May 2, 2024

Lesbian Best Friends: Media Tropes and the Journey from Friendship to Romance

Lesbian Best Friend Trope and Navigating Romantic Feelings

Understanding the 'Lesbian Best Friend' Trope in Media

The 'Lesbian Best Friend' trope, commonly abbreviated as LBF, signifies a long-standing trend in the realms of film, TV, and contemporary literature. This trope predominantly features a lesbian character's non-consequential role punctuating the primary narrative of a straight or bisexual female protagonist.

media representation
Queer representation in media.

These characters, often portrayed as the protagonist's sidekick, usually exhibit quirky, fun, and above all, adventurous qualities. Their appearance and mannerisms are intelligently coded to express their queer identity subtly. However, the sexuality of these characters gets underplayed, often becoming insignificant to the central narrative or plot.

Evolution of the LBF Trope

The tradition of the LBF trope seemingly borrow elements from its predecessor - the 'Gay Best Friend' trope. This previously popular trope characterized gay men in a similar manner with the purpose of providing comic relief, making statements that the protagonist wouldn't, or making sexuality appear safe by showcasing it through a marginalized identity.

Gay Best Friend vs Lesbian Best Friend

Despite their similarities, the LBF trope diverges from its predecessor in one significant aspect. Even though the LBF character occasionally appears in scenes without their straight counterpart, their relationship with a straight woman continues to define their essence and relevance. In other words, the trope reinforces their perceived importance through association with a non-queer character.

The Dilemma of Labels and Evolving Sexual Identity

The complexity of human sexual identity is often overlooked in popular media. Coming to terms with the potential shift in sexual orientation can be daunting and can often lead to complications when it emerges in a pre-existing deep bond.

This is perfectly captured through the narrative of a young man and his best friend who has historically identified as a lesbian. The revelation of her potential bisexuality and her romantic feelings towards him creates uncertainty and hesitance within their friendship. Both are unsure of how to navigate this new dynamic, with apprehensions of potentially jeopardizing their cherished friendship causing further tension.

Addressing Newfound Feelings

A critical turning point comes when both friends decide to have a candid conversation about their feelings. This openness paves the way for a mutual decision to give their relationship a chance, albeit at a slow pace as they navigate uncharted territories of their romantic involvement.

Shift in Relationship Dynamics

The friends' progression from mere acquaintances to romantic partners presents its unique set of challenges, which include informing their friends and families about this evolution. Despite an accidental slip-up on social media revealing their relationship to their immediate world, the continued growth in their intimacy acts as a tell-tale sign of their positive evolution.

In retrospect, the young man elaborates on their journey from anxiety and uncertainty, a phase that eventually culminated in a fulfilling and content romantic relationship.

The Impact of LBF and Other Tropes

Mainstream media often falls short in its representation of queer characters, reducing them to mere tools for comedic relief or reinforcing harmful stereotypes through reductionist tropes such as the LBF. It's essential that we critique these tropes from an informed standpoint about their history and how they limit the representation and agency of queer characters in our contemporary media.

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