Shock that Albus Dumbledore was gay, backlash when a black actress was cast as the new Hermione Granger, and now Mark Hamill indicates that Luke Skywalker is either gay or bisexual – all of these fictional characters have stirred the imagination of millions, so imagining something else is challenging for many. However, a well-written character allows a lot of room for interpretation and fantasy (hence the trove of fan fiction out there that has all kinds of hook-ups between characters, back stories and such).
J.K. Rowling surprised most die-hard Harry Potter fans when she casually commented in 2007, after the seventh book in the series was published, that she always envisioned that Dumbledore was gay. The author always emphasized tolerance in her series. The Hogwarts headmaster was a champion on behalf of fair treatment of muggle-borns, werewolves, house elves, centaurs, squibs and giants, and encouraged others to be accepting, too.
Beloved characters from books are not always played by the people fans imagines when the films are made. (Harry Potter has green eyes in the books; does anyone think Daniel Radcliffe was poorly cast?) However, the casting for the play that comprises the eighth book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, surprised many with the casting of Noma Dumezweni, a noted black British theater and television star, as Hermione. The actual story will be unknown until July but as Rowling pointed out when people questioned the race change, she never wrote that Hermione was white. Her books described the character as having brown eyes, frizzy or bushy hair, prominent front teeth (until they were resized magically), and an amazing intellect.
As for Skywalker, he was never romantically involved in movies. Han Solo was the roguish ladies man. It is implied in the most recent Star Wars film that Rey, who is strong with the Force, may have some connection with Luke. Is she his daughter? Even if she is, that does not mean that Skywalker is straight.
Hamill recently told the media that the character’s comments sexuality is up for interpretation. He said fans often ask if Luke could be gay. His answer is that “it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer. If you think Luke is gay, of course he is.”
The Force Awakens’ director J.J. Abrams has said, “It seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in the (Star Wars) world.” Perhaps they will “come out” in the future franchise movies.
Leaving details about a character that do not affect the plot vague makes for a more interesting series. It also opens the way for future stories and plot twists. Only the Kardashians think everything about a life should be exposed.
Many fascinating movie characters are seen in their action role, but usually not dealing with everyday life. Unless it matters for the story, who cares who a character slept with or loved? As Hamill recently said, “Judge Luke by his character, not by who he loves.” Whether Luke Skywalker is gay or not and having a new Hermione be black stirs imagination and keeps the two series, which has been around now for 39 and 19 years, respectively, fresh.
Opinion by Dyanne Weiss
Vanity Fair: ‘Of Course’ Luke Skywalker Is Gay, Confirms Mark Hamill, Echoing Thousands of Fan-Fiction Prayers
New York Post: Yes, Luke Skywalker could be gay
Today: J.K. Rowling ‘loves black Hermione,’ defends casting in ‘Harry Potter’ play
Los Angeles Times: Seven clues that ‘Potter’s’ Dumbledore was gay
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons license