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.