A Brief History of How Luke Skywalker Became Part of the LGBTQ+ Community
Queering the canon since the '70s
There are all sorts of wondrous creatures in the galaxy far, far away in which the Star Wars saga is set, and yet the one thing that seems to be lacking are queer people—which you will undoubtedly agree with me are actually quite ordinary and should probably appear more often than they do.
In all of the Star Wars canon—especially the new Disney-era canon—the number of LGBTQ+ characters that have appeared on screen (or in the pages of books) are few and far between. The ones with relevant roles beyond standing in the background, especially in the franchise’s major movies and TV shows, are even fewer.
Then again, while a lack of canonically—and indisputably—queer characters definitely speaks volumes about a studio’s narrative choices, it has never really stopped transformative fandoms from doing their thing, which is sifting through subtext and queering characters because a) it’s thematically relevant, and b) because they just can.
And no character in the Star Wars universe has gone through this exquisitely transformative fandom process more than Luke Skywalker, the epitome of the hero himself, and the new hope of the galaxy—so much so that Star Wars fandom wiki Wookieepedia actually lists him on its”LGBTQ+ Individuals” page. So let’s break this whole fandom-headcanon-that’s-maybe-turned-into-actual-canon down.
Is Luke Skywalker part of the LGBTQ+ community?
The first thing to know is that believing Luke Skywalker is queer goes a long way back in the fandom, and it’s not exactly easy to pinpoint the very first time someone suggested that Luke is queer. I mean, his on-screen interactions with Han Solo—one of the Great Queer Awakenings™ for people everywhere—have been around since the ’70s, so there’s that.
Mark Hamill was talking about Luke’s sexuality as far back as 2016. As reported by Vanity Fair, Hamill replied to an interviewer’s question about Luke’s sexual orientation with a quote that has since become famous: “They 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.”
The timing is not irrelevant here: In 2016, the Star Wars franchise had just returned to the big screen with the previous year’s The Force Awakens. Everyone on the planet had seen the storyline between John Boyega’s escaped stormtrooper Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Resistance pilot Poe Dameron and begun publishing fanfiction about them, including Isaac himself—bless you, Oscar, we know you tried your best to make Stormpilot canon until the very end. We see you. We love you.
Still, the great promise of queer characters being introduced in the Sequel Trilogy resulted in the predictable blink-and-you’ll-miss-it background kiss during the final victory celebration in the god-awful mess that was The Rise of Skywalker. So it was back to transformative fandom, Archive of Our Own, and people’s headcanons of Luke possibly being queer.
How The Mandalorian revived Luke Skywalker’s queerness
The season 2 finale of The Mandalorian breathed new life into those headcanons. The Din Djarin/Luke Skywalker edits were everywhere, and while still a minor ship, they do hold their own on Archive of Our Own. And then there was Stories of the Jedi and the Sith, an official collection of short stories about various Force-sensitive characters published in 2022.
In “Luke on the Bright Side,” author—and former TMS editor, it should be noted—Sam Maggs writes about Luke Skywalker during his first days on Echo Base on the ice planet Hoth, and his reluctant Rebel companion Sergeant Reyé Hollis. Once again, there was nothing explicit in the text—just some Jedi-ing around to escape an ice cavern, as you do on Hoth—but fans were quick to point out that the entire short story made it seem like the two had budding crushes on each other.
So, the question ultimately remains: Is Luke Skywalker queer? The answer, however, isn’t a simple yes or no because of little issues like the nature of subtext and fandom and corporate policies.
Luke was never shown to have romantic interest toward anyone in any of the Star Wars movies or TV shows, and that’s a fact. Still, the subtext is undeniably there—it’s there in the fact that he has never shown romantic interest toward anyone, leaving his sexual orientation open to any kind of interpretation, and it’s there in Mark Hamill’s very welcoming attitude toward such interpretations.
Still, I feel like I need to close off this piece by pointing out something that I’m sure we’re all well-aware of but that bears repeating: Subtext, no matter how good and compelling, does not representation make. Neither does actors loving to see the way fans perceive the characters they play. Andor showed us that with Vel Sarthas and Cinta Kaz. Representation is putting explicitly queer characters on screen and at the center of a story where they can’t be dismissed. Hopefully there are more Vels and Cintas in the future of the franchise.
… Or maybe an actual confirmation that Luke Skywalker has been queer this whole time, exactly as we all thought he was.
(featured image: Lucasfilm)
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