A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far a-gay: Star Wars gets first official LGBT character

Well I guess it is now…

I don’t think it’s a cop-out for me to be LGBT for sci-fi reasons!

I think it’s debatable whether or not this does anyone any favors. I wouldn’t be a normal human being even with a formal invite, my own kingdom, or dragged at gunpoint.

Speaking of sci-fi gender representations, I just started this week watching the anime adaptation of Tsutomu Nihei’s “Knights of Sidonia”. It takes place about 1000 years from now, after a diaspora from destroyed Earth, when there aren’t many humans left. One of the ways they addressed sex, gender, and reproduction was to engineer a neutral third gender who could induce themselves to mate with males or females. One of the main characters is such a person.

They also did some other mods such as secret immortality for the hidden rulers, clones with accelerated maturity and learning who are more-or-less adult within five years, and the ability for most people to photosynthesize - with them needing to eat onlt about once per week.

Well that’s the thing, someones race is something you can see - sort of. Well, you can see their color. At the same time was Lando’s race really even important? Not really. You could swap any other color in there and it would still work as a character. But we are talking about a fantasy space opera. He didn’t play a “black character”, but a character who was black.

Unless you want to use stereotypes with some guy dressed flamboyantly or a butched up gal, gay people tend to look more or less like everyone else, especially if they are in uniforms and the like.

Though I do like your suggestion about a kiss good bye or some other element. That adds a sort of human element to it and is an action that sounds very in character. But again, we don’t see the pilots say good buy to loved ones at all. It’s not that sort of story.

IIRC they mention it when Obi-Wan tours the facility on Kaminio. From wiki: “Before the gestation process began, the Kaminoans tampered with Fett’s DNA to ensure that the clones were primarily dominated by behavioral genes that emphasized certain qualities such as loyalty, aggression, independence and discipline in order to guarantee that they would be more docile and less independent than their template”

I don’t know who John Inman is, but my example was intentionally ridiculous. My point is that for something like Star Wars it doesn’t get deep enough into interpersonal relations that much period. We don’t see much of their private lives. Another film, another story would be a better vehicle.

Fine, but then I was plainly talking about many of the gay people out there, not you. You seem to have this thing where you make everything about your experience and ignore all that other people have said about theirs, which offers little insight and lots of smugness. See for instance Elusis here, marilove here, or me back here, among various other comments.

Instead of bemusedly wondering why people keep responding personally when you try to make one topic after another about only your perspective, is there any way I can persuade you to consider what’s been said, and maybe stop? Because it’s really tiresome, and I for one am not interested in any of it.

That’s exactly the point. He didn’t need to be black, but nobody questions it. He didn’t need to be straight, but nobody questions why they slapped in a scene establishing him as such. Having a character happen to be gay is exactly as easy; here’s a fantasy example showing just how little it takes:

Bam, done. It’s no more work than it was to show Lando was attracted to women. It seems like you’re arguing there shouldn’t be any such visible gay characters unless the plot is going to revolve around it, but why is one any more an imposition than the other?

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I’m not saying that. Actually I like your sort of “in passing” commentary and actions. I think it is more useful and genuine than some of the stereotypical characters we often see.

At the same time, something like that is so nuanced and sort of superfluous to the whole story that I can see why it is often over looked. Let’s be honest, the gay community is small. If you are writing a story about space ships and blasters, unless you are involved in that niche, you probably aren’t going to think about including it. Not out of malice, it just isn’t what you are focused on. And there is no end to the niche of people you can end up slighting, from leaving out certain races to “ok there are gay characters, but why no transgender or asexual”? etc. You can’t included everything all of the time, but I do understand wanting to make people more aware and inclusive in general.

One other thing I was thinking about the other day, is people tend to write about what they know. So I think this is one reason why minorities of all types are under represented. I think writing a character that is completely foreign to your experiences (race, sexual orientation, sex, etc) can be daunting. You don’t want to make a white washed character, or worse, use some cliched stereotype that ends up being offensive. I think it is also why so many characters are so one dimensional because the creators don’t know how to flesh them out in a genuine way.

You were not only talking about them, you were speaking for a whole category of people. This seems to me to be a gloss, and a type of gloss I encounter here often. When I say what I think about whatever issue, I make plain that I am stating my observations or opinions - and this is done as a form of respect, because I am the only person I can honestly and fairly speak for. In contrast, what people often present to me here is the scenario of telling me that there are “my views” versus “reality”. Speaking for other unnamed people who are not participating in the conversation is what I interpret as “generalization”, and people complain when I say that I think they should take personal responsibility for these. I think it’s especially egregious when people claim to speak for a category which - by their own definitions - they are not included in, and I am.

