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4th June 2024 EDT FEATURES

KO Bigotry and Discard Prejudice: Best TCG Cards for Pride Month

"To be yourself is truly a revolutionary act." - Lena Waithe


The LGBTQ+ community has always had a major presence TCG fanbase as a whole. This is not surprising because in general, LGBTQ+ people have always been drawn to works of fiction steeped in fantasy—elements common to a great many TCG franchises.

This fact should not come as any surprise at all. Many LGBTQ+ people view such fictional works as a refuge from a bigoted and discriminatory world. Additionally, when they see fictional characters who are also LGBTQ+, they are able to relate to them and even sometimes aspire to be like them in ways that heterosexual cisgender people likely never could—after all, that’s the whole reason why representation matters.

With that in mind and with Pride Month now here, there’s no better time to present this selection of cards ideal for the occasion. As we go through this list, never forget that the world of TCG, like every other setting, ought to be a place where everyone is equally accepted.

Amoonguss (Miracle Twin [SM11] 010/094)

Pride Month TCG Cards

At first glance, Amoonguss might not seem like a prime candidate for the title of “LGBTQ+ symbol”. However, there’s a backstory here.

The final of the Pokémon VGC Orlando Regionals in April 2024 saw 2016 world champion Wolfe Glick face off against Neil Patel. The deciding game of the best-of-three series came down to both players’ last Pokémon—Glick’s Amoonguss eventually triumphed over Patel’s Urshifu. It would later be revealed that Patel had made multiple transphobic comments on social media; this led to an inside joke among the Pokémon fandom that Amoonguss “did it for trans rights”, hence its appearance on this list.

Since Amoonguss’ connection to the LGBTQ+ community is a rather meta one, there’s nothing that’s obviously pertinent to that point on this card. However, its memetic status in that regard, the fact that the event in question happened recently, and even the elevated level of social discourse on trans-related matters (in large part driven by a “certain” author) have combined to ensure that this Amoonguss card absolutely belongs here.

Elemental HERO Neos Kluger (Legendary Gold Box LGB1-JP009)

Pride Month TCG Cards

The extremely coincidental card number aside, the non-binary Elemental HERO Neos Kluger is one of the most evident forms of LGBTQ+ representation in the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG. While this card, like many others, is based on the original Yubel card—another card depicting a non-binary character—this is one of the only cards that directly alludes to Yubel and Yu-Gi-Oh GX protagonist Jaden Yuki’s romantic relationship.

In the Yu-Gi-Oh GX anime, Jaden used the base form of the Yubel card as Fusion Material. This is the first of the two allusions contained in the card. The second lies in the fact that the two cards used as Fusion Materials are the Yubel card as well as the Elemental Hero Neos card which Jaden often summoned throughout the series, making this card something of a microcosm of Jaden and Yubel’s relationship.

The card’s illustration is intended to be a representation of Jaden and Yubel following the fusion of their souls at the climax of the third season of the anime—a truly iconic moment for the LGBTQ+ Yu-Gi-Oh fanbase in general. As a final touch, Elemental HERO Neos Kluger has different-colored eyes, mirroring Yubel’s.

Sylveon VMAX (Eevee Heroes [S6a] 092/069)

Pride Month TCG Cards

Of the more than 1,000 Pokémon spanning nine generations, probably the ones which are most linked to the LGBTQ+ community are the eight Eeveelutions. The parallels are clear: Eevee’s eight different evolutions, all of different types, can be compared to the many genders and sexualities that make up the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, the idea that one can be whatever one chooses to become—a key tenet of LGBTQ+ rights—is one that’s an obvious theme with the Eeveelutions.

Among the Eeveelutions, none are more closely tied to the LGBTQ+ community than Sylveon. Its color scheme of pink, pastel blue, and white resembles the colors of the trans flag. Sylveon is also a Fairy-type Pokémon; this has given it another LGBTQ+-adjacent characteristic because aesthetics, concepts, motifs, and even in-universe lore associated with the Fairy type often, intentionally or otherwise, have close real-world parallels to LGBTQ+ issues.

This Sylveon VMAX card that depicts the Fairy-type Pokémon’s Dynamaxed form comes in the Hyper Rare (HR) rarity in which it’s covered in rainbow-colored holofoil—for obvious reasons, that serves as the finishing touch. All things considered, we’ll put it this way: there is a reason drag queen Nymphia Wind (“Nymphia” is Sylveon’s Japanese name) chose that stage name.

