LGBT stereotypes

The Dykes on Bikes motorcycle group in a pride parade, exhibiting a stereotype of butch lesbians.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) stereotypes are conventional, formulaic generalizations, opinions, or images based on the sexual orientations or gender identities of LGBT people. Stereotypical perceptions may be acquired through interactions with parents, teachers, peers and mass media,[1] or, more generally, through a lack of firsthand familiarity, resulting in an increased reliance on generalizations.[2]

Negative stereotypes are often associated with homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia, or transphobia.[3] Positive stereotypes, or counterstereotypes, also exist.[4][5]

In general


While LGBT people are associated with irreligiousness, the Human Rights Campaign promotes the idea that an individual can be gay and religious. Harry Knox, a gay minister, has led this movement since 2005. "Seventy-two percent of adults describe their faith as "very important" in their lives, so do sixty percent of gays and lesbians" (US News). Activists are working to bridge the gap between religion and homosexuality and to make denominations friendlier to the community. Many Protestants have opened their doors and the United Church of Christ has ordained gay ministers since 1972.[6] LGBT clergy are also ordained in the Episcopal Church of America and the Presbyterian Church (US).[7] The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has worked with Jewish individuals in the LGBT community,[8] and organizations like Keshet continue to work with Jewish members of the community both to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues in Jewish communities and Jewish issues in LGBTQ communities.

In fiction: "Bury your gays"

"Bury your gays" and more specifically "dead lesbian syndrome" describe the trope in fiction that requires that gay or lesbian characters die or meet another unhappy ending, such as becoming insane.[9]

According to Autostraddle, which examined 1,779 scripted U.S. television series from 1976 to 2016, 193 (11%) of them featured lesbian or bisexual female characters, and among these, 35% saw lesbian or bisexual characters dead, but only 16% provided a happy ending for them. Similarly, among all lesbian or bisexual characters in no-longer-airing series, 31% ended up dead, and only 10% received a happy ending.[10] In a study of 242 character deaths in the 2015-2016 television season, Vox reported that "A full 10 percent of deaths [were] queer women."[11] Such statistics led Variety to conclude in 2016 that "the trope is alive and well on TV, and fictional lesbian and bisexual women in particular have a very small chance of leading long and productive lives".[12]

The trope also appears in other fiction, such as video games, where LGBT characters are, according to Kotaku, "largely defined by a pain that their straight counterparts do not share". Facing challenges that "serve as an in-world analogy for anti-LGBTQ bigotry", these characters are defined by tragedy that denies them a chance at happiness.[13]


For years, the media has been moving forward in equally representing members of the LGBT community. While there may still not be many prominent LGBT characters in the mainstream media, the community has completed many milestones in the recent years. In 2016, the coming-of-age drama film Moonlight became the first LGBT movie to win the Best Picture Oscar.[14] In 2018, Love, Simon also became the first film from a major studio that focused on the hardships of being a closeted gay teenager.[15]

On the other hand, LGBT members continue to be underrepresented and typecast. Disney has represented the LGBT community in around 8% of its films as of 2016. Other companies such as 20th Century Fox, Sony, Lionsgate and Warner Bros have featured LGBT characters in up to only 21% of their films.[16]

Murder and violence

LGBT rights activists have fought against fictional representations of LGBT people that depict them as violent and murderous. Columnist Brent Hartinger observed that "big-budget Hollywood movies until, perhaps, Philadelphia in 1993 that featured major gay male characters portrayed them as insane villains and serial killers".[17] Community members organized protests and boycotts against films with murderous gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters, including Cruising (1980), Silence of the Lambs (1991), and Basic Instinct (1992).[18] Theatre scholar Jordan Schildcrout has written about the recurrence of the "homicidal homosexual" in American plays, but notes that LGBT playwrights themselves have appropriated this negative stereotype to confront and subvert homophobia.[19] Such plays include The Lisbon Traviata (1985) by Terrence McNally, Porcelain (1992) by Chay Yew, The Secretaries (1993) by the Five Lesbian Brothers, and The Dying Gaul (1998) by Craig Lucas.