Star Wars VIII To Add LGBT Characters?

Star Wars VIII To Add LGBT Characters?

Your favorite ship may just be canon.
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I grew up watching the Star Wars franchise, and can vividly remember the excitement I carried into the movie theater when I got to see Revenge of the Sith with my best friend as a kid. So while Star Wars has faded into a distant favorite in my mind, when I heard the series was being renewed, I was optimistic. I didn’t start to get truly excited, however, until I saw the trailer and the film’s new leads.

The idea of having a young woman and a black man as this epic sci-fi series’ heroes really got to me. I didn’t even know I cared that much about the franchise featuring light saber-wielding Jedi women until I started seeing the Pop Vinyl figures of Rey creeping up on comic book store shelves. I thought to myself, I can finally dress up as a hero other than Black Widow for Halloween. Little boys would finally start to see themselves represented in a character that - like Luke Skywalker - might eventually become a household name.

I actually have mixed feelings about the film as a whole, which I won’t get into now, but overall I enjoyed the new installation. I wasn’t the only one who was a little iffy but many more people were rushing to embrace the new episode, and, little to my surprise, to ship two of the film’s mains together: Finn and Poe.


I’m never against ships, though generally rarely on board with them either, but I really did not notice the chemistry these shippers had seen on screen. Still, that very same optimistic part of me that had been thrilled to see Daisy Ridley and John Boyega cast, remained open to the idea of this ship actually being canon while still not trying to get my hopes up.

Cue the GLAAD, formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, 2016 Studio Responsibility Index reports. A review which this media-monitoring organization comes out with every year to review the representation or under-representation of LGBT people in the media produced by our major film studios and distributors. Only 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate Entertainment seem to have garnered an “adequate” rating among their peers, but Walt Disney Studios (surprise, surprise) has generally been failing the GLAAD review for the last couple years.

This isn’t a big shocker but what got fans, reviewers and industry professionals buzzing was GLAAD’s concluding statement of the report, suggesting that a great place to start with LGBT inclusion would be, you guessed it, Star Wars Episode VIII.

The new franchise’s creators and actors have been under scrutiny over this potential “plot twist” for months now, and many Finn/Poe shippers rejoiced to hear Star Wars The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams say, “When I talk about inclusivity it’s not excluding gay characters. It’s about inclusivity. So of course.”

But are statements such as these really an affirmation of LGBT characters on the way? Or just another example of the industry queer-baiting?

“It is not enough for LGBT characters to simply be present,” GLAAD’s President and CEO herself stated. “Rather, these characters must be crafted thoughtfully and better reflect the full diversity of the LGBT community. Leaving LGBT people out of the picture — or including them only as a punchline — keeps old prejudices alive and creates an unsafe environment, not only here in America, but around the world where most audiences see these depictions.”

On that note, the news that Finn and Poe might suddenly bloom into a series love interest in the next installation, rather than making me optimistic, starts to make me cringe. The reality of the situation, from how I’m seeing it, is that most of Finn and Poe’s on-screen chemistry was not scripted, but rather played up by their actors, particularly Oscar Issac. And while normally I would applaud a studio like Disney for listening to the fans, and potentially changing a script in order to include an overwhelming demand for diversity and inclusivity, I can’t ignore the fact that suddenly writing these characters’ romance in this way would, inevitably, come across as shoehorned and imposed rather than how an LGBT romance (or any romance) should be crafted.

As much as I want to see myself represented in the Star Wars universe, I’m tired of seeing LGBT characters being crafted in films so one-dimensionally. If the next Star Wars episode features a Finn/Poe romance, I won’t be angry or upset. I’m sure I’ll still enjoy it. I’ll just be a little disappointed. It’s not about checking off a box. It’s about having gay characters that are more than their sexuality.

It’s about time that Hollywood understood that what fans are asking for isn’t a “gay” Jedi, but a Jedi who is thoughtfully written and well-developed. And also gay.

Cover Image Credit: Creative Commons

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Christian Boys Vs. Godly Men

It is time to stop settling for the lesser of the two.
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Ladies, there is a huge difference between a Christian boy and a Godly man; therefore, it is time to stop settling for the lesser of the two.

So many times I hear girls saying:

“Well, he’s a Christian.”

“He goes to church with me.”

“He listens to Christian music.”

“He went to church camp.”

“He has a favorite bible verse.”

SEE ALSO: What An Attractive Man Looks Like

Well, all of those things are just peachy and there is nothing wrong with doing those things. I mean, they’re all good things to do. But how is his personal relationship with God? How is his prayer life? Does he talk about his relationship with God, with you? Is he truly a follower of the one true God in all aspects of his life? These are some of the characteristics you should be looking for that makes a Godly man.

Ladies, a man will love you great when he loves God greater.

A Godly man will pursue an honest relationship with you. He will be clear of his intentions. A Godly man will worship, pray and passionately praise God with you. Whereas, a Christian boy might open the door for you, a Godly man will open his bible and explore God’s word with you so that you both may grow spiritually, together. While a Christian boy may put on an outward show, a Godly man will live out the love of Jesus daily.

