One thing I've really hated in the past few years has been the accusation that someone is gay, something is gay, as a means of disparagement. (When I was a kid, "gay" meant happy, but oh well.. gotta go with the times).
One time I heard a girl use it, "That's gay," she said. "Do you know what gay is?" I asked. She was mortified that I asked. Obviously, in her household "gay" was not spoken about. "Just so you know, some of my most generous friends are gay," I said. I've used the same tactics on my son. "Too bad you think that," I say. "Joe and Gary are gay. And they've always been really nice to you."
It usually stops them in their tracks when you talk to them about it. I've found that pointing out examples of people I know usually erases some of their misconceptions, or gets them to think about what they say. Once you do that, hopefully, they see the humanity that is the person.
I'm saddened that in Oxnard, Larry King, age 15, was killed by Brandon McInerney, age 14. Apparently, Lawrence --like many teens, had recently discovered that he was gay. He attended rap sessions sponsored by the Ventura Rainbow Alliance. It's a group that supports the LBGT and HIV/AIDS community.
King lived in the Casa Pacifica foster community, which was his first stable family. McInerney appears to come from a troubled family as well. The difference between the two kids is that while King was taken in by the foster community and given therapy, a sense of family and also peer mentoring; McInerney was left to fester in a home with a disorderly, abusive and drunkard father, who had frequent run-ins with the law. The result is that McInerney's first impulse to solve a problem was aggression and violence. Now, this former middle school English honors student could be facing 50 years to life in prison for a hate crime.
I did a double take when I read Jay Smith, Executive Director of the Rainbow Alliance say, "we are very eager to see the district attorney follow through." There is no doubt this was a radical and senseless crime. No doubt, they want the hate crime addressed, but are they also advocating trying McInerney as an adult? I would think that a group, which prides itself on being advocates for humanity, would question sending a 14-year old into an even more criminal and hate-drenched prison until he is 64.
Brandon does need to be charged and there are no easy answers. He grew up in the most dysfunctional house, but there is no excuse for killing someone. However, if the Rainbow Alliance is truly a human rights organization, then they should think deeply where they stand on the issue of sending a 14 year old to prison for the bulk of his life.