NBC

Petition Aims to Create Star Wars' First-Ever LGBT Character After Orlando Massacre Victim

A petition launched Monday aims to create Star Wars' first-ever LGBT character after one of the Orlando massacre victims.

The petition posted on change.org is directed to Bob Iger of Disney and Kathleen Kennedy of Lucasfilm and asks them to honor Christopher Andrew “Drew” Leinonen.

The world has been mourning the deaths of the Orlando massacre in many ways, but Joshua Yehl, the creator of the petition, decided to take a different approach to commemorate Leinonen, his best friend and who was one of the many victims that night.

“On the way home from Drew’s funeral, I was a complete mess, but I started to think of what I love most about Drew -- hanging out and talking about Star Wars -- and it just sparked in my mind,” Yehl said in an interview with NBC Bay Area.

The petition, which has gained a lot of attention since it was posted, asks for Iger and Kennedy to consider honoring Drew as the first-ever LGBT Star Wars character to be in a movie.

“How this is done -- using his likeness, running his name through one of those Star Wars Name Generators, etc. – is totally up to you,” Yehl wrote in the letter. “You are all masters of your craft, so I know that whatever you come up with will be marvelous.”

Yehl told NBC Bay Area that if he was a part of the character-making process, he would want Leinonen to be a human character and “just a normal friendly guy who loves droids.”

In the letter, Yehl describes Leinonen as a huge Star Wars fan who was a “beacon of positivity” who not only loved the franchise but his family and friends too. Yehl explained that Leinonen’s favorite Star Wars film was the Empire Strikes back for the simple enjoyment of watching Darth Vader make his big reveal to Luke Skywalker as if it was the first time he had seen it.

The petition late Monday has nearly doubled its original goal of 1,000 supporters. The hashtag, #PutDrewInStarWars is also now trending and even Nerdist, the weekly podcast hosted by Chris Hardwick, tweeted an image of Darth Vader holding the rainbow flag in support of the petition.

Yehl hopes that this petition will reach both Disney and Lucasfilms to not only honor Drew, but “every LGBT person to lose their life to hate.”

After the Orlando massacre, Iger stated, “We are all heartbroken by the tragic and horrific events in Orlando, and offer our thoughts, prayers and support to everyone in our community affected by this senseless act.”

Afterwards, the Walt Disney Company donated $1 million to the OneOrlando Fund. No comment has been made from either Iger or Kennedy in regards to the petition.

“It’s vitally important for LGBT characters to be in Star Wars so we don’t have to be hated or feared or hidden,” Yehl said. “We can be part of the rebellion and we can fight evil, and we can do it while taking pride in who we are.”

Contact Us