Comics: Roll Dice Already!

How to Avoid Queerbaiting

Lillian is out this week, guest comic by Sarah Gould!


Two good looking dudes look playfully at each other. 

Text Box One: Many authors worry that they’ll accidentally lead queer audiences on with characters who might be queer but are never explicitly shown to be. Avoiding this problem is a delicate and difficult process.

The dudes embrace in a kiss. 

Text Box Two: Never mind, you’ve solved it. Congratulations.




  1. Patroclus

    Once or twice I’ve seen people accuse a show of queerbaiting when the show already had multiple LGBT couples. As long as there actually are LGBT couples can a show get away with say teasing a ship much like straight media does with their characters?

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      In general I would avoid it, since the potential for getting it wrong is so high. As a straight dude, I’m gonna leave the “Will They, Won’t They” stories to queer storytellers.

  2. Sam Victors

    I do have a subplot in my time-travel romance, about the rivalry between the Hero and his Archnemesis. The Archnemesis is not the primary villain but is an antagonist hunting down the Hero. They even have a backstory; the Antagonist and the Hero were once soldiers in the English Civil War (both on Roundhead side). They best friends who became close as brothers. By the end of the war when Cromwell one, the friends became distant; the Antagonist was a devout Cromwell supporter and Puritan, while the Hero had a change of conscience and left the Roundheads to join the Cavaliers/Royalists. The Antagonist was upset and angered by this, but he still loved their friendship that he made it his mission to return the Hero to his side. But over the years the Antagonist has become cruel and religiously fanatical, but there is another side to him; his mother is none other the infamous Bloody Ogress, a wild cannibal woman whom the Antagonist is trying to cover up and protect because he’s secretly an undercover Mama’s Boy. The Antagonist wants his friend back, at any cost, he hides his criminal mother, he’s a devout follower of Cromwell, but also deep inside he knows Cromwell’s rule is unpopular and a failure, but he will not admit it.

    Will that sound a little queerbaiting?

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Possibly. It’s hard to say without seeing the story, but audiences do often interpret close male friendships as hints that the characters are gay. Bashir and O’Brien from DS9 are a good example. They don’t actively flirt, but they’re so into each other (while O’Brien doesn’t seem into his wife), that many people ship them.

      In *most* cases, people will only see queerbaiting if the characters are doing something that would be construed as romantic between characters of opposite genders. If you can swap out the gender of one character and the story doesn’t feel romantic, you’re probably fine.

      One way to take out an insurance policy is to make at least one of the characters explicitly queer with someone else. They might be gay, but they’re just not into the antagonist/hero.

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