Gay Panic

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They are so forcefully ungaying Callie that the incoming Melissa George character, hired as a lesbian Sawyer to Hahn and Callie's Jack and Kate, got caught in the straightwash, went into a straightspin, and ended up taking a straightdive right into the straightway. She's so straight now that they're going to name her character Isaiah Washington.
—Isaac_Spaceman, from the blog A List Of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago

Gay Panic is when Moral Guardians object to gay/bi characters prominently dating, kissing, holding hands or, y'know, existing. After this has been airing without controversy for a while, suddenly, Executive Meddling or Executive Veto, or both, will come into play to start appeasing the Moral Guardians.

The result is that Suddenly Sexuality turns into Bait and Switch Lesbians, Hide Your Lesbians, Alternate Character Interpretation, Bury Your Gays, Character Derailment into easily-removed Depraved Homosexual or Psycho Lesbian archetypes, or just being Put on a Bus or Dropped a Bridge on Him for the non-straight characters, their love interests or both.

Not to be confused with the "gay panic defense," wherein a person who has committed a gay bashing will aim for a reduced sentence in court by claiming that he feared for his precious backdoor virginity. Sadly, this works far, far more often than it should. Puzzlingly, there is no "male panic defense" for women who assault/kill men for fear of their own virginity, although male-on-female rape is far more common than male-on-male and equally tragic. Hmmm . . .

Well, you know what they say; some people are born gay, some achieve gayness, and others have gayness thrust upon them.

Examples of Gay Panic include:

Anime & Manga

  • Amusingly, .hack//Sign was originally shown around noon Saturdays on Cartoon Network. Then suddenly it was pushed to midnight; right around the time the episodes came out in Japan that revealed that Tsukasa was really a girl, and Subaru has no problem pursuing their relationship in real life.

Comic Books

  • Borderline example: Rotor and Cobar's relationship in the Sonic the Hedgehog story arc Mobius: X Years Later was approved of by Sega, but with the condition that it be kept low-key to prevent public backlash. Sadly, it was made too subtle for readers, forcing the reveal to be made as Word of Gay, and the recent change in head writer has pretty much assured the relationship will never crop up, again.
  • Averted in Birds of Prey, despite all appearances to the contrary. The character of Black Canary was supposed to refer to herself as "75% Heterosexual" in one issue, and writer Gail Simone has stated that she considers Canary to be bisexual, but before the issue was finalized the line was changed to "Heterosexual to the bone" without her knowledge. According to Simone, however, this was not a deliberate attempt by the executives to avoid this subject, but rather the entire affair resulted from a series of miscommunications between the writers, artists and printers of the issue, and the intended line ("75%") was accidentally switched with a previous bit of dialogue that he been originally included just as a placeholder (" the bone"). Gail Simone was not happy with the final product and still considers Canary to be bisexual, but she does not feel that there was any homophobia or Moral Guardians manipulating the events behind the scenes.
  • It's widely believed that Alan Moore's Top Ten prequel The 49ers went straight to graphic novel publication, despite obvious cliffhanger endings for serialisation, because DC was afraid that the serial comics core audience would react badly to the prominence of an m/m romance in the story.
    • Especially a romance between a grown man and a 17 year-old. But, thanks to Moore's writing, it comes across as sweet, and the characters themselves address it.
      • Seventeen year olds are legal where Moore comes from.
  • Responding to complaints over homosexual subtext between Batman and Robin, DC Comics introduced Batwoman. Ironically, Batwoman would later be written as a lesbian.


  • David Gerrold seems to have the worst luck with this trope.
    • The Martian Child was a semi-autobiographical novel by David Gerrold about a gay sci-fi author who ends up adopting a kid who thinks he's a Martian. When it's finally adapted for the screen and John Cusack is cast as the author, the producers decide to make the main character a widower rather than gay.
    • His proposed Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Blood and Fire," which would have depicted a gay couple amongst Federation forces, was notoriously dropkicked, by the late Gene Roddenberry's lawyer according to "Forgotten Trek". It has since been made into a Star Trek: Phase II fan episode, with gayness intact.

Live Action TV

  • This was suspected on Grey's Anatomy when the character of Erica Hahn was dropped from the show entirely (without even an explanation of the character's absence) due to Executive Veto with suspiciously bad timing. However, Callie subsequently got a new girlfriend.
  • The OC flirted with Marissa being bisexual. Then Alex, her squeeze, turned out to be a Psycho Lesbian, and she fled back into the bare arms of Ryan.
  • In Alias, the original plan was to end the relationship between Francie and Charlie by having Charlie reveal that he's realized he's gay. This was changed to him having a heterosexual affair with little warning. In the last season, it certainly seems from Rachel's pointed statement that Tom isn't her type that she was intended to be gay, but quickly hooks up with Sark.
  • On Dead Like Me, it was common knowledge (at least, to George) that her college professor dad was having an affair with one of his students; however, in Bryan Fuller's original plan, it was going to be revealed that it was a male student. There are hints of it in the pilot (George questions how close one of her dad's friends is getting when "comforting" him at her funeral), but Executive Meddling brute forced it into being an affair with a female student, one of the many conflicts with the suits that led to Fuller leaving the show.
  • This is why FOX passed on an American version of Torchwood, because Russell T. Davies refused to turn Jack (an omnisexual man last seen in a relationship with another man) straight.
  • In-Universe example: Santana from Glee manages to throw one of these against herself. When she and Brittany, her BFF and occasional sex-buddy, are necking, Brittany brings up wanting to sing Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window" with Santana, who promptly freaks out and hurriedly explains that she is not making out with her because she is in love with her and wants to make "ladybabies" with her; but because her sort-of boyfriend is in juvie and she "needs something warm under [her] to help digest [her] food" Hmm... struck a nerve there, Santana?
    • In "Sexy" Santana reveals that her previous panic and bitchiness was just a way to hide from feelings that scared her. She admits to Brittany that she loves her, but Brittany gently turns her down because she doesn't want to hurt Artie.
    • And so does Karofsky, whose Gay Panic drives him almost insane, torn between terrorizing the only person who knows his secret - Kurt - and making disturbing attempts at flirting with him.
  • The first season of Heroes had some issues with this regarding Claire's friend Zack. Zack dropped heavy hints that he has reason to emphasize with Claire's "freakishness," and was apparently supposed to come out... at least, until someone (it's uncertain whom) tried to shout that development down, as the actor was up for the part of John Connor in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Nothing ever came of Zack's sexuality, and the fact that the actor has now played a bisexual in a Gregg Araki movie is one of life's little ironies.


  • Played seemingly straight (no.) in Girls with Slingshots, when Jamie goes on an exploratory trip to a gay bar and returns from the experience determinedly straight. Subsequently averted (reverted?) when she discovers that she's an Above-the-waist lesbian, when she meets her girlfriend, Erin. You might say that she's as happy as a clam with this revelation. (yes.)

Western Animation

  • Supposedly, the creation of Joker's "girlfriend" Harley Quinn on Batman: The Animated Series was to still any fears that the Joker might have a bit of a crush on Batman. The fact that he completely ignores the attractive woman throwing herself at him to focus on his obsession with Batsy-poo, not to mention Harley and Poison Ivy's implied Les Yay, actually made the situation more ambiguous.