Waymon Hudson

Where's the Outrage??

Filed By Waymon Hudson | February 15, 2008 12:56 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: hate crimes against LGBT people, Lawrence King, School Shooting

With the announcement of the shooting death of Lawrence King, just 15, one has to wonder-- where is the outrage and outcry from the public and media?

Lawrence KingKing was, by all accounts, a young man who was teased at school for his feminine characteristics and sexual orientation. He was brutally gunned down in school by a fellow student, Brandon McInerney. Police are still investigating, but have charged McInerney with a hate crime.

I can't help but notice, however, that no media outlets really seem to be covering this. The LGBT blogs are buzzing and angry, but the 24 hour news stations are still focusing on anything but the violent loss of this young man.

It seems the media and public are more concerned with where Britney Spears is or who made American Idol's top 24. Meanwhile, young kids are getting shot in school for simply being themselves.

At the very least it would make sense, with the other horrific school shooting in Illinois, to mention King's murder.

But still there is silence.

Why is the life of a boy living outside the gender-norm less newsworthy? Why is the general public not having vigils or crying for him?

Where is the outrage?

We can no longer stand by and let our youth get quietly gunned down. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the effects of anti-LGBT rhetoric and bigotry. We cannot let this fade into the background.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Lawrence.

My anger goes out to the people not concerned with the loss of this young life.

I hope our community can come together to make sure the life of this young man is not forgotten. Let your outrage and anger be heard. Demand it be recognized.

Demand that Lawrence King's life, and violent death, not get swept under the rug.

Waymon Hudson is founder and President of Fight OUT Loud, a national non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the GLBT community to fight discrimination and hate. www.fightOUTloud.org

For information on LGBT Hate Crimes and how to help, visit www.GayAmericanHeroes.com


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As Matt Foreman spoke about it his State of the Movement speech - the LGBT exception.

In my home state of Utah, people are suddenly spitting mad that state senator Chris Buttars made a racist anti-Black comment. Where was the same outrage when he again-and-again attacked the queer community? Conservative and liberal lawmakers have joined together to pass laws barring funeral protests because the Phelps clan has started spreading their message of hate at the funerals of soldiers. Where was that outrage, or the concern for letting families grieve in peace, when the WBC was "just" protesting the funerals of people who died from AIDS?

Saying vile and disgusting things about LGBT people, ignoring hate crimes against LGBT people, turning a blind eye to the reality of oppression of LGBT people - it's all socially acceptable. I'm unwaveringly supportive of free speech, and if people want to spew hatred at the LGBT community, we have to allow it, but that doesn't mean we can't respond. It's time for our allies or our masses to start speaking back every time they encounter this kind of behavior.

Where's the media attention to Lawrence King? Well, have you called CNN to ask that question? Have you written to your local paper asking them why they're ignoring the story? Write a letter to the editor. Send an email. Bring it up in the discussion forums. Consumer-driven media responds to consumer demands. If we participate in our media actively, rather than passively, they will pay attention.

I couldn't have said it better, Jere.

Just Jennifer | February 15, 2008 4:06 PM

Huh? This story has received wide coverage. A few examples...

The San Francisco Chronicle
The Los Angeles Times
Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia
CNN
Numerous TV stations around the country
Associate Press

Simply put, it got covered.

Ye Olde Fart | February 15, 2008 4:19 PM

What can I say that hasn't been said a thousand times?
I've gotten to the point where all I can do is sit here and weep as I read the news report.

While some media sources have begun to cover it, it has not received the widespread attention and coverage it should.

Lord knows the second some attractive girl disappears or is killed, the news covers it 24-7 for weeks. Yet when a young gay boy is shot in the head at school, it gets hardly any mention or buried deep in the newscast.

So I would disagree with you.

Simply put- It did NOT get covered.

It's a chicken-or-the-egg type of dilemma. The mass media isn't going to bother to spend their precious airtime on anything that isn't going to get them ratings. They've already learned that the things that DO get them the ratings are the things that tug at people's heartstrings. Pretty (white) co-eds going missing instantly make people go, "Awwww, what a waste, such a loss to the world! What potential she had!" Hence, idiots like Nancy Grace get daily airtime on Headline News channel because that's all she focuses on.

Unfortunately, the death of someone who makes people uncomfortable, in this case a gay teen (and a gay "FEMMY" teen at that) doesn't get ratings, so even though it's an obvious double-standard, the media won't focus on it. Period. Same thing applies to non-white co-eds, etc.

Waymon, Thank you for waking me up. I had read this story and the sad comments and would have just let it slide away. BUT NO I WILL NOT FORGET this person. I will submit your article to the local papers and try to do some waking too. Your Friend, Kelli Busey

Michael Bedwell | February 15, 2008 8:14 PM

As Bruce Parker noted in another thread as I was drafting this, it's gotten worse. Details were released today of the inquest about a 10-yr. old boy in Great Britain who had said he wanted to be a girl and apparently hanged himself February 4th.

