I’m Sorry, J.J. Abrams Did Not Confirm Gay Characters in Upcoming Star Wars Films

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Reports are spreading online that Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams said there would be gay characters in upcoming films. While he is optimistic, that’s not quite what he said.

First off let me say I 100% want gay characters in the Star Wars film and TV universes. There is no reason for there not to be already. Just as there should be diversity when it comes to race in film, diversity in sexualities and genders should also come into play. But much like the recent report of Star Wars: Episode VIII being pushed back for “positive” rewrites based on audience reaction to the new characters, this current bit of news has fans getting their hopes up for something that may not be.

The first report on this story seems to be from People.com who titled their post “J.J. Abrams Says a Gay Star Wars Character Is a Strong Possibility: It Would Be ‘Insanely Narrow-Minded’ to Say It Wouldn’t Happen.” While that’s a really long title, it’s actually a great summary of what he said. But the ones I’ve seen circulating the most since yesterday are The Daily Beast’s “J.J. Abrams: Gay Characters Coming to ‘Star Wars’ ” and Polygon’s “J.J. Abrams says Star Wars will get an openly gay character.” Unfortunately, both of those are oversimplifications of what he actually said and have led many fans to believe he confirmed something about the next few films in the franchise. Because, well, a lot of people online only read the title of an article.

I don’t want to make assumptions about the reasoning behind those post titles but when you compare them to People’s they feel deliberately misleading. The Daily Beast however, reveals more of what Abrams said than People. Here’s the important part of their report:

Does its fearless director J.J. Abrams see a future for a gay character in the galaxy?

“Of course!” Abrams said Thursday night at his Bad Robot HQ, where he hosted the US-Ireland Alliance’s annual Oscar Wilde Awards ahead of Sunday’s Oscars, where The Force Awakens is nominated in five categories. “When I talk about inclusivity it’s not excluding gay characters. It’s about inclusivity. So of course.”

By Abrams’ logic, the sprawling Star Wars universe couldn’t possibly exist without a gay populace—even if we haven’t seen a single character identified as gay thus far. “I would love it,” he said. “To me, the fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility. So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.”

Ok! All of that makes total sense and I’m glad Abrams said it seems like the obvious move. But he certainly did not say there was definitely someone we could look out for in the next few films.

While Abrams passed on directing Episode VIII, he told his pal Greg Grunberg that the script is “so good” he wished he had written it. He’ll still serve as a producer on the film and while he could make suggestions and push for inclusion of this sort (and I really hope he does), he doesn’t have creative control and can’t make that kind of decision on his own.

I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer here but I know what a big deal this would be for a lot of people and I hate to see their hopes dashed because I’ve been there as a fan. And while I certainly still think we might see Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron revealed as gay in canon, I also wish to see other LGBTQ+ characters introduced in the upcoming Episodes and spinoff films.  I think talking about good representation on film is important and we need to keep doing it (and loudly), let’s just make sure we’re not putting words in anyones’ mouths in the process.

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  • WheelchairNinja

    Meh. Everyone praised the diversity of TFA, but in reality all it did was catch up with the Star Trek bridge crew from 1966: women, Asians, a black guy, and an alien X-Wing pilot. Adding an LGBT character would bring them to the turn of the millennium. Let me know when they have a person with dwarfism who’s *not* hidden behind an alien costume. Fury Road may have only had one racial minority character, but it did something Star Wars never has: portray a person of short stature–the guy with the telescope who’s played by an actor with brittle bone disease–as human. (Yes I know it’s probably a nitpick, but it always annoys me when people with birth defects are portrayed as a different species, à la Willow.)

    • There’s the other extremely contrary side of that…where I’ve heard, using your example, people with dwarfism, complain when they use CG to make people look like dwarves. Can’t ever make everybody happy, I guess.