Jokes about characters being queer

In fiction (in various media), I occasionally see jokes in which one presumably-straight character jokingly implies that they or another presumably-straight character aren’t really straight.

I feel like there are kind of three levels of such jokes:

  1. It would be a bad thing if character x weren’t straight.
  2. It would be totally fine if character x weren’t straight.
  3. It would be totally fine if character x weren’t straight—and there are multiple out LGBTQ characters in the work, sympathetically portrayed.

Gilmore Girls went from level 1 to level 2 over the course of the series, which was a relief, but it never reached level 3. (Yes, there were multiple characters who could be read as queer, but none of them were explicitly out.) Today’s episode of Girl Genius has a level-2 joke (which is what sparked this post), as have occasional previous episodes, but again, the strip has no out LGBTQ characters. (A few unnamed background characters have been implied, but none explicit that I recall.)

Level 2 is way way better than level 1. But I wish that creators who are working at level 2 would go a step further.

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