May 2, 2016
'Star Wars 8' To Include Gay Characters? GLAAD Put Pressure On Disney

After Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in December there was immediately speculation that two of the characters, specifically John Boyega's Finn and Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron, were actually homosexual.

That's yet to be proven, but the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) have now come out and, as part of a new report, insist that "Star Wars should introduce gay or lesbian characters into the franchise."

The anti-defamation group made this proclamation after they conducted their annual studio responsibility index, which is their yearly survey that tallies the number of depictions of LGBT characters in major studio releases.

Paramount and Disney were the only two studios that did not feature any gay or lesbian characters in any of their films in 2015. This revelation provoked GLAAD to ask Disney, which owns LucasFilm, the creator of Star Wars, to add a gay or lesbian character or characters to the franchise.

The report declared that the franchise should correct this wrong immediately by adding these individuals to Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is now currently shooting in London. But, while the studio was criticized for this oversight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was still praised for including both a female and an African-American protagonist.

According to Variety, the report reads, "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."

"2015's The Force Awakens has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory. Recent official novels in the franchise featured lesbian and gay characters that could also be easily written into the stories."
GLAAD's study revealed that out of the 126 major studio film releases in 2016 only 22 of these included gay or lesbian characters. This was just a total of 17.5 percent, which was the exact same percentage in 2014. Out of these 22 films, 77 percent of them featured gay men, while only 23 percent included lesbians, and just 9 percent featured bisexual characters.

Worse than that, though, was the fact that only 1 of these 126 feature films included a transgender character that was regarded as inclusive.

Speaking about these figures, Sarah Kate Ellis, the GLAAD President/CEO, insisted that LGBT characters must be more complex and well-rounded than what is currently being seen on-screen.

"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 declared. "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 will be interesting to see if Disney and Star Wars decide to include more LGBT characters in this universe. Social media has been ablaze with rumors, speculation, and fan fiction depicting a potential homosexual relationship between Finn and Poe in future Star Wars stories.

Earlier this year, Mark Hamill, who has played Luke Skywalker in four out of the seven Star Wars films since A New Hope was released in 1977, insists that his character's sexuality is open to interpretation by fans.

Speaking to The Sun, Mark Hamill explained, "[Fans] say to me: 'Could Luke be gay?' I'd say it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer. If you think Luke is gay, of course he is. You should not be ashamed of it. Judge Luke by his character, not by who he loves."

[Image via Disney]