New HBO documentary explores issues of race, class, juvenile justice and LGBT.
“Everyone in the world knows Trayvon Martin’s name. Why are we not talking about Larry?” says Marta Cunningham, the director and producer of the HBO documentary Valentine Road. Her film tells the story of two young boys in the small farming town of Oxnard, California. One, African-American, a ward of the state exploring his gender identity, the other, white from a troubled home with a budding interest in neo-Nazi philosophy. In 2008, Lawrence "Larry" King, 15 years-old and openly gay was shot and killed by his 14 year old classmate Brandon McInerney after Larry asked Brandon to be his Valentine.
Cunningham says she was inspired to make the film because often the stories of African-Americans who are murdered fail to gain national attention. She wanted to know not only why she wasn’t hearing more about Larry’s story but also why activists weren’t rallying to support him and why Black activists weren’t there. "As a community, I think we’re really failing our LGBT youth of color. It’s time for us to understand where race intersects with LGBT.”
Valentine Road does just that, in addition to confronting issues of class, juvenile justice and more, the film is a balanced portrayal of two young boys with more in common than either of them could imagine. Told through the lens of students, teachers, family members and legal officials involved in the case, it is a heartbreaking journey with no victors. The powerful, must-see documentary airs tonight at 9PM on HBO.
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(Photo: Courtesy of King Family)