Monday, March 3, 2008

It's time to be heard

I know I blog about a lot of frivolous stuff sometimes and it's hard to imagine someone like me thinking about someone else but today I read something that really infuriated me.

I know I am late in getting to know this, but I just read today about the murder of 15 y.o. Lawrence King because he was gay. Larry, as Lawrence was fondly called, asked a boy to be his valentine, and the boy, so horrified at being asked out by someone of the same sex, shot Larry.

In this day and age, a 15 y.o. boy was shot because he was Gay. Somewhere, somehow there was a message sent to the kid that liking someone of the same sex is so horrible, is so bad, is so miserable, that the person has to be shot.

What gets to me more is that the apathy of the mainstream media in ignoring this.

I read an article by Tanene Allison in the Fog City Journal, about how apathetic the attitude of all the media outlets was.:

Youth groups across the country began holding marches in King’s honor. Details of his death was spread virally on youth-dominated, Facebook. Queer media outlets bubbled over with coverage of the story. The mainstream media remained silent.

Only now, two weeks after King’s murder, is the mainstream media providing coverage of the story. All of those who did not cover the story when it was, well, news, are now covering how it was a story no one else covered either.

The New York Times took four days before running an AP snippet on the murder, and eleven days before they wrote their first story.

MTV News, a leader in coverage of youth issues, ran its first story on King nine days after the murder.

Also, she quotes Anderson Copper's blog who does ask some valid questions:

Tonight… we are focusing on a story that hasn’t received the attention it deserves…According to many accounts, he had been bullied repeatedly, and some parents have even claimed students knew of threats to Lawrence’s life. At this point it doesn’t seem clear how much school officials knew of the bullying, but a full investigation needs to be done. If this had been an African-American student bullied by a teenage skinhead, would it have received more attention?

“Would school officials have taken it more seriously if it had been a Christian campus leader attacked by another student because of his/her religious beliefs? I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do think they are worth asking.

However, as another writer Dipyan Gupta from the Huffington Post notes, the story was completely cut from the Podcast of the show:

Cooper says that his show is going to be looking into the facts surrounding King's murder, and bring on board Dr. Charles Sophy, the medical director of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services. Wonderful! That sounds interesting. I immediately rushed to CNN's site and downloaded a podcast of last night's show. The clip included routine coverage of the impending elections, a section on Ralph Nader, North Korea, and a 4 year-old who sings the Beatles. But Lawrence King and the tragic, confusing circumstances surrounding his death were conspicuously absent.

Now, I realize that when one cuts an hour-long show down to 24 minutes and 27 seconds, some sacrifices must be made. As a former trainee correspondent at CNN's Indian Broadcasting Network (CNN IBN) in New Delhi, I am well aware of the effort that goes into making sure that every show is a balance of serious and feel-good stories. But honestly, excluding this murder from your podcast while giving ample room to a kid singing in his underwear (not to mention the never ending banter between Cooper and Erica Hill)? This, after having just blogged about how the story has been ignored by the press? That's a terrible lapse of judgment.

What really gets to me is that it's 2008 and people think it's okay not to report gay issues and or delay or in signify their coverage. The message that the parents, the religious right and the media is sending out is that if someone gets killed just for being gay, just for being true to yourself, just for attempting to be happy and if they get shot, it's not such a bad thing.

Ellen DeGeneres also said a few things on her show:

I understand what she means that when she says that being gay is the punchline for many monologues. In fact Jay Leno does a lot of jokes daily in which being gay is the punchline. For many mainstream artists whether they are rappers , comedians being gay is a punchline or a way to dis someone.
I usually do not mind such jokes cause I dismiss them and they don't bother me but when I think about it in context, it really does play a part. When we say it's okay to laugh at someone because of their orientation, it's a bad message we are sending out to a little gay kid in living in a small town surrounded by homophobic people, who is afraid to come out. This is one of the reasons that it takes time for gay people to accept themselves. I remember being at that age and feeling so guilty and so depressed. Now I know that was stupid. But how do we get through to the little kids who are going through the same thing that we did. We need to tell them that it's OK to be yourself, that it's more than OK to try to be happy.

I don't know what I can do but I really am going to do something. I personally do not care whether I get the acceptance of anyone or not. I am fine with who I am, what I want to be and am ready to accept the consequences.

Can we do something?

Yes, we can. We can do a lot of things. We as a community can boycott shows which make being gay a punchline, we can boycott products which they promote. I know it can be insignificant most of the time, but we even one person does something, it goes a long way. I know I'm sounding really idealistic right now, but I will follow through on this. There are a lot of problems in everybody's life. I have suffered in my teens because I was gay. If I can even help one kid live his teen years without the pain, without the anguish, it would be the best thing I could ever do.

To show your support for Lawrence King you can visit .


A rebel all the way... said...

I feel sad for Larry....and for millions of such kids who lead perplexed, depressed and unhappy lives each day just because they are gay and they realize that (unfortunately) their loved ones won't accept them for who they are....

Rambunctious WhipperSnapper said...

It's really sad though ... it really messes up the most fun part of their life. I wish there was a way I could tell my teen self that it's okay. Live your life, but I guess things happen at their own pace.

W said...

Pretty sad.