FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
File:Gay-Away 1858.jpg


"A cure for homosexuality is a complete fantasy, an idea only entertained by homophobes, the ignorant... and my mum and dad."
Paul Sinha

The offensive occurrence in fiction of effecting a cure for, or attempting to cure, homosexuality. Such stories often focus on men because Girl-On-Girl Is Hot and most straight male fans don't want to lose that.

There are many variations on this theme, ranging from outright genetic reprogramming to just having sex with a member of the opposite sex. May draw on the Rape and Switch trope, in which homosexuality is a defense mechanism triggered by unwanted (and unpleasant) sexual contact.

Can be inverted, commonly in erotica and erotic Fan Fiction, to have a character be "cured" of heterosexuality.

Once quite common, this trope is increasingly becoming a Discredited Trope one due to homosexuals in general being moved to the realm of Once-Acceptable Targets as well as some cathartic backlash against the once common idea of "curing" homosexuality.

Does NOT include gay characters who turn out to have been bisexual all along (that is, still find the same sex attractive but are in a relationship with the opposite sex). Nor does it include If It's You It's Okay.

Please, no flaming, and no Real Life examples. Just don't go there, it's not worth it. Flame Wars or flaming in general will be summarily deleted. If you want to know about this in Real Life, feel free to go to That Other Wiki. They have several articles on the subject.

Examples of this Trope:


Anime & Manga

  • Literally happens to Mizuki in Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two..
  • Played with in Ranma ½, Ranma and co try to cure what they think is Tsubasa's Les Yay crush on Ukyou by setting her up on a date with Ranma himself. However in the end it turned out that while Tsubasa was an extremely convincing Wholesome Crossdresser he was totally heterosexual.
    • Some people have said that Rumiko Takahashi is homophobic, while others point out a gay villain in Inu-Yasha is actually portrayed rather sympathetically...while still others point out that Miroku's reaction to said gay character is repugnant...while still others argue that since he's a Buddhist monk...okay, yeah, it's hard to tell.
  • This is the premise of Houou Gakuen Misoragumi. Digital Manga Publishing dropped the english release after 1 volume due to the Values Dissonance.

Comic Books

  • Bloom County, "Outland", where Steve Dallas was subjected to electroshock therapy.
  • Occurs very commonly in Chick Tracts.
  • X-Men never had to deal with this...literally, anyway. Mutants are sometimes used as a metaphor for homosexuality, and there have been a number of storylines where someone tries to cure the mutant gene, which almost always backfires. Emma Frost discusses this trope with a scientist.

 Emma: What's next, a cure for the gay gene?

Scientist: Homosexuality isn't a threat to the human race.

Emma: We are clearly watching different televangelists.

 Stargirl: How do you feel, Todd?

Obsidian: Pretty good, all things considered. Wonderful, in fact. I'm as powerful as ever. No discernible side effects of my disability, except that I'm no longer gay, of course.

Green Lantern: Son?

Obsidian: That's right, dad! I'm cured! Isn't that great!

[The cast exchanges looks of bewilderment]

Obsidian: Relax folks. Only kidding. Still gay. Seriously, I wish you could all see your faces right now.


Film

  • Bruno. The title character (played by Sasha Baron Cohen) attempts to go straight with the help of a man who specialized in "curing" gay men.
  • But I'm a Cheerleader, a film about a summer camp attempting to cure teenagers of their homosexuality. It fails miserably.
    • Also a subversion: the protagonist's parents trying to "cure" her is the reason why she realizes she is a lesbian in the first place.
  • Chasing Amy. Appears to be about this, with Holden "curing" Alyssa of her lesbianism - however, it turns out that she was bisexual all along. She identified as lesbian for a long time, but she had been involved with a number of men in the past. When Holden finds out that he didn't magically make her switch teams, he doesn't take it well.
  • Gigli. Ben Affleck is a cure for lesbianism, it seems.
  • Far From Heaven has Dennis Quaid's character seek out a psychologist to cure his homosexuality. It doesn't work, of course.
  • Aaron is sent to a camp to cure his gayness in Latter Days. Not only it predictably doesn't work, it's there that he hears the song Christian's friend has made using his diary and realizes Christian loves him, giving him the strength to run away from there.
  • John Waters' Female Trouble. Inverted, in which Aunt Ida begs her son Gator to "turn nelly", even trying to set him up on dates with flamboyantly gay men.

