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‘So long, gay Bowser’: 5 Super Mario fan theories that prove Nintendo’s Italian daddy is an LGBT+ icon

Ed Nightingale March 10, 2021
Mario LGBT

A joke 'gay marriage' ceremony showing Mario with Link in a skit from 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' (HBO)

Nintendo aren’t known for their LGBT+ representation in the iconic Super Mario series.

But that hasn’t dissuaded gamers from theorising about their favourite characters.

Over the past 36 years, since the release of the first Super Mario game, there have been plenty of conspiracies and fan theories. So for this Mario Day (March 10 – or Mar 10, get it?), we’re diving into the best ones.

Was Super Mario‘s Birdo the first trans video game character?

Perhaps the most well known story of LGBT+ representation in the Mario universe is Birdo, a pink creature with a bow. First appearing in Super Mario Bros 2 on the NES with the name Ostro as a pink egg-spewing mini boss, the game’s US manual stated “he thinks he is a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth”. 

Birdo trans
Super Mario Bros. 2 manual. (Wikipedia)

As a result, many fans have attributed Birdo as the first ever trans video game character. Yet, considering Nintendo’s mixed messaging around the character, it’s hardly an example of good representation.

In the Mario Tennis series, Birdo was finally a playable character though positioned mainly as a female counterpart (and love interest) to Yoshi. Then, in Super Smash Bros Brawl, a specific trophy describes Birdo as of “indeterminate gender” – the first time in 20 years that Nintendo even remotely acknowledged the gender identity of the character.

What’s more, a Japanese-only release titled Captain Rainbow has Birdo imprisoned for using the wrong bathroom, after a robot jailer doesn’t believe her when she insists she’s a girl. 

So perhaps Birdo really is trans? But until officially confirmed by Nintendo, this remains just a theory.

Toads have transcended gender

One of the biggest controversies with Toads is their heads: is it a mushroom or is it just a hat?

But there’s speculation too over the gender of Toad(s).

Though Toads (the species) appeared in the original Super Mario Bros game, the specific character of Toad was – like Birdo – introduced in Super Mario Bros 2 as a playable character. Many people may presume that Toad is male, especially once Toadette started appearing in games like Mario Kart: Double Dash as a female counterpart.

Yet when discussing the WiiU release Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, series creator Shigeru Miyamoto stated that when the original Toad was created he didn’t have in mind whether Toad was a boy or a girl. Captain Toad is presumed male, with Toadette also appearing in the game.

Captain Toad
Captain Toad. (Nintendo)

The producer of the Captain Toad game Koichi Hayashida also stated that Toads are genderless. In an interview with Gamespot he said: “This is maybe a little bit of a strange story, but we never really went out of our way to decide on the sex of these characters, even though they have somewhat gendered appearances.”

And where some fans may think Toad and Toadette are in a relationship, Hayashida confirmed the pair are “adventure pals”. 

Is Luigi actually trans?

Mario’s brother hasn’t been shy about wearing dresses in the past. Take Game Boy Advance title Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, in which Luigi dresses as Princess Peach to fool the villainous Bowletta.

But fans took this a step further with a theory that Luigi is trans. This began with the Super-Crown item introduced in New Super Mario Bros Deluxe that temporarily turns Toadette into Peachette.

A piece of art showing Super Mario Bros. character Luigi as a trans woman, with floating tweets
Many fans rushed to proclaim that Luigi was a trans woman (kob_critic/twitter and twitter)

Fans assumed this would work for any character, and quickly turned the idea of Bowser becoming Bowsette into a meme. Nintendo, however, put a stop to this stating on the game’s website: “When Toadette finds one of these, she can transform into the super-powered Peachette. (Sorry Luigi – only Toadette can use this item!)”

It’s this last mention of Luigi that had fans speculating the character is a closeted trans woman who just wants to wear a dress. Some even said this is canon.

No matter how Luigi identifies, the character remains an adorable and dorky addition to the Mario series.

‘So long, gay Bowser!’

Most recently, the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars changed an iconic line from the 1996 N64 launch title Super Mario 64.

When Mario battles his arch nemesis, swinging him from the tail and firing him at exploding spikes, he shouts “so long, King Bowser”. That’s not what it sounded like, though. Thanks to the dodgy Italian accent of Charles Martinet, it sounded more like “so long, gay Bowser”.

It’s a meme-worthy line that many LGBT+ players jokingly revered. But when the game was included in the Nintendo Switch collection to mark Mario’s 35th anniversary, the line was changed to simply “buh-bye!”

Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64. (Nintendo)

Rather than an act of homophobia, it’s likely the change was due to the game being based off the Japanese 1997 re-release of the game called Super Mario 64 Shindou Pak Taiou Version. In Japan, Bowser isn’t known as King Koopa like he is elsewhere, so the King Bowser line wouldn’t have made sense.

Still, hurling Bowser with a loud cry of “so long, gay Bowser” will forever remain in our hearts.

Super Mario’s Princess Peach is a drag icon

She may have begun her video game career as simply a damsel in distress, representing white beauty ideals with her blonde locks and pink fashion. But Princess Peach has slowly become a drag icon over the years.

Drag queens are so often drawn to strong women who exude femininity, from witch queen Bayonetta to the brutal Mileena from Mortal Kombat

Peach, though, is the ultimate drag cosplay queen, with her cartoonish ultra-femininity the perfect fodder for a campy girly drag serve. From Drag Race queens like Trixie Mattel and Ariel Versace, to Biqtch Puddin’, Drag Trashly and Erika Klash, Princess Peach is a constant source of drag inspiration.

Shantay you stay, Peach!

 

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A post shared by Hashtag Trashly (@dragtrashly)

More: LGBT gaming, nintendo, Super Mario

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