Spirit of Dru Scholarship Winner: Kristin Moorehead

Throughout the month of July, we will be sharing the inspiring essays from our Spirit of Dru Scholarship recipients. Please enjoy Kristin Moorehead's - she will be attending the University of Florida this fall.


Kristin Moorehead

I never knew Drew. He was the founder of my school’s GSA, and his legacy impacted me in ways I don’t think he could have ever imagined, but I never knew him. And for that, I am truly sorry.

When the Pulse nightclub massacre happened, I didn’t hear about it until a few days after. My grandparents had taken me on a graduation trip to London, so I didn’t have Internet access. I remember sitting in a boat on the Thames, wondering why I saw a rainbow flag at half-mast. I was oblivious.

But I found out. And I found out that one of the 49 was none other than Drew, the man who had given me something I could now never thank him for: a place where there were some people who were just like me, and some who weren’t. It was a place where I could figure out who I was.

This place gave me a second family, and now, as president of the organization, I can give that to others. I wanted to be president to give back to the place that gave me so much. If I can make a difference in even one person’s life, if I can give them information or encouragement, or simply an ear to listen, then I will know I have succeeded. I joined GSA to find out who I was; I stayed because I felt a genuine connection to the people, and to the ideals that Drew set in place.

Through the GSA, I have met so many amazing people with so many amazing stories. Some of them are funny, others not so much. But we all share that connection to each other, and to our community. I have learned so much about the LBGTQ+ culture through GSA, and now I can pass that information on to future members. Knowing that I am participating in a legacy that has withstood so much hardship is a humbling experience, and I cherish it every time I walk through the door.

Because of Drew, I have been able to accomplish so many things that I never would have thought were possible. I helped fundraise over a thousand dollars to build a memorial dedicated to Drew and his gift to my school. I have helped lead numerous leadership conferences and cultural awareness meetings in Pinellas County. I have become more confident in who I am, and I hope that I inspire others to find that confidence in themselves.

Spirit of Dru Scholarship Winner: Alyssa Sileo

Throughout the month of July, we will be sharing the inspiring essays from our Spirit of Dru Scholarship recipients. Please enjoy Alyssa Sileo's - she will be attending Drew University(!!!) this fall.



Alyssa Sileo

It has never been a want to advocate that has driven all of my actionsーit has been a need. My creative and coming out journeys ran parallel courses, and this was no coincidence. Ever since I realized my own queerness I have made sure my pride is always more than a statement. Instead, I make it a project.

My mantra is that artists must be the caretakers of equality. Forwarding unity and inclusion through arts is the perfect way to look past differences, because any person can add to a story. I believe the stage is the perfect place to get messages across, with the honesty and vulnerability required by the creators.

I’m the founder of "The Laramie Project" Project (LPP), an international theatre advocacy initiative that fights for the end of discriminatory violence by honoring hate crime victims with worldwide performances of the acclaimed Tectonic Theater Project play that chronicles the Matthew Shepard story. 

The LPP educates audiences and casts on a turning point of LGBTQ+ history while clarifying that hate crimes are still ravaging marginalized communities. By honoring the Pulse victims and sharing the stories of the incidents that are associated with the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act (heavily under-reported in the media), we are calling on LPPers to hold institutions accountable. The compelling message of Laramie drives a person to rethink their perceptions about the supposed safety of the queer community, whereas the truth is that there’s a long way to go.

To date, there are 67 registered events from 23 states and 4 other countries, representing Thespian Troupes and GSAs, colleges, theatre companies, and community groups.  

Phase 3 of the LPP is an effort to advocate for The Dru Project by connecting 32 Laramies to honor Drew’s 32 years of life. We are mobilizing high schools from many states (especially those with active GSAs) to fight for their Florida student peers with fundraising and awareness, since the future of queer liberation lies in the safety and empowerment of youth.

A latent function of the LPP is to inspire people in the audience or cast who has a project inside them but doesn’t know where to start. I make the story of my LPP journey as available as I can so others can know how quickly and wildly this all happenedーhow impulsive but thoughtful activism must be.

I remember how seeing productions with queer representation, like Rent and Fun Home, right around the time that I was coming out, were the experiences that locked-in my own pride and drove me to put this on the stage for others who need this affirmation. 

Drew Leinonen’s compassion, humor, and advocacy manifests in any person who works to make a space safe for someone else. I believe in the power of friendship, camaraderie, and legacy. I believe in the life-saving work of The Dru Project and the surge of GSA presence and programming, and I pledge my commitment to availability for the youth of the queer community.

Save the Date: Iowa Safe Schools Spirit Awards

We are so proud of Christine! She will be in Iowa in October, speaking at the Iowa Safe Schools Spirit Awards--about Drew's life, Pulse, and what The Dru Project is doing to keep Drew's legacy alive.

Via Iowa Safe Schools:

Joining us as a special keynote speaker for the 2016 Spirit Awards on October 20th is Christine Leinonen. Christine is Christopher's mom. Christopher was murdered along with his boyfriend Juan at Pulse in Orlando. Christine recently spoke at the Democratic National Convention about Christopher and the day he was born. We honor the victims of this massacre, we say their names, and we must work to live in a society where violence against the LGBTQ community is a distant past. Please join us at the 2016 Spirit Awards and RSVP today: