“Whatever you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done unto me.”

Two days ago, while reading People magazine*, I found out about the murder of an openly queer middle school student in California whose name was Lawrence King.

Lawrence (whose friends called him Larry), had recently come out as gay to some people in his 8th grade class. A few weeks after he took that first brave step of coming out, it is alleged, another student shot Larry point-blank in the back of his head, twice, while Larry was sitting at a computer typing, and oblivious to the end of his life. Larry was only 15 years old.

This murder of one of my queer brothers struck me deeply. I cried at my cubicle for his senseless death.

Larry was, by all accounts, a strong yet amazingly loving boy. His passion in life was insects. He loved nature and the outdoors. He also had recently discovered another love – wearing skirts, high-heeled boots, and makeup. Like most children, Larry was fluid in his conception of gender, and he relished experimenting with different modes of dress.

He was so proud of himself and full of love for himself and his uniqueness that he even began wearing a girl’s uniform to school, advising classmates on where they could purchase fierce boots like his (“the expensive kind” as he told another girl).

Larry was so, so brave!

I am so saddened by his death. For me, living in New York, where I can date whomever I like and hold hands on the street with them, without fear of slurs let alone physical violence, with absolute love showing on our faces, it really hit home for me that this country is much different than those of us in these big metropolitan areas have come to believe. This country is much less tolerant that we give it credit for. It is much more outdated than we give it credit for.

Larry’s murder happened a few days shy of the tragic 10th anniversary of Matthew Shepard‘s death.

Yes, it has been 10 years, and we are no closer to complete parity and equality for people on the LGBTQ spectrum, than we were a decade ago. We are still living in a world in which two little children can come to blows over one child’s internal identity.

Like Matthew Shepard, Larry’s name might also become a code word for the sick and sad truth of homophobia in our society. I hope it does.

It is shocking. It is unfair. It is blatantly wrong.

My girlfriend once said to me “Us gays, we have a mission from God (insert whatever deity or energy you believe in here)! We have been brought to this earth to suffer like Jesus did. Because we were made to love each other, and to be persecuted for that love, and for love alone, we endure so much pain.” I have come to believe this as true.

Gay people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, nationalities, speak all languages, and have this unique position at the intersection of so many other “others”.

For instance, two gay men, one Black and one Asian, are a minority within the two racial minorities in the U.S., within their families, across language barriers perhaps, etc. etc. Our position to unite the world can be seen as easier, because there are so many of us from so many different places, and we are called together by a single persecution.

We are a tribe culled from every mountain and from every city, from every desert and tundra, from every continent, country, state, and city, language, color, and ability. We have a special calling!

The more pain we endure as the diverse group that we are, the more of us that are killed in cold blood for our difference, each death, each slur, each ouster from a job or loss of parenting rights, will be a catalyst for unity. Like the AIDS crisis, these problems make us stronger (at its beginning, in the late 70’s and 80’s) – every death unites us!

It is my hope that people are riled up with hurt and pain after Larry’s death. It is my hope that people who are homophobic or who welcome homophobia into their homes and lives through others, will wake up. We must pray, hold hands, and overcome. Every single person on this earth is different.

“Whatever you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done unto me.” – Jesus Christ (Mat. 25:40)

*Full Disclosure: I work at People magazine.

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