Star Wars is slowly getting more and more diverse. That’s a good thing. It shouldn’t be surprising in 2018. Representation is important and it’s good that Lucasfilm is getting on board. It’s also important that we’re having discussions about representation. The latest discussion has been focused on everybody’s favorite caped scoundrel, Lando Calrissian. More specifically, there has been speculation about the character’s sexuality.
The conversation began last week. In an interview, Solo: A Star Wars Story writer Jonathan Kasdan was asked about the character, played by Donald Glover in the new film and by Billy Dee Williams in the original trilogy. Specifically, the interviewer asked if Lando Calrissian was pansexual. In response, he said:
I would say yes. There’s a fluidity to Donald and Billy Dee’s [portrayal of Lando’s] sexuality. I mean, I would have loved to have gotten a more explicitly LGBT character into this movie. I think it’s time, certainly, for that, and I love the fluidity ― sort of the spectrum of sexuality that Donald appeals to and that droids are a part of. He doesn’t make any hard and fast rules. I think it’s fun. I don’t know where it will go.”
Everybody Freaks Out About Lando
Not surprisingly, the internet had a field day with this information. Revelations about characters in Star Wars make people emotional. The subjects of diversity and LGBTQ characters in Star Wars probably added fuel to that fire. Some fans were surprised. Others were angry. Some fans were excited to see just a little more representation in Star Wars.
Donald Glover himself responded earlier this week, saying:
How can you not be pansexual in space? There are so many things to have sex with. I didn’t think that was that weird. Yeah, he’s coming on to everybody.”
Glover’s reaction is probably the closest to my own. Sure, it was definitely news to me, but I wouldn’t say it’s surprising. A galaxy-wide society would include characters who were pansexual, being attracted to a variety of genders as well as species (and droids?). It also makes sense that Lando would fall into this category, being such a smooth operator and generally out to have a good time.
Hollywood and (Retroactive) Inclusion
To be honest, Disney could, and should, do better than this. I have a problem with the way Kasdan revealed this nugget of information. Whether its canon or just his opinion, declaring that Lando is pansexual after the movie has already been made isn’t real representation. J.K. Rowling has done something similar in the past. She says she wrote the character Dumbledore to be a gay man. However, she waited until after she released all of her books before saying anything about it.
I’m all for LGBTQ characters in Star Wars. We need more. There are already a handful in the new canon books. They’re both protagonists and antagonists. And they’re great characters. They play important roles in their respective stories. The writer didn’t simply add them in for flavor. It’s good, real diversity, not pandering.
On the other hand, writers shouldn’t get any credit for retroactive inclusion. Attributing things like sexuality to characters after the fact is just lazy and borderline cowardly. They’re trying to get brownie points for representation that they didn’t think to include in the first place. They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too.
If Kasdan really wanted to include an “explicitly” LGBTQ character in his Star Wars film, he should’ve actually written one in. That’s what the LGBTQ community deserves.
Disney and Lucasfilm, if you’re serious about it, let’s have real representation.
What do you think about diversity and LGBTQ representation in Star Wars? Do you agree that Lando is pansexual? Let us know in the comments!