Star Wars and Star Trek are different in a lot of ways, but one of the things they have in common is a healthy degree of sexuality. I say healthy because they achieve that rare status in fiction of sexuality being present and acknowledged but not overly dwelled on.
Recently, Jon Kasdan made a comment that got the Internet all a-flutter: he confirmed that Lando Calrissian could be pansexual. Now there’s been a lot of responses to this but I wanted to highlight a few things about this whole issue.
First, background. In the old EU, now re-branded as Legends, there was pretty much no explicitly LGBTQ+ characters. There were some options in the KOTOR games to do a same-sex romance sub-plot, and there was the occasional hint in comics or books, and the occasional alien species that had a broader gender or sex spectrum–but those were few and far between, and to my knowledge nothing explicit was ever made.
In the new canon, things are definitely better, though still not ideal. The books and comics at least have included a host of characters, both Imperial. Rebel Alliance, New Republic, and non-aligned who are in same-sex relationships or who have same-sex leanings, as well as some hermaphroditic characters. Sinjir Rath Velus of the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig is probably one of the most noticeable of these, and there’s some hints that Dr. Aphra and Sana Starros had a past relationship. Unfortunately, bisexual, transgender, and queer characters are still noticeably lacking (though Sana Starros might count as possibly bisexual). The movies definitely haven’t had any explicitly LGBTQ+ characters yet, and I aside from background extras, the TV shows don’t seem to have either.
So far, Lando’s only explicit sexual relationships have been with females in canon, which is probably why the fan base got so split on the whole issue. But it is important to note that there’s no reason he can’t also like other genders–it just hasn’t been covered in the new canon yet.
Overall, Star Wars is definitely pushing towards a more inclusive universe with LGBTQ+ representation–but fans are still waiting for an explicit on-screen representation. While a good number of people read the books and comics, the movies still have the widest fan base and until we get an explicit on-screen representation, Star Wars will still be failing to live up to the expectations of a lot of fans.
Personally, I greatly desire there to be even more LGBTQ+ representation in Star Wars, and I DO suspect it’s coming. Sexuality is a part of existence, and definitely intrinsically tied with war. Star Wars needs to do better at representation, and soon. One thing gives me great hope: Star Wars has demonstrated recently willingness to do things that anger great portions of its fanbase, and Disney has certainly been welcoming of LGBTQ+ characters (ie. Le Fou in Beauty and the Beast)–so it should only be a matter of time.