For as long as I have been aware that there is such a thing as a “gay community” I have been fascinated by its history and its culture. I believe that learning about history has the power not just to educate and illuminate, but also to liberate. It is because of this belief that I have proposed a new feature for Ameriqueer: The Ameriqueer LGBT History Project.
Beginning this Sunday, and every Sunday for the next year, I will write weekly blog entries summarizing the noteworthy anniversaries, birthdays, and other milestones in queer history. Before the first of these weekly posts, though, I wanted to take a moment to remember one special anniversary that is at least partially responsible for inspiring me to undertake this project.
Today marks the second anniversary of the shooting and death of Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King. At the age of 15, Larry had been out of the closet for a third of his life. According to friends and classmates at E.O. Green Junior High School in Ventura County California, he was not only open about his identity as a gay person, but he was well known for his flamboyant attitude and his propensity to sometimes wear girl's clothing, accessories, and makeup.
In the days leading up to Valentine's Day, Larry asked a classmate, another boy, to “be his Valentine.” That boy was deeply angered by Larry's request, and in response he brought a handgun to school and put two bullets in Larry's head.
I have learned so many lessons from the life and death of Larry King. From the courage he displayed in embracing his identity as a gay person, I have learned to be more fearless in my acceptance of myself for who I am, in spite of what others might think or say. From the brevity of his life, I have learned to treat each day as it might be my last. From the hatred that led to his death, I have learned that it is the responsibility of each one of us to stand up and speak up for those around us who are oppressed because they are different and defend those who are powerless.
Larry King is nolonger with us on this earth, but he can, and must, live on as a part of our collective history. His story exists as one small thread woven into the rich tapestry that is the LGBT community. It is in Larry's memory that I dedicate the next year in which I will explore this history of our community and its people.
Join with me today as I remember Larry, and help me keep his spirit alive as an example for those of us still here today and the generations of young people who will come after us. Join with me for the next year, as I remember more of the heroes and villains who have brought us to the point where we are today.
Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King: rest in peace, my brother. In your memory, we carry on.