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Have you tried... not being a mutant?
Madeline Drake (to her son Bobby), X2: X-Men United

There's a certain group of people. They have a normal childhood, to an extent, but somewhere along the way, they discover they're different. Not like the other children. Not like their parents. They're something unusual. Something that means they can never fit in. They hide their differences deep away from themselves, but it eats away at them.

Then they find others like them - also living in secret and ostracized from society. A subculture, upholding a masquerade of being normal by day, but living out a secret lifestyle in seedy bars and locations. They might ask their family if they would still love them, but chances are that if they ever tell their parents, acceptance will be hard, and they'll inevitably be asked, "Have you tried...not being a monster?"

This story is familiar to many real-life minorities, the most well known example being gay people, so it's not that surprising that it's so often used for various fantastical creatures as well. Often as part of The Masquerade, you have at least someone hiding who they are from their parents.

In some cases, this appears to be a way to introduce gay themes into a plot when they're too cowardly to introduce actual gay characters or when they feel that allegory or metaphor will be less likely to be censored. Some writers go farther and do have gay characters, sometimes making the metaphor explicit in the text. In these cases, it can result in certain characters reacting in a way that some real-life people react to gays, but that makes no sense in the actual context.

In its best use, this kind of scene can create an effective allegory. In other cases, it seems to be simply the natural outcome of the circumstances the story is set in. If there is a stigmatized difference that is not readily apparent or can be disguised (especially one that appears when the character is old enough to hide it), chances are that characters will try to hide it to avoid being judged, and that if/when they come out, it'll come as a unpleasant shock to someone.

As one can imagine, this trope can have myriad Unfortunate Implications, although the intent is usually to deal with a social issue without causing a moral panic. Remember, Tropes Are Not Bad.

See Also: Space Jews, Fantastic Racism, Ambiguously Gay, Hide Your Lesbians, Discount Lesbians, Does This Remind You of Anything?, All of the Other Reindeer, Why Couldn't You Be Different? and Stages of Monster Grief.

Examples of Have You Tried Not Being a Monster? include:

Anime and Manga

  • Played for Laughs in Slayers Next when heroes face the fact that a charming prankster they traveled with is millenia-old and extremely powerful Mazoku. Amelia, of course, immediately and passionately exhorted to "become a real human". Even Gourry saw just how grotesque this was.
  • Done in a more sensible fashion in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. It's more along the lines of "Have you tried not being a group of morally-devoid combat cyborgs?" At the end of her fight with Nove, Wendi and Deed, Teana tells Nove that if she cooperates, she will be able to start over and enter rehabilitation, prompting Nove to respond that they, being combat cyborgs, are made to do battle. Teana responds that Subaru is a case of someone who was made as a combat cyborg but nevertheless became a kind person. Teana's three opponents get the message and enter rehabilitation, with Wendi and Nove crediting Teana as the one who inspired them to change.
  • This is the major conclusion of Subtext for Light in Death Note. When he simultaneously dates a half dozen girls and keeps a Porn Stash for the sole purpose of hiding the fact that he's a killer with supernatural powers we have safely arrived at this trope.
    • There's also an inversion, where the parent is correct. Knowing that his son is under suspicion of mass murder, Light's father, Soichiro, gently explains to him that it isn't Kira who's evil, but the power he's come by. Sadly, his effort is wasted.
      • This follows Light walking out of Soichiro's family meeting (he covers it well, but he does walk out), after Soichiro calls Kira evil and declares that he'll never submit to him. In short, Light's got daddy issues.


  • X-Men, to the point of extreme Lampshade Hanging, where people (like Spider-Man) in some issues get gays and mutants confused. Mutants who can pass for human are sometimes referred to being "in the closet". The biggest group of people rallying against mutants are conservative Christians, who think their existence is a sin against God. There have been numerous attempts to "cure" mutants, as well as to kill them off as "abominations". Basically, after the racial civil rights of the 60s and 70s cooled down, the franchise was adapted to mirror the gay rights struggle, which it actually fits better in many respects (since mutants can be born to anyone, don't become different until puberty and you can't necessarily tell their condition by looking at them).

 Superman: But I've got friends who are mutants! Like... uh, Spider-Man?

Spider-Man: Hey, I'm not a mutant! ...NotThatTheresAnythingWrongWithThat.

