Laura Dern The Last Jedi

Major movie and geek franchises have the bad habit of trying to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to including LGBTQ characters in their worlds. J.K. Rowling revealed that Albus Dumbledore is gay…but never within the actual pages of the Harry Potter novels. Power Rangers patted itself on the back for including an LGBTQ character…only to completely drop the ball within the context of the movie. And don’t get me started on Beauty and the Beast and its “exclusively gay” moment. Studios love to embrace diversity in the margins of the internet, in the niche corners of geekdom, but shy away when there’s actually millions of people watching. It’s disappointing, but we’re used to it.

So the revelation that Laura Dern‘s new Star Wars: The Last Jedi character, Amilyn Holdo, may be LGBTQ is cool news for those of us who like seeing our favorite fantasy universes get a little more queer. But it’s typical that it’s within the pages of a spin-off novel and almost certainly won’t be mentioned in Rian Johnson’s movie.

I have not read Claudia Gray‘s new novel Leia: Princess of Alderaan (although I did read and enjoy her book Star Wars: Bloodline), but the folks at ScreenRant did. The novel takes place before the events of the original 1977 Star Wars and features this exchange between a young Leia Organa and a young Amilyn Holdo:

“A pair of pretty dark eyes.” Then Amilyn thought about that for a moment. “Or more than a pair, if you’re into Grans. Or Aqualish, or Talz. Or even – ”

“That’s all right! Leia said through laughter. “It’s just humanoid males for me.”

“Really? That feels so limiting.”

“Thank goodness it’s a big galaxy.”

While some have described this exchange as evidence of Holdo being bisexual, the suggestion that she’s down for hooking up with a non-humanoid non-males suggests pansexuality or omnisexuality – the sexual or emotional attraction to another regardless of gender identity. And since this is a science fiction universe, it goes a step further. Now I’m imagining Laura Dern dating a sentient shade of the color blue. Man, if the Star Wars universe actually wanted to get weird and funky with its sexuality, the possibilities could be endless!

I’ve written before about my bisexuality and how it’s informed my relationship with popular culture. While Hollywood is slowly coming around on representing gay characters on screen, bi characters tend to be invisible…which is nothing new. Bisexual folks are often treated as invisible in the real world as well, often by members of the LGBTQ community. This is one of the many reasons I embraced Atomic Blonde – it’s rare to find a kick-ass action movie that is so proud of its queer characters.

So if Amilyn Holdo is bisexual or pansexual or some kind of sci-fi-sexual that needs a new term to properly define it, this is a good time to reveal it. After all, September is home to Bisexual Awareness Week. It’s a good a time as any to talk about this and how we can be better about inclusion and why it matters and all of the other stuff that tends to get internet commenters really angry. I’m happy to learn that Amilyn Holdo isn’t another straight Star Wars character. But I’ll be happier when this reveal is made evident on the big screen, not just within the pages of a book.

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