Christopher Andrew "Drew" Leinonen was one of the 49 victims of the June 12 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub, he was also a huge Star Wars fan, and now his friends hope his name will live on as the first ever LGBT character in the Star Wars universe.
"This is a universe with Wookies, Jawas, and Hutts, so why can’t there be a visible LGBT character on screen? 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," says Leinonen's friend Joshua Yehl. "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."
In order to make this happen, Yehl has started a petition
and also sent an open letter to a few Star Wars higher-ups, including Kathleen Kennedy (President of Lucasfilm) and Bob Iger (CEO of The Walt Disney Company).
“Drew was the most passionate Star Wars fan I’d ever met, which is probably why he became my best friend. We wouldn’t shut up about it every time we were in a room together,” Yehl said. “I’ve been a mess since his passing, but on the way home from his funeral, I got this big idea that the best way to honor him in a really visible, lasting way would be to make him the inspiration for the first-ever gay Star Wars character.”
Yehl says the the character created in honor of Drew would be a tribute not only to Drew but to the 49 victims who lost their lives at Pulse on June 12, 2016, including Drew’s boyfriend Juan Ramon Guerrero.