“A boy of ten hanged himself after telling his mother that he wanted to become a girl, an inquest was told yesterday. Cameron McWilliams, who liked to wear girls' underwear, asked if he could start using make-up just days before committing suicide, the hearing heard.
His mother, who described him as a lonely young boy, told the coroner: "It was apparent he was unhappy and said he wanted to be a girl. He did like girls' things." She said he had been teased after being found in his half-sister's underwear, but had been forbidden from wearing make-up until he was much older.”

His death may have been an accident from experimenting after becoming fascinated with a series of teenage hangings in South Wales.
“I loved him no matter what. We had talked about his sexuality but I don't think it troubled him." Mrs McWilliams said she refused to believe that her son had committed suicide. "I just don't know what happened," she added. "The doctors and the police have told us that they believe that it was an experiment that went wrong. "He may have wanted to see what hanging was like without realizing it would take less than a minute to die. He wouldn't have known that. "I don't believe he wanted to kill himself at all. On the day of his death he was happy....”

You can read the rest of the story so far, and see pictures of the little face that will smile no more at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=514627&in_page_id=1770

As Tom Hanks might say, this is what I know: this particular little boy may not have intended to kill himself but his gender identity experimentation was still a source of pain to him because he lived in a world which punishes “difference.” Even if he did not kill himself, many young kids do for just this kind of thing and their stories, if noticed at all, are even more quickly forgotten by the public and media than those who are killed by others’ hands. If there is anything WORSE than being killed by homohating/transhating others it is their ability to get some of us to kill ourselves!

And I am OUTRAGED that most of our national and local LGBT groups don’t seem to give a flying fuck! I’m sorry if you’re someone who wants to get married and can’t. I’m sorry if you want to adopt and can’t. I’m sorry if you’ve been kicked out of the military for being gay. I’m sorry if you have been denied or lost a job because you are gay or transgender. But 99% of you have something going for you that the Camerons and Lawrences of the world don’t have—the coping skills of an adult as well as, most likely, your own roof over your head and a dollar or two in your pocket to tide you over until you can grab your next safety rung, and are past the legal requirement to report to school every day for further bullying and humiliation.

These kids, even when they have supportive parents, still have the vulnerability of kids. Jim Wheeler, having graduated from high school, had technically escaped his tormentors in his small Pennsylvania town, and his Quaker parents and several siblings totally accepted his being gay. But, five months after graduation, still deeply depressed by acts of psycho violence that included pulling him out of the shower after gym class and urinating on him, Jim Wheeler hung himself. [Before going religio-nuts, Mike Glatze and his former partner Benjie Nycum made the documentary “Jim in Bold” about him.

Marcus Wayman was a year younger, but killed himself the same year as Wheeler, and, again, in Pennsylvania. After local police found him in a parked car with another boy, they were arrested for underage drinking. At the station, they were asked if they were “queer” based on condoms the other boy had, and lectured on what the “Bible says.” One officer would testify that he admitted they were planning to have sex, but the boy denied saying it. What we know for certain is that Wayman was released, went home, pointed a gun to his head and fired. Flinching, he missed, but FIRED A SECOND TIME and blew his brains out. "I'm sorry, Grandpa, I found my future," Wayman wrote in a suicide note. "I won't let everyone's life be ruined by mine."

Wheeler was definitely gay, Wayman might have been, Lawrence had at least cross dressed, and Cameron wanted to, but it seems that more and more all we know for certain is that those who killed themselves were called fag or queer or dyke, etc. Many probably didn’t even know what they actually were themselves. And they’re getting younger.

Belinda Allen, also from England, had been called a lesbian for a year and taunted for the way she dressed which, ironically, was more “feminine” than those who taunted her. Why couldn’t she dress “trendy” like her tormentors? Well, they won. She killed herself last month at 15.

Joshua Melo lived in small Strathroy, Ontario, which had been publicly arguing over a proposal to denounce harassment of gays in local schools. During those same two years, everyday at school and in Internet messages, he was called gay, queer, faggot. Three weeks after the US reelected George Bush who had called for an amendment to the US Constitution to protect families from gays, Joshua decided he couldn’t take it anymore. He went home from school and into the family’s backyard.

"All I could hear was [his father’s] screams," said Maria Melo, Joshua's mother. "He came in like a madman. Joshua was already so stiff. John couldn't pull him down. He was cold and John was hugging him. I started to scream."
"[After Joshua was cut down from the tree], I just went outside and hugged him...I just hugged him," Maria said. "I told the coroner that I needed time to hug and kiss Joshua before they took him away." John has since removed the tree. "The tree is already gone," said Maria. "John cut it down and burned it."

Joshua Melo was also only 15.

Then there was Ryan Halligan. He’d been teased for a long time for learning challenges, a girl had humiliated him in front of her friends and online, seducing him into e-mailing her personal thoughts and then copied them far and wide, and a boy he thought he’d made a friend told the entire school Ryan was gay. That he was or wasn’t is beside the point.

