Disney continues to have its queer cake and eat it, too, as they suggest there will and won’t be any gay characters in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
From the first moment fans saw Finn and Poe onscreen in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the internet was set on fire with people shipping the new bromance. There’s never been an openly gay character in the ever-sprawling Star Wars franchise, and it would have been nice to see the chemistry between the two develop into something more.
(And no, Donald Glover saying he thinks Lando is pansexual doesn’t count, though it was much appreciated.) It stands to reason that in a galaxy far, far away — one that’s full of every creature imaginable — queer people exist somewhere among the Jedi and Wookiees.
This explains why Twitter was all a-flutter this past week after news broke that there may be a hint of a whiff of a gay person in The Rise of Skywalker. Just maybe.
In an interview with Variety, The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams shot down any hopes of a concrete relationship between Finn and Poe in Episode IX. However, Abrams urged fans not to give up hope entirely:
“And in the case of the LGBTQ community, it was important to me that people who go to see this movie feel that they’re being represented in the film,” Abrams told reporters.
So Variety asked upfront, without spoiling anything, whether or not that means there will be a queer character in the upoming film.
“I will say I’m giving away nothing about what happens in the movie,” Abrams answered. “But I did just say what I just said.”
Despite cries from fans for years to be more inclusive, Disney has yet to give in. They’ve thrown us crumbs through gayness off-screen or with characters who we never see again, hoping it will be enough to appease people or make them forget about the horrible lack of diversity when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation.
The fact is, Disney could make Finn and Poe gay if they wanted. Sure, there would probably be some backlash from the same group of bigoted fans who hated The Last Jedi because of the race of Rose Tico’s character.
But another huge science-fiction franchise previously helmed by Abrams has already outed one of its main characters and virtually nothing happened as a result — other than people being glad to see themselves represented onscreen. And it making a lot of money.
Before we lay the blame at Abrams’ feet, let’s get some things clear. J.J. Abrams had gay characters on Felicity twenty years ago. Oscar Isaac has spoken out about wishing Finn and Poe’s romance could have been explored onscreen. This is Disney’s choice and Disney’s alone.
While The Rise of Skywalker will see the newly out genderfluid Billy Dee Williams return as Lando, Lando himself is still living in a very closeted world thanks to Disney’s conservatism. And it’s a shame.