The Problem with the Closeted Homophobe Trope

It’s honestly time for movies and shows to stop implying that pretty much all homophobia comes from queer people!

The “closeted homophobe” trope, when a character who seemingly hates queer people is revealed to be queer themselves, has been everywhere on screen for decades and sends some pretty messed up messages.

Though this character can be female, they’re most often male and embody toxic masculinity by presenting as a stereotypical “alpha male.” He identifies as straight publicly, usually with a lot of ott, gross bragging about his “conquests.” He bullies people – often gay people, or specifically the man he is attracted to. And since he’s almost always a villain or side character, we don’t always get much nuanced, sympathetic insight into his inner motivations and why he feels he has to act that way.

At a certain point in history, there was something revelatory to narratives that asked if some homophobes were acting out of personal fear and self-loathing. But the ubiquity of the closeted homophobe character to this day risks basically suggesting that all bigotry against queer people is self-inflicted. It absolves straight, cis people from their responsibility, and makes queer people appear dangerous and self-hating, reinforcing stereotypes and stigmas.