This Is Not Farewell – The Finale of The High Republic Adventures

Sav Malagán curled up in shame at the beginning of Issue #8

We discuss navigating queer estrangement as we dive into the finale of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures (Phase II).

Content Warning: queerphobic violence, suicide ideation

It would be inaccurate to say The High Republic Adventures (Phase II) saved my life.

Exactly one week before Issue #1 was in my hands, I had already chosen to live.

But it would be accurate to say The High Republic Adventures (Phase II) helped me grieve what I had to give up in order to save myself.

You’ll find scattered references to it throughout all my frantic scribblings about the comic. It’s the heart behind every single essay I’ve put on Eleven-ThirtyEight, Cinelinx, and my own blog. There’s a rambling Twitter thread about Coromont rescuing Sav from Kaktorf’s lecture. There’s a thank you letter I haven’t sent. There’s a version of my first essay where I bleed over the Club Q shooting.

I can’t stop thinking: “queer bar.”

Sav Malagán, Community, & Identity – A Queer Lens on The High Republic Adventures

Throughout The High Republic Adventures, Sav Malagán seems to be in the process of pre-grieving her place in the Jedi. They haven’t officially kicked her out. In fact, her primary connection to the Jedi—Kaktorf—keeps ordering her to come back. By the time we first meet Sav, the expectations placed on her and the demands to conform have pushed her to the breaking point.

Sav keeps clutching to elements of the Order; there are parts that still feel like home. The Force. Wielding her saber in combat for the first time. Using diplomacy to diffuse a violent situation. Recalling fondly the lessons of Tera Sinube. But even as she clings to these moments, she is also constantly saying “goodbye.”

She tries to hide her Padawan-ship from the pirates and sees giving up her lightsaber as proof that she’s not a Jedi anymore. Her tossing a commlink over her shoulder deliberately resembles Luke refusing the saber in The Last Jedi.

She hasn’t been disowned, but she is being driven out.

Sav shooing Raf's dog away with her lightsaber, wondering if she is even a Jedi anymore.

In James Somerton’s analysis of the queerness in Everything Everywhere All At Once, he and his writer Nick Herrgott describe the experience of being “tolerated” but not embraced:

In our evolving world of queerness, one of the most significant discussions we are having is how to navigate bigotry at home.…Cynically, I may suggest that in the rush for widespread acceptance, we never really described what acceptance looked like. And now we—as teenagers, young adults, and adults—are struggling with how to redirect our language regarding how we are treated by those closest to us. Mere ‘tolerance,’ it turns out, can be quite toxic. But among people for whom tolerance was a struggle, asking for something more can feel like asking too much.


In the film’s opening, as much as Evelyn is tolerant of Joy’s sexuality, she certainly seems to resent that she has to be.…This is the trauma of queer tolerance, where we see our family making an effort, but we also see what that effort amounts to. We see all the other things that are more important than trying to care. Some of us see the hierarchy of value, and we see that our feelings and personal dignity are fairly low on the checklist. Some of us see our family really only cared about us as an idea. And that maintaining the idea of us is a whole lot more important than validating who we actually are.


Queer estrangement exists for this reason, and is quite common. Probably taking over from queer disownment. The pendulum has swung the other way. And many of us simply can’t reconcile our relations with family.

Sav shutting off communication with Kaktorf and throwing the commlink away

By the time I came out to some of my cousins, I’d already read several books by Christians who became queer-affirming after a beloved family member came out to them as gay or trans. I was very close with this side of my family and figured my story would either be the same, or I would be kicked out. No in-between.

At first it seemed like my story would be that of acceptance. There were actually some decent responses to my coming out.

However, it was not to remain that way.

There grew a baseline distrust towards me. No matter how careful or vulnerable I tried to be, my intentions were taken in bad faith. The times when I did stumble and do them wrong, as well as the times I deliberately took a moral stand, seemed only to reinforce that distrust.

I am not blameless in the distance that grew. My words or silence carried their own weight, and I’m sure my cousins could share plenty. But it was two years of me trying my best. Two years of me trying to show them that a queer person could be good.

Nobody disowned me, but life with this particular side of the family turned into ever-deepening spirals; wondering if the next meeting would be the last farewell.

If we crawl away before the fire catches

We might escape with only superficial scratches

“Scratches” by Flamy Grant (feat. Story & Tune)

Over the course of The High Republic Adventures, Sav Malagán is trying her best. She pours everything she has into making Takodana safe for the Jedi and pirates alike. She tries to face a swarm of assassin droids alone to let Dex and Raf escape. She goes undercover with the dangerous Dank Graks to feed intel to Maz’s pirates. She gives up her most valuable possession—the lightsaber—to protect Raf and Saya alike. She reaches out to Kaktorf, the source of her trauma, to ask for aid to save all of Takodana. She plows through two armies and breaks into enemy territory on her own to rescue Maz.

And yet it all seems to continually come back to bite her. Protecting Raf and Dex from the droids cued Arkik into a Jedi among Maz’s crew. Going undercover with the Dank Graks allowed Arkik to lead Maz’s crew away from Takodana. Kaktorf actively rejects her request for help. Even Sav’s own lightsaber comes back at Maz Kanata’s throat.

Sav watches with horror as she sees Arkik ignite her own lightsaber

Sav’s best appears only to have put the people she loves in danger.

