BY DAVID L. WYLIE
According to friends and family, Lawrence “Larry” King should be remembered as a brave young man who was willing to endure being ridiculed and ostracized for just being himself. A public memorial service for King, 15, is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Port Hueneme, California. This week King’s life is also being celebrated at scores of candlelight vigils and gatherings across the United States and around the world.
Lawrence “Larry” Fobes King was born on January 13, 1993 to Greg & Dawn King. Described by his father as headstrong, confident and sweet, Larry loved to sing. “He had a very gifted voice,” his father said.
In fact, Lawrence had spent a considerable amount of time studying the Star Spangled Banner. He had hopes of singing it at his little brother’s baseball games. Friends had encouraged Lawrence to try out for American Idol.
Lawrence also had a special bond with animals and had built a special connection with a stray dog named Jasmine. “She’d fetch for Larry, but anyone else that tried to come near her she’d run,” remembers Greg.
According to students at his school, Lawrence King was openly gay and he was teased often by other students because of his nonconformist behavior and style of dress.
Lawrence King’s young life was tragically ended when he was shot in the head one week ago (February 12, 2008) in a classroom at E.O. Green Middle School in Oxnard, California. He was pronounced brain-dead the next day. Lawrence King was taken off a ventilator late February 14.
Lawrence King’s family decided to donate his organs. Because of his rare type-A blood, Lawrence King will live on through the donation of seven vital organs. According to his father, a young child received Lawrence’s heart on Valentine’s Day. As details emerged of Lawrence’s passing, the hearts of thousands around the world were touched by this senseless tragedy. In death his life has made an indelible mark upon the world.
Witnesses identified the shooter as a classmate, Brandon McInerney, 14. The young man was arrested shortly after the shooting and has been charged with first-degree murder and the use of a firearm to commit a crime. He is also being charged with a hate crime.
The family of Lawrence King has refused to comment on the shooting investigation or anything relating to Lawrence’s struggles. They would rather focus on celebrating their son’s life. Besides his mother and father, Lawrence King is survived by his younger brother, two older brothers and an older sister.
On Saturday, February 16, over 1000 young people turned out Saturday for a hastily organized peace march to remember Lawrence King. Police, school officials and even the two high school sophomores who organized the event were surprised by the turnout. Through word of mouth, fliers, text messages and MySpace Bulletins, the youth of Oxnard heard about the event and they came. They came to celebrate Lawrence’s life and they came to plea for tolerance on school campuses for those who are different. The “peace circle” formed at Plaza Park in downtown Oxnard was made up of Goths and Punks and Skaters. Their presence sent a clear and simple message to the world. The hate and violence must stop.
“What he did was really brave-to wear makeup and high-heeled boots,” Erin King, 12, told the Los Angeles Times. Mings, who hung out with Lawrence at school, said he was an outgoing and funny boy who stood his ground. “When people came up and started punking him, he just stood up for himself,” Ming said.
In the weeks and months to come there will be those that will cite the killing of Lawrence King as they debate the merits of passing federal hate crime legislation. There will be ample opportunity to hold the main stream media accountable for their willingness to sweep this story ‘under the rug’. Hopefully this tragedy will prompt educators to revisit their policies and procedures on bullying and this killing will move parents to sit down and have a long and serious discussion with their children about the idea of the importance of acceptance in a civilized society.
But for now we should mourn the passing of a life cut short at such a young age. The possibilities never realized, the dreams never achieved and the potential never even given a chance...all these were lost when Lawrence King was taken. We should pause to remember the life of this child of God, created in the Divine’s own image, molded by the Creator’s very hands. Let’s celebrate the courage of this young man and let’s encourage our children to emulate his willingness to be true to himself, even in the face of adversity. Lawrence “Larry” King, the epitome of the word HERO…
Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Let’s drive out the darkness of violence by sharing rays of hope and love. Gaysofla.com readers are encouraged to take a moment to sign the internet condolence book set up by Lawrence King’s family at Remember Larry or visit Remembering Lawrence for information about gatherings and vigils around the country that are being organized to remember and celebrate the life of this young man.
David L. Wylie is the Senior Editor of Gaysofla.com The information for this memorial was compiled from printed news reports and interviews with King family members. Gasofla.com is south Florida’s premier online media outlet for the LGBT community. Wylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org