Star Wars fan Christopher Andrew “Drew” Leinonen and boyfriend Juan Ramon Guerrero were among the 49 people who died in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando earlier this month. Drew’s best friend Joshua Yehl has started a petition asking Lucasfilm to use him “as inspiration for the first-ever LGBT Star Wars character to appear in a movie.”
As part of their annual report on LGBT characters in movies, the anti-defamation group GLAAD is pushing Star Wars to introduce gay and lesbian characters into the films. Per Variety:
“As sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own, the most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth ‘Star Wars’ film,” the report reads. “2015’s ‘The Force Awakens’ has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory. Recent official novels in the franchise featured lesbian and gay characters that could also be easily written into the stories.”
The introduction of gay and lesbian characters into the canon Star Wars novels has been controversial, but really, what isn’t?
The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams was asked about the future of gay characters in Star Wars Thursday. “Of course,” he told The Daily Beast. “When I talk about inclusivity it’s not excluding gay characters. It’s about inclusivity. So of course.”
By Abrams’ logic, the sprawling Star Wars universe couldn’t possibly exist without a gay populace—even if we haven’t seen a single character identified as gay thus far. “I would love it,” he said. “To me, the fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility. So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.”
Of course, fans of the new Star Wars novels know that there are already canon gay and lesbian characters there (most notably, though not without ‘controversy,’ in Aftermath) but on film it’s a different story.
Abrams’ comments are far from a promise – or a confirmation – but he does say that discussions on diversity and inclusiveness are happening in Hollywood. And given what Lucasfilm’s done so far, I doubt they’re an exception.
It’s not the first time Star Wars has featured LGBT characters, but an upcoming novel will be the first to introduce one into Star Wars canon as it now stands.
Paul S. Kemp’s Lords of the Sith, out in April, features Moff Mors, a lesbian and “Imperial who has made some very serious mistakes but is an incredibly capable leader and spends much of the book working hard to prevent absolute failure,” Bryan Young at Big Shiny Robot reports.
“There should be diversity in Star Wars,” Del Rey editor Shelly Shapiro told Young for Full of Sith. And what more is there to say than that?