We Aren't Laughing At These 7 Offensive Gay & Trans Jokes In Sierra Burgess Is A Loser

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
It's the summer of the Netflix rom-com. But while some of the streaming service's John Hughes-esque films have seriously resonated (see: To All The Boys I've Loved Before and The Kissing Booth), others have fallen seriously flat. Case in point: the newest movie to hit Netflix, Sierra Burgess Is A Loser.
Lots of people were seriously disappointed in the movie. Before it aired, it seemed like a surefire hit, thanks to the star-power of Noah Centineo (aka, the internet's boyfriend) and Stranger Things' Shannon Purser. But what could have been a cute and even empowering story about a teen girl learning to love herself, was deflated by several jokes at the expense of gay, transgender, and intersex people dotted throughout the movie (plus other issues like a nonconsensual kiss and pretending to have a disability). It'd be one thing if the people who said the jokes were called out for being offensive, but many of them go unmentioned.
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Ahead, we've rounded up every off-color joke or comment about LGBTQ+ people in Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, and why it's 100% not okay to ever say these things IRL.
1 of 7
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
"Maybe yours can be about your trans experience, super topical."

Mere minutes into the movie, mean girl Mackenzie says this to Sierra when they're given a poetry assignment in class. While the joke was clearly meant to indicate that Mackenzie is a terrible person, it unnecessarily pokes fun at the transgender community. If Sierra was transgender and Mackenzie had said this to be encouraging, it'd be no problem. But Sierra isn't trans, so this comment is meant to insult her for not being feminine enough and in the process, insults all transgender women as well.
2 of 7
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
"But AIDS now is airborne, so we're all gonna die..."

Instead of studying the flashcards she made him, Sierra's friend Dan uses this line to "win" his team's debate. Not only is it totally inaccurate, it's incredibly insensitive. At one time, AIDS was a deadly disease originally called GRIDS (for Gay-Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It killed thousands of people (both straight and gay) in the U.S. in the 1980s and 90s, and thousands still live with the disease today.
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3 of 7
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
"Oh, well, unless you're playing for the other team now..."

Veronica's mother says this when she learns that Ronnie skipped cheerleading practice to study with Sierra. The moment is problematic for multiple reasons, including that Veronica's mom clearly values being attractive more than studying. When Veronica says that no, she's not gay, her mother says, "Thank god, because your father would die, if he didn't already die in that plane crash."

With that comment, Veronica's mom was actively telling her daughter that learning she was gay would be a fate akin to death. Imagine if she was gay? A comment like that could easily make her feel unsafe to come out and force her to stay in the closet.
4 of 7
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Sierra: "I'm not a lesbian."

Veronica: "She just has no taste."

When Veronica's mom asks if she's "playing for the other team," this is how she and Sierra respond. Hellooooo lesbian stereotypes! The idea that lesbians are all unfashionable and tasteless is tired and rude. Lesbians have style, and it's pretty damn hot.
5 of 7
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
"Oh because, what, you're super into dudes?"

When Sierra calls Jamey for the first time, he notes that her voice sounds different than he remembers. Her explanation? She has a cold, so her voice is kind of "man-ish." When he mentions that he likes her voice, and maybe she should get sick more often, she teases him with the possibility that maybe he's a bit queer.

But why is this something worth teasing someone over? The joke here relies totally on the idea that Jamey being gay or bisexual is shameful. It's not.
6 of 7
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
"She's deaf also...so she can't hear anything that I say, even if I say something like 'She's a hermaphrodite.' Which she isn't. She's not a hermaphrodite, at all. She's all lady parts."

Sierra's friend Dan says this when he pulls her over to Jamey half-way through the movie and Sierra pretends to be deaf so that he wouldn't recognize her voice (which, btw, is also offensive). There are a couple of problems with this joke. 1) "Hermaphrodite" is an outdated and stigmatizing word used in the medical community to describe intersex people. 2) There is no such thing as "lady parts" or "man parts" and classifying genitals in that way invalidates the experience of many transgender and gender non-conforming people whose sex organs don't "match" their gender identity.
7 of 7
illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Ronnie: "I'm not going to lez out with you and Jamey, if that's what you're asking.

Sierra: "Ew, no."

Ronnie: "Because I only do that at parties."

First, let's talk about how Sierra's knee-jerk reaction to the suggestion of a threesome is "ew." Threesomes are not gross and it's not okay to shame them. But, that portion of the convo is maybe forgivable considering that her "ew" may have been referring to the idea of having sex with her friend. It's Veronica's "I only do that at parties" that's truly the problem.

Because kissing and cuddling with other women at parties is something that straight women often do for the attention of men, it undermines the validity of queer women's sexuality. If you're kissing other women in front of men with the intention of turning them on, you're letting the patriarchy win.
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