Mark Hamill, Gay Luke Skywalker, and the Hero with a Thousand Faces

This isn’t news anymore. It’s just taken me a really long time to figure out exactly what I want to say about it.

In response to a fan’s question about whether or not it was possible for there to be a bisexual or trans Luke Skywalker in the universe, Mark Hamill replied that, while Luke’s sexuality is never explicitly addressed in the movies, Luke can be whatever an audience member needs him to be. On the one hand, this make sense in an-universe way: With the decision to make the EU non-canon by Disney, as far as we know, Luke now has no romantic attachments–his only interest being in Leia, and that, for obvious reasons, didn’t work out. Luke could be attracted to anyone, and there’s not evidence to suggest favor for any gender as a preference. Bisexual Luke Skywalker is plausible.

On the other hand, Hamill’s answer–that is, that Luke can (and should) be read by an audience member however they need to see him–is part of what makes Luke the posterchild of Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces. Luke Skywalker is literally on the cover of the book. Star Wars itself fits into the Heroic Journey narrative as constructed by Campbell very neatly and intentionally so, and it makes sense that Luke, being the Hero, be easily identifiable with virtually any audience member. Some complaints about Luke as a character is that there’s not a whole lot going on for him in the same way that Han or Leia have their defining traits, but part of that is so that an audience member can project themselves onto Luke. So: Hamill clearly understands that fundamental part of Luke Skywalker as a Hero in the American Pop Culture Mythos, and if he were to say something like, no, Luke cannot be the thing that audiences need him to be, then he’d be defeating the purpose of having a hero everyone should be able to identify with in the first place. Many people have to conquer their fathers in some way, and many people are also bisexual and/or trans. Frequently, the two overlap.

Those are my main thoughts on specifics. I agree with Hamill’s response, and the above reasons are why I find the response valid.

But there’s another reason why I think it’s important, and it’s this: There’s not a lot of representation in media for LGBT+, and while explicit representation is probably best for any underrepresented group, having the guy who plays one of the biggest heroes in American Mythology (because what is Star Wars if not an American Myth?) tell you that it’s okay to think of the character as being like you is a pretty big deal. There have been rumors of a gay character in the next installment of the Star Wars franchise, which is great, because Disney and science fiction/fantasy in general have long strides to make in representation (though they’ve been getting better), but in the meantime, getting validation matters.

As I said before, I meant to write about this back when it happened, and I might have shot off a small Tumblr post about it and its importance re: Luke’s status as THE Hero with a Thousand Face, but as for a lengthy response, it hadn’t happened yet.

There was a point in time where any fanwork depicting the characters in the Original Trilogy as gay immediately marked that work as being inappropriate and for mature audiences only–as unfortunately any sexuality other than hetero is often seen as something for adults, even when the only instance of romance might be a kiss. It’s interesting, too, since while Lucasfilms didn’t outright ban fanworks, they did ban anything that would be considered “mature”–and that automatically would have included anything starring a Gay Luke Skywalker. Interesting, also, is that C3-PO (who is, now, a canonically gay robot) was inspired, in part, by one of Lucas’s gay friends. The kind of conversations that are being had now about sexuality and Star Wars would probably not have been able to happen–or at least, not as openly as today. The fact that we’re even able to have these conversations, or that we can have readings of Luke Skywalker as bisexual or trans acknowledged as valid should be seen as an indication of how far we’ve come.

But that mainstream sci-fi/fantasy genre fiction fans need to ask for that validation in the first place, I think, is an indication of how much further we need to go.

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Author: jillboger

Part time writer. Editor-in-Chief for the Bridge volume 13, former EIC for The Odyssey at BSU. My glasses protect my secret identity.

