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Lando’s sexuality became a hot-button topic after Solo co-writer Jonathan Kasdan said the character is pansexual. He specifically called out the “fluidity” and “spectrum of sexuality” in Glover and Billy Dee Williams’ performances. Glover weighed in during an interview with Entertainment Weekly Radio, apparently surprising his co-stars Alden Ehrenreich and Emilia Clarke.
“How can you not be pansexual in space? There are so many things to have sex with. I didn’t think that was that weird. Yeah, he’s coming on to everybody. I mean, yeah, whatever. It just didn’t seem that weird to me ‘cause I feel like if you’re in space it’s kind of like, the door is open! It’s like, no, only guys or girls. No, it’s anything. This thing is literally a blob. Are you a man or a woman? Like, who cares? Have good time out here.”
This echoes a common argument in favor of queer representation in sci-fi. In an interplanetary society of humans, droids, and aliens, would people really be so hung up on gender? And if Star Wars fans can accept fantastical ideas like the Force, why would they have a problem with even one queer character? (Actually, the answer to that one is pretty simple: It’s homophobia.)
Of course, Glover’s comments open a whole new can of worms in the queer representation debate. While some humans would clearly jump at the chance to bang an alien (in fact, Star Wars already sexualizes aliens like the Twi’lek dancing girls in Jabba’s palace), that’s not the same thing as being queer. Some people would object to the idea of pansexuality as an open-minded philosophy, rather than an inbuilt sexual orientation. We also see a similar narrative play out with asexual and trans characters in sci-fi and fantasy. Creators are happy to introduce an asexual android or a gender-nonconforming alien (for instance, Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), but it doesn’t actually equate to direct representation. Hence why it was such a big deal for Star Trek: Discovery to include a gay couple.
The happy medium arrives with characters like Jack Harkness in Doctor Who, who is explicitly queer and futuristically blasé about aliens. By comparison, Lando’s pansexuality is mere subtext. Viewers may not pick up on the hints if they didn’t see the interviews from Glover or Jonathan Kasdan. Likewise, the canon books and comics show Lando canoodling with non-human women but never any men.
It’s encouraging to hear that Glover views Lando as pansexual and that one of Solo‘s screenwriters shares his opinion. However, it’s telling that Glover’s co-stars were seemingly unaware of this. It’s not a scripted element of the movie. Like LeFou in Beauty and the Beast and Dumbledore in Harry Potter, Lando is queer on the press tour but safely ambiguous in canon.
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Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor