The “closeted homophobe” trope just isn’t giving anymore

Zaynab Kouatli, Opinion Editor

He is the captain of the football team, has a hot girlfriend and is often found showing off his masculinity. He is constantly reminding you that, “Nah bro I’m 100% straight.” He is so afraid of appearing feminine that he won’t participate in some activities because, “Dude no, that’s so gay.” You often find him bullying the gay kids and sometimes getting a little physically violent towards them. However, all this is a façade used to disguise that he is secretly gay. *GASP*

Does this character sound familiar? Perhaps you recognized him to be Adam Groff from Sex Education. Groff actively bullied the queer character, Eric Effiong, throughout the show but somehow, they became a couple. Maybe the character you are thinking of is Nate Jacobs from the hit show Euphoria? He is a star football player who has vague sexuality predicaments and severe anger issues. He abuses his girlfriend, assaults any guy who is interested in her, blackmails a trans women by using her nudes that were solicited only by catfishing and through all of this he has a Grindr account and numerous pictures of male genitalia on his phone. Euphoria does not shy away from indicating that his bigoty is rooted from some repressed same-sex attraction. Could you be thinking of Glee’s Dave Karofsky? He is an athlete that constantly torments Kurt Hummel, the openly gay student, because he had a crush on him.

Representation is so vital! I did not even know I was gay until I turned on my TV and saw a bunch of angry jocks physically and verbally assault everyone, just because they were in fact closeted themselves. The “armored closet gay” trope needs to die. It is so clear that this archetype was created for a predominantly straight audience and created by straight cis writers. The first issue of this trope is that it lacks nuance. Although, there might be versions of this trope that are accurate in its beginning time, recent version has not been inspired from reality but rather drawn from previous fictious storylines. Each time the story line is repeated it grows duller and more erroneous.

The focus placed on vulgar homophobia leads to more casual homophobic remarks that rarely get opposed in media curated for the pleasure of straight people. So, what if he said that your bowtie makes you look gay? He would never actually harm a gay man, so he is perfectly acceptable. The closeted jock develops into a convenient narrative device that permits microaggressions to flourish under media’s extremely low standards.

As someone who identifies as a lesbian, coming out is one of the most difficult things a queer person can go through. There are many circumstances where coming out isn’t even an option. However, depicting such a diverse group only as tormented cautionary tales is harmful to the audience and the characters that are supposed to be represented. Queer people deserve a space in media that doesn’t portray them as a villain. I think it is time we finally retire the “closeted homophobe” trope and advance to more beneficial queer storylines.