GLAAD Calls for Disney to Incorporate LGBTQ+ Characters Into ‘Star Wars’
The LGBTQ+ force has never been strong within the Star Wars franchise, and in response GLAAD is calling for Disney — which currently owns LucasFilm, for those of you living under a meteorite — to officially incorporate a non-heterosexual character into its sci-fi universe. And not just as a throwaway, token role.
In a new report, the organization has suggested the initiative as "part of [Disney's] studio responsibility index, an annual survey of depictions of LGBT characters in major studio releases." According to GLAAD, Disney was one of two film studios (the other being Paramount) that didn't feature a single gay or lesbian character in any of their movies released in 2015. And "as sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own, the most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth Star Wars film," the organization urges.
But onscreen visibility is not simply enough, GLAAD notes.
As the organization's president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis explains to Variety, sex and gender diversity cannot be achieved through having a token character. "It is not enough for LGBT characters to simply be present; rather, these characters must be crafted thoughtfully and better reflect the full diversity of the LGBT community," she stated. "Leaving LGBT people out of the picture — or including them only as a punchline — keeps old prejudices alive and creates an unsafe environment, not only here in America, but around the world where most audiences see these depictions."
It's a fair and well-established point, especially in an entertainment industry where gay men are often depicted as one-note, fashion-obsessed stereotypes in romantic comedies and lesbian characters are being killed off at alarming rates on TV.
Star Wars' seventh installment, The Force Awakens, was celebrated upon its release last year for featuring both a woman and a black man in leading roles, making it the most diverse and progressive of the films. Unfortunately, and despite a wonderfully adorable on-screen "bromance" between two of the movie's leading men (John Boyega's Finn and Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron), The Force Awakens did not introduce any openly LGBTQ+ characters.
However, many fans who have noticed the subtle romantic undertones and chemistry of Poe and Finn's relationship have shared their hope that the two may become romantically involved in future films. Isaac has seemingly expressed his encouragement of fans shipping his and Boyega's characters in previous interviews, telling Ellen DeGeneres last year, "You have to watch it a few times to catch all the little hints...At least I was playing romance. In the cockpit...there was a deep romance."
Whether or not Finn and Poe end up being written as gay characters in future installments, it seems viewers of the beloved sci-fi adventure series will eventually get LGBTQ+ characters after all. Director J.J. Abrams has previously revealed his (new) hope to introduce queer character representation into the franchise.
When asked about the possibility of having a gay character in Star Wars back in February, Abrams replied, "Of course! 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."
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