Get Back in the Closet

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The tendency of Moral Guardians to be harsher toward homosexuality than heterosexuality. In American media, male/female couples can kiss and make out, but even a slight peck from a same-sex couple is an automatic PG-13, if not an R. And of course, there's no way to include even a tame sex scene without getting an R or NC-17 rating. Unfortunate Implications of this become even more apparent as gay people become more accepted and equal in society.

Not to be confused with Hide Your Lesbians, which refers to the tendency to reduce canon relationships to subtext. See also But Not Too Gay for the downplaying of sexuality or exclusion of gay affection altogether.

Examples of Get Back in the Closet include:


  • CBS announced it would accept a TV ad for the 2010 Super Bowl from a pro-life group, in a change from the network's "no controversy" policy. However, CBS turned down an ad from, a gay dating service. The network has had no problem with heterosexual dating services, such as eHarmony. Of course, there's no way a small site like Man Crunch could have paid for the ad, and so submitted an ad just beyond what would have been acceptable just so they could get publicity for it being turned down.
    • Similarly, the pro-life group had a religious orientation... and skeptics brought up how CBS had earlier turned away an ad from the United Church of Christ that depicted bouncers turning away gay people (among others) from church services.

Anime and Manga

  • The third episode of Naruto received unnecessary editing in the English dub; when Naruto attempts to intimidate Sasuke by getting really close to his face, he's unknowingly bumped into by a classmate, leading to an accidental kiss. Whilst this is clearly (but briefly) shown for comical effect in the Japanese dub, a mere kissing sound and reaction shot of others was used to avoid an age rating boost in English dubs (despite it being entirely innocent).
    • The screenshot of the kiss remained intact for Sasuke's almost-death collage of flashbacks, and a similar image is used for the 5th English opening as well.

Comic Books

Fan Works

  • Works of slash often raise their ratings for exactly this reason, and homosexual content is often listed as a warning alongside violence and nudity. This system is even present at some fan fiction recommendation pages on this site.


  • The documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated had additional examples of this: It showed straight and gay sex scenes with similar action, positions and lighting side-by-side on the screen, then pointed out that the films with gay scenes almost invariably had far stronger ratings (usually NC-17 as opposed to R).
  • In I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, the filmmakers originally planned for the two male leads to kiss there in court, but the MPAA threatened to rate it R if they did. Instead, they just got extremely close.
  • The film My Life in Pink, about a male-born 7-year-old child who identifies as a girl, was given an R rating for this reason.
  • The dark comedy I Love You Phillip Morris never saw mainstream American release for this reason - distributors supposedly refused to pick it up due to its fairly graphic sex scenes. It was released in more liberal places, like Europe, though.
    • It took a while to come out in Australia too, despite Aussies' more liberal reputation.
      • Moral Guardians are just as big in Australia as America does, if not more so - many things only see edited release there if they are released at all. The Moral Guardians have more pulling power over the media than the general public do.


Live-Action TV

  • BBC America took a lot of stick for the edit job they did on Series 3 of Skins. Cook and Effy graphically rutting in a closet? Fine. Naomi and Emily sharing a tender scene by the lake? Cut to fuck.
  • Italian Network Rai2 has aired Brothers and Sisters at 21.55 because of homosexual content while airing way racier shows (why, hello Desperate Housewives!) at earlier times. This baffles the mind.
  • This is why Willow and Tara were together for a season before kissing on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This may have actually helped — the writers were forced to find other ways to show their love and affection for each other.
  • Invoked in-universe in the season 3 episode of Glee 'Heart' Where Principal Figgins stops newly out couple Santana & Brittany when they are about to kiss in the school hallway as other students might find it offensive. Santana is quick to point out how unfair this is, citing Rachel & Finn as an example and eventually leaves the office in an angry huff.
  • Due to Chinese censorship on anything LGBTQ+, every adaptation of danmei novels for TV or streaming will drastically reduce any gay content and transform the official homosexual couples of the novels into extremely intense Bromances.

New Media / Web Original

  • On Bing image search, you won't get any results for anything with the words "gay" or "lesbian" in it unless you turn Safe Search off completely (which requires you to say you're 18).
  • Similarly, Google Instant won't automatically complete most gay-related searches (including those that are still not NSFW or inappropriate for minors) until you hit Enter. Gay news websites are treated as gingerly as sites with adult content.
  • At one point on Craigslist, the "male seeking male" personals page was marked for adult content (meaning both that it was restricted and that racier posts needn't be flagged), whereas the straight and lesbian personals were kept clean, only the "casual encounters" page being marked. Presumably due to complaints, all personals but "strictly platonic" are now marked adult.
  • Amazon once marked any book with the keyword "Gay & Lesbian" as adult, meaning that unless a search included those keywords or other "adult" keywords, any books marked with that keyword were excluded, whereas keywords like "homosexual" or "homosexuality" were fine, with the effect that the only books dealing with homosexuality that showed up on general search were right-wing polemics. Amazon first claimed they'd been hacked, then that a single employee had accidentally done it. Whether that is an example of this trope is debatable, since some believe it wasn't deliberate on the company's part.
  • censored the words "gay" and "homosexual" on its forums for a few weeks in 2006.
  • YouTube pulled a 16-second sponsoring ad that featured two men in their underwear in an emotional embrace, saying it "promoted mature sexual themes" and was "non family safe". It was an excerpt from a Perfume Genius music video YouTube still hosts. Cue Internet Backdraft. The other man in the video is recognized by some as the Manly Gay Bear porn star Arpad Miklos, but this would not likely be recognized by a random viewer who has never seen an Arpad Miklos porno.
  • Internet search filters in some schools prohibit the search of 'gay', 'lesbian', or anything along those lines.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Mostly averted with Mission Hill. Not only did the gay couple (Gus and Wally) get the series a ton of notability for not being depicted as stereotypical, but the series even got away with having a total make-out scene (on the first episode, no less). Then again, Mission Hill was still "mature" for other reasons (sex scenes with heterosexual couples and the usual offensive language, suggestive dialogue, and drug references), but compared to some shows that had to undergo censorship for this kind of thing, that's pretty impressive.
  • The English dub of Transformers Energon, while not really that great to begin with, made a ham-handed attempt to edit out Mirage/Shockfleet's obvious love for his leader. Unfortunately for them they could only bring it down to Ho Yay levels, as there's no real way to rewrite a blossoming pink heart behind Mirage's transformation sequence after discovering Megatron was still alive.
  • There was a spin-off of the PBS television show Arthur starring Buster. It is remembered for little more than the fact that one episode got banned for showing an (implied) lesbian couple.
  • The infamous gay marriage episode of The Simpsons (season 16's "There's Something About Marrying") became the first Simpsons episode on American TV to get a content warning before the episode started [1] and was rated TV-14 for strong sexual themes (in this case, gay marriage). This is coming from a show that regularly contains child abuse, gambling, death, alcohol abuse, juvenile delinquency, sex, and humor that is usually considered cruel or dark.
  1. On FOX, content warnings are reserved for just the Seth MacFarlane cartoons -- Family Guy and American Dad especially -- and the oddball shows like Bob's Burgers, Allan Gregory, the short-lived series Sit Down, Shut Up, and the cartoon adaptation of Napoleon Dynamite