Star Wars legend Billy Dee Williams has announced he uses both male and female pronouns, embracing both his masculine and feminine sides.
The 82-year-old actor – best known for playing Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise – has opened up about his own identity and views on gender during an inspiring interview with Esquire, where he stressed the importance of staying true to who you are.
Williams also addressed the gender identity and sexuality of Lando, who has previously been described as pansexual by Solo: A Star Wars Story screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan.
Discussing his ideas of identity with Esquire, Williams said:
I never tried to be anything except myself. I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.
[…] And you see I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine. I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.
After being told Donald Glover – who portrayed a young Lando in Solo – regarded the beloved character to be gender fluid, Williams reportedly lit up, stating:
Really? That kid is brilliant—just look at those videos.
Billy Dee Williams coming out as non-binary is important because it goes against the popular image of non-binary people as young, white and androgynous.
— The Cat Painting from House (1977) (@elevatorcore) November 28, 2019
STAR WARS: we'll subtly imply Lando is pan and maybe a little genderqueer
BILLY DEE WILLIAMS: fuck that noise, I'm nonbinary
— Peré Noél (Noel's Pear) (@jillianbmiles) November 30, 2019
Last year, Solo screenwriter Kasdan confirmed the character of Lando was pansexual during an interview with HuffPost, stating:
There’s a fluidity to Donald and Billy Dee Williams’ [portrayal of Lando’s] sexuality. I mean, I would have loved to have gotten a more explicitly LGBT character into this movie.
I think it’s time, certainly, for that, and I love the fluidity ― sort of the spectrum of sexuality that Donald appeals to and that droids are a part of.
Since his interview with Esquire, Williams has expounded further his ideas on identity and his own sexuality, in an interview with The Undefeated, where he revealed ‘gender fluid’ was ‘a whole new term’ to him.
Clarifying a few things, Williams explained:
But what I was talking about was about men getting in touch with their softer side of themselves. There’s a phrase that was coined by Carl G. Jung, who was a psychiatrist, who was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, and they had a splitting of the ways because they had different ideas about the… what do you call it? Consciousness. Unconscious. It’s collective unconsciousness. But he coined a phrase that’s, ‘Anima animus.’ And anima means that is the female counterpart of the male self, and the animus is the male counterpart of the female.
So, that’s what I was referring to. I was talking about men getting in touch with the female side of themselves. I wasn’t talking about sex, I wasn’t talking about being gay or straight. People should read [Jung]. I mean, it would be an interesting education for a lot of people.
While Williams said he sometimes uses both male and female pronouns, he also clarified he isn’t non-binary or gender-fluid, saying he identifies as a man and is heterosexual, adding: ‘Not that I have anything against gay people. But personally? Not gay.’
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.