Guest Writer Heather opens up to tell us what Star Wars means to her.
Many of you know what it feels like, although I wish you didn’t. At some point we’ve all felt the need to cast aside the part of us that makes us beautiful just so we’d fit in, just so we’d be left alone, or just because no one cared to listen.
I wish it didn’t have to be that way. But maybe, just maybe we’re finally starting to enter the age where we can proudly state who we are without fear of repercussions.
Okay, maybe asking for the entire world to chill out is a little too much to ask. At the very least there could be some indication that we’re not alone, right?
Enter Star Wars.
I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was six years old. Back then it was just a cool-looking movie and nothing more. I never imagined it would constantly steer the course of my destiny, let alone help me come to terms with the part of my identity that I’ve been trying to shove away for the past decade. Why would I do that in the first place, and where does Star Wars come into all of this?
That’s right, I’m about to start a flashback.
Teen years are difficult for everyone. Don’t lie and say otherwise. Puberty, hormones, studying for finals, the need to establish your identity with the simultaneous need to find a place of belonging … it’s all simply too much for a single person, and yet we all had to endure the best we could to survive.
For me, surviving meant chipping away the part of my heart that consistently grew warm around other women.
Having these feelings didn’t seem strange to me at all in the beginning. It was what the people around me were saying that inflicted my self-doubt. Before I even had the chance to bring it up with my family, they had already let their thoughts be known on the matter.
My father, for instance, loved to repeat the fact that “being gay is unnatural” and that “it was not God’s intention.”
Another person close to me (who I won’t specify because I still love this person very much) once told me, “I have nothing against gay people, but if I found out you liked girls I would die.”
So you can see why I was already struggling with my confidence on the subject, but I still gathered up the courage to test the waters a bit.
So where did it go wrong? I didn’t anticipate my friends not taking me seriously just because I had already been known for showing an attraction toward boys in the past. As far as my friends were concerned, you were either straight or gay and you only joked about liking the gender you weren’t really interested in.
I never understood why bisexuality was real enough to be the punchline of jokes but not credible enough for a person to actually experience. But there I was with my poor but genuine attempt at flirting with girls just to be met with laughter (not the cute “The pickup line worked” sort of laugh but the “That joke was hilarious” laugh) or a comment from one of the males in the group saying something like, “There goes Heather pretending to be a guy again.”
Almost immediately after graduating high school is when I found my boyfriend of nine-and-a-half years and counting. Soon after meeting him I decided to dismiss my attraction to females as a passing phase. It sounds sad now when I mention it, but it just made sense at the time.
According to everyone around me, liking both genders was either a joke or a sin and it’s not like it mattered now that I was in a relationship with a man anyway.
Over the years I realized that this incredible human being is my soulmate and I’m still in awe of how I could ever be so lucky. Even though I couldn’t ask for anyone better, I still feel a twinge in my heart (in the same spot where I said I lopped off a piece earlier) whenever I’m faced with a stunning woman. For nearly a decade I’ve struggled with ignoring that part of me, as if I’m trying to deny the fact that there’s a bird shoved away in my closet even though I can hear it chirping and flapping so desperately.
Now comes my favorite part about this whole ordeal that I’m writing for you: The part where I talk about how Star Wars helped me come to terms with who I am.
I’ve seen so many people say “representation matters,” and I’ve always agreed with the statement. But I never really got it if that makes sense. I don’t believe anyone truly gets it until they’ve gone through it themselves, and I was so happy to finally experience that bit of recognition and through my favorite thing ever.
Since Star Wars Canon has materialized thanks to the Disney acquisition, I’ve been binging novels like crazy and I’m constantly in awe at all of the new characters that are brought in through literature. In case you haven’t noticed, books are a big deal in the Star Wars fandom (check out Youtini!) and so lots of care has to be taken into account for each of these stories.
What I didn’t expect was to see bisexual characters being introduced into the Expanded Universe.
What I absolutely loved about how these characters’ sexualities were brought up is that it was done so casually. It was just a natural part of their personality and it was totally fine. None of the other characters made a big deal out of it and no one was thought less of because of it.
Yrica Quell was a TIE fighter pilot in the 204th Imperial Fighter Wing (AKA Shadow Wing) during Operation: Cinder, when the squadron was tasked with destroying Nacronis. With incredible guilt tearing her up inside, Yrica defected and was taken to Traitor’s Remorse. From there she was approached by Caern Adan to be recruited into a special task force and she soon became the leader of Alphabet Squadron whose goal is to take down Shadow Wing for good.
Sana Starros married Han Solo in a mutual effort to scam a few credits only to be swindled by the conniving smuggler. While most victims would accept their loss or fail in their attempt to enact revenge, Sana used her own cunning to stay hot on Han’s tail. Of course, being linked to Solo drew Sana towards the Rebellion. Although she denied completely siding with the Rebels she had aided the group on many missions and encountered heroes along the way like Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, and Leia Organa.
Kaeden Larte took care of her sister, Miara, on Raada since she was fourteen years old. Her family were simple farmers, but any semblance of a “normal” life was taken away with the presence of the Empire. To combat the new restrictions set in place by the tyrants, Kaeden’s work group planned a raid to take down the Empire’s local operation only for things to go horribly wrong. Just when things turned south, her new friend by the name of Ashla revealed herself as Ahsoka Tano, an ex-Jedi who assisted her in their cause.
Each of these characters is defined by the experiences they’ve gone through and their unique personalities. The one thing they all have in common? They’re bisexual. Despite the fact, these people are taken seriously for their actions with their sexuality barely given a second thought (as it should be). No one bats an eye at their sexual preferences, only at their defining actions. Some of them are considered heroes while others are deemed war criminals. But not once do people question these characters being bi.
Seeing characters like Yrica, Kaeden, and Sana shape their own destiny without having to struggle with their bisexual identity was the most fascinating and inspiring aspect about them as I read their stories. And their social acceptance wasn’t limited to the fictional world. Thousands of Star Wars fans around the world had read these same stories and loved these characters all the same.
This incredible phenomenon is what helped me realize that I shouldn’t be ashamed to acknowledge the bisexual part of me as long as I surround myself with the right people.
So yes, Star Wars helped me come to terms with myself, but the realization didn’t come from just the creation of these amazing characters. Being around other fans who are caring, accepting, and understanding played a huge part in providing a safe place for me to let my thoughts roam free. Youtini was my first experience being in a community of non-toxic fans and it completely changed my life and brought me so many new and incredible friends. And of course now I’m very grateful for Project Stardust for giving me a place to express my feelings and hardships.
I can only hope that every fandom gets their fair share of representation. I’ve noticed bi characters in the Avatar franchise through Kyoshi and Korra which also brought me joy. I rarely visit other fan bases, but I believe in my heart that more of these characters exist out there.
I no longer feel alone, and that’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the galaxy.