Warning: This post includes some spoilers for the film The Last Jedi and the book Leia, Princess Of Alderaan
Let’s get one thing straight (ha): Everyone in space is queer. I know it, and you probably know it, too, dear reader. Unfortunately, the heteronormative bozos that control the Star Wars movies apparently have not been let in on this not-so-secret, universal truth. Little do they know that they’ve created a universe of space queers. R2-D2 and C-3PO? Nonbinary droids that have been in a poly relationship for decades—if not centuries. BB-8? More like BB-GAY! Finn and Poe? Boyfriends. Phasma? Lesbian icon. Rey rhymes with gay, which is all the evidence I need. Han Solo? More like Han so bisexual! (He definitely dated Lando Calrissian, and if you don’t believe me, go rewatch Empire Strikes Back.) General Leia Organa and Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo? 100% dating in The Last Jedi.
And that brings me to the real reason I have gathered you all here today: We need to talk about Leia and Holdo.
Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo is introduced in The Last Jedi after Leia is incapacitated by her near-death in the aftermath of the First Order’s attack on the Resistance’s main ship. In Leia’s temporary absence, Holdo (played by Laura Dern) takes command, making quite the entrance with her bright purple hair, matching gown, piercing blue eyes, and lanky stature. Trigger-happy flyboy Poe Dameron, who is lovable but often a dumdum, doesn’t take her seriously at first, undermining her leadership and refusing to believe that she has a plan. She quite literally looks down on him (Dern is taller than Oscar Isaac) as she puts him in his place. Occasionally flirty and always to-the-point, Holdo is an instantly magnetic but mysterious character.
Later in the movie, she and Leia share a wrenching goodbye that is, in technical terms, EXTREMELY GAY. You see, Holdo did have a plan all along—and a good one at that. And part of her plan was to stay behind on the main vessel while the rest of the Resistance flies to safety on Crait (her plan then takes another twist that results in one of the most intense and visually stunning sequences in all of Star Wars history that is strikingly silent). So she and Leia say a final farewell, which Leia is reluctant to do at first because she has already lost so many people and can’t bear to lose another. Then, they trip over their words as they try to say “may the Force be with you” at the same time, a moment that Carrie Fisher apparently scripted herself. Leia tells Holdo to go ahead since she has said it enough, and Holdo adds in an “always” at the end, which makes the powerful statement all the more touching. Then they hold hands! More specifically, Holdo clasps one of Leia’s hands in both of hers, as if she’s hanging on, as if she doesn’t quite want to let go! Then they make deliberate, unwavering eye contact as they part ways, and we all know deliberate, unwavering eye contact is one of the gal pal love languages. You could argue that their goodbye is a parting of ways for two long-time friends, but I see something much more in their body language, in the sadness that passes through Leia’s eyes, in the urgency of that hand-holding.
Oh and by the way, I should probably mention that Holdo is canonically pansexual. That’s not quite the word used, but in Claudia Gray’s Leia, Princess Of Alderaan, one of the official books released by Disney-Lucasfilm Press tied to The Last Jedi, Holdo’s queerness is pretty clearly alluded to.
Leia, Princess Of Alderaan is a young adult novel about Leia when she was 16-years-old, three years prior to the events of A New Hope. It’s a great read for a lot of reasons, so I recommend it to any and all Star Wars fans, especially if you, like me, enjoyed The Last Jedi or are just a general fan of General Leia Organa. It delves into the moral complexities of war and uprising, filtered specifically through young Leia’s perspective. It’s smart and thrilling and adds new meaning and context to a lot of aspects of the series—not just the events of The Last Jedi even though it’s intended to be a companion to the latest movie. I even felt like the book helped me better understand why Leia falls so fast and hard for Han? And the book is strikingly real when it comes to the horrors of tyranny and also about what it’s like for a young person like Leia to essentially inherit a decades-spanning war.