So ladies, are you catching on to this ongoing trend? A Godly man does more because you deserve more.

A Godly man will be a leader. Trust me, I know that in today’s society Godly men are few and far between while Christian boys come in plenty. But you deserve a man who is after God’s heart not just a boy who goes to church. And I know that this Christian boy may seem great and have some really stellar qualities at the time but money and looks fade, whereas, an ongoing love for our savior will not.

The greatest thing a man can do for a woman is to lead her closer to God than himself. (Yes, yes, yes).

SEE ALSO: As Christians, Life Isn't Supposed To Be Hard

So I beg of you, do not settle. Do not settle just because you’re tired of being single, it’s convenient or because you want the relationship your friend has. Single does not equal available and a relationship status does not define you. God uses your season of singleness to prepare you for what is to come. And if you’re dating a Christian boy, he needs to step it up or you need to move on. Wait for a Godly man who is ready to lead you. God’s timing is always better, always. No matter the circumstance. So, do not rush God. (I mean, He is, after all, pretty good at His job). Therefore, turn your full focus to Him and He will direct your path.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Cover Image Credit: Christina Sharp

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To Percy Jackson, I Hope You're Well...

Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus are both series which helped shape my life. I want to share my love for them here, with you.

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Two days before I moved from New Jersey to California, I had a late night at a friend's house. Just a few miles outside of my small town of Morris Plains, his house was out of the way and a safe haven for myself and my mother during a harrowing and strenuous move. My father had been across the country already for almost two months trying to hold down his new job and prove himself. His absence was trying on me (at the tender young age of nine years old) and my mother, and we often spent time at my friend's home, as our mothers got along well.

That night came the time to say goodbye for the very last time, and as our mothers were tearfully embracing at the door, he ran up to me and shoved a book in my hands. Bewildered and confused, I tried to give him my thanks but he was already gone - running away in a childish fit that expressed his hurt at my leaving more than any words he could've said. I looked down at the book in my hands. It was a battered copy of Rick Riordan's "The Lightning Thief," with its binding bulging slightly out in a strange fashion, the cover slightly torn and bent, and quite a few pages dog-eared. The book wasn't in good condition, but I took the time to read it. I was ensnared and enchanted by the lurid descriptions of mythology, of the lovable characters of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover, and the upside-down world they lived in. Over the course of the move and our eventual settling into our new California home, I devoured the series adamantly, reading "The Battle of the Labyrinth" almost five times in the fifth grade and eventually finishing out with "The Last Olympian." The series accompanied me through a difficult move and a whirlwhind of early puberty; by that time, Percy and friends I knew intimately as my own companions. When the series ended, I happily parted with it, and began other literary conquests (namely in the realm of classics).

After an almost year-long break, I re-discovered the series in sixth grade. I hadn't realized that there was a companion series to the first, in fact, a continuation - The Heroes of Olympus. I lapped up "The Lost Hero" and "The Son of Neptune" with greed, and eagerly awaited the arrival of "The Mark of Athena" the following year.

One of my most vivid memories of middle school was sneaking downstairs the morning of the Kindle release of "The Mark of Athena", sneaking past my parents' bedroom as stealthily as I could in the wee hours of the morning to get my kindle and immerse myself in the world. I believe I finished it in about two days. For the next two books in the series, I followed the same pattern: get up early, read it as fast as I could get my hands on it. "The Blood of Olympus", the last book in the series, came out in my freshman year of high school. After finishing the second series, I shelved my much-loved paperbacks for good, and turned myself to other literary pursuits. I eventually relocated to Virginia, and went to college. Percy and friends were almost forgotten until my first year at the University of Virginia.

I was devastatingly alone my first semester at university. I didn't know what to do with myself, entombed by my loneliness. However, at the bottom of my suitcase, I found my old Kindle Paperwhite, with both of Percy's series neatly installed for me. I made a resolution with myself: I would reread both series, reading only at mealtimes where I sat alone. By the time I was finished, I wanted to see where I was compared to when I started.

Re-reading the series was like coming home. It was nostalgia, sadness, and ecstasy wrapped into one. I delighted in revisiting Percy's old haunts, his friends, his challenges. However, it was sad, knowing I had grown up and left them behind while they had stayed the same. It was a riveting memory train which made me look forward to meals, and eased my loneliness at school. Gradually, as the semester progressed, I was reading on Percy's tales less and less, as I found my friends, clubs, and organizations that gradually took up more and more time.

I still haven't finished my re-read, and am about halfway through "The Blood of Olympus". I've come a long way in the almost decade since I first received that tattered copy of "The Lightning Thief", and I still have some ways to go. So thanks, Percy, Annabeth, Grover, Jason, Piper, Reyna, Nico, Frank, Hazel, Leo. Thank you for growing up with me. I'll never forget you.

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