In honor of unofficial Star Wars day, May the 4th, an old interview has surfaced examining the sexuality of the franchise’s original protagonist. In 2016, Mark Hamill was speaking with Vanity Fair when he declared that absolutely Luke Skywalker could be gay.
In the original Star Wars trilogy, dashing smuggler Hans Solo is one half of the films’ main romance (excluding the brief incestuous kiss between Luke and Leia). That has always had some fans wondering—might Luke Skywalker actually be gay?
Hamill’s response is that—while it is open to interpretation—a gay Luke Skywalker is a valid possibility. “Fans are writing and ask all these questions, ‘I’m bullied in school… I’m afraid to come out,’” he said. “They say to me, ‘Could Luke be gay?’
“I’d say it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer… If you think Luke is gay, of course he is. You should not be ashamed of it. Judge Luke by his character, not by who he loves.”
Luke Skywalker could also be read as asexual. He is a rare male protagonist in a sci-fi epic adventure who never has a love interest (or any children in later movies). Even in that kiss with his sister, it was Leia who took the lead. Because Jedi forswear attachments, they are forbidden from falling in love. But unlike his father Anakin (whose romance leads to his downfall), Luke never seems interested in pursuing anyone in the first place.
While it’s good that the film’s actors are supporting queer readings, it’s small comfort for the dearth of LGBTQ+ characters in one of the most lucrative franchises in the world. And all this encouragement of queer readings without any actual follow-through can skirt awfully close to queerbaiting (see: all of the ‘hinting’ around Finn and Poe).
Thus far, the majority of LGBTQ+ characters in Star Wars have been relegated to comics and side stories. Potential queer characters in more mainstream properties have been largely implied. Of course, none of this is Hamill’s responsibility—it’s up to Disney to make his words a reality.