 Aunt Ida: The world of the heterosexual is a sick and boring life!

  • Goldfinger. James Bond bangs the lesbianism right out of Pussy Galore.
  • Pillow Talk. Brad feigns being gay to attract Jan, to try to get her to "cure" him. The ironic subtext was that Brad was played by Rock Hudson, who even played this scene at parties for friends who knew he was gay.
  • Saved. After a devout Christian teenager learns that her boyfriend is gay, she sleeps with him in order to cure him. It doesn't work. Then the boy's parents find out and send him to an institution, where he stays for most of the movie. And then turns up at prom with a boyfriend.
  • Velvet Goldmine. Teenage Curt Wilde is given shock treatments by his parents to cure him (based on the Real Life experiences of Lou Reed).

  The doctors said the treatment would "fry the fairy clean out of him". But all it did was make him bonkers - every time he heard an electric guitar...

  • Save Me centres around a drug-addicted gay man who enters an ex-gay program at the request of his Catholic family shortly after an accidental overdose. Oddly, the ex-gay program itself is shown in a positive light, with the two camp runners being portrayed as well-intentioned but woefully misguided. They started the camp after their gay son committed suicide.
  • The main character of In and Out tries to do this with a Self-Help tape. He proceeds to fail abysmally when he can't resist the urge to dance to "I Will Survive" despite the tape screaming at him to stop.
  • The film A Different Story is of a gay man and a lesbian moving in together and both suddenly stop being gay and fall in love with eachother.


Literature

  • The Black Magician Trilogy: A character has struggled against rumors about being gay which have ruined his reputation (in his home country at least - others are more open). Eventually, when he is completely out of mana it turns out that he was gay, but he blocked out the memories and has been reflexively using Healing magic to block any sexual impulse for years. The gay man he had been traveling with had already figured it out but didn't want to say anything, and they end up becoming a couple.
    • It's a bit better than the regular cases, since the man IS gay, but had tried to 'cure' himself, due to the great social stigma attached to it in his home country. It sort of works, since he forces himself -- with magic -- not to think sexual thoughts, because he doesn't want to admit that he is gay. So it is sort of an inversion of the trope. Since it is a curing that fails. Sort of.
    • This is essentially what a particularly Armored Closet Gay goes through, aided by magic. If a repressed homosexual had access to magic, this is what they would do. A 'cure' for homosexuality would not result in a functionally asexual person, but a heterosexual person, because the kind of people who think that homosexuality is a disease that needs to be cured are generally not going to accept asexual identities, either. The situation described above is not a cure, but merely good ol' repression, magically enhanced.
  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream has one of the human characters as having been once homosexual, but after so many years of torture from AM he now has sex with Ellen, the only female of the group. Also became a monstrous gorilla thing. This is a case where this clearly isn't supposed to be seen as a good thing and only reinforce AM's Complete Monsterdom, and may in fact count as some form of dark social satire.
  • In Julian Comstock, Adam (who is straight) manages to take advantage of this:

 On more than one occasion his [Julian's] female acquaintances--sophisticated girls of my own age, or older--made the assumption that I was Julian's intimate companion, in a physical sense. Whereupon they undertook to cure me of my deviant habits, in the most direct fashion. I was happy to cooperate with these "cures," and they were successful, every time.

  • Alfie in Alfie's Home gets "cured".
  • In E.M. Forster's Maurice, the titular character goes to a hypnotist to try to change. Doesn't work.
  • In Oracle by Greg Egan, an alternate universe Alan Turing is locked in a punishingly cramped cage by the secret service in an attempt to cure him of his homosexuality. The No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Turing notices the Anviliciousness of the situation:

 Quint was silent for a moment, then he replied with a tone of thoughtful sympathy. "It's unnatural, isn't it? Living like this: bent over, twisted, day after day. Living in an unnatural way is always going to harm you. I'm glad you can finally see that."

Robert was tired; it took several seconds for the meaning to sink in. It was that crude, that obvious? They'd locked him in this cage, for all this time ... as a kind of ham-fisted metaphor for his crimes?