    • This is taken to its logical extreme in Dark Avengers-X-Men: The Beginning, where it's revealed that the San Francisco neighborhood known as the Castro is a mutant neighborhood instead of a gay community like in real life. Vote no on Prop X and all that. Goddammit, Marvel, there are actual gay people in your universe. This is especially baffling when you consider that M-Day and other events eliminated all possible similarities between gay people and mutants. There are, at a maximum, 500 mutants alive worldwide. Theirs is the last generation; no more are being born. So, among other things, the idea of mutants as an even somewhat visible minority anymore is insanely ridiculous.
      • And then changed again in Generation Hope. With Hope's return and survival? Mutants begin being born again, thus becoming a minority again.
  • Runaways played with the trope with Karolina, who felt different all her life without ever knowing why, and there eventually comes the major revelation that she is an alien. However, it turned out she was an alien and gay, and she asked herself this question. When the team had unknowingly let a vampire into their hideout, before Karolina came out to her friends, she mentions to the newcomer how she hates always feeling different and abnormal, and she decides that she wants to feel like a normal teenage girl (And since she is sixteen, and he is cute, and they are alone...). Of course, it is never that simple, and in a very Real Life way (except for the vampire and alien bits) she falls into a suicidal depression when she can not fit in like she wants to, but she also learns to accept herself, and is accepted by her friends, and eventually becomes proud and unapologetic of her heritage and sexuality.
    • This is later used when Karolina begins to date Xavin, who willingly spends time as a girl with her after finding out she is a lesbian. Some Majesdonians (Karolina's alien species) later track her down and, upon hearing that she and Xavin are in a relationship, say that it is "disgusting".. .because a Majesdonian is dating a Skrull.
  • When Wiccan of the Young Avengers came out to his parents, their response was to say that they always knew and welcome his boyfriend to the family. Ironically, he was trying to reveal that he and his boyfriend were superheroes.

Fan Fiction

  • In Luminosity, vampires do simply change upon turning in a few key ways. Most of them are hard to understand, and after a few questions from her father about stuff that's perfectly normal for a vampire, Bella thinks

 I half expected him to ask if I'd ever tried to stop being a vampire.


Films — Live-Action

  • The Blue Rajah (Master of Cutlery!) from Mystery Men is mortified to be caught by his mother rummaging through her cutlery drawers, and desperately tries to brazen it out by daring her to disapprove of his superhero lifestyle. She turns out to be far more supportive and loving than he expected.
  • One of the jocks in Cursed assumed that this was what the newly-infected werewolf was concealing. As the jock in question had been hiding his own sexual orientation, confusion ensues.
  • In X2: X-Men United, Bobby Drake's parents find out that he's a mutant and have pretty much exactly this reaction. Complete with his mother giving him the quote at the top of the page. The filmmakers consulted Ian McKellen for the scene due to his experience being gay during much less forgiving times. Many viewers consider it Narm, but this is likely the point, as many a homosexual who have endured the 'real' version of the line have likely wondered how close family could seriously ask such an ignorant question.
    • This pops up a second time in the movie. When Nightcrawler asks Mystique why she doesn't use her shapeshifting powers to blend in with normal humans, she replies, "Because we shouldn't have to."
    • This was recently confirmed by the creators, who also revealed that the gay-rights themes even extend to X-Men: First Class.
      • The GLBT metaphor is very close to the surface in First Class. Charles and Erik both have passing privilege, since their respective mutations don't make them look any different from non-mutants, but have still strongly affected their lives. Raven can pass for 'normal' but it's exhausting and undermines her self-confidence. More than anything Raven feels like a metaphor for a transgender person, especially after her conversation with Erik — she doesn't have to perfectly "pass" as a non-mutant woman to be beautiful and have worth.
  • This crops up in Muppets from Space when Gonzo discovers he's an alien; "But I didn't choose to be one. I mean, I've always had alien tendencies, and this just makes sense to me."


