Today, 4 May, is recognized as Star Wars Day. Using the date as a play on the famous slogan, ‘May the Force be with you,’ many in the Star Wars fandom are saying, ‘May the Fourth be with you’ today.
GSN spoke with some LGBTI Star Wars fans about what the films have meant to them in terms of identity.
‘My parents introduced me to the Original Trilogy as a child,’ recalls Dmitri, a gay Star Wars fan. ‘The Phantom Menace came out in theaters when I was 4 and I saw that. I’ve kept watching them in theaters ever since. I also kept up with The Clone Wars TV show.’
‘I think lately some films in the sci-fi genre have given me a new perspective on my identity. In particular, Star Wars, X-Men, And the 2014 Godzilla movie,’ Dmitri explains. ‘All of them have these themes of a greater force — literally the Force for Star Wars, but “nature” in the other two films — for the creation of something different. The idea that The Force and midi-chlorians (I know some people hate the latter concept) have created certain differences among characters for a specific purpose resonates with me deeply. And in Star Wars, people are encouraged to just accept those differences because it was meant to be.’
‘Star Wars was GIANT in my house growing up. One of my earliest memories is going to see Attack of the Clones with my dad,’ Mariam, a bisexual woman, tells GSN.
‘My dad, being the cute little feminist he is, would always point Princess Leia and Padme out to me. “They’re the only people in the whole series who don’t miss a shot” he’d tell me all the time. As I got older and I watched Princess Leia become General Leia, my attachment to Star Wars grew, but so did of course the fanboy hatred. Especially since the inclusion of Rey and Rose.’
‘Star Wars isn’t Star Wars without powerful women. And it’s one of the very few nerdy things my father could show me to encourage me as a woman growing up. Princess Leia formed my idea of what a princess (leader) should be.’
‘As for how star wars effected my bisexual identity, I had a crush on both Han Solo and Princess Leia growing up. But wasn’t really sure what it meant until I was older.’
Mariam first noticed this crush in second grade, when her friend (and fellow Star Wars fan) assumed she was a lesbian because she thought both Han and Leia were cute individually, outside of their romantic relationship on-screen.
‘I had NEVER heard the word lesbian before nor did I know what it meant at all. But I didn’t want to look like an idiot and I was like “yup totally I am a lesbian.”’
‘I went home, told my mom “hey I’m a lesbian,” and all hell broke loose,’ Mariam recalls. ‘Now, my parents aren’t particularly homophobic. My dad for one always supported marriage equality, but it did take time for him to start to use less problematic language and grow past learnt behavior. But the day I came home my mother flipped. “Where did you hear that word? That’s inappropriate, etc.” So from there, I became way less vocal about liking girls at all. I still did and I was totally cool with it. But I was only able to feel that way because I knew I wasn’t a lesbian and that what everyone told me was wrong.’
Mariam encountered the term bisexual many years later, when she was 13.
For Christyn, a bisexual trans woman, Star Wars is a story of evolution.
‘To me, Star Wars is a story about how anyone can grow from the life they’re living now into something new,’ she says. ‘The lead role in all three trilogies is literally a nobody, with a life they despise, and they end up accomplishing something amazing. That is inspiring to me as a trans woman. Someone being able to transcend their origins in such a profound way.’
LGBTI Star Wars fandom
It is clear that Star Wars has had a very profound effect on members of the LGBTI community. Christyn, Mariam, and Dmitiri each took something different away from the franchise and allowed those messages to help shape their identities. Though traditionally geeky things like Star Wars are assumed to be marketed toward straight men, there’s a lot to be said for female and LGBTI fans. Especially when it comes to how fantasy and sci-fi can have profound impacts on one’s identity.