Star Wars: Aftermath introduces a new gay hero to the Star Wars universe. The novel, which takes place in the same cannon as the Star Wars movies, was written by Chuck Wendig and released this past weekend.
The novel, and its two sequels, takes place immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi. Aftermath begins on the planet Akiva and will follow the story of Sinjir Rath Velus. Velus is an Imperial officer who went AWOL after witnessing the battle on Endor and siding with the Rebellion. He is also gay; the first gay hero introduced in the Star Wars universe.
Wendig said that LucasFilm was “very gracious and accommodating” in his decision to make Velus gay “as they should be”. He also spoke about the importance of having a diverse cast of characters in fiction, saying:
To me, it was important that we were going to bring people into the library who maybe didn’t’ think we had something here for them.
Aftermath also features two minor characters from a LGBT+ background. One of the novel’s main characters is Norra Wexley, who appears to be a single mom. While she is away her sister Esmelle and Esmelle’s wife Shirene become the guardians of Norra’s young son.
Of course, some fans are upset the Star Wars universe is expanding to include non-heterosexual characters. About half of the reviews on Amazon are one-star reviews. Most of those are from people who are remarkably angry at Wendig for including gay characters. One reviewer, who was careful to point out that he or she isn’t “being hateful or bigoted”, said that “Chuck and Disney decided at some point to make half of Star Wars gay”. Another reviewer was unhappy with the “inclusion of so many gay characters” due to his or her own “personal opinion” that “homosexuality is not normal”.
Wendig responded to the criticism in an absolutely brilliant blog post, saying:
And if you’re upset because I put gay characters and a gay protagonist in the book, I got nothing for you. Sorry, you squawking saurian – meteor’s coming. And it’s a fabulously gay Nyan Cat meteor with a rainbow trailing behind it and your mode of thought will be extinct. You’re not the Rebel Alliance. You’re not the good guys. You’re the fucking Empire, man. You’re the shitty, oppressive totalitarian Empire. If you can imagine a world where Luke Skywalker would be irritated that there were gay people around him, you completely missed the point of Star Wars. It’s like trying to picture Jesus kicking lepers in the throat instead of curing them. Stop being the Empire. Join the Rebel Alliance. We have love and inclusion and great music and cute droids.
(By the way, the book also has an older woman, a mother, rescuing a man. So if that bothers you, you might wanna find a bunker for hunkering down. And I dunno if you noticed, but the three new protagonists of the movie consist of a woman, a black man, a Latino man. The bad guys all look white guys, too. So many meteors. So little time to squawk at them.)