'Star Wars' Fans Campaign For LGBT Character, In Wake Of Orlando Shootings

Thousands of fans have already signed a petition.

Star Wars’ fans are campaigning for the sci-fi series to introduce a new LGBT character, following the horrific Orlando shootings earlier this month.

One fan has set up a petition, urging producers to introduce a character inspired by his friend, Drew Leinonen, who was one of the 49 victims of the attack, along with his boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero.

The Change.org petition was set up by Drew's close friend, Joshua Yehl, who explains that his friendship with Drew was largely forged around the ‘Star Wars’ universe.

<strong>Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'</strong>
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Addressing LucasFilm and Disney, who produce the saga, he says: “I’m writing this letter to request that Drew’s passing be honored by using him as inspiration for the first-ever LGBT Star Wars character to appear 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. You are all masters of your craft, so I know that whatever you come up with will be marvelous.

“This character will not only honor Drew but all of the other victims at Pulse in Orlando, including his boyfriend Juan Ramon Guerrero, and every LGBT person to ever lose their life to hate.”

He continues: “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.

“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.”

At the time of writing, the petition has received 3500 signatures, with a target of 5000.

Disney previously faced pressure from advocacy group GLAAD to introduce an LGBT character into the franchise, when a report showed that they were “failing” to represent the community in their films.

‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’, the follow-up to the hugely successful ‘The Force Awakens’ is slated to hit cinemas worldwide in December 2017.

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