Is Obi-Wan Kenobi canonically queer? This question is currently a hot-button topic in certain corners of Star Wars fandom, thanks to a new spinoff novel that briefly delves into his sexuality as a teenager.
Written by Kiersten White, Padawan includes a scene where teenage Obi-Wan talks about romance and kissing with another boy, without any particular preference regarding gender. The scene itself is ambiguous, with the young Obi-Wan wrestling with the concept of being attracted to anyone at all.
At this point in time he’s never kissed anyone and isn’t sure if he’ll ever want to. The scene could just as easily be read as him being asexual, but it’s open to interpretation because when a boy offers to kiss him, Obi-Wan is basically like, “I’ll hit you up if I’m ever interested.” Some fans welcomed this as confirmation that he’s bi and/or on the asexual spectrum, while others got predictably mad about it.
Jedi sexuality has long been controversial. The one thing everyone can agree on is that Jedi are forbidden from “attachment,” but there’s a lot more debate over whether they’re meant to be celibate. George Lucas has clarified that Jedi are allowed to have sex, but since the movies include very little detail about Jedi relationships outside of the Skywalker dynasty, well… as you can imagine, opinions are divided.
Canonically speaking, Obi-Wan has one significant love-interest: Mandalorian duchess Satine Kryze, a recurring character in the Clone Wars animated series. They never kiss on-screen, but they do profess their love to each other, and there’s a fan theory that Kryze’s “nephew” is their secret lovechild.
Meanwhile, outside of canon, Obi-Wan is frequently shipped with Qui-Gon Jinn; Anakin (something the new Disney+ show marketed to an arguably queerbaity degree); and Commander Cody, another Clone Wars character. So there’s definitely an appetite in Star Wars fandom for him to be queer.
Loyalty to the Jedi Order is one of Obi-Wan’s defining traits, contrasting with the rebelliousness of Anakin and Qui-Gon. In tie-in novels about his younger years, Obi-Wan is often anxious about living up to the legacy of the Jedi, so it makes sense that this would extend to his feelings on love and sexuality.
In the Padawan scene that everyone’s talking about, Obi-Wan is uncomfortable with the idea of kissing or falling in love. He doesn’t seem to find anyone attractive—and while some of his Jedi peers are already experimenting with their sexuality, he’s still worried that acting on a hypothetical attraction might betray his Jedi principles. So when a boy named Casul suggests some experimental kissing, Obi-Wan blushes and says he’ll let Casul know if he’s ever interested. (“Not that I will do that, right now, with you. Or anyone.”)
This awkward internal conflict feels very in-character for a teenage Obi-Wan, and says just as much about the current atmosphere of the Star Wars universe as it does about him.
While the movies don’t include any meaningful queer representation, the last few years of Star Wars tie-in materials have introduced numerous LGBTQ+ characters. Books like Padawan reflect an attitude that’s already prevalent in fanfiction, presenting the Star Wars universe as a homophobia-free setting.
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