  • Werewolves are treated this way in Harry Potter.
    • Rowling has said that werewolves and Lupin in particular were actually a metaphor for segregation in general, but also for society's negative reactions to the disabled. Lupin's lycanthropy forces him to need many special accommodations just to live day to day, such as a potion he has to take for the rest of his life, or the more elaborate quarantine Hogwarts had to set up for him as a child.
    • The movie version of Azkaban is particularly Anvilicious about this. In the book, Lupin has no problem talking about being a werewolf at the end-of-the-book wrapup with Harry, whereas in the movie he hesitates and uses lots of euphemisms that make it sound like he's talking about something else entirely...

 Lupin: This time tomorrow, the owls will start arriving, and parents will not want a wer... er, someone like me teaching their children.

Lupin: Besides, people like me are... Well, let's just say that I'm used to it by now.

    • He lampshades his heavy use of euphemisms somewhere along the line, saying, "James used to call it my 'furry little problem'. Many of my classmates were under the impression that I owned a very badly behaved rabbit."
    • This was likely done on purpose, as David Thewlis, the man who played Lupin, was convinced his character was gay and professed to be disappointed when he married Tonks.
  • The world of the Mercy Thompson series plays around with this trope. There's a lot of religious opposition, especially toward the fae, but it's quickly demonstrated to be a lot more reasonable than it seems at first glance. Sticking those fae forced out of the closet onto literal reservations, however, certainly fits a version of this trope. On the other hand, there are gay werewolves, who are discriminated against both as they would be in the real world, and by werewolves that have their own discriminatory beliefs on the matter.
    • Homophobia among werewolves is partially explained by the near immortality of the species. Many or most are centuries old, born when homosexuality was unacceptable, and as they grow older they find it harder to change with the times. The Columbia Basin pack, which does have a gay member, is explicitly stated to have accepted him in large part because many of the other members were only a few decades old. In addition, werewolves can smell arousal, so having a gay man among many others who are good-looking, straight and short-tempered makes violence near unavoidable. An Alpha may deny a gay werewolf membership not based on his personal homophobia, but because he isn't strong enough to prevent the fights caused by inadvertent flirting.
  • In the fantasy novel The Weavers of Saramyr, people born with magical powers are called "Aberrant." Veteran Aberrant Asara gives protagonist Kaiku what can only be described as a "coming out of the closet speech", urging her to accept her powers and be proud of them... moments before a big Les Yay Ship Tease moment.
  • The Dresden Files invokes this trope, as wizards are supposed to maintain secrecy at all times and not reveal to the rest of the world that they exist, lest non-wizards become terrified and kill them. Averted in the case of the series protagonist, who not only puts "HARRY DRESDEN, WIZARD" on his office door and is listed in the Yellow Pages under "Wizards," but also goes on his universe's equivalent of Jerry Springer to talk about magic and promote his business. Twice.
    • Amusingly, Harry's association with White Court vampire and his half-brother Thomas Raith has led people to assume he is gay. They tend to have a Not That There's Anything Wrong with That attitude to it, and when they're prejudiced, Harry has used that to his advantage. And Murphy won't shut up about it, so he's probably never going to live it down.
  • A mild version of this is in The House of Night series. In the first book, when Zoey gets the Mark of a vampyre, all she knows is that vampyres often disappear. She then discovers that there is a school for them (the titular "House of Night") and that many celebrities are vampyres. Being a vampyre is treated similar to being gay in this universe. Because of this, her strict Christian stepfather disowns her. Vampyres also have to cover up their Mark in public to avoid being harassed.
  • In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, male channelers are treated like this... at the very best. Justified, though, as they are doomed to go insane, which will have disastrous effects to anything and anyone in vicinity, and at the end die a horrible death.
  • Bella pulls this pretty much straight (in wording, at least) on Jacob when confronting him after figuring out that he's a werewolf.

 Bella: Could you...well, try to not be a...werewolf?

    • In the film (not sure about the book) Jacob responds: "This isn't a lifestyle choice, I was born like this."
    • In all fairness she was under the impression that Jacob had crossed the Moral Event Horizon. In fact they way she handles it (book at least not sure about the movie) is with a lot more grace then most would have believing they where confronting a cult of Humanitarian Wolf Men.
    • Given that Edward himself says straight out he's killed people before and that he is dangerous, wants to bite her, and other things that should send off an alarm in her head, Bella doesn't care one bit, making her a hypocrite either way.
  • Dusk from Darkwing... fits this perfectly.
  • One of the most Anvilicious examples is Raxtus, the "fairy dragon" from the Fablehaven series. These quotes make it pretty obvious:

 "I was incubated and hatched by fairy magic, and I came out...unique."

