Bruce Parker

An Open Letter to Ally Organizations

Filed By Bruce Parker | March 25, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: blame the gays, Larry King, Lawrence King, murder, protest letter, The Advocate, Trans Youth Family Advocates

This week's issue of the Advocate leads with a cover story about Lawrence King and asks who is to blame for his death? Please review the excerpt available online and join us in our effort to refocus this conversation on the important work we are all doing to change the climate for GLBT kids in their schools and communities.

For those who are interested in the complete article we are discouraging the purchase of this issue and suggest you stop by your local book store or newstand to read it. It is not available on line at this time.

If you would like to be a published signatory of the following letter simply e-mail including your organizational name as you would like it to appear. The letter will be posted to our website and updated several times a day. On Friday morning, March 28th we will send the completed letter to the Advocate with a request that they take the time to feature the good works of our organizations rather than writing articles which imply that perhaps our GLBT youth are safer in the closet.


TransYouth Family Allies Board of Directors
Kim Pearson, Shannon Garcia, Amy G., "Just Evelyn", Bruce Parker, Jamison Green, and Andrea James

Letter to the Advocate after the jump.

To the Advocate:

We, the undersigned organizations, wish to respond to the article "Mixed Messages" by Neal Broverman in the April 8, 2008 issue of The Advocate. The front cover of the magazine asks: "Who's to blame? We told Lawrence King he had the right to express his sexuality. Did we send him to his death?"

We feel the article discusses an important topic in an unnecessarily provocative way. The undercurrent of blame in the line of questioning posed to activists and administrators is unproductive and seems to be a cynical ploy to increase Advocate readership and revenue.

It's unfair in the wake of this murder to ask those people working to make schools safer to second-guess their work. While incidents like this remind us of the climate that leads to violence against LGBT youth, that climate is where the blame lies.

Thoreau wrote, "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." Rather than pointing fingers and using inflammatory language, we wish to bring focus back to the root of this problem.

As groups united in the struggle to make schools safe for all youth regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, we say there is no "mixed message" here:

  • The blame does not lie with Lawrence King.

  • The blame does not lie with those working to make schools safer.

  • Allowing intimidation and violence to force youth to suppress their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression will only prolong the struggle to end that violence.

Other youth will be taunted, harassed, intimidated, beaten, and even killed before this struggle ends. None of them will be to blame, either. Those who tell them it's OK to be gay, and those who advocate for LGBT youth are not to blame. Rather than finding fault with them, we hope this incident will motivate everyone to work with us to change the climate in schools.

Our unified message: this climate of fear must stop, so all youth learn to respect diversity rather than fear and hate it. Those who wish to join us in this struggle can learn how to help by contacting any of the organizations below.

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I've read the whole article. It basically blames groups like contributor Kate Kendell's National Center for Lesbian Rights for giving the foster home a pamphlet that enumerated what Lawrence's rights are for him. If they hadn't encouraged him to be open about his sexuality and gender identity, the article opines, he wouldn't be dead.


It was a horrible article. Fight OUT Loud (, which represents over 20,000 members nationwide, is happy to sign on this letter!

As an FYI, the Advocate website has been up and down for the last few hours so you may have to be persistent in order to view the excerpt that is posted there.

Thanks to those of you who have already responded!

Kim Pearson
Executive Director
TransYouth Family Allies

The Advocate?

Doing an article that undermines trans people and their issues?

I can't imagine such a thing.

But, of course, why should anyone need to imagine it? The The Advocate gives us plenty of it.

As the President of the Transgender American Veterans Association, we will also sign onto this letter. We fought to keep the people of this country safe, and we are proud of that.

I just got off the line with Jamison Green and he gave me the address to send an E-mail to officially sign onto this letter:

What a crock! You can add my name to the list. I only represent myself at this point, but as a former LGBTQ youth program coordinator, I'm more than a little offended that The Advocate would imply that it was my work that is to blame. To The Advocate: F OFF!

The article is now posted in it's entirety on the Advocate website for your viewing pleasure:


Has anyone contacted NGLTF about this? They offer the Advocate for free with their memberships (or at least they did when I joined last year) and losing that circulation route might hurt a little and help open their eyes.

The Advocate article in its entirety is more nuanced and balanced than some of the posters above will admit. It does ask some difficult questions, and the answers to (or even the implications of) those questions might not be pleasant to those of us whose lives are dedicated to fighting prejudice and protecting self-expression. But if someone had asked them earlier, Lawrence King might be alive today. Or is that beside the point?

Several of the Task Force staff and board members received the allert.

It's puzzling that a magazine that advocates one community's right to come out of the closet is suggesting that another community would be best served by staying in theirs.

Tristram, I guess I'm missing the nuance and balance. Where was the discussion of the risk/cost of advising Lawrence King to express himself in ways that other people were more comfortable with? This was not even touched on. Lawrence King could just have easily ended up as a suicide statistic. Would anyone still be writing articles about him if that had happened?

"nuanced and balanced."

Kinda like the Shamvocate being "nuanced and balanced" when it let its opinion page be used by Norah Vincent to advocate for de facto extermination of transsexuals?

"nuanced and balanced"

Kinda like Faux News is "fair and balanced."

And this article said everything that was the most controversial in the form of a question. Bad writing!