Vigil gathers at Lake Eola to remember transgender teen

By : Jamie Hyman
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About two dozen people attended a candlelight vigil Jan. 2 in memory of Leelah Alcorn, whose death has sparked a national conversation about suicide and support for transgender teenagers.

Seventeen-year-old Leelah Alcorn of Cincinnati, Ohio died on Dec. 28 after she was hit by a tractor trailer. She posted a suicide note online detailing her coming out and struggle with gender identity.

The vigil, called “Stand Up for Leelah,” was held at Lake Eola at the same time as vigils all over the country.

“Unfortunately, Leelah is only one of many transgender people that feel they do not receive the love, acceptance and support they need,” said Meg Tullos, who organized the vigil along with Brandon Lavoie. “I hope by having this event we can show those in our local community struggling with these issues that they are not alone.”

Tullos and Lavoie are straight, which Charles Murphy, who attended the vigil, appreciated.

“Where would the LGBT community be without our straight allies?” he asked. “They read Leelah’s suicide note. It was terrible and moving at the same time. So grateful to them.”

Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s Transgender Inclusion Director, also spoke at the event.

“Leelah Alcorn faced the situation that is most feared by the transgender community: Social isolation and rejection from those closest to her,” Duncan said. “This scenario is what Equality Florida is working to eliminate. The dying must end. The violence must end. Only through visibility, education and advocacy can we get this done.”

Photos by Patrick O’Connor.

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