In this article, I examine public discourse in the wake of transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn’s suicide. I argue that Alcorn’s politicized suicide beckoned a national tragedy whereas the slew of queer and transgender people of color murdered did not because of the repeated deployments of a whiteness-derived innocence. Performances of hegemonic grief evinced Alcorn’s posthumous rhetorical agency in ways that caused responsible adults to take action against the violence of conversion therapy on U.S. queer youth. In this article, I analyze how the rhetorics and performances of white grief functioned as an exigence for a queer of color critique that used the wake of Alcorn to unhinge logics of white supremacy and white grievability. As queers of color labored in Alcorn’s wake to grieve their own dead in more public ways, they demonstrated how queers of color shoulder the burden of evincing their own trauma more so than their white counterparts. The cultural wake of Alcorn suggests that hegemonic grief functions as a modality of white supremacy while determining whose life is worthy of remembrance and a place in the queer imaginary.

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