Larry King (not that Larry King) had a pretty rough life. His adoptive parents had 22 complaints about abuse against them. Larry wore jackets at school to hide the bruises. But no one came to save him. When he was finally removed from the home, it was because he had “stolen” food from his adoptive parents’ refrigerator. How hungry was Larry? How sore? He went to a shelter for abused and neglected children where he struggled to identify his orientation. Small for his age, biracial, he experimented with makeup, crocheted scarves, and wore heeled boots to school. Everyone knew him as the gay kid, though he was possibly more accurately transgender, and it didn’t sit well with everyone.
On February 12, 2008, Larry King was shot and killed by a fellow 8th grade classmate – the classmate he’d chosen as his Valentine. A classmate who was so provoked by Larry’s sexuality that he brought a gun to school and shot him in the head, a hate crime that “shocked the nation” (except not really, as Americans have decided that adopting school shootings into their culture is just easier).
The documentary interviews not just students who discriminated against Larry, but teachers as well – one who is religious piece of shit and believes that Larry’s “actions” had “consequences” and a special ed teacher obsessed with weapons. The one teacher who supported him was summarily fired, and now works as a barista. The school has done nothing for grieving students and is tried its best to bury the execution that took place on school grounds.
Yeah, this shit is really difficult to watch. There are too many failures, too many shitty grownups doing nothing. Not just excusing homophobia, but espousing it. It made me sick. But this documentary does something unexpected. It has two victims, not one.
The boy who shot Larry was a white supremacist. But he was also occasionally homeless, with an abusive father and a drug-addicted mother. At the time of the shooting, he was living with his grandfather, who had a lot of weapons lying around. Is he just as much a victim as Larry?
The documentary looks behind the headlines but how much compassion can we really afford to expend here? This shit is unbelievable, and I think we all need to confront what goes on in it, because this film from 2013 was a better predictor of the 2016 election than any of the polls.
This movie made me mad, as it should. It upset me, as it should. It shocked me, as it should. But stories like these continue to fail to galvanize the dirty half of America who breed hatred and value guns over human life.