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Why do we let ourselves be queer-baited by Star Wars?

Why do we let ourselves be queer-baited by Star Wars?

Does Star Wars have a problem with queer-baiting?

We kind of did it to ourselves.

We created buzz around Star Wars: The Last Jedi having an openly LGBTI character and it seems we just set ourselves up for disappointment.

Fans hoped and prayed for Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to get together. After sharing what looked like an intimate exchange in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, our imaginations ran wild.

Sure, there was nothing explicitly gay about the exchange, but there was something about that lip bite that signalled a blossoming romance between the two heroes.

And, boy, did we run with it.

We even made amazing fan art shipping the two characters.

But in this latest instalment, we also had our sights set on Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) who subtly came out as pansexual in a newly released Star Wars novel entitled Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray.

In the book, Vice Admiral Holdo spoke to Leia about what her type is. Screenrant reported the exchange:

Holdo: ‘A pair of pretty dark eyes.’ Then Amilyn thought about that for a moment. ‘Or more than a pair, if you’re into Grans. Or Aqualish, or Talz, or even –’

Leia: ‘That’s all right!’ Leia said through laughter. ‘It’s just humanoid males for me.’

Holdo: ‘Really? That feels so limiting.’

But when it came to crunch time for LGBTI storylines, we got nothing in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

While it’s still entirely possible Poe and Finn could get together, it seems like writers are setting up a romance between Finn and newcomer to the series Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) after a passionate kiss toward the end of the film.

It’s not all our fault

LGBTI fans love Star Wars, and for good reason.

It’s action-packed and emotional but it also taps into the otherness we often feel as queer people. It takes us to a galaxy where difference is normal – where aliens walk around and no one bats an eyelid.

There seems to be a world of possibility. It’s natural LGBTI people who feel marginalized might want to escape into a world away from their day-to-day lives.

The Last Jedi is raking in rave reviews already and it’s no surprise.

The late Carrie Fisher (Leia) is remarkable and takes on a very maternal role in this film. Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher’s real-life daughter) plays Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix and it’s touching to see them together.

The character development and gripping action sequences make for a stunning film.

Trooper leads Pride march in LA
Trooper leads Pride march in LA (Image: Nathan Rupert | Flickr)

But we wanted LGBTI representation so bad. In fact, some people even petitioned for it.

Joshua Yehl set up a petition to get his best friend Drew Leinonen into the franchise after he was killed in the Pulse massacre.

The two best friends used to watch every Star Wars film together, so when he died, he started #PutDrewInStarWars.

It garnered almost 12,000 signatures, and even an endorsement from Mark Hamill (who plays Luke Skywalker). It then caught the attention of Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy.

After Yehl briefly met Kennedy, she reportedly said she would ‘consider putting a gay character in Star Wars if it was the right story and the right character.’

Finn and Poe (Fan art by PXKIBU)

‘We’ve talked about it,’ Kennedy also said earlier this year.

‘After 40 years of adventures, people have a lot of information and a lot of theories about the path these stories can take, and sometimes those theories that come up are new ideas for us to listen to, read and pay attention to,’ she said.

‘It’s time big bosses take note’

Oscar Isaac also recently hinted at future LGBTI representation. He said in a video last week: ‘What it means to me is that people can see themselves in a hero like this, in a movie like this, which I love.

‘Not only LGBT, but Latinos. There’s representation out there. I’m very open to those storylines,’ he added.

Director J.J. Abrams also said in an interview with the Daily Beast: ‘When I talk about inclusivity, it’s not excluding gay characters.

‘It’s about inclusivity. So of course. I would love it. 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,’ he said.

Here is the Star Wars gay porn parody trailer
There’s even a Star Wars gay porno

Hamill even said Luke Skywalker could be gay, or even bi. But nothing is ever explicitly mentioned in the movies.

It seems like all promo for Star Wars that mentions LGBTI representation uses words like ‘hints’ and ‘considers’.

We’re guilty of feeding into it too. We wrote earlier this year: ‘President Kathleen Kennedy will not confirm anything, but has said a romance between the pilot and stormtrooper is definitely a possibility.’

But that won’t cut it anymore.

It’s time big bosses listen and take note of LGBTI audiences. Where is the LGBTI representation you hint at?

Follow through with your promises and put them into practice, but don’t give us false hope.

We need A New Hope.

James Besanvalle is a journalist for Gay Star News. He’s a massive Star Wars fan and won’t say how many times he’s cried during tragic Star Wars deaths. Follow him on Twitter, mostly for content about Julianne Moore, but also about LGBTI issues.