"Bury Your Gays": Queer Women Death On TV

"Bury Your Gays": Queer Women Death On TV

Fans protest trope after even more queer women die on television.
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Everybody dies. That is the nature of life, and certainly that of television shows looking to pack an emotional punch to their viewers. But with the recent deaths of lesbian and bisexual women characters on popular TV in a trope referred to as "Bury Your Gays," many viewers are wondering why death is so often the treatment for queer women in particular, especially given the low--but rapidly increasing--percentage of LGBT characters (there were only 23 gay characters of any gender on television in the 2011-2012 season. In 2015, there are 119. The bad news? Around 70 percent of them are white and most are male). Spoilers ahead.

Tara, Willow's love interest on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", is one of the first well-known victims of the "Bury Your Gays" trope.

So why did fans take it so hard when a prominent gay woman on the CW show "The 100" died? Well, it follows a trend of over 148 queer women's deaths over a considerably short span. What's significant about this trend is that these women are often killed after a moment of emotional and/or romantic fulfillment, whether it's getting married, falling in love, or giving birth to name a few examples. Many LGBT+ viewers see this treatment as punishment for attaining happiness outside of the scope of men, and they have had enough.

Lexa was thought to be part of The 100's most compelling dynamic relationships before she was killed shortly after having sex with Clarke, the main protagonist.

It makes sense, too. It seems every talked-about show gives in to this trend at one point or another, including "Jessica Jones", "Orange is the New Black","Buffy the Vampire Slayer" , "The Walking Dead" , and "Pretty Little Liars" .


Shay Mitchell as Emily Fields, shown mourning the death of her girlfriend, Maya, on Pretty Little Liars.

Now, there is a distinction to be made for shows specifically about LGBT characters like "The L Word" , where death is simply more likely to strike a gay woman character due to probability. Likewise, shows that feature death heavily (a trope called "Anyone Can Die") are bound to kill virtually any kind of character that they display, although being a white, straight man on "The Walking Dead" seems to be your best bet to live.


"The L Word's" Dana.

The reasons for killing off a lesbian or bisexual woman character are what really upsets many TV fans. Often, queer women characters are seen as expendable or other. This is because they are usually not included as part of a central, nuclear family (like Tara in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). Therefore, they are often thought of as not serving a function that demands their continued survival, especially in shows driven by heterosexual romantic plots. Under this logic, queer women do not serve as proper objects to be viewed under the male gaze, meaning their utility is limited and they are thought not to capture audience attention effectively.

Delphine, love interest to main character Cosima, whose fate is grim and unknown, thought to be dead, on Orphan Black.

Ultimately, this outcry is warranted and well-directed. By campaigning to make studio executives understand that queer women are worthwhile characters that make television whole and captivating, fans have the opportunity to change the tide and "bury" this archaic trope.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjd-_ng-9_LAhXJSSYKHV5xBmMQjhwIBQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftvtropes.org%2Fpmwiki%2Fpmwiki.php%2FMain%2FBuryYourGays&psig=AFQjCNGQ3_nSJcjglIKW9ZVlrWi3_LTF3Q&ust=1459137185832162

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Dad, it's all your fault.
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I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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