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STAR WARS Adds First LGBT Character to Canon

Diversity in Star Wars has been an issue since A New Hope was released in 1977. The original trilogy cast is comprised mostly of white males and aliens, and though representation did improve in the prequel trilogy, it only improved a little. Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels have done more to even the playing field, and changes are happening across canon. Case in point: The upcoming book Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp features the first LGBT character in Star Wars canon.

Lords of the Sith cover

In Lords of the Sith, the Emperor and Darth Vader become stranded on Ryloth and have to rely on each other to get off the planet and survive the insurgents fighting the Empire. Moff Delian Mors is an Imperial officer in the book (because I’ve seen confusion, remember, Moff is a title). She apparently has a key role, and she happens to be a lesbian. Kemp didn’t make that decision to make a statement, it was just natural. Bryan Young discussed the character with Shelly Shapiro, editor of Star Wars books at Del Rey, for the Full of Sith podcast (full disclosure: I co-host the podcast) and she has a great and simple explanation regarding the introduction of a LGBT character:

“This is certainly the first character in canon. But there was a gay Mandalorian couple, so it’s not brand new. It’s not something I really think about, it just makes sense. There’s a lot of diversity–there should be diversity in Star Wars. You have all these different species and it would be silly to not also recognize that there’s a lot of diversity in humans. If there’s any message at all, it’s simply that Star Wars is as diverse (or more so because they have alien species) as humanity is in real life and we don’t want to pretend it’s not. It just felt perfectly natural.”

You can hear her quote at 2:30 on the latest episode of Full of Sith.

As Shapiro mentions, this isn’t the first LGBT character in all of Star Wars. Mandalorians Goran Beviin and Medrit Vasur were married in the Legacy of the Force books by Karen Traviss, and same sex relationships are an option in the game Star Wars: The Old Republic. But that’s all Legends and was never technically canon. So, this is the first instance of a LGBT character in canon. And yes, it’s a big deal. It’s progress. An earlier canonical book, A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, introduced a female stormtrooper and a female Imperial officer (Rae Sloane). That’s also progress.

It should be noted that Del Rey is not using Delian Mors as a marketing ploy for Lords of the Sith. When Young read an advance review copy, Mors jumped out at him and he reached out to Del Rey and Kemp to see if he could write an article about it. And frankly, I think it deserves to be highlighted. Fighting for diversity has been an uphill battle and if it’s happening and happening naturally, we’re getting there. Hopefully, it will soon be such a common occurrence that it won’t warrant special attention. Given Shapiro’s attitude towards diversity, I feel optimistic.

Lords of the Sith will be on shelves on April 28.

HT: Big Shiny Robot

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  1. Felneymike says:

    Homosexuality is legal in the empire?

  2. Denson Conn says:

    Are some books canon now? I thought all the books were considered non-canon by decree of LFL.

  3. Jims says:

    Vader and Emps on a brotrip?!?!  I’M IN!!

  4. A Nerdnick says:

    Vice President in Charge of Lunch to Head of  Writers Committee: “So, how did the gay Jedi go over with the focus group?” 

  5. ed says:

    “it feels like tokenism and trying just to score points. Which in turn takes you out of the story.”
    ?? Did it feel like tokenism when it turned out that Obi-Wan’s master was not another white guy that was gonna train Luke? (Yoda didn’t even turn out to be Human in ESB.) Did it feel like taking you out of the story when a Jedi Master had a purple lightsaber… and was African-American? (And don’t even go in the non-white, non-male, non-human, and follically-challenged makeup of the Prequels’ Jedi Council.)
    It’s time that the SW Universe was inclusive enough for LGBT characters. Good for them– all sorts of people exist in the real world, and the fictional galaxy of SW reflects that. People who aren’t you can read thiem. Besides, a Rastafarian ESL frog, slant-eyed accented purple aliens and a money-grubbing, hooked-nose flying guy really felt like the older Lucas’ tokenism in having the Prequels conform to the racism of the cinematic past. 
    And NOTHING took me out of young Anakin’s story like “midichlorians”.

    • ian says:

      I think what  epobirs was hinting at, and if they are I agree, is why would it matter at all? There have been stereotypical characterisations in previous iterations but does the fact that they exist mean we have to do the same to LGBT characters to highlight the ‘uphill struggle’. Why write an article at all? It doesn’t bother me what sexual preference a character has, the point is that it’s a story and for the most part you can read into it what you like. For me, there are already many different characters with their own preferences and stories because I like to use my imagination positively. Sit some narrow – minded tool in front of anything where they need to use their imagination and they’re going to create a narrow – minded universe. Although almost certainly written with good intent, articles such as these, in my opinion, serve only to perpetuate that the LGBT community in whichever universe they may live, aren’t strong enough exist independently. That they need someone to champion the cause is a little dated for me. Unless it provides a catalyst for a plotline that’s integral to the story, sexual preference or racial equality shouldn’t matter either way. Also, Sam Jackson apparently requested a purple lightsaber and why not? Personalisation of characters can make for really good characters.

      • losercoop says:

        Right, their sexual orientation is irrelevent outside of a few of the main characters because it has nothing to do with the story. Besides Luke, Leia, Han, Anakin, Amidala, Uncle Owen, Aunt Beru  and maybe Jabba (because he seemed to have a preference for female slave girls) the rest of the universe could be gay for all we know.Unless the relationship is part of the story, it’s extraneous.

      • ed says:

        Glad you could clarify epobir’s statement. I don’t know about you, but I like reading stuff that reflects the world Iive in. The SW Universe is a made up Universe with humans, aliens, droids with lightsabers and sounds in space, a mystical energy field that surrounds and binds us, and cool tech that they use. “Realistic” characters ground the fantastical. If a couple of SW writers introduce an LGBT character into the official mythos– then it’s fine with me: my world ALREADY have lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and Star Wars nerds like me in it. Delia Mors is a lesbian: so what? Like you, I think that “personalization” can make a great character. That she is LGBT is a part of her character– and the fact that she’s with the Empire and a Moff is far more intriging for me. And she’s NOT even the main character in the novel.
        For someone to accept sounds in space, feral teddy bears defeating the Empire’s best troops (stupid Empire), a purple lightsaber when everyone knew blue, green = Jedi, Yoda sensing Anakin a couple of systems away killing and not sensing Palpatine while Qui-Gon burned (stupid Jedi), etc., etc. .. introducing an lesbian tertiary, supporting character is the one that’s gonna elicit a negative response? 
        If you can accept a Togrutan ‘Snips’ being a Rebel leader in the SW canon, why not an LGBT Moff? I have, and it amazes me that some Star Wars fans (and commentators) hold such reactionary modern beliefs to color their enjoyment of a fictional universe a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

  6. epobirs says:

    The real question is, why does it factor into the story? Dozen of characters could have had all sorts of quirks and odd traits that would never get mentioned because they contribute nothing to the telling of the story. (See that third dead Storm Trooper from the left? Brony.) When these things are forced it just feels like tokenism and trying to score points. Which in turn takes you out of the story.

  7. Joshua says:

    Gaylords of the Sith.

  8. Scott says:

    I know in this day and age, there will be people screaming that this is just more political correctness gone wild and that sexual orientation shouldn’t matter in Star Wars … but let’s face it … as long as it’s not Jar Jar Binks, they can bring in any race, creed, color or anything else into the Star Wars Universe. Also, I’m pretty sure the two-headed podrace announcer had something going on … though maybe that’s incest … or masturbation …

  9. Eralam says:

    The Mandos were canon until they decided to throw out the books. Just saying.