I do not ignore what other people say about their experiences. But when people lump these together into identified, collective experience, then I think it helps to ask for clarification. Also, not having had similar experiences, or not agreeing with their conclusions in no way makes what I put forth any more special or precious than what they do, and it would really assist communication, I think, if I didn’t need to disclaim this every damn time. And despite the fact that I do, people still jump on my case and call me a pompous know-it-all when I plainly state that something is merely my opinion - and often an opinion which their remarks demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of.

So, whose perspective do you offer? My perspective does not define the topic, it amounts to me offering my perspective to a discussion by a group. The difference is that I ask people what they think instead of telling them. And I go out of my way to speak for myself, instead of just happening to speak for others. You can say what you think of something, I can say what I think of this, and so can any number of others. What is so difficult about doing this in a civilized way, so we each get our say?

When I point out that people are speaking for others, and in their snaky responses they proceed to put words in my mouth as well, might they be seen as further demonstrating this tendency?

Sort of; I was certainly speaking on behalf of others, but then I only feel I can do so because I’ve listened to what many different voices have said on such matters, and without claiming it necessarily speaks for all of them. You on the other hand said it was questionable if it did anyone any favors, so speaking for everyone, and based entirely on yourself and only yourself yet again.

Not listening to anyone else’s experiences is ignoring them in favor of your own, and it is pompous. I guess it’s your prerogative not to listen when one person after another tells you so, and instead make up justifications about how your 'splaining over them is actually polite; but in that case I’d rather not listen to you either, and would ask you to leave me out of it.

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It’s great that you listen, but not that you tell me that I don’t. People often accuse me of “not listening”, but falter when I can then recount in near verbatim a good half-hour of what they said. I agree that it tends to beneficial to listen and try to understand. But, pragmatically, there is no reason to believe and internalize what people say. How can we be certain that they are who they seem to be? That we can evaluate their remarks at face value? Or even know that we interpret what they mean to say accurately? I think it works better to not believe or doubt people, but to maintain ambivalence. Strive for evidence, speak of what you know, and let others speak for themselves. It seems to be a respectful and practical methodology for communication, but apparently it really rubs some people the wrong way.

I can see how you might interpret it thusly. But by “anyone” I meant “in any particular instance”. This is positing a narrative which may be experience by any number of specific individuals. While “everyone” frames any remark as a blanket generality. I don’t deny that they meet somewhere in that continuum.

When did you stop beating your mate?

How do you figure that having my only direct experience means that I “favor” it? Again, listening to other people is just that - listening. I could say that your assertion that I don’t listen to people is pompous, because one might suppose it presumptuous to tell another what they hear, interpret, or mean. No, I don’t favor my experiences. I acknowledge my own subjectivity - which I experience directly, as a result of being an organism - and the subjectivity of others - which is probably just as real to them as mine is to me, despite me never having any direct experience or evidence of. Our experiences are separate, because we are distinct organisms who can only model impressions of each others experiences, as we understand them…

There is no explaining “over” anybody. I explain myself, because nobody else experiences what I do. I hope likewise that other people explain themselves. That people can (and IMO should) speak for themselves is in no way pompous, and you have not made clear why you suppose that anybody’s input should matter more or less than anybody else’s. If I had to guess, I’d suppose that you maybe work from a drastically different model of human communication than I do. Is there some kind of memetic transference which occurs, where once a person tells another their experience, and they listen, that the latter now knows what the former knows? Or is it more accurate to say that the latter knows what the former said, and can only guess as to whether their subjective interpretation jives with what was offered?

Sure, being ambivalent when lots of other people tell you about their experience and then trusting yours in its place is great. So for instance, we might have all heard gay people say representation was valuable to them, including the_borderer on this very thread…but how can you trust any of them are reasonable? Better to stick to the one voice you can trust, your own, and let everyone know you aren’t concerned.

That’s not favoring your view over others, ignoring or explaining over them, no sir. It’s speaking for yourself, which just happens to include dismissing anything that isn’t an issue to you, because it’s not good to believe other people about those things.

And of course they should all harken to you, because your experience gives you all sorts of insights into what options other people have, you know, in the midst of not believing what they say about it. To think this would ever come off as 'splaining over them, instead of polite and practical communication! :unamused:

Anyone who says that they're great at communicating but 'people are bad at listening' is confused about how communication works. -Randall Munroe

Again, I would encourage you to listen to what other people have told you about this, and consider that when one after another has similar complaints it might not be them all missing how reasonable you trust you are. If not, though, I’ll say again that I have no interest in such pseudo-solipsism, and I’m done trying with someone who declares they won’t ever believe anyone. Please leave me out in the future.

