The Jedi rule on attachments reminds me a lot of my childhood. I was dragged to Sunday school as I bounced between Catholic and Methodist churches. This religious upbringing would go on to warp my thoughts on sexuality—I developed a deep-rooted feeling of shame fostered by the heteronormative nature of Christianity and the more explicitly bigoted messages throughout the culture claiming that homosexuality is ‘wrong’.
You couldn’t help but feel abnormal and strange like you were an outcast that needed to keep quiet and suppress your own thoughts. It’s overwhelming, unnatural, and leaves you in a constant state of fight or flight. It’s no wonder that Jedi often express pent-up rage and strong emotions when the lid pops off and their true self threatens to breach the surface.
We saw this extreme reached with Anakin Skywalker and, to a lesser extent, Mace Windu, but Obi-Wan has always been the more interesting character. He keeps his emotions in check and holds up the image of an ideal Jedi, but the mask sometimes slips. The Clone Wars made this clear with his love for Satine on the periphery of his mind. But for the most part, Obi-Wan is loyal to the doctrine, so much that he enforces it on others. However, a new The Phantom Menace prequel novel from Kiersten White called Padawan unearths his true thoughts and inner struggles, something that even his standalone show failed to do meaningfully because it was so obsessed with revisiting old ground. It turns out that Obi-Wan might be asexual, but he might also be bisexual.
The novel follows a younger Obi-Wan, and there’s a moment when a male teen flirts with him. He dismisses it—Jedi doctrine forbids attachments, so it’s futile. But it stirs something in him. He begins to ask himself if he would kiss any of the other teens or even all of them if given the chance. The way he thinks about men is indistinguishable from the way he thinks about women, but in the end he decides he doesn’t want to kiss anyone.
It’s unclear if this is due to his Jedi upbringing or an undiscovered asexual identity, but that mystery only makes his queerness all the more compelling to me. This excerpt brought me back to my days in church. “No, I don’t like any men, none of them. I don’t.” I would say that to myself over and over because denying it buried those feelings and helped stave off a reflex that would only doom me to further paranoid anxiety. Denial was easier than confronting the idea that I might be wrong or defective.
It’s an interesting parallel between the Jedi’s controlling rules on attachment and real-life religion’s own stigma toward LGBTQ+ people, which Star Wars hasn’t explored nearly enough across its myriad films and shows. The ban on attachment is often framed as a heteronormative issue, such as Anakin and Padme, but it fails to take into account more contemporary identities. Being a bisexual Christian was almost anomalous. I didn’t feel bi—I believed I was straight and being ‘corrupted’ by gayness. It sounds silly now, but back then, I was completely trapped in this overwhelming environment that only served to reinforce the falsehoods poisoning my mind until I was able to grow up and find myself.
Jedi face similar obstacles. Attachments are labelled as wrong, corrupt, and can destroy your faith in the ‘light’, which all sound suspiciously similar to the idea that homosexuality is a sin that pushes you further away from God. Having the threat of eternal torture held over me meant that suppressing my real feelings hardly felt like a compromise. The idea of Heaven was so alluring that the mental strain of burying my true self was worth it. The dogma both threatens you and makes promises, pushing and pulling you in both directions until you’re stretched too thin. I fell into that trap and let go because it was exhausting. Simply giving in was bliss. Believing the mantra is far too easy and that’s what makes it so dangerous. I see that same pitfall in the Jedi, though it has never been touched on in live-action adaptations. Obi-Wan Season 2 needs to change that.
Star Wars tries to show how Jedi are just cogs in a machine who serve a greater purpose to the point that their thoughts, feelings, and identity mean nothing. That’s how I felt at church. I wasn’t an individual because I wasn’t allowed to express myself. I had to dress a certain way, behave a certain way, and follow a certain path laid out before me.
I couldn’t be me, which has had the knock-on effect of delaying my own sense of self-expression. I’m still only now finding who I am and what I like. Not being able to form attachments and being dictated on who you’re allowed to love exacerbate that feeling of being nothing but another piece on the board. It’s cold and mechanical, not the loving, warm home that many claim religion to be. Maybe it is if you’re straight, but as a queer Christian, I couldn’t help but feel lesser simply for being who I am.
Obi-Wan’s second season can take this small moment from the Padawan novel and turn it into representation that strives to be even more meaningful. It can unpack the troubled relationship between queerness and religion, and how suppressing attachments is dangerously toxic. Star Wars has an unprecedented platform to tell these stories and to reach younger audiences, having the rare platform to cut through the noise and offer a hand to young people struggling with sexuality. Rarely does Disney ever use this unparalleled influence to tell queer stories, cancelling shows like The Owl House and leaving its big blockbusters like Thor: Love and Thunder hollow and cheap. LGBTQ+ representation can often feel like a checklist or marketing gimmick more than meaningful exploration. Just look at Rise of Skywalker’s quick kiss between extras which was cut for international audiences, proving that queer moments are expendable when money is on the line.
I’ve been where so many young people are now, burying my queerness because I was afraid to show my true colours, and it took me years to pull myself out of that pit. Star Wars can, at the very least, chuck a rope down for others to climb and make their way out. I would’ve killed for that rope.
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