Star Wars (still) doesn’t include LGBT storylines

The lack of LGBTQ+ characters in the recent Star Wars film sets a dangerous precedent.

Illustration: Maren Ostrem

The lack of LGBTQ+ characters in the recent Star Wars film sets a dangerous precedent.

The newest Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie came into the theater a few weeks ago and many people were conflicted. While the movie itself was in many ways a cinematic masterpiece, what with the incredible filmography, beloved characters, and engaging plot, something was missing. Many were thrilled to see the large number of women included in both leading and supporting roles in the movie, and the increased representation of people of color seen throughout the Star Wars universe.

However, something was missing. This was the 10th Star Wars movie to be released, yet there has not been a single confirmed LGBT character in any of them. While this is to be expected of the original trilogy made in the late 70’s and early 80’s, when LGBT representation was incredibly rare, people had high hopes for the more recent additions to the franchise.

The reasons behind the exclusion of LGBTQ+ characters is even more conflicting. During an interview with Buzzfeed, Rian Johnson, the writer and director of The Last Jedi, explained that while he was aware that the movie lacked the representation of the LGBT community, there was just no time to include a strong romantic plot in the story. While the movie certainly does not revolve around romance, there is a brief kiss shared between Finn and Rose, two protagonists who spend much of the story creating a strong bond. To say that there is no time for romance as excuse for a lack of LGBT representation, yet include a kiss between a man and a woman, is very hypocritical. If a kiss was truly necessary, couldn’t it easily have been between a same sex couple? This statement also implies that the only way LGBT representation is seen is through romance and relationships. What about having a transgender character, or simply an openly not-straight character? LGBT people do not cease to exist when they are not in a relationship. The tokenism of LGBT people is not the solution, as it is certainly not impossible to have a LGBT character who does not have a romantic plot line.

Johnson is not the only person on team Star Wars that has spoken up about the lack of representation. In an interview with Collider, Oscar Isaac, who plays the charismatic pilot Poe Dameron, said that he is very open to the idea of Poe being LGBT.

J.J. Abrams, director of The Force Awakens, the Star Wars movie that entered theaters in 2015, said “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.”

While many appreciate Abrams’ statement, it’s problematic, because he talks as if directors have no control over the situation. If he wants a LGBT character, then he should write one. After all, Abrams and Johnson aren’t just directors; they are also screenwriters.

It makes the idea of LGBT people in real life less realistic to them.

While many straight or cisgender people might not understand what this has to do with them, individuals make decision based on what (or in this case who) they know. When non-LGBT people go to the movies, or turn on the TV, and all they see are people who look and identify similar to them, it alters the way they think about the LGBT community. It makes the idea of LGBT people in real life less realistic to them, which could result in them being less accepting of queer people in their own lives.  

All the straight/cisgender people reading this need to do one thing: pay attention. Notice when LGBT narratives are missing. Enjoy the wonder of Star Wars, but also notice the lack of non-binary genders being represented, or the overwhelmingly straight relationships. Mention it to people when discussing the movies.

No one should be living under the impression that the problem of representation in the media is resolved.