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Your replies would be more informative if telling me “your opinion” didn’t rely upon you telling me mine. I said it’s not prudent to believe anything, not that I am any exception. It is more crucial and difficult to avoid believing or doubting myself.

Anyone who says that they’re great at communicating but ‘people are bad at listening’ is confused about how communication works. -Randall Munroe

That, or maybe they are faced with the task of trying to communicate with people who presume to know what others think.

I have asked quite a few questions, and you haven’t answered any of them. Meanwhile, instead of asking me any questions, you tell me what I am doing. Is this communication by your estimation?

Having only but one subjectivity isn’t solipsism, or anything like it. There are countless individuals, but I am only one of them, whether we like it or not. It’s great that you feel justified in speaking for other people, but I don’t agree that this is justified. Also, I can say so without making a personal affront of it. I think of communication in discussions such as this to be exercises in “comparative reality”, and take a rather dim view of people being compelled towards persuasion by those who profess to equitable good-faith exchanges of ideas.

Also, FWIW I think it’s tedious how people make pronouncements about me in the middle of topics, but then bow out and don’t want to be bothered with any of my attempts to clarify my stance. If people say things about me which I think indicate drastic misunderstanding, I shouldn’t say anything? People who dislike me or what I say could always PM me to say this, yet for some reason they don’t mind adding it to the topic at hand. Then they complain that I am OT to respond. FFS if you don’t want to discuss it, don’t go there in the first place. Otherwise you are merely making an awkward scene.

You… have no idea what gay people’s lives are like do you? This is the same thinking that leads to people saying “why do they have to parade their sexuality around in public? I don’t mind it as long as they don’t flaunt it,” etc.

Obviously not, if you’re still using the term “sexual preference.”

Please, do yourself a favor and either enter the 21st century, or do hush up and sit down. Your lack of self- and other-awareness is just embarrassing.

Guess what? It’s really not debatable.

The more acceptance queer youth have from their families, the less likely they are to use drugs, drop out of school, have risky sex, and attempt suicide.

What’s the #1 factor associated with more positive views of gays and lesbians? Knowing a gay or lesbian person. Even if you don’t know someone personally, the more gay and lesbian people you can name, the more positive your attitudes are. Exposure to gay people as just “part of the background” normalizes being gay. In other words: Yes, when the religious right said “showing gay people on TV is going to make kids think being gay is OK,” they were RIGHT. And it was true not just of the kids, but of the adults.

Representation matters. It changes the perspectives of the adults, and it helps even gay people overcome their own homophobia, and it lays important groundwork for more supportive family relationships which directly impacts the well-being of GLBT youth.

Stop talking out of your ass.

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Right? It’s the ultimate in solipsism. “How can anyone really know anything, really?” “All ideas are constructed, therefore nothing is real.” “Prove to me that you even exist - you can’t can you?” “You think that’s your experience, but you might not realize how deluded you are.”

The perfect excuse for JAQ’ing off.

Sure, because your value judgements aren’t yours - they’re real. I think it is debatable on the basis that people don’t seem to agree what “normal” is, and that even if we did somehow agree what comprises a “normal range of human beings”, I am not convinced that belonging to this category would be of any benefit. Are normal people healthy, happy, smart, creative? To some extent, but not so much that I’d recommend theirs as a way of life.

Sounds like a mixed bag. I advocate use of (some) drugs, and dropping out of school. The last two - not so much. Also, acceptance cuts both ways. When you say that acceptance of a group is more significant than their acceptance of others, you are marginalizing them.

Maybe it’s just me. I think normative processes are generally not beneficial. It causes people to become too similar to each other in how they live. Rather than joining some dysfunction concept of a “mainstream” I’d rather just fragment it into millions of possible ways to live. Including whatever kinds of sex or gender people choose. Nobody else has to like it. Coercive jerks can go pound sand for all the good it does them.

It sounds better when you put it like this. The ability to change perspective I think is always beneficial. Problems of fear and acceptance take care of themselves once people are able to choose how they live without interference.

I guess you will have to color me confused. What exactly are you talking about? I thought gay people were just like everyone else?

I sit across from a guy all day long and the fact he is gay has like zero relevance to anything he does all day. It is a complete non-issue in this office.

If you’re talking about some having to put up with abuse, discrimination, etc, ok. Fair point. But even with the bullshit they have to put up with, their actual day to day interactions for most people aren’t any different than anyone elses. And even those differences aren’t THEIR actions as much as peoples’ actions towards them.

And you’re reading too much into my use of the term “sexual preference”. Would “sexual orientation” be better for you?

Perhaps it would be!

…if I had said any of those things. It’s embarrassingly easy to categorize people when you choose their words and meanings for them.

