VALEN­TINE ROAD

Pride Life Magazine - - Film - Valen­tine Road di­rected by Marta Cun­ning­ham

Valen­tine Road is an im­por­tant doc­u­men­tary of an in­ci­dent that should never have hap­pened and which could have been pre­vented, and which raises the ques­tion of who was right and who was wrong.

Lawrence “Larry” King wasn’t like other 15-year-old boys. Larry was al­ready out of the closet. He also dressed in a very fem­i­nine way, at times even wear­ing make-up and high heels – bold and un­usual be­hav­iour for some­one so young. He ap­peared so com­fort­able in who he was that one day he ap­proached fel­low class­mate Bran­don McIn­er­ney and asked him to be his Valen­tine. The next day Bran­don shot Larry point blank in the back of the head while in com­puter class at E.O. Green Ju­nior High, in Ox­nard, Cal­i­for­nia. Two days later Larry died in the hos­pi­tal from his gun­shot wounds.

The school had al­lowed Larry to dress the way he wanted to, and one of his teach­ers even gave him a strap­less, green chif­fon gown. And while Larry found him­self be­ing bul­lied time and time again, he didn’t care. Yet be­ing bold enough to ask Bran­don to be his Valen­tine shows he had no clue of the con­se­quence of his ac­tions.

Marta Cun­ning­ham’s doc­u­men­tary raises a lot of ques­tions. Should the school have stopped Larry from dress­ing the way he did? After all, how many other schools would al­low a 15-year-old boy to do that? How­ever, be­cause of a Cal­i­for­nian anti-gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion law the school could not legally pre­vent King from dress­ing the way he wanted.

And was Larry sex­u­ally harassing Bran­don by shov­ing his ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in his face? Larry was bold enough to tease other guys in the school hall­ways by mak­ing sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive re­marks to them, even in the locker room.

Larry’s death made na­tional news in Amer­ica and was com­pared to the 1998 mur­der of Matthew Shep­ard. After the first trial ended in a mis­trial, McIn­er­ney even­tu­ally pleaded guilty to sec­ond de­gree mur­der and will spend 21 years locked up.

Larry King is buried in a ceme­tery in Ox­nard, near to a road called Valen­tine Road. His friends at school planted a tree in the school yard in his hon­our. How­ever, school of­fi­cials re­fused their re­quest to put a plaque un­der the tree with Larry King’s name.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.