    • His short story "Cocoon" also has the eponymous treatment for pregnant women that inadvertently prevents gay-making hormones from reaching the baby.
  • Subverted in season three of Stationery Voyagers. The Mystery Wanderer and Crooked Rainbow mobs assault Oceanoe with Reverse-Eros gas, in the hopes of planting temptations in him." He spends the entire episode fighting off the gas's influence with all his might while he is captured and constantly tortured until he begs for the Brain Bleach. When Viola is nearly killed in the attempt to save him, Filforth shows up and kills everyone involved in the abduction save for the Wanderer and pop star Katrina Anguara. Oceanoe's mind is then healed, but only to the point where he can "keep the influences under control and not be a slave to them." But the memories are left to haunt him throughout his life. Not a cure; but at least a treatment.
  • In Pat Barker's The Eye In The Door, some members of the British parliament see gays as a threat to society, and there's a lot of talk about curing homosexuality through therapy--it's a constant threat in the background, although it's never tried on any of the main characters.
  • In Love Drugged by James Klise, the main character attempts to cure his own homosexuality by taking an experimental pill that claims to be able to remove homosexual urges, even though it's currently untested and the side effects include nausea, rage problems and blinding headaches. It doesn't quite work as he hoped, however - the pills only help with diminishing his homosexual urges, but don't create heterosexual urges in their place, leaving him basically desexualised, angry and in pain.
  • In the short story The Crooked Man by Charles Beaumont, Jesse and Mina are a straight couple meeting in secret in a future where gay couples are the norm and politicians rail against heterosexuals. At the conclusion, they are caught by the vice squad and get taken away to be cured (Jesse forcibly; Mina has accepted it and decides it would be better than going underground).


Live Action TV

  • One episode of Boston Legal featured one of the recurring judges suing a Christian institution after their program failed to cure his homosexuality. Or, as he put it, the urges he kept having that in no way indicated he was actually gay.
  • Joked about on Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Willow points out to her girlfriend Tara that some guys were checking her out.

 Tara: Oh my God! I'm cured! I want the boys!

  • Turning Stephen Colbert gay is part of the national Secret Gay Agenda.
  • The short-lived CBS drama Century City (the law firm OF THE FUTURE!) had its pilot shuffled around and eventually buried because it dealt with this trope head-on. A pre-natal procedure that reduces the chances of a child being born gay has become commonplace, and the law firm is hired by a couple of parents who are suing their doctor because their child has been born gay. At first they think it was a medical error... then they find out the doctor's been deliberately sabotaging the procedure because he hates the idea of homosexuality and the gay community just vanishing silently. The episode ends with a Gay Aesop, but it's understandable why the topic was a bit hinky,
  • Coupling poked fun at this in an episode that had a lot of fun with Steve's fascination with lesbian porn. In one of the typical misunderstandings, Patrick mistakes Jane's therapist Jill for a lesbian while she thinks that Patrick is gay. Both are unaware of it, both are surprised how open the other is to being turned by the right man/woman, and both end up in bed together. Final scene of the episode is Patrick sporting a happy "wow, I scored a lesbian" smile.
  • Degrassi the Next Generation. In one episode, Riley contacts an organization devoted to this sort of therapy, after entering "how to not be gay" in a search engine. He is frustrated when told the process will take years and involve considerable expense. He eventually comes to terms with his homosexuality.
    • Fans did it first. A lot of fanfic involved "curing" Marco. It didn't work out well, most of the time. Some of the time it did.
  • Ellen. Subverted in one episode, in which everyone wishes they could be gay because it's so chic in Hollywood, to the point in which Sean Penn comes out to increase his popularity. Being a Fake Brit is the real atrocity.
  • The patient in the House episode "The Choice" is engaged to a woman and insists that he has been 'cured' of homosexuality. This cure turns out to be the cause of his illness.
  • Law and Order. One episode involved a doctor that claims to be able to cure homosexuality who is suspected of murdering his son's (male) lover. He claims he had no idea his son was gay and thought he was being raped but he knew all along as his son's beard's mother told him.)
    • Also in that episode, the victim was a former spokesman for an organization that supposedly cures homosexuality; when questioned, members of the group-- a gay man and a lesbian who are married having been tragically brainwashed and warped by the group-- acknowledge that there's no such thing as a cure for their orientation, and that choosing to suppress their sexual desires is as much a "lifestyle choice" as being part of gay culture-- and just as much of a struggle. It's both pathetic and sad
  • Lewis: "Life Born of Fire" opens with the suicide of a gay man who (as it emerges during the course of the episode) was a member of a Christian group that attempted to 'cure' his homosexuality.
  • Queer as Folk tried this on Emmett with a church organization called "See the Light". It culminated in a rather amusing scene in which Emmet and another "cured" lesbian have sex; they both try to envision a perfect, sexy member of the opposite sex, but end up fantasizing about those of their own. Both of them got better.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Beard", Elaine tries to make a gay man "change teams". She succeeds, but only temporarily.
  • In South of Nowhere, upon finding out about her daughter's lesbianism, Spencer's bigoted mother hires a "professional" to cure Spencer of her homosexuality. She and the therapist both get the smackdown from Arthur once he finds out.
    • Spencer isn't exactly a fan either.

