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.
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