His father wrote:

“October 7, 2003 will always be the day that divides my life. Before that day my son Ryan was alive. A sweet, gentle and lanky thirteen year old fumbling his way through early adolescence and trying to establish his place in the often confusing and difficult social world of middle school. After that day my son would be gone forever, a death by suicide. Some would call it bullycide or even cyber bullycide. I just call it a huge hole in my heart that will never heal.”

Ryan was 13.

Unable to bring him back, his parents fought for and got passed a bill to mandate bullying prevention programs in Vermont schools. Ryan’s story was one of those featured on the recent PBS “Frontline” documentary about kids growing up [or not] in the computer age.

EXCERPT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2owK4tpMUrk&feature=related

His father created this music video memorial to him:

http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/newVideo/ryan.wmv

The LGBT-focused Trevor Project suicide hotline gets 1000 calls a month. EVERY HOUR AND 45 MINUTES a teenager commits suicide—untold numbers of them LGBT. Watch the video. Look into Ryan’s bright, soulful innocent eyes, never to be seen again because of infinite cruelty and that motivated and empowered by homophobia, and please think of what you’re going to do to help stop it.

Founder of the Yahoo group "ComingOut", one of my members posted the original story as it appeared in the Los Angeles Times. I posted a blog entry:

http://fruitfly.wordpress.com/2008/02/14/who-will-mourn-lawrence-kings-death/

There's a few things about this tragic story worth noting that I haven't seen posted here - and I want to share my own:

1.) In one conversation thread, the complaint that there's not much of an outrage, or a lot of media going on about Lawrence King's demise. It's true and not true at the same time. Researching that story yesterday, I did on the story I found it astounding that "Yes, there's a lot of media writing the story" but "No, not a lot of the stories written are saying that King was gay." Very little points out that he enjoyed wearing girls clothes." I find that distressing. His sexual orientation is vitally important as to why he was murdered.

2.) Someone came by my blog entry identifying himself as "a concerned uncle". The man scolds me about how I discussed Lawrence's life, but it seems that it was a lot of emotional confusion.

Anyway he left a "cyber calling card"...
http://www.rememberlarry.com/

Which is of course, a memorial site for the boy.

On the website, he calls himself "Uncle Phil" as the first person who's left a memorium message.

I've called (in my blog)for the GLBT to volunteer and give the guy a hand in volunteering to help him get the site looking "ship shape". He's got lots of tears to shed and a ton of time to grieve, we can offer help out whenever we can.

Hopefully, Lawrence's short life can touch millions of others for hundreds of years to come.

XOXOX

Mark

We are expendable. And if we're so marginalized that our lives don't matter anymore...

Michael, I would add dear Ian Benson to your list. He was a young transman of 16 who took his life Oct. 29, 2007, just one day before the hearing for his legal name change.

And then there was the 8 year old boy who liked to wear dresses who made a serious attempt just a month ago...

And then there was the 16 year old who's family had no money for hormones or binders and posted on line his suicidal thoughts and we called the sheriff to intervene and we bought his binders for him...

And countless others that we may never know about because they have no one to share their agony with...

Where will it end?

We at TYFA and working day and night to keep our gender variant children alive and yet when we asked over 900 people on our mailing list for a donation of $20 to help us, only 2 came forward...what is up with that?

We talk about the 'others' who don't cover these stories and who don't support our children, but are WE, in the GLBT community doing all we can to support these kids? What is $20 to most of us? One less latte a week? Maybe part of the answer lies in our own back yards?

Kim Pearson
Executive Director
TransYouth Family Advocates
www.imatyfa.org

I agree that the media coverage of this event has been spotty, at best. I think we as LGBT people need to be demanding better coverage from our local media outlets. What should we do? May organize a candle light vigil for Lawrence King in your area and invite the press. Have folks there who are prepared to talk about how heterosexism and violence impact the lives of local young people in your area. Sometimes the media just needs that local hook and a push in the right direction.

I am outraged when I hear of the murder of a gender variant prostitute in Detroit, whose body was dumped in an alley.

I am outraged when I hear of the murder of a 15 year old in a classroom in Oxnard, California.

I am outraged when I hear of the suicide of a 10 year gender variant child.

How long is this going to continue until someone comes forward with the passion and eloquence of someone like Dr. King or Ghandi with the courage and brilliance to create a movement to put an end to this damned violence?

We need someone right now. Are you that person?

That person might very well be reading this.

Nashvillemykl | February 17, 2008 1:09 PM

Like you, I have been appalled by the lack of GLBT media coverage of the probable gay/trans aspect of Lawrence King's murder. There is nothing in my local paper, Out and About Nashville, and not even a mention in the Washington Blade which loves to tout itself as the country's leading LGBT new publication. Nothing. Not a peep. They should all be ashamed.

This story is really hitting me very hard on a personal level.

When I was 14 I was attacked and thrown through a Plate Glass Store window just because I was different. Just because I was eerily similar to Lawrence King. I am now 41 and for the past 27 years I've had to live with the hideous scars up and down my arms as a constant reminder of how screwed-up our society is.

I hope the little bastard that killed Lawrence King never sees the outside of a prison for the rest of his natural life!