In "Lords of the Sith," the new "Star Wars" novel scheduled for release April 28, 2015, writer Paul S. Kemp has given us the first LGBT character that is part of the official canon.
Although this is the first character like this in the new canon, it is not the first same-sex relationship in "Star Wars." Most recently, Bioware added same gender relationships in "Star Wars: The Old Republic" online roleplaying game after an initial outcry from fans that they weren't included at launch. As far as the Expanded Universe was concerned, they were included in the now Legendary "Legacy of the Force" books. Karen Traviss included two Mandalorians, Goran Beviin and Medrit Vasur, who were in a committed marriage. That reference was very subtle though, and some readers had even felt that they'd misinterpreted it, not realizing that they were reading about two gay Mandalorian men.
With Paul S. Kemp's "Lords of the Sith," there is no ambiguity whatsoever.
Moff Mors is an Imperial who has made some very serious mistakes but she is an incredibly capable leader and spends much of the book working hard to prevent absolute failure. She also happens to be a lesbian.
In a time where calls for more diversity in "Star Wars" happen regularly, it was refreshing to read about this character in the context of this book, which I found excellent across the board.
Shelly Shapiro, editor of "Star Wars" books at Del Rey, talked to me about this for the Full of Sith podcast. During that interview I asked her about the inclusion of this character in the book. She explained that it wasn't necessarily about making a statement, but simply reflecting the diversity in the universe.
"There should be diversity in 'Star Wars.'"
"This is certainly the first character in canon," Shapiro says. "But there was a gay Mandalorian couple, so it's not brand new. It's not something I really think about, it just makes sense. There's a lot of diversity–there should be diversity in "Star Wars." You have all these different species and it would be silly to not also recognize that there's a lot of diversity in humans. If there's any message at all, it's simply that "Star Wars" is as diverse (or more so because they have alien species) as humanity is in real life and we don't want to pretend it's not. It just felt perfectly natural."
When I talked to the author, Paul S. Kemp, he had a very similar answer. The character of Moff Mors was most interesting to him this way and it certainly added a rich diversity to the book. It was intended to be inclusive, but not a statement.
That these approvals came through the story group and are being brought to the forefront of the "Star Wars" universe gives me a lot of hope for an ever-increasing diversity of representation in "Star Wars." We've had plenty of stories and characters, both major and supporting, that have been straight, white males. We've seen what the world of "Star Wars" looks like through their eyes plenty, I would love to see what it looks like through the eyes of people who don't look or think exactly as I do. That's when I learn most about the world around me, when I get outside of my own point of view.
And it's doubly encouraging knowing that the book after this one is written by a women and features Asajj Ventress as the lead.
The book, "Lords of the Sith," by Paul S. Kemp, comes out April 28, 2015. We'll have a complete review of the book as we get closer to release (Though I will admit that it was very good.)
(NOTE: Shelly Shapiro's quote was abridged from the interview that appeared on Full of Sith, but will be played on a future episode where we tackle this topic.)