“But wait!” you might say. “Scarlet and Violet has no canonical gay or trans characters! How can this thesis make sense?” Well, queer representation need not be explicit to be impactful. Sometimes, the stories queer people resonate with most are told through metaphor, from the misfits in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to X-Men to Luca and Gwen Stacy. The roots of this trace back to a history of censorship. LGBTQ+ stories have been historically censored, such as with the Hays Code. Queer people have long been unable to see stories with explicitly queer characters, so they instead turned to metaphors and symbolism. Gender nonconformity is also nothing new to the scene of video games. Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Guilty Gear are just some of the games that play with our expectations of gender. It’s also nothing new to Pokémon. East Asian media tends to depict transness and gender nonconformity differently from the West, but for more on that, I'll direct you to this video.
With the release of the games, we’ve seen a wide array of characters—Rika, Saguaro, Penny, and all of the leaders of Team Star, among others—showcase a wide range of gender expressions, either in their appearances, their personalities, or their hobbies. And all of these characters are seen as heroes, as role models.
But back to Team Star. The whole Team Star path is one big, queer metaphor. Think about it: kids are bullied for how they dress or act, these misfits band together and retaliate against their bullies, finding a sort of family in each other, villains who turn out to be just the opposite… It’s a story that, in some way or form, can resonate with many kids who have, sadly, dealt with homophobia or transphobia in school. The path is a story about righting what’s wrong, about making the world a more accepting place.
Scarlet and Violet is a game about shining bright in the sky with other stars, about being your true self. Its themes are deeply resonant with the queer experience. At the end of the Team Star path, you battle Penny, whose ace Pokémon is trans flag-coloured Sylveon, and as she Terastilizes her partner, she says, “Shine bright like the starry sky and become who you really want to be!” So shine bright, trainers, and be your true self.
Oh, and of course, Quaquaval is the queer icon of all time.