“Introducing Star Wars Episode IX – the queer awakening”

BY RACHEL BADHAM. IMAGE STARWARS.COM

With eight feature films, spinoffs, side stories and animations, Star Wars is without doubt one of the most successful movie franchises of all time.

However, there’s one chapter that has yet to be released to the world, until now: Star Wars Episode IX – the queer awakening. 

I’m sure most queer women have moments from their past which now, in retrospect, were signs that we were super gay/bi/queer from day one. And for me, that was watching Star Wars.

To paraphrase everyone’s favourite bicon, Rosa, from Brooklyn Nine-Nine: I was watching Revenge of the Sith and I thought, Hayden Christensen is hot, and then I thought Natalie Portman – also hot.

To provide some context, I realised I was queer in my mid-teens and came out a couple of years later. And although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was crushing hard on Princess Leia and Padmé Amidala before I even knew how to spell l-e-s-b-i-a-n.

Growing up with a brother three years my senior meant that Star Wars was on our TV a lot, and in fact I’m sure there’s still old VHS copies of the movies gracing the shelves at my parent’s house.

I don’t think pre-adolescent me fully understood the plotlines of the films, however I do remember being completely and utterly mesmerised with two of the female protagonists – Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in the original trilogy, and Natalie Portman as Padmé in the prequels. 

In the sitcom Friends, Phoebe says that the famous scene of Princess Leia in a bikini drove “all the boys crazy”, but I was also totally transfixed by it.

I also remember swooning over Padmé’s iconic, all white, figure-hugging outfit. And it wasn’t just that these women were beautiful, they were also fierce and powerful; I mean – Princess Leia kicked ass.

I like to think Star Wars allowed many young women, such as myself, realise that we could be equally as cool as any man out there in a far away galaxy.

Plus, something about the fantasy, sci-fi nature of Star Wars made me feel it was a safe way of exploring my sexuality.

The “galaxy far far away” was so detached from the world we live in that these women felt completely unattainable, and so my infatuation with them didn’t cause me any confusion; it was like my own little world where I could feel whatever I wanted to feel with no shame, and for that reason, I am grateful.

They made me feel ok with being who I am before I even knew who I was. 

My young self would watch Star Wars and just think that I was obsessed with these women because I wanted to be like them. I even remember nine-year-old me desperately wanting to be Padmé in our school playground rendition of Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones.

It wasn’t until teenage me watched Natalie Portman again in Black Swan that I realised I didn’t want to be Natalie. I wanted to be with her. 

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