Discount Lesbians

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
It's not gay if "she" is an alien, is it?


"[...]Why is lesbian sex only OK if it involves another species?"
Joystiq.com, on Mass Effect

They look exactly like hot women, and they make out with other hot women. But they're actually aliens/immortals/bodysnatchers/etc. So it's not really gay, right?

Discount Lesbians are canon homosexual characters and couples who are either not human to begin with, come from alternate realities, have been magically or technologically altered in ways that affect their sexuality, etc., so that they don't really "count". This usually seems to be a device used within the story to maintain a status quo that lets the (presumed) audience watch two hot chicks making out without having to think about the associated real-world issues of homosexuality. On the other hand, the trope may come into play if the writer wishes to include a lesbian relationship in the story but is too spineless and terrified of the Moral Guardians, thus becoming a way for a weak willed Rule-Abiding Rebel to make an attempt at Getting Crap Past the Radar.

Note that they're Discount Lesbians only if they're included in the story in a way that obviates the need to address the associated issues of sexuality or the rights/history/lifestyle issues faced by or associated with gays in the real world. This is usually done through othering homosexuality by associating it only with characters who have conspicuously different traits from the viewers - Discount Lesbians. Characters used to draw attention to those issues are inversions. If they're stated to be homosexual they're not Discount Lesbians, just a non-human who happens to be gay.

Basically gays... but cheaper. Commonly carries Unfortunate Implications (see the page quote).

Compare Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?, Lesbian Vampire, Bury Your Gays, and (occasionally) Elfeminate. Related to Space Jews for aliens standing in as minorities. Related to Hide Your Lesbians in that both are a way of including apparently gay content without admitting to it.

Examples of Discount Lesbians include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The current Kerrang! bumpers in the UK show a young Asian woman who flashes with yellow energy making out with a pink, suited androgynous humanoid with a mask, clearly intended to invoke the Pink and Yellow Rangers - but as only Yellow is clearly a human woman and Pink shows no gendered characteristics beyond its colour, it maintains plausible lesbian deniability.

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • This trope is frequently invoked by some Neon Genesis Evangelion fans whenever anyone mentions the Ho Yay between Shinji and Kaworu.
  • The entire premise of Simoun, where everyone is born female, only choosing a permanent gender at the age of 17. This automatically puts all teenage characters into the Schoolgirl Lesbians zone.
    • However, the pairings in the end represent every possible gender combination, averting the main reason of this trope.
  • Used for the women in Vandread, because each gender had essentially become a different race. The male equivalent is never revealed. The Majerans (women) form romantic bonds and two-parent families for their daughters. As for the men of Tarak, in the first episode, one of the background conversations during a military graduation has one guy asking another if they want to make a kid. The guy's answer was basically, "Sure, why not?", as if he had been asked to form a World of Warcraft guild. A later episode one guy is shocked the baby grows inside the woman as all men are test tube grown.
  • Blue Drop gives us the Arume, who are a One-Gender Race of space lesbians.
  • Creo the Crimson Crises, a Cast Full Of Lesbian, where more than half of the cast are demons.
  • Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl has the main lesbian character be a transformed boy, although it's heavily implied that s/he was a pre-op transsexual, but didn't know about his/her condition. Not even the voice-actor is changed with her gender!
  • Bernkastel and Lambdadelta, the reality-bending witch pair in Umineko no Naku Koro ni appear to have something like this going on, as part of their massive amount of Foe Yay.
  • The Cthulhu in Iczer One play this straight, being an one-gendered female-looking alien species. The titular Iczer-1 and Nagisa may count as well, with Iczer-1 being an alien android who seems to love Nagisa.
  • Alien from the Darkness has Flair, who spends most of the story seducing the all-female crew of the Zogne. While she qualifies due to being possessed by a tentacle-raping alien in search of breeding stock, the sex scenes Flair isn't involved in prove that the Hentai has no problem with actual lesbians either.
  • There are gay and lesbian pairings in From the New World, but everyone in that series genetically engineered to have sex with each other to handle stress, like bonobos.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Marvel is quite fond of this trope:
    • Karolina, the lesbian character in Runaways, has a long-standing relationship with a shapeshifting alien (twofer!) who appears female entirely to keep her happy. Karolina herself is also an alien. An alien who believed she was human, and was physically human, until her early teens, but an alien nevertheless. This is an especially glaring example, because Xavin (the shapeshifter) has mentioned that members of his/her species don't stay the same sex all the time anyway (s/he compared changing sex to dyeing one's hair) and had a subplot where Molly, another teammate, was bothered by the fact that Xavin was only a girl sometimes (Molly eventually learned to accept Xavin as is). Karolina, however, insists that Xavin is female and only female, despite that Xavin does spend a lot of time male, too (and not just when it's more practical, either).
      • Note: Karolina is only like this during Joss Whedon's run. In runs by BKV and Terry Morre, she doesn't really mind that her girlfriend is sometimes a dude - as long as it is not in bed.

I am going to bed now. See you later. This you I hope.