Lovely Labrynth of the Silver Castle (Deck Build Pack: Tactical Masters DBTM-JP014)

Pride Month TCG Cards

To understand the backstory of this card, the Welcome Labrynth card from this same set must first be seen. Welcome Labrynth shows a female knight standing at the door of the Silver Castle. The guardian of the castle is Lovely Labrynth, and on the card depicting her, in the bottom-right corner of the card is a plushie of that same knight.

It’s implied that Lovely has been using the plushie of the knight as a stand-in for the knight herself and imagining them both as a couple. She has also crafted a similar plushie of herself and paired it with the knight’s. Furthermore, according to official Yu-Gi-Oh lore, Lovely stays up late planning castle traps for the knight, doing so as an indirect way to flirt with her.

Finally, to underscore her status as a lesbian icon, Lovely wields a dual-headed axe known as a labrys. Not only is the second part of her name derived from the word “labrys”; the labrys itself is a lesbian symbol. To sum things up, the Lovely Labrynth of the Silver Castle card might not do so explicitly—but it nevertheless proudly displays its featured character’s sexuality.

Blanche (Pokémon GO [S10b] 090/071)

Pride Month TCG Cards

When the Pokémon Go mobile game was launched in 2016, it became a global phenomenon right from the jump. Thus, it was always inevitable that many of the characters and features from Pokémon Go would be adapted to suit the TCG when the Pokémon GO [S10b] TCG set dropped. Although many who played either the mobile game or the TCG didn’t recognize this fact at the time, Team Mystic leader Blanche is non-binary and thus contributes to LGBTQ+ representation in the Pokémon TCG.

While Blanche was never explicitly mentioned as being non-binary in either the mobile game or TCG, this was indirectly implied via a 2019 blog post on the official Pokémon Go website. The post used the pronoun “their” to refer to Blanche, thus all but confirming their non-binary identity.

As was the case with the Sylveon VMAX card mentioned earlier, this card comes in HR rarity and is covered in rainbow-colored holofoil. What’s more, despite not being from the main Pokémon video games, Blanche is nonetheless one of the most well-known Pokémon characters today thanks to the overwhelming popularity of Pokémon Go. As such, they’re arguably Pokémon’s foremost example of LGBTQ+ representation.

Yamato (Romance Dawn [OP-01] OP01-121)

Pride Month TCG Cards

One of the most well-known LGBTQ+ manga characters of recent years from any series, transgender man Yamato was one of the key characters in the Wano Country Saga. His card from Romance Dawn [OP-01] was not only thus the ONE PIECE Card Game’s first-ever LGBTQ+ representation; it was also among the most valuable and sought-after of the set due to its high rarity.

This Secret Rare Parallel (SEC-P) card has an illustration depicting Yamato wielding Takeru, his massive kanabō, as he stands resolutely in defense of Wano Country. The multi-colored background is not only visually striking; it gives the card’s aesthetic an air of flamboyance—something which has historically appealed to many LGBTQ+ people in various contexts.

Finally, although it was primarily intended for gameplay purposes, the card’s effect that says that the card’s name can at any time be regarded as “Kozuki Oden” is worth a mention. This was the name, originally that of the former daimyo of Wano Country, that Yamato took on at one point—one of his first acts in asserting his true gender identity. While the name change didn’t stick, it was nevertheless a watershed moment in his own character arc.

Inazuma (Extra Booster Memorial Collection [EB-01] EB01-022)

Pride Month TCG Cards

Inazuma, the genderfluid deputy commander of the G Army, is known for having not only two distinct gender identities but also separate personalities and simultaneous physical appearances to go with them. While this is a somewhat exaggerated depiction of the genderfluid experience, it nevertheless clearly gets the point across about how the same person can have multiple gender identities; after all, for many, Inazuma was their first exposure of any sort to the concept.

Of all the cards on which Inazuma is depicted, the Super Rare Parallel (SR-P) card from the Extra Booster Memorial Collection [EB-01] is the best reference to Inazuma’s genderfluidity. The illustration makes use of an angle showing Inazuma from the legs up, clearly depicting both of Inazuma’s gender identities.

In the background of the illustration, there are a number of (presumably straight) men and women eyeing each side of Inazuma accordingly.  Finally, this card’s holofoil provides a spectrum-like visual effect—apt for Pride Month and one of the animanga world’s most underrated LGBTQ+ characters.

And that covers our picks—but before we end this article, we’d like to leave you with one final thought.

The world of TCG truly has something for everyone—and we mean EVERYONE. Regardless of anything else, let’s leave discriminatory attitudes forever in the discard pile, never to be retrieved.

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