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Petition calls for ‘Star Wars’ to include LGBT character in memory of Orlando victim

The victim was a huge 'Star Wars' fan.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 28, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 1:11 pm CDT

In memory of a Star Wars fan who died during the Orlando shooting, thousands of people are petitioning for Disney and Lucasfilm to include a LGBT character in the next movie.

The campaign was created by Star Wars fan Joshua Yehl, commemorating his best friend Drew Leinonen. “He and I bonded over many things,” writes Yehl, “but nothing brought us together like Star Wars.

In a heartfelt video message to Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and Disney boss Bob Iger, Yehl celebrated the diversity of The Force Awakens, and asked that the next film include an LGBT character inspired by Drew Leinonen.

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

While The Force Awakens and Rogue One are considerably more diverse than previous Star Wars movies, the franchise is yet to include any LGBT characters outside of tie-in novels.

Yehl also quoted The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, responding to earlier calls for queer representation in the franchise: “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.”

It’s hard to argue with that.

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*First Published: Jun 28, 2016, 8:06 am CDT