I won’t pretend to know as much as my kids about the Star Wars universe; I certainly haven’t read any of the related books or comics. But, what I do know is how the film series made me feel about the beings who shared their world(s) — all at once open and indifferent. Just like us, spacefolk, critters, robots, androids, and everything in between come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and with their own behaviors and beliefs, and as long as everybody treated each other with the same respect, things stayed cool. Star Wars (like Star Trek) always held up that mirror at just the right angle to let us see other than the straight-on, self-adjusted presentation, to give us the whole view of ourselves and at times, remind us of our sometimes hidden, less-than-flattering sides. Like the ugliness expressed by some fans after reading Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath novel, which introduced Sinjir Rath Velus, Star Wars first “major gay hero.” Wendig’s book is part of a (canon) trilogy that explores what happened between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and since its September 4th release, the novel has received plenty of decent reviews. But, as Wendig notes, Aftermath may also be the target of a negative campaign of Amazon reviews. Whether that purported campaign is related to the gay character, not even Wendig can be certain, but what he does say to those complaining about Sinjir Rath Velus and the novel’s diversity in general is pretty much perfect:
“And if you’re upset because I put gay characters and a gay protagonist in the book, I got nothing for you. Sorry, you squawking saurian — meteor’s coming. And it’s a fabulously gay Nyan Cat meteor with a rainbow trailing behind it and your mode of thought will be extinct. You’re not the Rebel Alliance. You’re not the good guys. You’re the fucking Empire, man. You’re the shitty, oppressive, totalitarian Empire. If you can imagine a world where Luke Skywalker would be irritated that there were gay people around him, you completely missed the point of Star Wars. It’s like trying to picture Jesus kicking lepers in the throat instead of curing them. Stop being the Empire. Join the Rebel Alliance. We have love and inclusion and great music and cute droids.
(By the way, the book also has an older woman, a mother, rescuing a man. So if that bothers you, you might wanna find a bunker for hunkering down. And I dunno if you noticed, but the three new protagonists of the movie consist of a woman, a black man, a Latino man. The bad guys all look like white guys, too. So many meteors. So little time to squawk at them.)”
Wendig also spoke about Lucasfilm being open to Sinjir Rath Velus:
“There was no issue in terms of the Lucasfilm people. They have been very gracious and accommodating for that sort of thing, as they should be. The only question in terms of story stuff was, some of the earlier readers of the book were like, well, it’s kind of a shame, because he and that other character actually have some good chemistry. So in some ways it’s like, well, it’s a shame that they’re not getting together…there’s more to do there in terms of both their friendship and who he is. I don’t think that his sexuality needs to be this giant plot point, but at the same time, it’s part of who he is as a character, and I thought it was an interesting moment.”
What I really like about Wendig’s viewpoint is best summed up when he’s asked. “Do you find it more powerful that it’s not a plot - that it’s not singled out as an issue in the story? It’s accepted that he just happens to be gay…”
“Well, it’s not even just that he “happens to be.” I don’t want it to seem like a glib choice. I mean, I think it’s fundamental to who he is, in terms of his character, but at the same time, it seems strange to sort of exploit that for plot fodder at the same time.”
At this point in our history, it is important to represent our diversity just as it is — naturally. It’s not about pushing any agenda, or “forcing” x-type of character. We are gay. We are trans. We are Syrian, African, Asian, Jewish, bisexual, asexual, poly, agnostic, Greek orthodox, atheist, meat-eating, vegan, gluten-free…we are humans.
(via/read more at EW)