Opinion: Is queer-coding really a bad thing?

Megan Keane, Columnist

Is queer-coding the equivalent to queer-baiting? Queer-baiting is the possibility of a character—or characters—being LGBTQ+ and is dangled in front of the viewer’s face, either that be that in movies or television. It keeps viewers tuning in in hopes that the character will get together with their possible LGBTQ+ counterpart, even though we’re constantly reminded, “No homo.”

Queer-coding is the subtext of a movie or TV show that only someone of that minority culture would pick up on but could easily be ignored by the majority. There tends to be a heterosexual alibi so that the homosexuality is easily denied. A character may have stereotypically queer characteristics, but perhaps they’re in a heterosexual relationship, and their possible homosexuality is never addressed.

I think queer-coding may be a subset of queer-baiting. Queer-baiting is seen as a bad thing. The makers of the movie are never fulfilling the wishes of the viewers and they string them along by constantly dangling what they want in front of their faces. It’s the equivalent of acting like you’re going to give your dog a table scrap and then eating it in front of them: mean.

When a character, say, doesn’t respond to being asked about being homosexual, that would give someone hope that they could be homosexual, yes? And then, that same possibly-homosexual character ends up in a heterosexual relationship. It’s like, “Another table scrap for the heterosexuals.”

Here is an example if you’re having a hard time following.

Stiles Stilinski from “Teen Wolf” (2011-2017) — his sexuality was speculated by fans. He was quirky and expressed some possible homosexual tendencies, pretty much entirely coded or baited, and ended up in a heterosexual relationship.

Gay coding or baiting keeps viewers returning week after week, movie after movie, in the hopes that something will be confirmed. Hollywood is capitalizing off of queer-coding — creators make queer-coded characters and claim that they’ve represented the LGBTQ+ community. They capitalize off of this representation, even though there’s no concrete evidence that the character is actually gay.

This really hit headlines in 2017 in light of “Beauty and the Beast” film’s LeFou’s adaptation, and Power Rangers’ Trini. Both characters were coded queer, but were never outright expressed as being such, but the creators of both films were able to claim LGBTQ+ representation.

To me, there’s a hairline difference. Queer-coding is a subset of queer-baiting: It falls under the umbrella of queer-baiting. It’s just another way to bait the LGBTQ+ community into investing time and feelings into their media and getting nothing out of it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to speculate, analyze and overanalyze  about your favorite characters, but sometimes people just want a little validation.

Megan Keane is an English and psychology major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]