"I'm the pretty dragon. The funny dragon. Problem is, dragons are supposed to be fearsome and awe-inspiring. Not witty. Being the funny dragon is like being the bald mammoth. Being the pretty dragon is like being the ugly fairy."

"My father is...the king of dragons....And I'm his greatest disappointment. Raxtus the fairy dragon."

"Guess what my breath weapon does? Helps things grow! And the only magic I can do is defensive stuff like hiding, or else healing. Again, like a fairy."

"I can't manage to look like a person....I look like a boy fairy with butterfly wings."

  • In Hero by Perry Moore, Thom is an extreme example of this. He has healing powers, but his father, a former (non-superpowered) superhero who left in disgrace, now hates anyone with powers. Then there's the fact that Thom's also gay...
  • In Bill Brittain's book, Wings, the main character grows a pair of batlike--and ultimately functional--wings. He is forced to have them surgically removed in the end, however, at the insistence of his father.

Live-Action TV

  • Vampires in True Blood are very analogous to gays. They "come out of the coffin" to demand civil rights and are mostly opposed by members of fanatical religious sects who spout catchphrases such as "God Hates Fangs". Also, the show sometimes casts the vampires like racial minorities, made more overt due to its setting in the American South. During one scene, a bigoted policeman repeatedly calls Bill "boy" while treating him unfairly. However, due to the high number of murderous vampires in the show, there's a fair bit of Broken Aesop and Straw Man Has a Point going on. Actually, for all that he is "nice" now, this used to include Bill just as much.
    • While many viewers find that it fits the trope, the creators have outright denied that vampires are allegory for homosexuals and Alan Ball calls this interpretation "lazy."
    • Some have criticized the implied metaphor, pointing out that gays generally have neither the urge to rip people's throats open nor superpowers to allow them to do so with impunity.
    • Although that doesn't stop it from being used to awesome effect.

 Protester: Hey Fang-Banger!

Hoyt: You better not be talking to me.

Protester: What if I was?

Hoyt: See that woman right there? Not that Devil, but that Woman, yeah, she got fangs. And yeah, you can bet your ass that we are doing it all the time because we are in love! And there is not one damn thing wrong with being in love! Now, how can you do this, and still call yourself a Christian?

Protester: I am a Christian, god damn it!

Hoyt: I am clearly more of an Christian than you. Because I got love in my heart. And you got nothing but hate.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer pulls this a few times. First and foremost, Joyce's reaction to learning about Buffy and vampires was, literally, "Have you tried...not being the Slayer?" She later describes herself as "marching in the Slayer Pride parade." To be fair, Joyce's reaction is a lot more understandable than most examples on this page, since her biggest concern is that Buffy could get seriously hurt or killed being the Slayer.
    • In "Phases," Larry is suspected of being a werewolf, and Xander has a talk with him about having urges and desires he can't control...but it turns out Larry's not a werewolf, he's just gay.
      • Angel then reverses that: Cordelia misreads the signals she's been getting from the new vampire Harmony, and ends up thinking Harmony's a lesbian. She calls Willow to ask "why didn't you tell me?" and the conversation is full of mixed signals. Finally:

 Cordelia: Harmony is a vampire? That's why she--oh, my god, I'm so embarrassed! All this time I thought she was a great big lesbo!...Oh, yeah? Really? Well, that's great! Good for you.

