'If sci-fi movies like Star Wars depict advanced societies, why aren't there any LGBT people?' asks GLAAD

 "The most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth Star Wars film"

Clarisse Loughrey
Tuesday 03 May 2016 09:29

Though it exists deep within the hearts and souls of so many fans of Star Wars: The Force Awakens; the truth is, mournfully so, that there's nothing official going on between Finn and Poe Dameron. Even though everyone wants it, even though Oscar Isaac wants it; there are no signs yet that it's happening, over ever becoming part of the official canon.

Understandable, then, that fans would be so disheartened by the news. We've had Han and Leia, Anakin and Padmé; and, for a brief moment, even that incestuously awkward pairing of Luke and Leia; so why no Finn and Poe? For all that Star Wars boasts in its variety, with alien creatures of every size and form wandering its planets, it's still not a universe in which LGBT people can apparently find their place.

GLAAD hope to change this, with its annual "responsibility index" highlighting that Disney was apparently one of only two studios (the other being Paramount) that didn't feature a single gay or lesbian character in any of its movies last year (via Variety). And the organisation believes its Star Wars franchise could be the key to improvement here; with The Force Awakens already being praised as a progressively diverse franchise on other fronts.

So why not be progressive in terms of LGBT representation, too? "As sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own," the report reads. "The most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth Star Wars film."

"2015’s The Force Awakens has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory. Recent official novels in the franchise featured lesbian and gay characters that could also be easily written into the stories."

Indeed, Star Wars' lack of LGBT representation seems a reflection of a far larger industry problem, in which very little progress is being made across the board. GLAAD found that out of the 126 major studio releases last year, only 22 of them (or 17.5%), featured LGBT characters; the same percentage as 2014.

"It is not enough for LGBT characters to simply be present; rather, these characters must be crafted thoughtfully and better reflect the full diversity of the LGBT community," stated GLAAD President/CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "Leaving LGBT people out of the picture — or including them only as a punchline — keeps old prejudices alive and creates an unsafe environment, not only here in America, but around the world where most audiences see these depictions."

Disney has on their hands a franchise so monumental in size, that their attitude to representation truly does have the capability to ignite larger change. So let's hope GLAAD's message is heard, and everyone's Finn/Poe dreams can finally come true.

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