Newsweek's cover story said it all: Murder in the 8th grade. Why would a 14-year old boy murder another child? Newsweek's version of 15-year old Lawrence King's murder does shed new details on what went wrong in Oxnard, California, but did little to explain the cultural homophobia which lead to his tragic death.

That word. There you go again. I can hear it now: Bitter gay man wants to blame society for all his problems.

Would it be that simple. Homophobia had more to do with Lawrence King's death than any other factor. And homophobia is responsible for the deaths of thousands, if not millions. Homophobic reactions to AIDS were to blame for lack of funding and education in the early years of the epidemic.

So when Lawrence King asked a boy to be his Valentine, he was shoot dead with two bullets to his head. That's hate, not resentment.

A troubling new report by the Human Relations Commission of Los Angeles County finds that hate crimes based on sexual orientation increased in the county by 9% in 2007. These crimes run only second to racially motivated hate crimes and remain the most violent.

A particularly gruesome hate crime included in the report occurred in June of 2007 in south Los Angeles: “Two black males and two black females attacked two Latina lesbians waiting at a bus stop. The suspects drove up in a van and told the victims 'Fuck you bitches! Bunch of gay bitches! What's up? I'm going to get out and hit you lesbian bitches. Let me see you smile one more time before I hit you in the mouth!' The suspects then exited their vehicle and beat up the victims.”

GLAAD's president Neil Giuliano has been on a crusade to eradicate the 'f' from the media. He said in a recent interview that the word must go because “it's a word that is defaming and demeaning as is often the last word that kids hear when they are pushed to the ground and beaten up.” Or murdered, I would add.

Gay groups have also been working to extinguish more subtle anti-gay messages. A Snickers television ad in the United Kingdom has been withdrawn after the HRC called it offensive. The ad features 80's star Mr. T in an armored truck shooting candy bars and ridiculing a gay stereotyped jogger. And Friday, Nike decided to pull a campaign which showed a basketball player dunking a ball with his crotch slammed in the face of another player. The tag line read “That Ain't Right.”

What got Nike in trouble is the fact there is no basketball present in the shot, just a face and crotch – that ain't right.

And even as pro-gay group PFLAG cheered a Congressional hearing sympathetic to repealing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” – the military's policy which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military – they too failed to point out that the policy's message is essentially hateful.

At the hearing, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-New Hampshire) pressed one anti-gay witness, Elaine Donnelly President of the Center for Military Readiness, to reveal her true motivation in seeking a complete ban on gays in the military. Shea-Porter asked the witness if being gay was a choice.

“Well, I don't understand the point of your question. Except to say this: sexuality is important...” Donnelly started to answer.

“I wasn't looking for the long talk, I just wanted to know: do you think that's a choice?” Shea-Porter interrupted.

“I'm not an expert on why...”

“Well, I have a pretty good sense that you would answer it differently,” Shea-Porter said. “And I respect that.”

Subtle messages, demeaning words, discriminatory laws all lead to a child's murder in sunny Oxnard, California. It's that simple, man.

The Gay Slant pops-in most Saturdays at On Top Magazine. Walter Weeks is a writer for On Top and can be reached at