Fans enjoying the Pokémon Sword and Shield expansion, The Crown Tundra, have undoubtedly met Peony, a new character who gives the player advice on capturing legendary monsters. If he looks familiar, that’s because — surprise — Peony is related to Chairman Rose from the main game.
Folks have latched on to Peony partially because he’s a rebellious character who at one point was even the League champion, sure. And it’s endearing to watch Peony interact with his daughter, Peonia. But what’s stuck out the most to fans going through the DLC is that, should you gain Peony’s rare League card, the description curiously notes that he has many fans, “especially among men.”
Peony's league card. pic.twitter.com/XArCfU6hiw— Centro Pokémon LEAKS (@CentroLeaks) October 23, 2020
This could be an innocuous detail that doesn’t mean anything, but then again, men are treated as the default so often that it seems notable for the game to distinguish Peony’s popularity with dudes specifically. And so, many fans are treating this as proof that Peony is an in-game gay icon.
Certainly, Peony is being treated as a queer idol in the real world. It probably helps that Peony is rugged and attractive, which means his visage lends itself easily to “bara” art that depicts him in, shall we say, compromising situations. If you search for Peony right now, in other words, there’s a very good chance you’ll find porn.
Below, however, you’ll find (comparatively) more safe-for-work examples of fans exalting Peony in all sorts of ways.
My uncle who works at Nintendo wanted me to show y’all this. pic.twitter.com/OUoBk6vytu— (@SoftestBeef) October 24, 2020
Bara artists rushing to draw the Second wave of Peony fan art pic.twitter.com/fJAuj4M9eO— Ghoulish Undertaker Dan ⚰️ (@FagCoffin) October 23, 2020
What every pokégay sees when they run into Peony. pic.twitter.com/j62rCKg1qx— My Hero Macademia (@sweetlysourdork) October 24, 2020
I just know Peony has the biggest Peonis pic.twitter.com/uWXdFleFsW— Old Gods, Who Dis? (@HanabiDrift) October 23, 2020
As you can see, Peony is living rent-free with central AC in my head pic.twitter.com/fzwSsnDF8O— Deadbolt (@dortheartist) October 25, 2020
Peony aftwr im done with him pic.twitter.com/bsNZw8dYBs— BALD GON IN SMASH (@GonPeed) October 26, 2020
While Pokémon has never outright plainly stated that any of its characters are LGBTQ+, there are a number of gym leaders and important characters who are read that way by fans. The closest the games have come to such an admission comes in the form of a character who could potentially be read as trans in the Japanese translation of Pokémon X & Y, but the English version is much more vague.
In the case of Peony, the specifics may be moot. While it’s possible that Peony is bisexual, his actual sexual orientation has no bearing on who embraces him and deems him a snack.