 Paula: I love you Spencer; you are sick...

Spencer: I am sick?!

Paula: ... And I want to help you.

Spencer: Mom, Glenn was so addicted to painkíllers that he end up in jail, and I am the one that needs to get better?!

Arthur: Give me a sec with your mother [Spencer storms off] Why are you doing this Paula?

Paula: I am trying to help our daughter!

Arthur: Well you are pushing her away. We are going to lose her!

Paula: Oh open your eyes Arthur: We already have!

  • An episode of Sugar Rush (TV) has the protagonist going to a church group to "cure" herself - but instead ends up finding herself a date.
  • 30 Rock. Devon Banks claimed he was "cured" of his homosexuality. It didn't work, as Devon remains infatuated with men, especially Kenneth.
    • Inverted in Cooter, when a "gay bomb" weapon malfunctions, causing Jack and Pentagon brass to start hitting on each other. In a later episode, it is implied things went further as Jack fretted about meeting a general he'd had sex with under the influence.

 Cooter: I feel weird.

Jack: (hungrily) Let's do this.

      • Oddly enough, That was an experimental weapon the military was actually working on, But it wasn't necessarily a Gay bomb, More a pheremone gas that made people have sex with Anyone nearby as a way of distracting the other side. They never actually got it past the planning stages, for the obvious reason of it being a ridiculously stupid idea.
        • Not oddly enough - the writers of 30 Rock were well aware of this.
  • Too Close for Comfort. Monroe Ficus (played by Jm. J Bullock) suddenly announced he was cured of his homosexuality, thanks to Executive Meddling and public discomfiture of an openly gay character on television.
  • One episode of Veronica Mars involved a high school boy whose parents sent him to a camp that was supposed to "de-gay" him.
  • Will and Grace. Subverted in one episode guest-stars Neil Patrick Harris (who was still officially in the closet at the time) as the leader of an ex-gay club who Jack gets a crush on and ends up showering with, after it is discovered that EVERYONE in the club was actually using it as a dating service.
  • Inverted in The War at Home, where Dylan, Hillary's ex-boyfriend, turns gay as he began to date Kenny. Dave then commented her as "the gay maker".
  • Played horrifically straight in an episode of The Shield. A young girl is raped repeatedly by her bigoted father, brother, and others in order to cure her of her homosexuality. The trauma is enough that she acknowledges her orientation again.
  • Dale of Greek tries to "cure" Calvin by giving him pictures of male models and then forcing him to smell rotten food (to create a connection between the two). Dale mostly drops it when Calvin points out that the same passage of the Bible that condemns homosexuality also condemns wearing clothing from different cloths (and is that a multifiber sweater?).
  • Played terribly straight in Eastenders, when Syed, in a desperate bid to get his parents to love and respect him again, sends himself to a therapist who claims he can make someone straight.
  • In Community episodes Physical Education Shirley suggests this if Abed's admirer is male.
  • One episode of Glee features Kurt trying to be more masculine, and thus straight, because he thinks his father will love him more. His (very loving and accepting) father sees right through this, but humors his son anyway. By the end of the episode, of course, he accepts himself.

