Kotaku.com, a gaming website, has found something troubling on BioWare forums. BioWare, a gaming company, has a forum on its website that includes role-playing, but there are some restrictions on role-play content, specifically in the forum for the Star Wars game they produce.
What’s going on? Well, if you haven’t clicked the link, all threads discussing queer sexuality in the Star Wars fandom in their Old Republic have been locked. Additionally, all threads protesting the locks have been locked, and the very words referring to queer sexuality (“homosexuality,” “lesbian,” “gay”) have been censored. According to BioWare’s community manager Sean Dahlberg:
“As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars.
Luke Plunkett, writing for Kotaku, comments on the above: “OK, but…they do, uh, realise that the people actually playing the game do not exist in Star Wars either, right? They’re real people?”
I’m not a huge Star Wars fan; I’ve seen the original trilogy and some of the new films, but I’ve never played any of the video games or the books, or any other part of the fandom. I certainly don’t remember seeing much in the way of queer sexuality. However, lack of representation of queer sexuality in the Star Wars official fandom does not unequivocally mean that there are no queer people (or aliens!) in Star Wars. In fact, as societies move forward and recognize the different ways in which people identify, and the different non-dominant groups that exist and lack the same representation as dominant groups, things change. In fact, I think it is perfectly acceptable to question the lack of queer sexuality in Star Wars, and I would encourage those who are still producing official Star Wars stuff to consider adding some.
If the official Star Wars fandom does not represent queer sexuality, the best way to procede is to problematize this lack of representation, not to present this lack of representation as self-explanatory. In fact, I think that with Star Wars fans using role-play and community forums in order to consider the ways in which Star Wars and queer sexuality can intersect is an excellent way to begin increasing such representation.
And finally, as Plunkett points out, refusing to even allow a discussion of queer sexuality is rather inappropriate, given the fact that there are queer Star Wars fans. I would go as far as to call this insulting, dehumanizing, and completely unethical. I also firmly believe that this is a case of discrimination based on sexuality, and that Sean Dahlberg, and any superiors who have helped influence his decision and his statement should not exist in positions of power.
But of course, as heteros, they do.