Today is a day of sadness and reflection for me. One year ago, 15 year-old Lawrence “Larry” King was shot in front of his classmates while sitting in school.
For many younger LGBTQ people, this was a murder that defined their generation. While no more or less tragic than any of the other hate crimes that have happened, Lawrence’s young age, his defiance of gender roles, and the shocking execution style and reasoning of the murder itself hit many like me to the core. Like Matthew Shepherd or Gwen Araujo before him, Lawrence was a person that we could see ourselves in- a mirror of many of our own experiences growing up LGBT in the USA.
The spotty coverage of the story at first prompted many of us to ask “Where’s the outrage.” It seemed that this school shooting was being ignored or swept under the rug due to Larry’s sexuality and gender expression. Little did we know when the coverage did come, it would be like another bashing.Some, like Ellen DeGeneres, spoke from the heart about the murder of a young person simply for being who he was. Much of the coverage, however, began to turn nasty.
Newsweek’s horrible cover story put King on trial and blamed him for the bringing the shooting on himself. As Alex Blaze put it:
Larry is portrayed as having stalked, sexually harassed, and bullied Brandon into a corner where his only possible response was pulling that trigger.
Even The Advocate asked the loaded question “who is to blame for Lawrence King’s death“, prompting outcry from the community for overly provocative and demeaning reporting. The message from all corners seemed to be “stop asking for it” and that “Lawrence King deserved to die.”
It was a scary message to our young people- if you live openly, you should be killed.
Even though the trial of King’s murder, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, moves forward, justice will never come. A new generation of LGBTQ people have seen firsthand not only the violence and hate against our community, but the lack of compassion and understanding towards us and our dead.
I try and find something, some semblance of meaning, in the murder of Lawrence King. I find nothing but pain, sadness, and fear.
I hope that something may come out of this, a movement to focus on giving our youth support or educating others about accepting others’ differences. I hope, but I am also realistic.
Hate makes no sense. Violence only causes pain. And we are all left wondering about the life of someone who refused to conform or break- a life that could have been.