Features and Columns · Movies

The Cinematic Origins of the “Bury Your Gays” Cliché

Every trope has an origin story.
Gay Rebel Without A Cause Guy
By  · Published on September 13th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores the origins of the “bury your gays” cinematic trope.

Unfortunately, much like real life, certain demographics in film have historically been considered  “more expendable” than others. For a long time, this included queer characters.

The nuances of this expendability have shifted over time, reacting to everything from human rights victories to the AIDS epidemic, to changes in public opinion. From “deviant” queer-coded characters whose deaths are played for laughs to melodramatic “gayngst-induced suicides,” for a good deal of cinema’s history, being queer on-screen was a death sentence.

It must be said: things have changed. To the point where there’s even a “preserve your gays” trope, which as its name suggests, goes out of its way to ensure that queer characters survive.

But where did the “bury your gays” cinematic trope begin? What part did the Hayes Code play in its proliferation? And what can the trope’s origins tell us about how we tell queer stories today? Here’s a super-sized video essay that digs into it:

Watch “Where the ‘Bury Your Gays’ Trope Came From?”


Who made this?

This video essay about the origins of the “bury your gays” trope in film is by James Somerton, a Toronto-based video essayist who makes videos about “mostly queer stuff” (hell yeah). You can subscribe to Somerton on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter (I’m not going to call it “X”), here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.