Star Wars fans have been sent into a frenzy speculating that the latest addition to the series has revealed iconic Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi's sexuality.
The much-loved character, played by Sir Alec Guinness in the original films and Ewan McGregor in both the prequel trilogy and the Disney+ miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi, is featured in the new spin-off novel Padawan, the latest addition to the Disney canon published on Tuesday.
The young adult novel, written by author Kiersten White, revolves around a teen Obi-Wan attempting to prove himself while apprenticing under Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn, played by Liam Neeson in the films.
Social media users quickly highlighted one passage that appears to show the Jedi-in-training questioning his sexuality, with many concluding it confirms he is bisexual. In the passage, Obi-Wan is being quizzed by another male teenager, Casul, about romantic relationships.
Obi-Wan doesn't appear to have considered the option and awkwardly tries to change the subject. He then grows flustered as Casul propositions him if he is ever "curious".
The character says, "Not many choices around here. I don't think love is in my future, either, and I'm fine with that. As long as I have the Power to keep my family safe, that's enough for me. Though I will admit I've been curious about kissing and why Audj and Zae-Brii enjoy it so much. So if you're ever curious, too, let me know."
The passage continues, "Obi-Wan blushed. 'I will. Let you know, I mean. Not that I will do that, right now, with you. Or anyone.'
"Would he ever get to a point where kissing someone felt like anything less than a betrayal of himself and the Jedi? And if he did get to that point, who would he want to kiss? The Lenahrans were confident and charismatic, which was attractive.
"But he couldn't imagine just … kissing any of them. Maybe he didn't want to be with any of them but rather to be more like each of them. Or maybe he wanted to kiss all of them."
Some fans interpreted the passage as suggesting Obi-Wan was interested in both men and women, while others took it as an indication he was asexual or aromantic, according to LGBT website Pride.
"Here is the part where Obi-Wan questions his sexuality and talks about being aromantic/bi," one fan wrote on Twitter, sharing the passage.
"Obi-Wan canonically confirmed as bi/ace is a win for the history books!" another said.
A third wrote, "Obi-Wan being canonically bi aroace [aromantic or asexual] is the best thing to happen in 2022 and you can quote me on that."
Others pushed back on criticism that the character already had a female love interest, Satine Kryze, in the 2008 animated TV series The Clone Wars.
"The active pushback against Obi-Wan being bi from dudebros because he canonically 'likes women' is so funny because clearly they don't know what the f**k bisexuality is," one wrote.
The Twitter account Star Wars Queers Watch praised the author, describing Padawan as a story of "self-discovery".
"In a cute, relatable scene in which Obi tries to figure out his attraction, any gender goes but he's not sure if romance is for him at all," they wrote. "No clear label but definitely on the bi or asexual/aromantic spectrum."
Star Wars Queers Watch listed several other "queer kids Obi meets" in the book, including "their leader, Audj", "her nonbinary shapeshifting partner, Zae-Brii", "Audj' brother Casul, who's down to experiment with Obi" and "Mem, a girl who's not down for romance or attraction at all".
"Queerness in this book feels very casual and I love it," they wrote.
White has not yet commented on the revelations, but recently directed her Twitter followers to a February interview where she discussed the upcoming book.
"Also, before anyone else asks, Satine isn't in this novel," she said.
"Actually, she's the reason why there are no romantic subplots in Padawan. Obi-Wan commits absolutely in everything he does – including first love. I couldn't dilute that!"
White said her goal with the narrative was to "take him on a journey of self-discovery so he would be ready for everything we know he'll face".
"Another key aspect of developing teen Obi-Wan was surrounding him with other young people, giving him his first taste of freedom so he could learn who he is when no authority figure is watching," she said.
"When he's out of the Temple, which parts of his devotion to the Jedi Order still feel right? Can he let go and run wild? Does he even want to? And now I've just realised I might have written a Star Wars spring break novel."
Earlier this year, McGregor hit back at Star Wars fans after his Obi-Wan Kenobi co-star Moses Ingram received racist messages online.
In a video posted to the official Obi-Wan Kenobi Twitter account, the 51-year-old actor voiced his support for Ingram, who plays Reva Sevander in the series, and criticised fans abusing her.
"We love Moses," he said. "And if you're sending her bullying messages, you're no Star Wars fan in my mind. There's no place for racism in this world. And I totally stand with Moses."