Star Wars fans petition for first LGBT character to honour Orlando victim

Drew Leinonen’s friends say it would give ‘gay little nerds something to look up to’

Friends of a Star Wars fan killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting are petitioning Lucasfilm to introduce an LGBT character as a tribute.

Drew Leinonen was one of 49 victims shot by a gunman at LGBT club Pulse in Orlando in June, along with his boyfriend Juan Ramon Guerrero.

Leinonen’s friend Joshua Yehl, a fellow Star Wars fan, has set up the petition in Leinonen’s honour. Yehl’s open letter is addressed to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Make Orlando Victim Drew Leinonen the First LGBT Star Wars Movie Character from Joshua Yehl on Vimeo.

In the letter, Yehl says: “Nothing would have made Drew happier than for all the gay little nerds out there to have their own Star Wars character to look up to.”

Although Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t have any LGBT characters, its director JJ Abrams has previously spoken of the sense of having an LGBT character in the saga. In a comment quoted in Yehl’s letter, Abrams said: “The fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility. So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.”

Yehl added: “This is a universe with Wookies, Jawas, and Hutts, so why can’t there be a visible LGBT character on screen? 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.”

Neither Disney or Lucasfilm have yet commented on Yehl’s petition. The eighth Star Wars film is due for release in December 2017.