Courtesy of Lawrence at Firstlight
Lawrence is the organizer of FirstLight, which is described as "an LGBTQ community sharing concern, struggle, experience and opinion on integrating sexuality and spirituality". Firstlight can be accessed at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FirstLight/
, and I highly recommend it, as would at least one other Soulforcer that I know of.
If Only He Had Gotten Such Support in Life
Posted by: "Lawrence ----"
Sun Feb 17, 2008 7:54 pm (PST)
"We are saying you don't need to accept people who are gay, but you should tolerate them." That was a newspaper quote from one of the young organizers of a short-notice memorial march for 15-year-old Lawrence King, shot to death by a classmate at school last Tuesday. The dead boy had recently come out, and for the first time, a newspaper account reported that he was believed to have told the boy charged with his murder that he 'liked' him.
Tolerance as a substitute for acceptance? I suppose we could do worse, but it seems to me it's pitifully little to ask of a society that claims to be one of the most deeply religious on earth. Tolerance may avert violence, but when you think about it, it does little to neutralize hatred that has been taught by that same society, and often by the same religious leaders who profess to "hate the sin, but love the sinner." The judgment and condemnation that so many religious leaders preach today are just what an immature 14-year-old may see as justification for killing a boy he'd been taught to see as a threat. Especially when religious leaders cite Bible texts they claim prescribe death for same-gender orientation.
Photographs are notoriously unreliable indicators of character or personality, but I look at the picture of Lawrence King and he seems so open, so unguarded, so gentle and ... sweet. And I look at the picture of Brandon McInerney, the boy accused of murdering him, and he seems to me guarded, uncertain, a tad defensive and ... belligerent. And I know I am projecting, reading into these photos what I already know about the two boys -- which is precious little. Both of them were still unformed, interrupted in the middle of becoming, and both of them were products of their families, schools, peers, and churches, if they had any.
Another quote from the same newspaper story has a schoolmate saying, "I see no point in shooting someone for telling them that you like them." We might be saddened by the risk Larry took to be open about his feelings, leaving him subject to a hostile response that turned to a fatal action -- or we might celebrate the comfort he felt in being himself, in not thinking he had to hide as so many have in the past. We might be filled with regret that no one, apparently, ever said to these young people that they could simply say, "I don't feel the same," and turn away, that it didn't have to feel like a stain to be liked in a way you couldn't accept.
We might say there's plenty of failure to go around in this tragedy. And we certainly ought to wonder what we might do that might keep it from happening again.
Clipping: Los Angeles Times, Feb. 17, 2008
[Multiple photos, galleries, video clips, and more than 400 reader comments at this link]
1,000 MARCH IN OXNARD IN TRIBUTE TO SLAIN TEEN
A march organized by students focuses on tolerance in the wake of the fatal shooting of an openly gay boy.
By Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
The Goths in their black T-shirts were there. So were the punks with fluorescent hair and multiple piercings. There were even a few adolescent boys carrying skateboards among the nearly 1,000 Oxnard youth and other supporters who turned out Saturday for a hastily organized peace march to pay tribute to Lawrence King, 15, the Oxnard student shot to death in a classroom last week.
"Larry, Larry, Larry!" the crowd chanted before marchers clasped hands in a moment of silence for the fallen student. There were no bullhorns, no speeches and no politicians. Just a mass of mostly adolescents wearing bright clothing, carrying signs and singing the John Lennon songs, "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance."
The size of the turnout surprised police, school officials and even the two Hueneme High School sophomores who put the event together just three days ago, spreading the word with fliers, cellphone calls and MySpace bulletins. "We were expecting maybe 100 or 200 people," said Courtney LaForest, 16, as she gazed at a broad "peace circle" formed by march participants at Plaza Park in downtown Oxnard. "This is incredible."
Courtney said the turnout reflected a community's anguish over a senseless shooting that has destroyed the lives of two young men. It was also a public plea for tolerance on school campuses for those who are different, she said. "I didn't know Larry. A lot of people here didn't know him," she said. "We are saying you don't need to accept people who are gay, but you should tolerate them."
King, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green Junior High School in south Oxnard, had revealed he was gay this school year. In recent weeks, he had begun accessorizing his school uniform with feminine items and was often teased by other students, several of his classmates said. "What he did was really brave -- to wear makeup and high-heeled boots," said Erin Mings, 12, who hung out with King at the school. "Every corner he turned around, people were saying, 'Oh, my god, he's wearing makeup today.'"
Erin said King was an outgoing and funny boy who stood his ground. "When people came up and started punking him, he just stood up for himself," Erin said.
Jeremiah, another student and friend of the victim, said King had recently told the 14-year-old boy who is alleged to have shot him that he had a crush on him. "I see no point in shooting someone for telling them that you like them," said Jeremiah, who didn't want to give his last name.
Brandon McInerney, 14, who attended E.O. Green with King, has been charged with premeditated murder and will be tried as an adult. He is being held in Ventura County Juvenile Hall in lieu of $770,000 bail. McInerney could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors added a hate crime allegation that could bring an additional one to three years.