  • The Vampire Diaries hilariously discusses and plays with this trope upside down and sideways. Caroline, a young vampire, is seriously discriminated and tortured by her father who is trying to cure her of her vampirism through negative reinforcement. Her mother's explanation for her father's behavior? Her parents were "raised a certain way to believe certain things" about vampires that aren't necessarily true. He even chooses to die instead of becoming a vampire because his beliefs are all he has. Irony of ironies? Her father is gay and left his wife because he could no longer live a lie. Needless to say, extremely Genre Savvy vampire Damon has to points out the incredible...quirkiness of the situation.
  • The live-action series The Tick had an episode of this trope, centered around Arthur coming out as a superhero to his mom and sister. Tick is referred to as Arthur's "Partner" and "Special friend". In one scene the mom and sister, upon first entering the restaurant Arthur and Tick frequent, notice a superhero leaving and ask, "Is this one of those kind of places?"
    • Creator Ben Edlund later regretted putting this in people's minds when they made the episode about the relationship between superhero and sidekick, which he described as "very marriage-like" in the commentary.
  • Deep Space Nine invokes this trope when Odo tries his hardest to convince a found Jem'Hadar to pursue interests other than killing or fighting.
    • Deep Space Nine also invoked it with respect to Dr. Bashir's genetic enhancement. Bashir was outed as having a trait that is not only considered revolting and wrong by the general public but is also illegal and can lose his military job and even his citizenship, even though Bashir wasn't the one who chose the trait in the first place. That episode read as if it were a metaphor for forced outing of gays. To make matters worse, it creates an Unfortunate Implication with respect to future references to other genetically enhanced characters.
  • Dinosaurs has an episode where Robby suspects that he mights be (GASP) an herbivore! Herbivores are treated the same way in dinosaurs society as gays are, complete with "herbivore bars" and being called "Vego" as a slur.
    • Fridge Logic makes this weird once you realize that several of the dinosaurs characters are based on (B.P. Richfield's Triceratops comes to mind, although he did try to eat Robby once) are herbivores.
  • Dexter use this trope. And in that case, when they say 'monster', they mean killer.
  • Merlin with wizards.
  • Deconstructed in The League of Gentlemen's Christmas Special, which dealt with the Unfortunate Implications of equating gay people with bloodsucking vampires.

 I am not a vampire! I am just a queen.

  • Completely inverted in Swedish comedy show Hjälp (Help), whenever resident sissy Benjamin tries to explain to his family that he's just an average guy. When came out to them and told them he was straight, his sister called him revolting, his mother started crying and his father disowned him. Causing Benjamin to meekly tell them that he was only kidding, of course he's really gay.
    • Taken to ridiculous extremes in the third season;
      • When he accidentally become a bank robber, his father gave him his old Luger that he used to rob the post office with and offered him to come along to Denmark for a hit ("some pesky witness that needs shutting up"). Then there's the family tied up in the bathroom...
      • When he ends up being recruited by some Nazis, his parents start recollecting how they first met at a Nazi rally and how proud they are of him following in their footsteps.
      • When he's forced to convert to Islam (as part of a knife-point marriage), his parents proudly reveal that they are actually part of an Al Qaeda terrorist cell and asks him for help in bombing the local Danish hotdog stand.
  • A Joel-era episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 equates robots with homosexuality. Tom and Crow both come out as robots.
  • Played with in the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch about men who live as mice.
  • In Glee, the character of Bryan Ryan crusades against show choir, because he's resentful that his time in New Directions didn't turn into lifelong stardom. It turns out that he's "living a lie," and tells his wife he goes on business trips but instead goes off to New York to see Broadway plays, and has a stack of playbills in his basement which are "like porn." Possibly a parody of the trope, since Glee features openly homosexual characters and has dealt directly with gay issues in other plotlines.
  • "Heroes" originally had this as a major plot point. Claire's friend Zach was going to embrace his homosexuality, mirroring Claire's embrace of her new powers. Although Executive Meddling nixed the gay reveal, which is perhaps why Claire ends up wangst ridden for the rest of the series.

New Media

  • After Elton, a gay entertainment site, addresses this trope:

Tabletop Games

  • Much of The World of Darkness.
    • Especially the Changelings of Changeling: The Dreaming, since the other supernatural creatures are born or turned from sires or parents, but Changelings may be born to any family, love theater, sex, and the arts[1], and have a miserable time fitting in with "banal" normal society. Changelings also either come into their fae identities in early childhood (realizing they're "different" from the other neighborhood kids) or during puberty (dealing with this new rush of sensations and body issues).
    • Another really good one for it is Werewolf: The Apocalypse (Old World of Darkness) or Werewolf: The Forsaken (New World of Darkness). Although they're technically born as a werewolf (or other Changing Breed/Fera), they don't awaken to their true nature until a dramatic, life-changing event that usually happens no earlier than puberty.
      • Although in that case, lycanthropy seems to be more related to puberty itself, especially considering the whole monthly-cycle connection (for further exploration of this theme, see Ginger Snaps).
      • There's also the minor detail (at least in Apocalypse) that the rate of Garou births in their established families, one in ten, is the same as the oft-cited estimate of the percentage of gay people in the general population.
  • Psionics in many Dungeons and Dragons campaign settings.
    • Traveller (the old SF RPG) balanced psionic characters by making psionics illegal in the Imperium.
  • And there's Paranoia, of course, where everyone (EVERYONE!) has an unregistered mutant power but having an unregistered mutant power means a death sentence from the COULD register your power but that puts you under suspicion. Get your clone warmed up.
    • Not to mention everyone also belonging to highly treasonous secret societies.
      • And it being entirely possible to be a secret member of the anti-mutant league while being a secret mutant...