"We don't call it 'Paradise Island' for nothing."

  • The Neil Gaiman story Murder Mysteries actually has discount gay men. The characters in the main part of the story are angels, sexless and genderless, though they do generally take the form of human males. The angels who discover love end up as lovers, which means while there isn't any distinctive action, there's a lot of cuddling.

Fanfic[edit | hide]

  • Pokegirls are all female, but their human Tamers are either sex. And since Pokegirls need to be tamed regularly...
    • Especially true for the Psydyke species.
    • Beyond that, due to severe depopulation and higher sterility rates in women pretty much every culture looks down on human homosexuality from the "lack of procreation" angle. This further encourages human lesbians to stay semicloseted as Tamers.
  • Touhou shipping fic. Since most of the major characters are girls, Les Yay abounds... but the number of actual human characters who are named, in a cast of about two hundred, can be counted on one hand (more if you include the PC-98 games). The rest are Youkai, many of whom shouldn't even be humanoid if you go by the original mythology, let alone cute girls. They're not really lesbians if one's an umbrella, right?

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Ursula K. Leguin's The Left Hand of Darkness revolves around a planet inhabited by ordinarily genderless humans, all referred to as male by default (except in revised editions using third-gender pronouns), who only acquire sexual characteristics while in heat.
  • Discount Bisexuals? Discount Bisexual Threesome? In a three-book arc of the Star Wars Expanded Universe taking place directly after the New Jedi Order, Jaina Solo and one of her love interests, Zekk, were both snapped up by the psychic alien menace-of-the-week; they became Joiners, on the aliens' side and telepathically very close to each other. At one point they started fighting against Jagged Fel, Jaina's other big love interest. Jaina-and-Zekk had thoughts along the lines of "We should make him a Joiner and be Jaina-and-Zekk-and-Jagged! Yes, he is pretty. He would make the mating rituals much better."
  • Done a lot by Shakespeare because of his fondness of crossdressing plots. Therefore, when (for example) Duke Orsino falls in love with the handsome Cesario in Twelfth Night, it's okay because Cesario is really the very female Viola in disguise.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • An episode of Star Trek the Next Generation features an alien (Trill) ambassador who has a fling with Dr. Crusher and then dies, having his personality and memories transplanted into a new (female) body thanks to Bizarre Alien Biology. Later repeated in an episode of Deep Space Nine, with much more feeling and depth.
    • Also touched on in the season 5 episode "The Outcast", where Riker is attracted to a member of an androgynous alien species. By the end of the episode the alien in question (who was starting to identify as female and was played by a female actor) was forced by her planet's government to undergo the equivalent of conversion therapy and denied any further sexual interest in Riker. Apparently the writer of the episode confused androgyny with asexuality.
      • It wasn't a confusion of "androgyny and asexuality". The race absolutely was okay with sex; just so long as everyone stayed in the monogendered, hermaphroditic mindset. The issue was that certain people were identifying as (more or less) strictly male or female and being seen as abominations for it. It was about as close to covering the issue of transexuality as Star Trek ever got.
      • It was also rife with Unfortunate Implications given that Soren was played by a woman. You could read it as "Riker's dick saves girl from lesbian colony: unfortunately psycho lesbians brainwash her back." Jonathan Frakes even suggested the female-identified alien be played by a male actor.
      • Also, the supposedly enlightened 24th century Starfleet crew are suddenly defining gender roles by 1950s standards, with Dr. Crusher confirming women are all about long hair and cosmetics, and Worf being forced to play the "women are weak" macho man role which makes no sense given his respect towards Lieutenant Yar, K'Ehleyr, Commander Shelby and Jadzia Dax.
    • Much like Williow Rosenburg, Mirror Universe version of Kira Nerys is a Depraved Bisexual with more evil kink than Character Development; she's even made advances toward the regular universe version of herself. Also much like evil Willow, she's proved very popular with the fans.
  • The sex-addicted bodysnatching alien in the Torchwood episode "Greeks Bearing Gifts" is a glaring example. Mary is at least on the borderline, given that Tosh is never seen to have a sexual interest in a woman before or afterwards and it's not made precisely clear whether her sex with Mary was bisexuality or mind-control.
  • Tina Greer of Smallville is a shapeshifting Psycho Lesbian obsessed with Lana. However, her every romantic interaction with Lana is while she's in the form of a male. Arguably justified by the fact that she knows Lana is straight.

Music[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Possibly the most discussed example is Mass Effect. Tali, and going back to ME 1, both Kaidan and Ashley were intended to be romanceable regardless of Shep's gender, but this was cut later in development for some reason. Which leaves the asari, an entire alien species of mono-gendered, universally hot blue alien space babes who often have relationships with each other and (potentially) with female PCs. With one exception, the only other asari-non-asari relationships seen always featured male aliens.[1] The exception is Morinth and Nef. Nef "didn't usually like girls" until she met Morinth, was summarily twisted around Morinth's finger and literally suffered Death by Sex. You can try to romance Morinth with either gender later on and and also enjoy Death by Sex. If you try to romance Samara instead, at least she only turns you down.
    • However, the must quoted "It is not gay if it is with a female looking alien" isn't presented in the text, quite the opposite in fact.