Saturday's march began at Carty Park, adjacent to the junior high school where the shooting took place Tuesday. Students busily scribbled signs on poster boards, with such messages as "RIP Larry King," "Gay Pride" and "Support Love and Tolerance." Melissa Crutcher, 16, who helped organize the march, said King's slaying infuriated her. Sporting pink-tinged hair, hot pink pants and multiple ear piercings, Melissa said she knew what it was like to get picked on for looking different. "I know I stick out myself," she said, "and it's just appalling that he got shot just for being himself."
Jerry Dannenberg, superintendent of the Hueneme School District, of which E.O. Green is a part, joined the marchers. He had been told that an event was being planned by students and sent word that the school should support it, Dannenberg said. "We forget the goodness that is in most of our kids," Dannenberg said. "This tremendous turnout by kids is an expression of their voices, their opinions."
Connor Sipes, 13, showed up with two of his buddies. They attend a different middle school, Connor said, but learned about the march through a posting on MySpace. Connor wore a headband and a gold peace sign around his neck as the three walked the two miles from the school to the city park. He participated because what happened to King "wasn't right," he said. "It will be a better future if we are more tolerant."
Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times
Clipping: Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2008
OXNARD RESIDENTS ARE SHAKEN DEEPLY BY BOY'S FATAL SHOOTING
As vital organs are harvested from his body, one woman says, 'What everyone wants to know is: Why did this happen?'
By Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
With school out Friday, Madel Duran and her 10-year-old son, Victor, knew just how to spend their free afternoon. They made the short trek from their Oxnard home to honor a boy they never knew. At E.O. Green Junior High School, mother and son placed a hot-pink flower lei and a wooden rosary on a growing makeshift memorial for slain eighth-grader Lawrence King.
Police say the 15-year-old, who students say had been teased at school for his effeminate dress, was gunned down early Tuesday by a student in his English class. His alleged assailant, Brandon McInerney, 14, has been charged with first-degree murder with the special allegation of a hate crime. He was being held in Juvenile Hall in lieu of $770,000 bail and will be tried as an adult.
"It's a tragedy for Oxnard, because this has never happened before," said Victor, a fifth-grader who expects to attend E.O. Green next fall. "And it should never happen again." Although other local shootings have occurred near schools or in their common areas, this week's killing inside a classroom was a first for Ventura County, authorities said.
As news of King's killing continued to spread Friday, Oxnard residents said they had been shaken deeply by the sensational crime in their backyard. "This is a good community filled with good people," said Duran, 40, adding that her older son had gone to E.O. Green with no problems. "This is a good school. What everyone wants to know is: Why did this happen? We don't understand."
An Oxnard father who would identify himself only as Robert said he too was saddened, not only by the senseless loss but by the black eye the week's events might give the city he calls home. "When you say you're from Oxnard, people always immediately think 'gangs,' " he said as he watched his daughter and her friends frolic outside an ice-cream shop in the city's refurbished downtown. "But it's not all gangs and violence here. It's a friendly place and a good place for families."
The crime rate typically is higher in Oxnard than in Ventura County's other nine cities. The city also has more gang-related crime, prompting police and prosecutors to designate two areas where known gang members are restricted from gathering. But residents say that is simply a reflection of the city's transformation from a tiny agricultural town, where farmers grew lima beans and sugar beets, to Ventura County's biggest and most diverse city.
Oxnard has an estimated population of 193,000, of which about two-thirds are Latino. "We're basically a blue-collar community, and some crime goes with it," said Manuel Perez, 81, who was born in Oxnard and has lived in the same home with his 79-year-old wife, Virginia, for five decades. "But it's really a very nice place to live with really good people."
Bullies can be found anywhere, Perez said. What bothers him about this week's shooting is that it might have been prevented if school officials had more aggressively responded to reports of friction between the two young men. "Junior high is a critical age, and there are red flags," Perez said. "They're not babies anymore, and they're not in high school. They are just starting to feel their oats."
Organs were taken from King's body Thursday and an autopsy was performed Friday, said Senior Deputy Medical Examiner Craig Stevens. He declined to say what organs were harvested or where they went. In an interview with the Ventura County Star newspaper, King's father, Greg, said the family believes the donation was the right thing to do. His son was headstrong, artistic and giving, he told the newspaper. Greg King said seven vital organs were harvested Thursday, adding, "If Larry had the story to write, he'd say, 'If I have to give someone a heart, I want to give it to them on Valentine's Day.' "
The boy's death has prompted vigils, a student-organized march and calls for more attention to anti-gay bullying and harassment in schools. On Friday, officials at the Gay & Lesbian Center in Los Angeles held a news conference to denounce anti-gay student violence, and a memorial vigil organized by the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance was scheduled for Friday night in Ventura. A peace march organized by King's classmates at E.O. Green is scheduled for noon today. It will start in a park near the school at 3739 S. 6th St. and continue north through the city to the downtown area.
Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times
- Andy's blog
Sins are always worse when they're different than mine