  • There's a comedic short play called Jimmy the Antichrist about a boy coming out to his parents as, well, the Antichrist (though he's not as evil as that title would suggest). It's all very Does This Remind You of Anything?, complete with the parents saying "Have you tried not being the Antichrist?" This is lampshaded several times by Jimmy's sister, who keeps asking him whether he's sure he didn't mean to say he was gay.
    • This was performed excellently at NFL (National Forensic League, not National Football League) Nationals in 2006: Fcpsfbu 7 Qw


  • In Blaze Union, Baretreenu was so adamant that her young son Gulcasa never realize that he was a demon that she placed a powerful, permanently damaging seal on his powers and concealed his true identity even from himself. Over a decade later, when he realizes he has demon blood anyway, a very big deal is made out of his choosing to live as the person he was born as. Gulcasa points out that demon blood in and of itself isn't a bad thing, and what's important is whether he personally makes good or bad choices with his life; his mentor Medoute retorts that his demonhood is absolutely an inherently evil thing, and that she can't forgive his decision to be true to himself. This, among other things, makes the scenario read very much like a Coming Out Story.
  • In the Dragon Age series mages are basically magical mutants born to elves and humans with a stronger connection to the Fade than others. Untrained mages are vulnerable to Demonic Possession and are taken to Circles to be trained and watched by Templars who also double as Mage Killers if they do become possessed or "apostates" that try to run away from the their Circles. Besides the legitimate danger of having a magic-user around to unsettle parents there is also the undercurrent of "magic equals sin" courtesy of the creation of the Darkspawn and other magical transgressions of The Magocracy that once ruled Thedas; many parents are happy to be rid of their "tainted" children despite the fact that magic ability is universally acknowledged as hereditary and not due to the mage's actions. Of course, there are also examples of parents and families that subvert this: Isolde in Origins makes some really bad choices to keep her mage son from being taken away, Finn in the Witch Hunt expansion pack is loved by his parents enough for them to give him an Overly Long Name and a crappy yet lovingly made hat (that actually has good stats) while the Hawke family in Dragon Age II chose to stick together and risk persecution by the Templars despite having at least two apostate mages among them.
    • Surprisingly, homosexuality itself isn't that big a deal in the setting (or at least not enough for the authorities to bother making laws against it), so the traditional homosexual comparison isn't valid. There is a way to not be a mage through being magically cut off from the Fade by being made "Tranquil" and losing all magical talent and emotion; this is considered either a merciful fate opposed to execution or A Fate Worse Than Death.
  • In Fate/stay night, Kirei DID try. It just didn't work out for him.


  • Played with in Irregular Webcomic.
    • And The Rant has a link back here.
    • Also "have you tried not being a Nazi" (about Ervin)
  • Also played with in a now-defunct super hero webcomic called Queer Nation, where everyone gay got superpowers from radioactive dust given off by a pink comet and was written as X-Men with the subtext changed into text. Oh, and bisexuals got superpowers too, but they only worked half of the time. Asexuals and pansexuals weren't addressed. Transsexuals had powers that were mostly useless until something amazing would happen that would kick them into god-tier. One of the main characters was a male to female transsexual who called herself Miss Thang and started with the ability to manipulate clothes (first just moving them, then morphing them), but it was implied that it would one day extend to complete metamorphic control over all matter.
  • Used in Darken. A werebear character can suppress the bear inside him by an act of will. But apparently trying to concentrate on not being a bear is hard.
  • Parodied in this strip of Amazing Super Powers.

Real Life

  1. PS: the Nockers say "fuck that."