 Shepard: You want a relationship with me? Even though we are both women?
Liara: We Asari are mono-gendered. "Male" and "Female" doeesn't have any meaning for us. We do, however, have maternal instincts. So perhaps we would fill what you consider a female role. I am sorry if this is awkward for you, Shepard. I'm only trying to be honest. I feel as we share some type of conection. [...] what about us, Shepard? Is there a mutual atraction? Or was I wrong about that too?
Shepard: No, you were right. There is something between us.
...
[And if she chooses to drag Kaidan along we get this:
{Kaidan confronts Shepard and Liara]
Kaidan: Dr. T'Soni. Commander. We need to talk. The three of us.
Liara: This is a rather awkward situation.
Kaidan: I am not trying to make anyone unconfortable, I am just trying to figure out where I stand.
Shepard: I guess I should have seen this one coming.
Kaidan: I'm not jealous; I am just confused. I thought we had something Ma'am. I didn't realized that you were a ... Well, that you prefer other women.
Liara: I am not exactly a woman lieutenant. My species only have one gender.
Kaidan: Yeah, but you look ... never mind. Look Shepard, just make your choice.

    • Mass Effect 2 attempts to avert this with Jack and Kelly.'
    • There is also Khalisah Al-Jilani and her asari lover.
    • There is a female human NPC on the Citadel in Mass Effect 3 who talks about her relationship and child with an asari. Her family has apparently disowned her...because she married an alien.
  • BioWare has a frequent tendency of doing this. In Knights of the Old Republic, you have Juhani, the cat alien who provides a somewhat hidden Gay Option. They're usually pushing the boundaries of what's acceptable in terms of romance options in games.
  • Joshua in Another Day from The World Ends With You. This looks to be played straight until you remember that Joshua, as the Composer / an Angel, could be whatever sexuality or gender he damn well pleases.
  • Fallout 3 has exactly one lesbian couple in the game, and they're both ghouls (hideously deformed, all-but-ageless zombie lookalikes).
    • Fallout: New Vegas however averts this hard. No less than 3 characters (Veronica, Betsy and Christina) are lesbians, and all three of them are normal people.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The Dragon Doctors features a town where all the men have been transformed into women. Their romantic relationships have generally continued, the town having become a huge market for Magitek that alters one's sexual preference to "bi." (The author has mentioned that the "orientation adapter" magic only sets you to bi, basically widening the spectrum of what you could be attracted to without otherwise altering what you're already attracted to, so it's not used as a cure for gayness or anything).

 "I don't think they're lesbians so much as..."
"Pfft. Like I care about technicalities."

 Gabe: It's not gay if it's an elf.
Tycho: I'd love to know why you have a rule for that.

  • In Homestuck, the trolls have a system of romance and mating that is much different from ours, and gender isn't really a factor in any of it. Monosexuality as we know it, simply doesn't exist, straight or otherwise, and when John mentions the concept to Karkat he is thoroughly confused that it's even a thing in human society. According to Word of God, preference for a gender in troll society is viewed as equivalent to little more than a human's preference in hair colour.
    • With the same example, this is actually inverted, too. Just like Kanaya is gay in a binormative alien society, Eridan appears to be straight in the same alien society; he is shown hitting on every girl in the cast and only the girls, though the guys notice he's desperate and preemptively shut him down because (as seen above) they don't see liking only one gender as A Thing. Feferi, who he's known for a long time and who knows about his love problems, immediately assumes that he has a crush on a girl (he does, it's her) and quickly adds "or a guy" like it would be a startling new development.
    • Any remaining Unfortunate Implications are pretty much dissolved now that we have a canonically gay male human. And an almost certainly canonically bi male human as well, and a great deal of Ship Tease between the two.
  • Variation: In 1/0, Terra the earthworm is introduced as a lesbian because Tailsteak wanted to include a female character who wasn't a viable romantic option for the guys. This is clarified by saying that earthworms are hermaphrodites, but he's choosing to identify them all as female, so they're all "lesbians". The fact that she's not a "real" lesbian is the key to her being with the man she loves without rejecting the author.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Averted in the Paradise setting, where Christopher Mattiaz inadvertently changed gender (as well as turning into a succession of Funny Animals) six days after getting married -— and, unwilling to become a lesbian, has not had intimate relations with his wife in the two years since. (And since his change is Invisible to Normals, he can't even tell her why.)

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Futurama movie The Beast With A Billion Backs contains a transdimensional planet-sized tentacle monster named Yivo. He Shklee has a male voice, but the fact everyone in the universe is dating him shklim isn't treated like an issue by anyone, at least not from the perspective of sexual orientation. Fry clearly states that Yivo loves both male and female equally and has no gender, and schlee even has schlis own pronouns "shclim" or "shcler".
  1. this may have something to do with the fact that the only non-asari females seen are quarians, humans, a single (covered) dead krogan, and possibly an elcor