Creator of Star Wars show described as ‘gayest’ ever reacts to backlash, calls criticism ‘reductive’

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Creator of Star Wars show described as ‘gayest’ ever reacts to backlash, calls criticism ‘reductive’

The creator of the controversial Disney+ “Star Wars” show “The Acolyte” is pushing back against those who say that her show is “woke” propaganda featuring “lesbian space witches,” slamming the criticism as “reductive.”

Leslye Headland, the “first openly queer person to create” a major Star Wars project as The Hollywood Reporter (THR) described her, spoke to the outlet this week about the backlash the show has gotten for its progressive themes, telling the outlet that she never intended to make a show with an overt political agenda, even if it contains some LGBTQ messaging. 

“I don’t believe that I’ve created queer, with a capital Q, content,” Headland told the entertainment outlet.

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“The Acolyte” creator Leslye Headland spoke out against critics slamming her new Star Wars show as LGBTQ propaganda in a new interview.  (Dia Dipasupil/Staff)

“Star Wars: The Acolyte” has proven to be one of the most divisive entries in the Star Wars franchise since its debut on Disney’s streaming platform earlier this month. Despite being a hit with critics – it currently features an 85% Rotten Tomatoes rating among professional movie reviewers – it has a 14% audience score, the lowest rating in that category among all Star Wars content. 

The Disney-owned film franchise has been criticized by fans in recent years who claim the company has embraced “woke” storylines and characters, with fans slamming “The Acolyte” as the most progressive one yet.

The show’s LGBTQ reputation has preceded itself, generating a now-viral moment where a journalist from The Wrap told Headland and non-binary series star Amandla Stenberg during an interview that the show is “arguably the gayest Star Wars by a considerable margin.”

Though she and the actor were amused by the question, Headland suggested it wasn’t something she was aiming for. Still, she accepted the characterization, saying, “I’m frankly, into it.”

During her recent interview with THR, Headland appeared inclined to temper some of the reaction to her interview with The Wrap. 

“I was surprised by the question,” she said. “Amandla and I just burst out laughing because that’s our knee-jerk reaction to being asked that, but to be honest, I don’t know what the term ‘gay’ means in that sense. I don’t believe that I’ve created queer, with a capital Q, content.”

Headland also weighed in on a controversial storyline in episode three of “The Acolyte” which seemed to confirm critics’ worst fears about overt LGBTQ propaganda being part of the show. The narrative in question implied that two powerful witches belonging to an all-female society used force magic to generate their female offspring, the twin main characters of the show played by Stenberg. 

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Photo of The Acolyte showrunner at premiere

Leslye Headland attends Disney+ and The Cinema Society host a screening of “The Acolyte” at The Whitby Hotel on June 3, 2024, in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

In social media circles, disgruntled fans started mocking the series for having made “lesbian space witches” a legitimate part of the Star Wars canon.

Headland slammed that reading of the episode, telling the outlet, “They’re in a matriarchal society. As a gay woman, I knew it would read that their sexuality is queer, but there also aren’t any men in their community. So a closeness between the two of them would be natural. It seemed plot-driven.”

“I would say it’s really reductive to call them lesbians. I think it means you’re not really paying attention to this story,” she added. 

Headland reiterated that though she isn’t making an LGBTQ series, she stands by the “queerness” of the show. 

“I’m proud of being a gay woman who’s accomplished this feat, and certainly, if my content is called queer, I don’t want to disown whatever queerness is in the show. I would be proud to create something that inspired queer people,” she said.

The creator also slammed fans who spin the show’s LGBTQ themes as a negative thing, stating, “Honestly, I feel sad that people would think that if something were gay, that that would be bad. It makes me feel sad that a bunch of people on the internet would somehow dismantle what I consider to be the most important piece of art that I’ve ever made.”

Fox News Digital’s Kristine Parks contributed to this report. 

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