13 February 2008 | 8 Comments
If you think things in the US are pretty good for gay people and not at all like they are in Iran. Think again.
Today Lawrence King, a femmy 15 y.o. high school student, was shot and killed in his first period English class. The reason? Because he was a nelly queen who wore jewelry and make up. This was after being teased and taunted by classmates for a while. And this wasn’t in some hic town in the middle of nowhere – it was in Oxnard, CA – outside Los Angeles.
Femmy teens are in a really difficult position. Those of us who are “straight acting” can just play along and avoid problems, but fems don’t have that option. They are who they are and they shouldn’t be shot dead just because they are true to themselves.
This just drives home how hate crime legislation is important. Curiously, if you shot one of the people who doesn’t want gay men and lesbians to have “special protection” under hate crime legislation – you could be charged with a hate crime since they’re protected (for their religion) – they just don’t think we’re special enough to have the same protection they enjoy themselves.
Of course cases like this are typical in that most gay bashing is done by teens who haven’t yet become secure in their own sexuality. It may seem harsh to put a teen in prison for an extended period because they were motivated by their own insecurities, but that’s something for the juvenile justice system to deal with on a case-by-case basis. The point is we need to make a clear statement that violence against gay men, lesbians and the transgendered (and a few straight people who appear to be gay) will not be tolerated.
Also remember – intolerance of intolerance isn’t bad like other forms of intolerance. For all you math geeks – it’s a double negative and hence completely different. In fact you can’t aim for a tolerant society with out being intolerant of intolerance…
School administrators also needs to be held accountable for this. How in the hell did a gun get into the classroom and why didn’t they deal with the situation when it was just taunting and teasing? They aren’t just there to teach the kids reading, writing and arithmetic – they’re there to socialize them and teach them how to be civil human beings. A kid died in English class for god’s sake – I hope someone is held accountable in addition to the mixed up kid that pulled the trigger.
One of the lessons I learned in grad school from a wonderful radical lesbian feminist professor was that radical change rarely ever comes from the big things people remember – it comes from a whole bunch of little things and sorta sneaks up on you. You realize radical change has happened by looking back and thinking “gee, that couldn’t have happened 20 years ago” (e.g. electing a black man or a woman as President). So, be political in your every day lives – tell your friends about the discrimination and injustice we continue to face, and do the little things like always showing up to vote for the candidate with the best stance on gay rights. When enough people change the hearts of the people around them, and when we have political leaders who “get it”, the big stuff will follow.
UPDATE: Turns out, as of now, Lawrence King isn’t dead. He’s brain dead and they expect to pull the plug on him soon, so the net effect is the same. California does have hate crime legislation and they’re planning trying the kid who did it as an adult and charging him with murder with a hate crime special circumstance. In other words, this is going to be about as bad for the kid who did it as it gets…