The Larry King shooting became the most prominent gay-bias crime since the murder of Matthew Shepard 10 years ago. But despite all the attention and outrage, the reason Larry died isn't as clear-cut as many people think. California's Supreme Court has just legalized gay marriage. There are gay characters on popular TV shows such as "Gossip Girl" and "Ugly Betty," and no one seems to notice. Kids like Larry are so comfortable with the concept of being openly gay that they are coming out younger and younger. One study found that the average age when kids self-identify as gay has tumbled to 13.4; their parents usually find out a year later.
What you might call "the shrinking closet" is arguably a major factor in Larry's death. Even as homosexuality has become more accepted, the prospect of being openly gay in middle school raises a troubling set of issues. Kids may want to express who they are, but they are playing grown-up without fully knowing what that means. At the same time, teachers and parents are often uncomfortable dealing with sexual issues in children so young. Schools are caught in between. How do you protect legitimate, personal expression while preventing inappropriate, sometimes harmful, behavior? Larry King was, admittedly, a problematical test case: he was a troubled child who flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon—it was often his first line of defense. But his story sheds light on the difficulty of defining the limits of tolerance. As E. O. Green found, finding that balance presents an enormous challenge...
One of the most distracting lines in the whole piece is something LK said to a friend about the class mates teasing him.
" 'One day, they'll regret it. One day, I'll be famous'."
Very, very prescient, this one was.
(Oh, and PS, being an out gay kid in Middle School, I would be ASKED who I like, regularly. I'm sure this wasn't always something Larry did on purpose... no doubt, a lot of this were middle schoolers being middle schoolers and saying stupid shit.)
This story would also explain why we're suddenly getting a lot of hits from people searching for Lawrence King.