‘I yam amphibious’: Is Popeye the Sailor a non-binary icon?

July 23rd, 2021

International Non-Binary People’s Day was on July 14, and Popeye the Sailor’s official Twitter posted a tweet in celebration of the day. Popeye Official wrote: “It’sk Nonbinary Day! Happy skelebration to all me amphibious pals!” but the caption isn’t what caught fans’ attention. Rather, it was the photo that came with the tweet. 

The photo is a snippet of one of Popeye’s comic strips, and in the comic the sailor is disguised as a woman — wearing a dress and a feathered hat — and is talking to a man Popeye calls Lem. Popeye says, “Lem, darlin’, promise ya won’t be mad at me if I tells ya sumpin,” to which the man answers, “Of course I won’t be mad at my little wifey, what is it?” Popeye then says, “I yam amphibious.”

In the next panel, Popeye rips off the disguise and explains what “amphibious” means. The sailor says, “I wears both woman’s an’ man’s clothes. Arf! Arf!”

Twitter picked up on this tweet from Popeye, and some wondered whether the comic strip is implying that the iconic spinach-loving sailor identifies as non-binary. 

One comment that popped up on the tweet asked what pronouns Popeye uses, and Popeye Official replied: “I ain’t use pronouns on account o’ all me nouns are amateurs!” Well, I think that’s our answer right there! 

Another fan commented that they remember a storyline in the comics wherein Popeye says “I can be both mama and poppa to Swee’ Pea” because “I yam both a male and a female sex.” Popeye Official replied to this comment with a photo of the comic strip that the Twitter user was talking about. 

In this comic strip, Popeye is arguing with girlfriend Olive Oyl, saying that Popeye has been more than a mother to Swee’Pea, that Popeye is a “[perfect] male sex mother”, and that Popeye has also been a father, an aunt, and a cousin to Swee’Pea, too. Popeye says, “I yam amphibious” again, and that Popeye can be both mother and father to Swee’Pea. 

A lot of fans have also commented on Popeye Official’s tweet to express their joy at the sailor identifying as non-binary. 

So it’s confirmed — Popeye the Sailor is an amphibious, non-binary icon! 

 

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