3 thoughts on “Mark Hamill, Gay Luke Skywalker, and the Hero with a Thousand Faces”

  1. When I saw Star Wars for the first time as a thirteen year old girl in 1978, I didn’t go to watch sex amongst the stars. There were no rumours of a sequel at the time. I fell completely in love with Luke Skywalker and, instead of being jealous of his affections for Princess Leia, I actually thought they were better matched than Han and Leia, who were always arguing, even in Episode VII. However, although I was completely oblivious to the sexual interpretation at the time, there was one scene in Star Wars which could have suggested Luke was bi-sexual and had feelings for Han Solo. It’s the scene in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Luke asks Han what he thinks of Princess Leia and Han’s response was “I’m trying not to, kid.” Luke says “Good” with a smile, then Han tries to get a reaction from Luke by saying “Do you think a Princess and a guy like me…”, to which Luke replied with “No.” Luke was seriously jealous and that could be interpreted either way, so George Lucas may have been open to the suggestion. I was disappointed that Princess Leia turned out to be Luke’s sister, but that would be one way of a bi-sexual Luke Skywalker getting out of having to choose between Han and Leia. Luke wouldn’t have to choose between Han and Leia, if the two people he loved chose each other. I sometimes wonder if the fact Luke and Leia didn’t end up with each other in Return of the Jedi was the reason the third installment wasn’t as successful at the box-office as episodes 4 and 5. Undoubtedly, Luke Skywalker was a pretty boy, especially in episode 4, but just because I am no longer a teenager, it doesn’t mean the Star Wars saga should be about sex. I don’t think they have words like homosexuality or gay in outer space, just as they believe in a supernatural power that they call the Force (and we know it as the power of God), but they don’t have a word for God in their galaxies. I read about that latter bit, years ago. You never hear them say expressions like “Oh my God” for that reason, in case you hadn’t noticed.
    😇

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  2. I made a very valid point of view that has since been removed, so I am publishing it again.

    “When I saw Star Wars for the first time as a thirteen year old girl in 1978, I didn’t go to watch sex amongst the stars. There were no rumours of a sequel at the time. I fell completely in love with Luke Skywalker and, instead of being jealous of his affections for Princess Leia, I actually thought they were better matched than Han and Leia, who were always arguing, even in Episode VII. However, although I was completely oblivious to the sexual interpretation at the time, there was one scene in Star Wars which could have suggested Luke was bi-sexual and had feelings for Han Solo. It’s the scene in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Luke asks Han what he thinks of Princess Leia and Han’s response was “I’m trying not to, kid.” Luke says “Good” with a smile, then Han tries to get a reaction from Luke by saying “Do you think a Princess and a guy like me…”, to which Luke replied with “No.” Luke was seriously jealous and that could be interpreted either way, so George Lucas may have been open to the suggestion. I was disappointed that Princess Leia turned out to be Luke’s sister, but that would be one way of a bi-sexual Luke Skywalker getting out of having to choose between Han and Leia. Luke wouldn’t have to choose between Han and Leia, if the two people he loved chose each other. I sometimes wonder if the fact Luke and Leia didn’t end up with each other in Return of the Jedi was the reason the third installment wasn’t as successful at the box-office as episodes 4 and 5. Undoubtedly, Luke Skywalker was a pretty boy, especially in episode 4, but just because I am no longer a teenager, it doesn’t mean the Star Wars saga should be about sex. I don’t think they have words like homosexuality or gay in outer space, just as they believe in a supernatural power that they call the Force (and we know it as the power of God), but they don’t have a word for God in their galaxies. I read about that latter bit, years ago. You never hear them say expressions like “Oh my God” for that reason, in case you hadn’t noticed.
    😇”

    Like

    1. Your comment wasn’t removed, it was never approved in the first place since I’m not always great at keeping up with moderation.–I have a life beyond the blog. It’s not about sex in the stars. It’s about kids who go to the movies getting to see themselves reflected in their heroes, and getting to be like, well maybe there’s the possibility of Luke liking girls and boys as opposed to just girls, and so it’s not so weird if I do, too. Let’s be honest: as kids, we get a lot of our ideas about how the world around us works based on the media we’re consuming. It’s not necessarily bad or good. And romantic attraction doesn’t have to be explicitly sexual, and sure, while most people are going for the plot, there are plenty of people who go to the movies to see the relationships between characters regardless of series.
      P.S.: they don’t use our swears in the Star Wars Universe either, formerly expanded-now-Legends or otherwise. Doesn’t mean they don’t have their own versions of swears to use.

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