No Same-Sex Relationships In SW Films?

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Some might find it interesting that a film saga, which features everything from laser swords to strange aliens, lacks clearly non-heterosexual characters. Since A New Hope, the Star Wars films (Episodes I-VIII, plus Rogue One) haven’t explicitly featured, or mentioned, any other relationships than those between members of opposite sex. Given all the very unusual elements that the Star Wars universe contains, any kind of non-heterosexual relationships should be something common and mundane in comparison.

One thing is, of course, that not everything is shown on-screen. We are perfectly free to assume that in the entire Galaxy there may be many non-heterosexual humans, Gungans or Wookiees, plus many other species that lack sexual dimorphism in the first place and can have fifteen sexes or none and as many interactions between them as possible. We are also free to imagine that characters whose sexual orientation isn’t explicitly mentioned can be anything at all – heterosexual, asexual, homosexual, bisexual… Still, however, nothing of this has ever been shown on the big screen. (Contrary to the Star Wars books, video games, or cartoons, where the situation is vastly different.)

To be perfectly honest, however, it should be mentioned that sexual relationships themselves have never been such a big theme for the Star Wars films. Therefore, it is somehow understandable they haven’t been talked about that much – in any form. Yet even among all that appeared, heterosexual relationships are the only norm. (Of course, with the note that it doesn’t mean people in heterosexual relationships have to be only heterosexually oriented – meaning, nobody says Anakin can’t be bisexual for all we know. But the portrayal is such.)

All The Heterosexual Relationships

In the prequel trilogy, the relationship between Anakin and Padmé is chiefly important because of the whole Skywalker family saga and consequently the birth of Luke and Leia. Because of its biological function, here, it is clearly heterosexual (even though if you wanted, technically in such a fantastic universe, it could have been done differently without much problem. After all, Anakin himself had no father!). Anakin’s mother has also a heterosexual relationship with Cliegg Lars. At the same time, the relationship of Cliegg’s son Owen and his girlfriend, Beru, is showed both there and in the original trilogy. And then there is Han and Leia, of course.

Even in places that do not present relationships, but that imply some sort of attraction, such as Lando’s to Leia or, to look at somewhat more cringeworthy examples, Jabba’s to Leia, or alien girls massaging Sebulba before his race, this attraction is, as a rule, shown as to that of opposite sex. (Often, interestingly again, even if that sex is of a completely different species.)

Poe Didn’t Save It

The newest films have been sort of beating around the bush in regards to same-sex relationships or even attraction, but they, too, haven’t shown anything definite. At least as far as main characters are concerned, the strongest implication has been between Finn and Poe: in The Force Awakens, the scene when Poe let Finn keep his coat (and told him that it suits him), and in The Last Jedi, when Poe helped newly recovered Finn to dress up (off-screen). If you ask me, the latter was more from the assortment of “dirty jokes” for the audience rather than saying anything about an actual relationship. As it were, one could possibly speak about attractoin, but all that was further downplayed also by Rose’s romance with Finn. Anything between Finn and Poe has been left in a sort of limbo.

We have to see what the future films will bring. It would probably be right to look for “culprit” in the filmmakers’ reluctance to bring a same-sex relationship to the big screen.

This is testified by the fact that, as I have mentioned, LGBTQ characters are confirmed and regularly appear in officially sanctioned (!) Star Wars media elsewhere. Sometimes implicitly, but very often also perfectly explicitly. To end this reflection on the topic with a bit of a teaser, you may find a “gallery” of some of the more interesting cases in one of my upcoming articles here on the Sci-Fi Fantasy Network.

Isn’t It Queer?

It is interesting to think that it would probably be considered less of a topic if a Star Wars film (or any sci-fi film, for that matter) showed a creature with fifteen sexes whose attractions to each other can differ in individual cases, than if a single clearly non-heterosexual human(oid?) character appeared on-screen.

Yet that’s apparently the case. Maybe because if we saw a hive of weird aliens with fifteen sexes, they would seem far removed from anything human. On the other hand, let’s say a gay human (or probably even a gay Wookiee) would still provoke reactions from the audience – in one way or another.

But is there really a reason to be reluctant about such portrayal? Let me get back to my initial words. Star Wars universe is a fantastic universe. It has many elements we pay attention to and many elements we don’t need to pay attention to, or we accept them as part of the world. People can levitate rocks, starships make sounds in space, there are droids who can speak over six million languages. If one or two characters in a film appeared to be attracted to the members of the opposite sex, surely that should be the least “queer” detail about the entire setting?

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Rostislav Kurka
Rostislav is a Protestant theologian and a self-trained Sith, counting Jan Hus, Dorothee Sölle, Darth Revan and Darth Traya among his main influences. He hails from the hundred-towered city of Prague, where he had spent a large part of his life creating worlds and inspiring young generations to roleplay. His involvement in organising children's camps led him to accidentally writing a Lord of the Rings musical, which made him temporarily famous, and a Three Musketeer-Jedi fanfilm, which didn't. He has recently moved to the frozen waste of Finland, because that's it, the Rebels are there.