 Kurt: Turned out we have a lot more in common. The flannel. The Mellencamp. The ladies.

    • Later mentioned in a far more serious context when Karofsky is outed at his new school and tries to hang himself; at the hospital, he tells Kurt that his mother thinks he has a disease and that maybe he can be cured.
  • On Malcolm in the Middle, Francis becomes an assistant to beauty pageant contestants. He finds out that they think he's gay, but goes along with it as it means they're comfortable flaunting their bodies around him and letting him help them change costumes. Eventually he tries to get together with one by saying he's wondering if he can be cured, but this lands him in a seminar where a stereotypical Southern preacher lambasts the audience to "pray away the gay." It's also implied that another man at the seminar only comes there to pick up guys.
  • In one Scrubs episode, Elliot claims to have convinced a man he was straight by sleeping with him. Of course, then he hung himself.
    • When her brother Barry came out, their parents sent him to hetero-camp.

Music

  • In the music video Be Mine of Ofenbach, two gay boys (a Pretty Boy couple) get kidnapped by a sexy crazy girl. They are tied up and gagged, she trying to seduce and torture both of them. It did eventually work, they end up having threesome.
  • Inverted in Tim Minchin's Five Poofs And Two Pianos in which he expresses the desire to get someone to do the same thing but in reverse because gays are cooler.
  • Lou Reed's Kill Your Sons was based on his electroshock therapy in an attempt to cure his bisexuality.


Newspaper Comics

  • Poked fun at in a Doonesbury strip, where Lacey Davenport and Joanie visit a homosexuality-awareness meeting. Lacey, not very familiar with the homosexual community, kindly asks them "But have you really tried dating some nice girls?" One of the men replies "It doesn't work like that, ma'am."


Theater

  • The Boys in the Band. Michael and Donald both wish to be "cured" of their homosexuality; Donald is even seeing a shrink to help him. Other characters, like Emory and Harold, refuse to be cured, and in Harold's case, mocks Michael's self-loathing.
  • In the musical Only Heaven Knows, set in the 1940s and 50s, Alan sings the Tear Jerker "Where is the Love?" before going to get shock treatments to cure himself of homosexuality.
  • Peterson Toscano's one-man show Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House is about the utter failure of this trope in the real world.


Web Comics

  • Sonichu. One of the more recent plot developments involves Chris-chan donating some of his "pure straight" blood to science so that they can create a vaccine that erases homosexuality on a genetic level, which he uses to turn his arch-nemesis straight and "turned him good" and injects into the water supply with the help of Time Travel, eventually eradicating homosexuality off the face of the Earth entirely. It also cured Asexuality too. For some reason, they didn't use future Chris. And it raises some questions though: did the distribution of the gay vaccine in the past create a time paradox, or did the gay vaccine simply fail?
  • A reverse example occurs early in Something Positive when Monette insists she's a lesbian who just ends up sleeping with guys all the time, and wants help to become properly gay.

 Peejee: You could always have sex with Davan.

Aubrey: Plenty of his lovers switched teams afterwards.

Davan: Hey! Fuck you! That's only happened twice!

  • The Dragon Doctors has devices that can change one's orientation easily, but it's only seen used to keep up when one's significant other switches gender (which can happen accidentally).
    • Similarly in El Goonish Shive, transformation into the opposite gender temporarily adds the heterosexual attraction of the destination gender. Which means that while transformed, a gay guy would be a straight girl (and a straight person would be bi).
  • The "rape them straight" variant shows up in Misfile, when two rednecks overhear Ash and Missi's Les Yay conversation and decide to "fix" them. Luckily, a friend of the girls' chases them off by saying he's taken pictures with his phone and is ready to go to the cops. The rednecks let everyone go, but set up an ambush to get the phone and the pictures. Then an angel kills them both.

