Lawrence King, the eighth-grade boy was shot and wounded by a classmate at E.O. Green School in Oxnard Tuesday, has been pronounced brain dead, authorities said this afternoon.
Oxnard police released a statement this afternoon saying King had died.
May Mr. King rest in peace, and may his family and loved ones find solace in this terrible time of needless, horrific and incomprehensible loss.
I spent eight formative years in the Ventura area when I was growing up, living and attending high school roughly 20 minute’s drive from where this tragic shooting took place.
For those who don’t know, Ventura is Oxnard’s county seat. And while I understand that such a heartbreak could take place anywhere—or at least anywhere guns are readily available—knowing the area the way I do, I’m sadly not surprised this tragedy happened in Oxnard.
I sometimes tell friends that I’m surprised I made it out of Ventura alive. While I’m referring more to the risk of suicide than to murder, in this case the genesis of the each would have been similar: being queer in Ventura was akin to being a round peg trapped in a community of happily oblivious squares. Totally checked out and barely conscious that a larger world existed, I couldn’t imagine cities like San Francisco or Berkeley, where oddballs like me sat in cafes and passionately discussed art, literature, politics, history, and other such reviled-in-Ventura-especially-among-young-folks topics.
Ventura was—and possibly still is, despite the current prevalence of trendy coffee shops—a place where difference was reviled if not outrightly punished and complacent conformity greatly rewarded. I’d never lived in a more progressive location so like a gill-less fish in water had no idea why I was drowning. Looking back, I marvel I got out more-or-less intact and I thank the goddess-of-my-lucky-stars that I wasn’t born male and forced to grow up there. If I had, I can almost guarantee I’d be dead, in prison, living on the streets, or institutionalized now.
Masculine girls can fade into the woodwork and are usually fierce enough to defend themselves if picked on. Effeminate boys, on the other hand, walk around with bull’s-eyes on their backs that draw in every sadistic, insecure-about-his-masculinity asshole for miles, be they the kid’s own father or his jock heads-up-their-asses classmates. And for some twisted societal reason, femininity tends to take the blows rather than physically fight back.
The facts in this sad case remain sketchy, so I may be totally mistaken that Lawrence King was a sweet sissy boy struck down before he had a chance to really live by a warped tormenter with a gun in a place where bullies and available handguns abound.
Sadly, though, having lived nearby where he died, that’s exactly the picture I have.
[Crossposted at Dispatches.]