interests.
In this episode of Lez Geek Out!, Lise and I talk about a few shows that we feel have engaged in queerbaiting and we talk about how damaging it is to queer viewers to constantly be baited to believe that finally there might actually be a queer couple on the show only to be constantly disappointed, which sends the message that our relationships are not valued, nor are we valued as people.
Which led us to talk in the podcast about an outcome/tributary of queerbaiting, and that’s the Bury Your Gays trope, also sometimes known as the “dead lesbian trope.”
In this trope, there’s an out/known queer character on the show, but that character meets an unhappy ending, usually death, and usually after the character has an intimate moment with another queer character (think Buffy and Lexa).
This trope is super-damaging because the message it sends is that okay, be queer, but you’ll pay for it with your life, usually, furthering the decades-long toxic warnings that queer relationships are inherently bad and will end in something bad happening.
And because queer characters are so underrepresented in media, killing them off has an exponentially large impact.
If you’re curious, Autostraddle has some great posts on this. Here’s a 2016 post with some infographics that will break down how underrepped queer lady characters are in the TV landscape and also this one, listing all dead queer lady characters on TV since 1976 and how they died. Autostraddle keeps updating that post and so far in 2019, we’ve lost 3 queer lady characters.
One of the things Lise and I noticed going through that list since about 2016 is that several queer lady characters were murdered by their female partners, thus contributing to other shitty and harmful stereotypes about queer relationships — that they’re inherently unhealthy and violent, and this is what happens when you get into one: your partner will kill you.
The ramifications of that one are super-duper shitty.
At any rate, you can catch our conversation at the Lez Geek Out! podcast, where you can find us on pretty much all platforms and at our website. We post twice a month, generally on Fridays, and if you have any ideas about shows you’d like us to do or if you’re a geek of something and would like to be on the show, hit us up! You can find us on Twitter (@LGOPodcast). We talk feminism, rep (queer and otherwise) in lots of different media, including comics, fiction, movies, TV shows, and podcasts.
Hope you join us!