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New Pokémon character immediately crowned gay icon by fans

A Galar beefcake

Peony from Pokemon Sword and Shield’s Crown Tundra expansion. Image: Game Freak/Nintendo

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.”

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.

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.

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