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The mass shooting in Orlando was a terrible tragedy. 49 people lost their lives. At least one of them was a massive Star Wars fan, and his friends are hoping his memory can inspire something new from the franchise. A petition has begun to get some traction which asks Lucasfilm to put the first gay character in the Star Wars universe, and to use one of the Orlando victims as the inspiration.
The petition, which can be found on Change.org was started by Joshua Yehl of IGN and is dedicated to Christopher Andrew "Drew" Leinonen, one of the 49 people who were killed in an Orlando nightclub on June 12. The petition is addressed to Kathleen Kennedy, the President of Lucasfilm, and Bob Iger, The CEO of the Walt Disney Company. It recounts the passion that Leinonen had for the franchise and makes an appeal for Star Wars to include gay characters because the lack of gay characters in mainstream media plays a part in the fear that some people have of them. If Star Wars can portray gay characters as heroes alongside everybody else, more people will be able to see them as no different than the rest of us.
This is the newest example of a concerted effort to get more LGBTQ characters represented in media. After Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke new ground in the franchise with lead characters which included a woman and a person of color, adding a gay character seemed to be the next logical step. Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has made comments that the inclusiveness of the franchise does need to include gay characters, seemingly implying that it would happen down the road, though at this point we're not aware of any specific plans for any gay character to debut.
Recently, Disney was criticized for being one of only a couple of studios who included no gay characters in their films in 2015. As a result, GLAAD has also asked that gay characters be included in Star Wars. With the strong feelings coming from the audience, and an apparently willingness to do so, it seems to be a forgone conclusion that gay characters will debut in the films at some point. Basing a character on Drew Leinonen would certainly be a memorable and very touching tribute. As of this writing, there has been no official response from Disney or Lucasfilm. The petition currently has over 2,600 signatures, working toward a goal of 5,000.
If Lucasfilm is planning on including gay characters anyway, should they base one on an Orlando victim who loved Star Wars? Let us know what you think in the comments.