Hate Crimes?

My name is Sara Grossman and I am the Communications Manager for The Dru Project. I also work as the Communications Manager for The Matthew Shepard Foundation in Denver, CO.


Today, another board member sent me a photo of Drew from 2008. 

In the photo, he was laying in front of a car and the caption said something about it being a "hate crime in progress." I immediately felt the blood start to drain from my face. 

She said, "Do you think he always knew he would die because of a hate crime?"

By that point, I knew my face was completely white.

No, I do not think that Drew always felt like he would die from a hate crime. In fact, he was one of the few people who would openly make fun of himself and our community about it. That was one of our things. We somehow felt like we were above hate. Above hate crimes. We wanted to believe that we were in this post-hate crime world. It wasn't the 90s. We lived in a post-Ellen generation.

We were wrong, though.

The truth of the matter is that since 1998 when Matthew Shepard was tortured and beaten for being gay, all of us were probably on high alert about the fact that yes -- any of us could have been Matt. Maybe we used humor to shirk the thought. Maybe we got involved in our GSAs to feel like we had a community. Maybe we started the GSAs to create the community.

There were a litany of reasons. Any or all of them valid.

And as time progressed, we had progress. DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell were overturned. State groups were formed to help schools. But as time progressed, violence also progressed. Instead of being worried about being dragged from a bar and killed, we now have to worry about people entering our bars and killing us. En masse. 

What can we do about it? How can we continue the work that The Matthew Shepard Foundation and countless other LGBT advocacy organizations have worked tirelessly to accomplish? How is it that in 2016, we have neither jet packs nor peace of mind?

I don't have the answers. Drew didn't either. But we did what we were always taught to do: love. And that is something all of us need a bit more of in a landscape that is so entrenched in hatred.

If you can, volunteer your time to your local LGBT organization. If you can, make a donation. Anything helps. 


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: http://iowasafeschools.org/index.php/buy-tickets

Save the Date: One Beat for Pulse

Join The Dru Project on September 10th in Pinellas Park, FL for an event benefitting the organization: details here.


Local LGBTQ+ authors, poets, musicians and artists will share their work at this fundraiser event. Proceeds will benefit The Dru Project and Seminole High School, which is raising money for a memorial for one of the victims of the Pulse shooting, Drew Leinonen, who attended the school and founded its GSA.


Everyone who knew Drew

knew that he was a major movie and media buff. From the Criterion collection to indie films at the Enzian to Star Wars and everything in between, he knew his stuff. This is why, as part of his legacy, we want to touch as many people globally as he did in his own community.

We want Star Wars to create its first LGBT movie character. This isn't just for Drew, although nothing could immortalize him more than a character in honor of him in his favorite film series. This is also for the LGBT kids who don't have very many characters that are representative of them in the media or film industry. We urge you to sign the petition to help make this happen.

Star Wars has never had a gay character appear on screen before, but as The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams recently said on the topic, “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.”


Christine's DNC Speech

On July 27, Drew's mother, Christine,


It takes about 5 minutes for a church bell to ring 49 times.

I know this because last month my son Christopher, his boyfriend Juan, and 47 others were murdered at a club in Orlando. Christopher was my only child, and as I used to tell him, you can’t do better than perfect.

He had so many friends, two of whom are here tonight representing hundreds and hundreds more. All his life he brought people together. In high school, he won the Ann Frank Humanitarian Award for starting the Gay-Straight Alliance.

Christopher’s paternal grandparents met and fell in love in a Japanese internment camp, so it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate.

Christopher was a big Hillary supporter. That’s why I’m here. So that I can tell you about the day he was born. At the time I was a Michigan state trooper. When I went into labor the hospital put my off-duty gun in a safe. I didn’t argue. I know common sense gun policies save lives. The weapon that murdered my son fires 30 rounds in one minute. An Orlando city commissioner pointed out the terrible math. One minute for a gun to fire so many shots. Five minutes for a bell to honor so many lives. I’m glad common sense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born, but where was that common sense the day he died?

I never want you to ask that question about your child. That’s why I support Hillary Clinton.