Most TV shows tend to take advantage of stereotypes of people of different genders, ethnicities, and sexualities for humor in a show. Pokemon balanced out those stereotypes and created some dynamic and creative characters. For queer characters, there is a huge difference between gay-humor and gay-bashing. Take James from Team Rocket.
He is a flamboyant, cross-dressing, criminal who ran away from his rich family because he didn’t want to get married to a girl.
“Holy Matrimony” (Season 1, episode 46) reveals James was born into a rich family and was arranged to marry Jessiebelle, who wanted to make James a “proper gentleman”. James told his parents he didn’t want to marry her and ended up running away from his unsatisfying and unhappy life to become a criminal. Jessiebelle catches up with James and tries to whip, stun, and shock James into submission (kinky).
What about “The Water Flowers of Cerulean City” (Season 1, episode 7), after their plans are foiled, James proceeds to say “It times like these that make me want to go straight!” Yes, I know, you might be thinking he’s just talking about going straight and narrow away from his criminal life, but it’s a double entendre.
“The Fortune Hunters” (Season 3, episode 52) of Pokemon, James is matched up with a Moltres as his ideal Pokemon, although it seems to be the result of an evil scheme by Butch and Cassidy. James wears a very form fitting Moltres suit and says:
“I am the flame that burns brightest, a flame that lights the night, a flame that shatters the darkness – I am a FLAMING MOLTRES! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
I mean, right after Jessie asked where he got that suit from and Meowth replied that it “came out of the closet with James.”
James has been in nearly every episode of Pokemon since he first appeared in Episode 2 and slowly crept his way into our hearts. While he and Team Rocket mostly were there to try to capture Ash’s Pikachu, they have been known to put aside their differences and jump on the side of good. You never really paid attention to his sexuality, it was his character separate from his sexual orientation that mattered.