When I came out, I had admittedly had an ulterior motive: to make our family safe. If any of our next generation turned out to be queer, it shouldn’t be on them to break new ground. I hoped that my cousins could make their mistakes with me and then grow beyond that into acceptance. Instead, my coming out saw an increase in the exact sentiments I was trying to prevent.

My best turned this side of my family from a difficult space to be queer, into an actively dangerous one. I failed as a cousin. I failed as a queer. I even failed as the man they didn’t want me to be.

If my best couldn’t get through to this part of my family. If my best couldn’t protect the next generation. Maybe my death would. Maybe that would finally be the wake-up call that would turn them around. Every time news came of another queerphobic shooting, I would imagine what it would feel like to have bullets pierce my body.

I can’t stop thinking: “queer bar.”

Contrasting shots of Maz Kanata's castle between Issue 1 and 7. Issue 1 shows it full of life. Issue 7 shows Sav sneaking into the same room, violently destroyed.

And if there wasn’t a hate crime coming for me, maybe my suicide could prevent someone else’s down the line.

I had the place picked out. An old family spot. By the lake.

Sav chasing after Dex as he heads towards the lake in Issue 1

I hit my worst spiral in the fall of 2022. In the fallout of the worst confrontation I’d ever had with my cousins, I had nothing left to give. Except my life.

It’s nothing so trivial as “[families] just don’t understand.’ It is rooted in [family] refusing to change their understanding. And having lived with them for our entire lives, we see how much they are capable of, and we see that their capability seems to end with changing their minds about us. When our personhood diverges from the expectation of what we “should” be, we really begin to see how much we mean to these people who have meant the world to us.


We watch as the language of “tolerance” leads them to believe that their efforts are enough, and we internalize our emptiness as ingratitude. We can either exist in their lives, feeling guilty for wishing for more, or we can put distance between us and our family. There’s nothing you or anyone can do to change anyone’s mind once it’s made up. After a while, it gets overwhelming.


– James Somerton,The Queer Joy of Everything Everywhere All At Once

No one disowned me, but to save my own life, I chose estrangement. In November 2022, I cut myself from that side of my family.

A week later, I read The High Republic Adventures #1.

I wept for the entire day.

Within those pages, I found a girl leaping into the unknown and being caught by a queer community. I found a legalistic cop assuming the worst of a pair of pirates who just helped him. I saw one of those pirates wave off the accusations of immorality with a simple “Save it.” I saw the pirate walking away from someone who refused to offer him trust or respect. I saw him do what I had already done.

That was when I first realized I made the right choice. When I realized I was going to make it.

Raf accusing Dex and Sav after they helped him, but Dex waves it off with a "Save it."

As each new issue came out, I saw my own journey reflected again and again. Within the characters and within my essays, I found the space and the words to slowly stitch close my bleeding heart.

Everyone has a star that lights their way

We see our paths by someone else’s shine

“Esther, Ruth, and Rahab” by Flamy Grant (feat. Adeem the Artist)

Throughout The High Republic Adventures, I saw Sav Malagán being believed, accepted, and loved by a (metaphorically and canonically) queer community. In the final issue, after she crashed through failure after failure, we see that all her best efforts did in fact mean something.

Having to deal with Sav’s presence, Arkik loses half his crew: Saya is left behind, and Drrn leaves to find her. Sav giving up her lightsaber causes Raf to switch sides, even apologizing for his earlier accusations. He smuggles her saber back to her, allowing Sav to rescue Maz while the rest of pirates draw Arkik’s army away. Even Kaktorf’s refusal to help is overridden by an elder Jedi Master.

I don’t think there’s any Tera Sinube waiting to reveal himself in the wings for me. No Jedi Master in drag is stepping forth to welcome me back into the fold, as I am. And that’s okay.

Tera Sinube in drag as Lavalox asking if Sav would like to be his Padawan. Sav is elated.

The High Republic Adventures has never been about finding the one, singular replacement for Kaktorf. All of Sav’s best comes back to her through her community. She is not alone, and neither am I.

In an interview with the Tennessean, Christian drag queen Flamy Grant shared why she chooses to be out and visible in the church.

I want to place myself squarely in the (religious) space and take up the space so that other people know they’re not alone.

Flamy was in-turn inspired by other queer Christians who also chose to stay.

…There was a common thread among them: They stay because there are other queer kids in church and they want them to have someone to look up to.

I am not the only person working to make our place safe. I don’t have to take on the galaxy all alone.

Maybe there will be a moment where a Raf Thatchburn comes back around to return that which I gave up to live. Maybe there won’t. That’s okay. I will be okay. And I pray that the kids will be too; that they’ll find their own castle of pirates.

By the time I read The High Republic Adventures #1, I had already made the choice to live. But the comic’s team—Daniel José Older, Toni Bruno, Harvey Tolibao, Michael Atiyeh, Tyler Smith, Jimmy Betancourt, Matt Dryer—alongside Eleven-ThirtyEight’s M. Dean Cooper, Sithty Minutes’ Andrés, and Cinelinx’s Jordan Maison all helped me keep to that choice.

I have much left to grieve, but at least I will be here to grieve it. This is not farewell.

Sav Malagán standing tall and content with her caf, 150 years on, a Jedi Master.

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