Western Animation

  • In Family Guy, Peter becomes gay after a medical experiment and leaves Lois. Stewie and Brian then take Peter by force to a Christian "Straight Camp." Doesn't work, but by the end of the episode his "gay gene" naturally wears off (just between an all-male orgy) and he's back as a "straight" man.
  • American Dad has an inversion of this. Stan tries to make himself gay, to prove by analogy that if straights can change, gays can too. He finds it doesn't work for him (as the guy he tried to sleep with said, "it's not a choice, either you're gay or you aren't"), and he uses the knowledge as a basis for inviting gays into the Conservative party, because... "otherwise they might become liberal." (gasp)
    • One of Stan's CIA co-workers (whose sexuality is confusing, to say the least) claimed he was once gay, but after he got out of real estate his "sodomy cleared up like that".
  • The Simpsons. In the episode Homer's Phobia, Homer panics that Bart might be gay after contact with kitsch memorabilia seller John. In order to prevent or cure any possible homosexuality, Homer takes Bart to stare at a billboard of a sexy woman (it just makes him want to smoke, since it's a cigarette ad), to a steel mill to see manly men at work (who all turn out to be gay), deer hunting, and finally just shooting at reindeer in a pen.

 Homer: He (John) didn't give you gay, did he?

    • In Future-Drama, a Flash Forward episode, Bart sees Smithers with his female fiancee.

 Bart: Mr. Smithers? I thought you were, you know-- uh.

Smithers: Haha, no, I'm straight - as long as I take these injections every ten minutes. (injects himself) I LOVE BOOBIES!

    • Ned Flanders once said the reason he was so in shape is because he "runs for the cure...of homosexuality!"
    • Smithers explains his being photographed leaving a burlesque house: "My parents insisted I give it a try."
  • South Park. In the episode Cartman Sucks, Butters' dad, Stephen Stotch, worries that Butters is bi-curious (a stupid word meaning "gay but curable"). Butters is sent off to a Christian conversion therapy camp, who repeatedly reinforce the idea that the boys there are just "confused". And if you weren't before you went, you will be afterwards. At the gay conversion camp, the boys are miserable and suicide is common. (As in, happens every five minutes.) Butters' dad is bisexual, by the way. When Butters' mom finds out, before learning to repress it, she does not take it well. Ironically Butters is probably one of the straightest people in the town.
    • In Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride, Stan tries to try to cure his dog of homosexuality, before Big Gay Al makes his debut and espouses gay civil rights for animals.
    • Most of the adults in the town are gay, bisexual, or have at least partaken in mutual masturbation at one point or another.
    • Mr. Garrison easily takes the cake as South Park's most sexually confused resident. He started out straight, then came out as gay, then renounced homosexuality and got a sex change, then became attracted to women again and became a transsexual lesbian, and finally he decided he was unhappy as a woman and went back to being a heterosexual man. Whatever Mr. Garrison's actual sexual orientation is, one thing's for sure: he's a huge pervert.

  Chef: Now, now, children. There is a BIG difference between gay people and Mr. Garrison.

  • The Venture Brothers. The joke has been made at least a few times. In Season 2 Episode 3, Hank mentions that Dr. Venture had been working on a "cure for the gay gene," until stopped by protesters. In Season 3 Episode 13, Holy Diver (formerly Shore Leave) claims to have "banished the demons of homosexuality" and to have been "cured by the Lord."
    • Of course, that was just part of his cover.
      • His partner on the other hand, wasn't gay, and simply did him as part of his cover.
  • Parodied in a Saturday Night Live TV Funhouse short with "Heteroy", the Christian fundamentalist superhero whose powers convert gays to straights when they prove resistant to converting through other means.
  • On Archer, Gillette reveals that he was married for two years... to a lesbian. They met at a Pray-Away-The-Gay bible group.
  • An episode of King of the Hill offers a more sympathetic take on this. Peggy admits that before she met Hank she slept with a gay male friend in an attempt to "fix" him. In this case, the man was the one who asked because (as Peggy puts it), being gay in Texas in the 60s wasn't exactly a lot of fun. When Luanne asks "Did you fix him?", Peggy responds "Oh, he wasn't broken. Just gay."
  • In Futurama episode "Proposition Infinity", "robosexuals" Amy and Bender are respectively subjected to being "cured" of their attraction, complete with Bender going to the robot equivalent of a gay curing camp.
    • And, in a bit of Dark Comedy, Morbo exasperatedly says "What's next? Gay robot marriage?, implying that, even in the thirty-first century, there are still issues corcerning human(oid) rights.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.