Put The Candles Out

With cute shows like Glee on the airwaves to make gay seem chic, it has become surprising to most adults just how cruel kids are still being to each other. The problem with this is that bullying isn’t cute. The victim usually doesn’t have a small army of friends nearby (especially not ones on the football team) to come to their defense. I can’t stand that show because it never works that way in real life. I was VERY different, and I didn’t have anybody there to come to my defense. Girls particularly didn’t want to be around me, not with rumors flying about that I was a lesbian. I learned to watch my mouth because I knew it would get worse if I didn’t. Besides…a gay guy usually has a girlfriend or two with shoulders he can cry on. Who sticks up for the lesbians? It sure as hell ain’t the boys. I had it pretty rough as a kid. I was soundly beaten the one time I told a girl in the 6th grade that she was beautiful. I didn’t stop acting like a boy bent on being a rock star, but I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself because I knew it wasn’t normal.

On February 12, 2008, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney pulled a .22 pistol out of his bag in the middle of an English class and shot classmate Lawrence “Larry” King twice in the back of the head as the class worked on a WWII assignment. In the weeks leading up to the shooting, a lot happened. There was also a lot of history prior that is simply being ignored, and regardless of what King’s adoptive father Greg says, gay groups have made a crusade out of his murder. So have anti-gun groups.

Larry King started accessorizing like a girl when he was just ten years old. By the time he was 15 – the day of his death – he’d come to school wearing stilettos, knee-high pink boots, brightly-colored clothing, hair gelled into different styles, and enough makeup to put Elizabeth Taylor to shame. By the time he arrived at E.O Green Middle School, he was chasing other boys, openly expressing affection for them, and staring at boys in the locker room. He was tormented, but he didn’t make it easy. Here’s where I piss off every gay liberal on the planet.

Larry didn’t know how to control himself. Teachers didn’t know how to guide him. As a result, his classmates, for the most part, didn’t know quite what to do with him. His behavior was out of control, and no amount of bullying excused his reactions.

Newsweek did a surprising article on the incident in which they actually flirted with an unbiased opinion. They quoted his father as saying, “I think the gay-rights people want it to be a gay-rights issue, because it makes a poster child out of my son.” He doesn’t like the idea that Larry turned into a cause celebré overnight because of what happened.

I learned early on to not cross the boundaries with people. Every kid has to go to some extreme at some point; mine ended up being religion. I got into my religion in a huge way and wore it in neon lettering on my sleeve. Other kids go goth, emo, country, rap, metal, nerd…or gay. When I was a kid, nobody could get away with openly admitting to being gay. Things have come a long way, but they have a long way to go yet and we are openly lying to ourselves if we think kids are really capable of comprehending the issues involved.

If a 15-year-old boy sexually harassed a girl the way Larry is purported to have harassed Brian McInerney, he’d be disciplined harshly. The instant it came to light that the boy was asking her out, whispering “I love you” in the hall and claiming to have scratched her arm during sex, there would have been major meetings with the parents and the two would be separated immediately. If the boy then broke the new rules and asked that girl to be his valentine, he’d have been immediately suspended.

Why is it impossible to conceive of doing this when a boy acting out as a homosexual makes overtures to another boy?

Most of the teachers and executive staff apparently didn’t help. Some did try to formally complain about the lack of discipline concerning Larry, but they were told nothing could be done because of California state law that banned gender discrimination – including gender identity discrimination. Larry was allowed to continue wearing outrageous clothing, makeup and hair gelled to a bouffant because nobody wanted to stop the distracting behavior. Never mind that every kid in school talked about him constantly. The lesbian assistant principal reportedly encouraged him and stifled dissent among teachers who tired of his antics. Another teacher brought him a gift in the form of a green formal dress that Larry immediately ran to try on.

We’re talking about a group of junior highers. They don’t understand sexuality yet. They certainly don’t understand homosexuality, and because it isn’t the norm (get used to it, folks, it isn’t and never will be) it results in the sometimes-violent ostracizing of kids who display same-sex behaviors.

What Brandon McInerney did was reprehensible. He deserves to go to prison for the rest of his life for his actions. We cannot, however, make Larry a poster child when his behavior cannot be excused, either. He did blow kisses at straight boys. He told Brandon he loved him. Two days before his murder, he trotted onto the basketball court to ask Brandon to be his valentine in front of the whole school. None of that was okay. If we delude ourselves into believing that it was just harmless fun, that neither Larry nor Brandon should have been hurt, then we do a disservice both to gay and straight kids alike. Gay rights groups need to learn to stay within the same boundaries that everyone else operates in.

For once, we need to put the candles out and start really holding ourselves up to the same standard that we expect everyone else to live by.