All the queer Star Wars icons you’ve probably never heard of
It is the day that all Star Wars nerds revere – May the 4th/”May The Force” – and it’s time to explore the LGBT+ representation in one of the biggest pieces of pop culture in living history.
The road to more meaningful LGBT+ representation has been a long one for Star Wars, but in recent years, the hit sci-fi series has upped its game. Star Wars has expanded to more than just movies. There are Star Wars novels, comic books, video games and TV series that discuss the expanded universe at length. Within the expanded universe, Star Wars has highlighted characters of various sexualities and gender identities, creating new opportunities for LGBT+ fans to see themselves represented within the series.
This year Star Wars has said it would celebrate Pride month by letting gay and trans artists “pay homage to some of the LGBT+ characters inhabiting a galaxy far, far away” in a special line of comic book covers.
So now it is time for PinkNews to highlight some of the queer characters across the Star Wars universe that even some of the most hardcore fans may have never heard of.
The first canonically LGBT+ character was a lesbian
Delian Mors became the first LGBT+ character in the official Star Wars canon when she was introduced in Paul S Kemp’s 2015 novel Lords of the Sith. Mors, who is a human female, served as a Moff – a rank held by Sector Governors of the First Galactic Empire – in the years after the end of the Clone Wars. If you need a rough timetable, the book is set after the Revenge of the Sith movie but before the Rebels TV series.
Mors is an Imperial (a “bad” guy), and she had a wife, Murra, who was killed in an accident. She wasn’t a major character in the novel, but Big Shiny Robot described her as a woman who “has made some very serious mistakes” but is an “incredibly capable leader”. She spends most of the novel “working hard to prevent absolute failure”.
Sinjir Rath Velus is the first major hero in a Star Wars story to be gay
Author Chuck Wendig introduced the first gay main character into the Star Wars universe in the Imperial turncoat Sinjir Rath Velus. Wendig’s novel Star Wars: Aftermath takes place after the second Death Star has been destroyed, Darth Vader dies and the Rebel Alliance forms into the New Republic. Velus is a human male and former officer of the Galactic Empire, but he abandoned his post after the second Death Star was destroyed.
Did you know? Sinjir Rath Velus, introduced in Star Wars: Aftermath, was the first gay protagonist in a Star Wars story pic.twitter.com/KYZPsHx14O
— Star Wars Holocron (@sw_holocron) July 28, 2020
He eventually joins the New Republic and goes on a mission to hunt Imperial war criminals. In the novels, he even formed a romantic relationship with freelance New Republic slicer Conder Kyl.
The novel also introduced two background characters who are gay. One of the novel’s main heroes, Norra Wexley, eventually returns to her home planet of Akiva and reunites with her sister, Esmelle. Esmelle and her wife, Shirene, raised Norra’s son, Temmin, while Norra was fighting with the Rebels.
Doctor Chelli Aphra had the first actually visible LGBT+ kiss in the Disney Star Wars canon
Chelli Lona Aphra is a female, human archaeologist who was recruited by Darth Vader, but she eventually fell out of favour with the iconic character and faked her death. She lived under the alias Joystick Chevron when she eventually met her on-and-off-again adversary slash romantic partner, Magna Tolvan. Tolvan is an Imperial agent, and she developed a complicated relationship with the rogue archaeologist during their shared exploits.
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In Marvel’s Doctor Aphra #16, Aphra and Tolvan passionately kiss in what they believe to be their last minutes. The two survive, but their romance doesn’t end happily as Aphra has to alter Tolvan’s memories to protect her from Darth Vader.
Aphra has also had multiple relationships across the Star Wars franchise. In a rundown of Star Wars best-hidden romances, CBR romantically linked Aphra to her “old girlfriend from college”, Doctor Eustacia Okka, and Sana Starros, a character who claimed to be married to Han Solo (though he denied it). Aphra’s comic book series even picked up a GLAAD Award in 2020 for the best “outstanding comic book”.
— GLAAD (@glaad) July 30, 2020
Star Wars introduced its first trans non-binary Jedi this year
On Trans Day of Visibility (31 March), Star Wars announced it would feature Terec and Ceret on its June issue of Star Wars: The High Republic. The non-binary Jedi are bond-twins who have a linked consciousness, and they made their first appearance in issue two of The High Republic. The series takes place around 200 years before The Phantom Menace in a time when the Jedi are “in their prime”.
It wasn’t until this year that the official Star Wars Instagram announced the pair were trans and non-binary. The account added: “We support trans lives and we are passionate and committed to broadening our representation in a galaxy far far away.”
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Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is not only a badass villain but also an openly bisexual, Black woman.
Rae Sloane is a Black, human female who climbed the ranks of the Grand Empire to eventually become Grand Admiral. She was eventually mentored by Armitage Hux, who was played by Domhnall Gleeson in the most recent Star Wars movies. Even though Sloane doesn’t appear in the movies, she has a mighty presence in the Star Wars novels.
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She was first introduced in John Jackson Miller’s 2014 novel A New Dawn and was later featured in Wendig’s already pretty queer Aftermath trilogy. In one of Wendig’s novels Empire’s End, Sloane tells Wexley that she’s never had “a husband or a wife die in my hands”, acknowledging her non-heterosexual relationships.