• Star Wars fan Drew Leinonen (right) was killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting. (Twitter)Source: Twitter
"This is a universe with Wookies, Jawas, and Hutts, so why can’t there be a visible LGBT character on screen?"
Alyssa Braithwaite

29 Jun 2016 - 3:51 PM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2016 - 3:51 PM

A fan petition is asking Star Wars creators to include an LGBTQIA+ character in the franchise's next film, in tribute to one of the victims of the Orlando shooting.

Drew Leinonen was a huge Star Wars fan, and was one of the 49 people who were killed in Pulse nightclub, alongside his boyfriend Juan Ramon Guerrero.  

The petition, which has been started by his good friend Joshua Yehl, asks the President of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, to make Drew the inspiration for the first ever LGBT+ Star Wars character.

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"On June 12, 2016, the world lost one of its most passionate Star Wars fans," Yehl writes. "This tragedy happened because of hate, but Star Wars is something that unites people, so fulfilling this request would only serve to bring more love into the world, and that's what Drew was all about.

"It's vitally important that LGBT people are included in mainstream media because it will show that we don't need to be feared or hated or hidden. We can be part of the rebellion and we can fight evil, and we can do it while being who we are with pride."

The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams recently said gay characters would appear at some point in the Star Wars universe.

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"To me, the fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility," Abrams said. "So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counter-intuitive to say that there wouldn't be a homosexual character in that world."

Yehl says Drew could be the inspiration for a character a number of different ways - such as using his likeness, or running his name through a Star Wars name generator - and so far more than 3,200 people have signed the petition.

"This is a universe with Wookies, Jawas, and Hutts, so why can't there be a visible LGBT character on screen?" says Yehl.


"Drew was a remarkable human being, and I can't think of a more perfect tribute to his legacy than this. Nothing would make him happier than for all the little gay nerds out there to have their own Star Wars character to look up to."