Her name was Leelah / Our pulse beats on with love or Thoughts I was holding back but can’t anymore
I will never forget the day that Leelah Alcorn killed herself.
I had never talked to her, nor had I ever even known about her prior to her suicide. I first heard of her a few days after the 28th of December in 2014, around the time people started spreading the news of her death on tumblr. I remember reading stories of the online friends she had made, how upset and heartbroken they were, about what kind of a person she was, how she killed herself and eventually, I heard of the reason why she killed herself.
That day I cried and mourned about Leelahs death as if I had lost an old friend. I read her suicide letter so often that I remembered actual parts of it (I still do), I felt responsible and guilty because I hadn’t done anything to save her life even though I hadn’t even known about her.
Leelah Alcorn was born on November 15th in 1997 as Josh Alcorn. She was transgender with a heartbreaking life story full of being bullied, by her classmates, by her parents, by her therapist. She had been sent to conversion therapy and eventually ended up killing herself by walking into traffic on the night of the 28th December in 2014. Even in death, she continued to be misgendered by society and her family after clearly having established that exactly that was the reason for her death.
Her suicide was announced as the ‘Death of Josh Alcorn’ and she was buried in a suit.
Leelah’s death will never stop breaking my heart. I had so many feelings I wanted to share, so much grief about Leelah’s pain, I couldn’t stand the thought of children killing themselves because they wouldn’t be accepted for who they were…
I wore the sentence ‘Her name was Leelah’ written on my arm, hidden under my sleeve, for weeks.
Why was I scared of posting anything about her death? Why am I nervous about posting this post? Why does it scare me to talk about my passion for LGBT+ issues in person? Why do people ‘have to come out of the closet’? Why would society rather see Leelah dead than accept her for who she was?
If I ever end up having kids, I will try and raise them into the most tolerant and liberal humans they could possibly be. If they end up being LGBT+, I never want them to feel like they have to out themselves to me and my s/o, I want them to be able to just walk up to me and be like ‘Hey mum, this is my boyfriend’ or ‘Hey mum, can you please use male pronouns on me’. Whatever they end up being or wanting, I will always make sure they will feel loved and accepted.
What scares me is the thought of how society will treat them, though. As much as I don’t understand how it can still be an issue for people who other people love, I know it’s a fact. I am sick and tired of seeing people die because of the unreasonable hate of others.
It’s not a world I would want my children to grow up in.
It’s not a world I want to grow up in.
When I moved to Sydney earlier this year, I conveniently moved into one of the most tolerant cities I’ve ever been to. I made great friends, I feel like Sydney’s public is generally more accepting of LGBT+, I’ve celebrated Mardi Gras, I’ve seen same-sex couples kiss in public for the first time, shops have the pride flags hanging in their windows.
It makes me scared of eventually going back to that little town in Germany where I came from because the progress is just not as far there. I want freedom, I want human rights being celebrated.
I have never experienced a parent’s love, but the love my parent’s have always given me felt like it was unconditional. They would never let me be hurt by anything and I feel like they would accept whatever if it ensured my well-being and happiness. I’m sure most parents feel that way about their children.
After the shooting in Orlando, more than fifty parents will have to bury their children because of the hatred of one person. I don’t know where this hatred came from, but I think in order to be able to commit such a crime, to willingly kill fifty people you have to either be a really bad person or learn to hate like this.
Nobody is born racist or homophobic. A child sees another one and randomly decides to befriend it. Before you learn society’s views on what’s right or wrong, you don’t care about skin colour.
The people that have been killed were so much more than their sexuality. They had personality, a life, they laughed, they cried, they loved. Their sexuality was a tiny part of who they were and still some random person gave himself the right to kill them over it.
LGBT+ people are dying every day, and they are all dying by the hand of others. No matter if it’s actively as it was in Orlando by being shot or if it’s from suicide as in the case of Leelah. They are all dying because of something they cannot control, because other people think they have a right to judge them.
And let me tell you, not a single person in this world has the right to judge another person.
If Leelah’s death had any outcome, it is that conversion therapy has been publicly criticised, even by president Obama, and has been banned in some American states already.
If you are a parent reading this: please refuse to be your child’s bully. If you love your kid, you will learn to accept it. Being yourself takes bravery and especially so in the world we live in. The least you can do is embrace who your child is and love it.
If you are a random person and your friend, sibling, acquaintance, whoever really, is outing themselves to you, please do the one thing of supporting them. Do not treat them differently. Use the right gender pronouns. Make them feel strong. No one should feel so alone that they end up killing themselves.
Leelah had her suicide note posted on queue a few hours after her death. It ended with the words ‘Fix society. Please.’
I will not be able to fix society on my own. The only thing I can do is give love – to my family, my friends, to strangers. I feel like I’m bursting with it.
I refuse to stay silent any longer.
US: (877) 565-8860
Canada: (877) 330-6366
The Trevor Project (LGBT+ Lifeline) (America):
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (America):
1800 184 527
030-44 01 06 07 (English)
(International Helpline Berlin)
0800 1110 111
0800 1110 222