#stormpilot: Why The Star Wars Universe Needs LGBT+ Characters
Merfyn speculates on who the LGBT+ character in the next Star Wars will be and why this is a huge deal, not just for the LGBT+ community, but society in general.
Ever since its premiere in December, the world has gone mad over ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. It’s the most diverse Star Wars film yet and could be the beginning of the most politically-correct Star Wars trilogy ever. A black rebel stormtrooper, a female lead as a sand planet scavenger and a Latino man as the best pilot in the Resistance. Now that director JJ Abrams has confirmed that there will be a gay character in this new trilogy, the wheel has spun for who will be the lucky subject for the most all-inclusive film of our generation thus far.
It’s the most diverse Star Wars film yet…
The actors involved in the lottery of Star Wars’ diversity are ever more adventurous and groundbreaking than their characters are cast to be.
‘Is BB-8 a boy or a girl?’ Oscar Isaac, the Guatemalan actor playing Poe Dameron, was asked about his perky robot companion.
Cooly, with rolling eyes and a lifted palm, Leia’s favourite Resistance pilot replied, ‘What is gender?’
Immediately, Twitter fired up their engines and roared with applause through the vicious tapping of their touch screens and laptops.
‘What gender is your microwave?’ one Twitter user sneered, referencing the pointless designation of genders to genderless robots since 1977.
This interview helped Oscar Isaac on his way to becoming the dreamboat X-wing pilot he is today, and when he announced that he would want a rainbow lightsaber, he was automatically crowned the queer-coded character of the series. It is true that Isaac has openly stirred up speculation around his character’s sexuality, sparking surprise in his co-actor John Boyega by announcing that he sees a romantic connection between Finn and Poe on the Graham Norton Show. Just type Poe Dameron into Google alongside the name of the stormtrooper Finn and you’ll discover a fandom thriving over the gay pairing. For most of the fandom, Poe Dameron being a gay man is the number 1 vote.
However, other characters are up in the running.
However, other characters are up in the running.
Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, the female lead, easily rejects the trope of a romance-fuelled plot as she furiously wrenches her hand from Finn’s grip at the beginning of the film. Later on, she screams triumphantly ‘I bypassed the compressor,’ to Han Solo.
Throughout she manages to find her own way out of every dilemma, fully debunking the ‘damsel in distress’ image Carrie Fletcher was awkwardly told to play throughout the 1980s. She’s been accepted readily by the LGBT+ community and been dubbed lesbian crush. But will she be a lesbian? Rey, who was introduced in the film as a stubborn but intelligent scavenger insistent on returning home to Jakku, soon became an open, loving person who cared readily for Finn and others, ending the film with a dramatic saber-fight with the evil Kylo Ren before setting off on her quest to bring Skywalker back to Leia and the Resistance. Rey, as a female lead without an immediate male romantic interest, might as well be the first openly asexual protagonist the silver screen has seen.
What a gay Star Wars character could bring to the franchise would be astronomical.
Let’s get this clear. We all love our romantic pairings, but the question of who doesn’t depend on who they are. After the uproar about John Boyega’s black stormtrooper, the LGBT+ community is bracing itself for ignorance-fuelled Facebook rants and flurries of hateful tweets no matter who the LGBT+ character turns out to be. What does matter, however, is that Abrams doesn’t go back on his word. Having an LGBT+ character in a major franchise will open doors for LGBT+ actors and people around the globe. It’s rare to have a gay character in a major role and it not be because they are gay, but because they happen to be gay.
Time and time again, the gay character trope has popped up without even a word coming from the actor’s mouth; all that was needed is the flick of a wrist. Whether it’s the gay best friend, the gay tragedy, or the camp gay fashion designer, we’re all tired of the typecasting. From ‘Mean Girls’ to ‘Modern Family’ the onscreen gay has been depicted as a white male who is as equally flamboyant as he is bitchy. Time and time again, LGBT+ actors have been overlooked if they could not fit the trope or the stereotype. Is there no wiggle room for the LGBT+ community’s portrayal on screen?
What a gay character could bring to the franchise would be astronomical. It would tell kids everywhere that you can be gay and a hero. You can be gay and a villain. You can be gay and a person. What the Star Wars franchise would allow is not a gay character who has their sexuality painted on their forehead, but a character who happens to be LGBT+ and it not be an essential character trait. The sexualities of the Star Wars cast thus far have not been especially public, but with any chance, the casting of an LGBT+ character could be a politically-correct-social-justice-warrior’s dream. Abrams could revolutionise the Star Wars fandom and bring being LGBT+ to a whole new level in the public sphere, a whole new grade of equality in Hollywood representation. Will it be a lesbian, a gay man, a bisexual or another from the spectrum of gender and sexuality? Will Poe Dameron be gay, or transgender, or both? Will Rey be asexual or a lesbian? The multitudes of queries go on and on. It will not be a wrong choice: an LGBT+ character would teach children and the elderly alike that being gay is A-OK, and that it is never too late to accept someone into society. Star Wars needs their LGBT+ character, and it needs it now.
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