Leia, Princess Of Alderaan also introduces us to young Amilyn Holdo, a girl who everyone thinks is weird and who wears rainbow-colored clothes and who is obsessed with astrology?!?!? Um, all three of those traits are Queer Culture. When Leia first meets Holdo, she’s stopped cold. I’m not just saying that. Those are the exact words used in the book. They meet during a “pathfinding class,” which is essentially a high-stakes survival skills and rock-climbing class in space, and Holdo is straight-up wearing rainbow gear instead of the standard white like everyone else. Throughout the book, every time Holdo appears, she has dramatically changed her hair color, and dramatically changing your hairstyle is, yup, A QUEER MOVE. And as I’ve already said, young Holdo likes to ramble about astrology, something that eventually ends up saving her and Leia’s lives.
But the most convincing part comes when Leia and Holdo are discussing desire and attraction, and Holdo makes a comment speculating what species Leia might be into, listing a few. Leia interjects and said “it’s just humanoid males for me,” to which Holdo replies: “Really? That feels so limiting.” Holdo suggests she’s attracted to much more than humanoid males. If only the movies could textually acknowledge sexualities beyond the scope of straightness in the same way this book does.
The book also introduces the Chalhuddans, a species that have five different genders that they move between throughout their lives. The language that they use for gender in their native tongue has no English equivalent, as their pronoun cases indicate not only their current gender but also some of their previous genders and sometimes even the gender they anticipate shifting to next, so C-3PO advises Leia to use “they” when addressing the Chalhuddans, which is their preferred English pronoun. This Star Wars YA book is out here talking about fluid sexuality and fluid gender identity?! FINALLY SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS THAT SPACE IS QUEER.
Okay, so you might be thinking that Leia asserting that she’s only into humanoid males throws a wrench in my whole “Leia and Holdo were dating in The Last Jedi” thesis, but hello, I too thought I was only into humanoid males when I was 16-years-old, and oh how I was wrong on so many levels! Honestly, there’s a bit of a subtextual love triangle going on between Leia, Holdo, and Kier, the boy in the pathfinding class that Leia ends up dating, throughout the book. Leia is fascinated by Holdo in a very Young Queer Crush way. She goes around saying things along the lines of “that’s so Amilyn” and “I think I’m becoming fluent in Amilyn.” And so much of the book is about Leia trying to figure out who she is and realizing that so much of her life has been laid out for her by outside forces. There’s also something tingly between her and Dalné, the young Queen of Naboo…they hold hands not once, not twice, but three times over the course of their brief but powerful “friendship.”
In what feels like a strong foreshadowing of their eventual farewell scene in The Last Jedi, young Holdo says “Everything is written in the stars” and then takes Leia’s hand, described in the book as a gesture that seals them together as “friends for a lifetime.”
For more specifics about the Leia/Holdo interactions in the book, you’ll just have to read and see for yourself! I don’t want to give it all away! But I will say that I highlighted every passage that pinged as gay to me and…ended up with a whole lot of highlighted passages.
Flash-forward many years to The Last Jedi. Han is dead. Leia is lonely and still fighting the war she once hoped would never come. Amilyn Holdo walks right back into her life, ready to fight by her side. YOU’RE TELLING ME THEY WEREN’T SNEAKING AROUND THE SHIP KISSING ON THE REG? Leia chose Kier all those years ago, and this is her chance to choose Amilyn, the gangly girl who everyone else thought was weird and Leia eventually realized was just different.
Can I also just take a moment to reiterate how great The Last Jedi is? There are…so many women?! And it feels dumb to hand out cookies to movies for just including women, and yet I grew up watching and loving the original trilogy in which Leia is pretty much the only woman (Carrie Fisher has written about how she was essentially the only woman on set during the making of the first film), and seeing all these women piloting ships and blowing up evil empires and forcing men to confront their failures just makes me feel so seen.
If, like me, you saw the movie and then immediately wanted more Leia/Holdo, in addition to reading the book, there’s also, of course, fanfiction. Here are the ones I’ve read and liked: a high school AU where a nervous and bisexual Leia works up the courage to talk to the odd, alluring girl in her physics class; a short and sweet one that gives Holdo a happier ending than her Last Jedi fate (written by a YA librarian who is now my hero); this super tender one; this one about an unrequited crush that RUINED ME; and last but certainly not least, a modern AU that literally rewrites the plot of Grace And Frankie to be about Holdo and Leia, and Finn and Poe are Coyote and Bud, and it’s as wonderful as it sounds! If you find others, please let me know, because Holdo and Leia are all I can think about for the foreseeable future.