Not to speak for others (ahem) but I think you’re sort of talking past each other and not really arguing about the same thing. Your point there is valid. For 95% (or whatever) of the characters in something like Star Wars, any romantic or sexual stuff is totally irrelevant and would feel shoehorned in if included gratuitously.

And yet… heteronormative relationships are part of the story, and not just superfluously. In both cases that have been discussed (Beru/Owen and Lando) you definitely could have made them gay, but like I said the hetero stuff was not superfluous and changing it would have consequences. Owen & Beru evoke Luke’s lonely family life and so on (family being a key theme later). Lando making a pass at Leia says a lot about his character, but more importantly it speaks to his relationship with Han too, and colors both of their pasts in a very quick and simple way.

As an aside, I don’t see how anything in the movies negates the possibility of Han and Lando both being gay (or bi) and being ex-lovers and trying to hide it. For one thing, both are unusually overt in expressing interest in women, for the star wars universe anyway. I’m sure this topic is very well covered in fan fiction.

Anyway, so then the argument against your idea is at least in part that it’s not good enough that 95% of the time it doesn’t matter to the story. There should be active effort to include this type of representation. If there’s going to be romance and sexuality as even a small part of the plot (or even just in the background), it should not be all hetero, regardless of the proportions of people in society because this type of representation matters more to underrepresented groups.

It’s not always going to be possible. I don’t know that Lando would have really worked as a gay character because I do think the hints of his past relationship with Han are important. It suggests that they were competitive with everything in the past, including women, which confirms that Han Solo is/was a true scoundrel and didn’t really respect women (and isn’t just putting on a tough guy act throughout the first film, although he is doing that). It’s important to his character arc because fighting for a cause other than his pocketbook and falling in love with Leia change him in significant ways and he becomes a better person.

Owen/Beru could have worked as a gay couple. There’s no reason a gay couple with an adopted kid shouldn’t also immediately evoke a family feeling (which I said was important to the story), and part of the reason why it wouldn’t for many people is because it’s so rarely represented in media. But then there is still the problem that they don’t actually do anything romantic in the movie. Connecting with your point, the family feeling is evoked with literally zero effort, because everyone who sees a man and woman living together with a kid understands the relationship. You can’t avoid that having them be two guys would mean adding signs that they’re romantically involved to get the same effect that is achieved effortlessly with a hetero couple, and then it would feel superfluous and shoehorned.

Above all, the point stands that there should be outsized LGBT (and other minority) representation. Better writers than I can definitely figure out how to work it in seamlessly, circumventing the centuries of hetero-as-default, and we will very quickly reach a point where it all seems normal to everyone. At that point we could have a gay Owen/Beru without it feeling shoehorned. We’re not there yet though.

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I think all your points are good. There are sort of two issues, one is “including more gay characters” and two, “how people react to them”. I think today we could have had Owen and Barry and no one would care. In 1977 that may not have gone over so well. I guess that is society slowly progressing.

I have been struggling with how to articulate my point and it can be illustrated in the new episodes of the Walking Dead. I don’t know how do that spoiler thing, so if you aren’t caught up, either stop reading or be prepared for a minor spoiler…

When the new guy found the group (sorry, I don’t know his name. I have given up learning anyone’s name on the show because I don’t want to get attached when they kill them off.) you had no idea he was gay. Because gay people for the most part act and are just like everyone else, unless you want to go with a stereotype.

Lucas was criticized in the past for Star Wars not being very diverse. So in RotJ he sprinkled in a much more diverse group of pilots. While not exactly doing a great job, you could at least see an effort was made. You can’t just sprinkle in a gay character in the back ground, you have to add something that says, “Oh hey, this character is gay.” chenille gave some good examples of how that can me accomplished. So I guess it is something to work on.

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Something interesting about Star Wars is that to me it has a feeling of being more diverse than many movies, partly because of how there are a bunch of aliens and nobody thinks twice about them (which isn’t a substitute for diversity among the human characters obviously).

I had not thought about it and I didn’t know there was an effort to make ROTJ more diverse but it worked - in particular there is an assortment of pilots in the battle of endor and despite them kind of just being there for the sake of being there for the most part, they do not feel like tokens, as it often feels like these days when there’s a token Asian and Black character.

Now as to what you’re saying about gay characters being near impossible to insert, I think you’re totally right. So the challenge is to find other ways to do it. Have a scene like Lando coming on to Leia, except have her reveal she’s not into guys (or better maybe, switch the genders in that situation). This is something you see occasionally and it doesn’t make any difference to most of the rest of the plot but it does make the character more interesting, often, for the kinds of reasons that I expanded upon talking about what Lando tells us about Han Solo.

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