Those who found the lack of diversity disturbing within the Star Wars franchise have had cause for celebration in recent years. Amongst all of the various aliens on display, the cast of The Force Awakens and Rogue One have brought some much-needed variety to the humans of a galaxy, far, far away, including strong female leads and characters from different ethnic backgrounds.
However, despite all of this progress, there's one demographic that's remained notably absent in the eight films released to date. Across all the cities on all the planets in the #StarWars universe, we're yet to see a #LGBT character on our screens. Sure, a growing number of gay and trans characters have been introduced into the Star Wars universe via novels or video games, but the films themselves haven't been too rainbow-friendly... that is, until now.
The Gays Awaken
#TheForceAwakens director J.J. Abrams has promised for a while that homosexual characters would be included in future films, telling audiences at the Oscar Wilde Awards this year that;
"...the fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility. So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.”
While many fans shipped Poe and Finn hard after the release of The Force Awakens — *stares wistfully into space* — it looks like Rogue One has finally gone where no Star Wars film has gone before by introducing two men to the cast who are romantically involved with each other. That's right, guys. Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe are here, they're queer and they're... rather subtle about it.
Chirrut & Bae-ze
Viewers who may worry about seeing the 'the gay agenda' propagated in the Star Wars universe need not worry their small, troubled minds too much. The relationship between Baze and Chirrut is subtly developed, to the point where it would be easy to read the pair as comrades in arms rather than lovers, but their close bond certainly has the internet buzzing.
Taking to Yahoo! Movies, director Gareth Edwards addressed whether it's right for fans to ship the two shipmates;
"I don't mind people reading into [Chirrut and Baze's relationship]. I think that's all good. Who knows? You'd have to speak to them."
Until Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen openly discuss their characters close relationship, fans will continue to read what they want into the pairs onscreen interactions. However, when judged solely by the film itself, the bond that Baze and Chirrut share could be interpreted either way.
Check out fan boy/director Gareth Edwards and his love for Star Wars in the clip below:
Love Is Blind
On the one hand, the two comrades could love each other in the old-fashioned, platonic sense, supporting each other as close friends do. At one point, the two men even refer to each other explicitly as 'friends'. However, in Chirrut's final moments, while he lays in Baze's arms, the dying man gently raises a hand, as if he wants to touch his "friend"'s face one last time. In the aftermath of his loss, Baze charges into the fight, clearly holding no more regard for his own life, devastated at the thought of continuing to live in a world without Chirrut by his side.
"I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me."
As many film theorists and even documentaries such as Celluloid Closet would attest to, Hollywood has subtly coded characters as gay for decades now, so it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that Baze and Chirrut shared more than just friendship with one another, particularly when you consider the film's official novelization too.
"The Force Is With Me"
In Chirrut's aforementioned death scene, author Alexander Freed reveals the monk's final thoughts;
“He wondered for a moment how Baze had crossed the battlefield to reach him. But of course the Force had reunited them before the end."
As if that wasn't totes adorbs enough for you, Baze's reaction is even more heartfelt;
“Once again, the Empire had stolen meaning from Baze. He might have screamed if not for the man he held.
“The Force is with me,” he repeated. “And I am with the Force.”
“He advanced on the men and women who had taken his past, his home, his friend, his hope, his faith; but he did not stray far from Chirrut.”
As little is revealed about either character's backstory prior to their appearance in Rogue One, the pair could easily have been involved in a romantic way, which would explain why they bicker in the same way that adorable old couples do when they've been together for a number of years.
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At the end of the day, though, whether Baze and Chirrut are in fact a couple or not isn't even the point. What's important is that in a world where slug gangsters and cute tree bears are the norm, it shouldn't be so hard to imagine that two people of the same gender could be in love.
Just because Star Wars is a genre franchise, that doesn't mean that people shouldn't see themselves reflected in the heroes onscreen. Rogue One has taken huge steps to address this through a diverse cast that includes female heroes, blind warriors and allies from various ethnic backgrounds. Isn't it time that people were allowed to love whomever they choose, in this or any other galaxy?