Pleasant Surprises

The Media Are Actually Paying Attention to a Dead Feminine Black Boy

Bless the news media for paying mind to the suicide of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the 11-year-old who hung himself from an extension cord after students endlessly bullied him in school for acting feminine, though he never identified as gay. Of course, that doesn’t keep kids from calling anyone a “faggot.”

Not only are outlets like ABC News recognizing the terror gay (or gay-suspected) youth must endure, but they are using a BLACK BOY as the newspeg. Normally, heartwrenching tales of woe are the territory of white girls. This is significant.

Even family member Anderson Cooper dedicated a segment to Walker-Hoover, pointing out racial harassment would never be tolerated in a school, but sexual identity harassment is.

And it’s about time the mainstream media gave it some thought. School bullying leading to kids killing themselves is not a new phenomenon — but at the very least, attention to the issue is beginning.

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  • dgz

    the news coverage is encouraging, but the story is not. so maybe don’t file it under the heading “pleasant surprises?”
    just my $.02

  • Chitown Kev


  • Brianna

    The media payed attention to Larry King and he is a dead feminine black(biracial) boy too.

  • Chitown Kev


    this is a much different story from the Larry King Story. That was a murder, this is a suicide is but one of the differences.

  • rogue dandelion

    i don’t believe coverage on AC counts- he usually covers these thing, he’s a big ole softy for his secret people. I think wider news coverage is encouraging.

  • afrolito

    Watching that segment actually made me cry. The pain he must have endured to drive him to suicide, is just terrible. I hope he is at peace somewhere.

  • Brianna

    @Chitown Kev: I know the differences, but the title says the media doesn’t pay attention to dead feminine black boys(and I agree they usually don’t), not necessarily about feminine black boys who commit suicide.

    I have a question for people out of high school – do the “you are gay lolz” taunts actually go away? I swear I hear that phrase along with “that’s gay” 20 times a day. When did it come about? The 90’s? Or before then?

  • The Gay Numbers

    There is a lot more to the story than being called gay. This kid was harrassed for a long time, including his mother asking the school to do something about it. They did nothing. Apparently the harrasment was relentless. I think she should sue if for no other reason than the force schools start treating this issue seriously. Nothing sayd, get our shit together, than a 50 mil dollar law suit. Part of the reason I think this is getting attention is her dedicated support of her son and having to come home to find him dead.

  • Chitown Kev

    @The Gay Numbers:

    Yeah, there is a WHOLE lot more to this story that I won’t even go into here. For example, why am I not surprised that the school did nothing?

    When I was his age, occasionally the comments would be homophobic (calling me a “fag”, etc.) but not a whole lot (I went to school in the 70’s and 80’s).

  • gurlene

    @rogue dandelion: That might be coming. Here in NYC a few of the (children) who hang on the piers have said there have been reporters walking around down there asking for interviews and questions. If the weather would only cooperate (it is cold, wet and windy here) there would be more of them out there who might not shy away from such type interviews. Stay tuned folks.

  • gurlene

    @The Gay Numbers: Even if she loses the suit (god forbid) it will force the entire nation to look at what they are clearly ignoring.

    Kids are coming out everywhere at an earlier age than ever before. In NYC there is a high school for kids who are gay. The “phenomena” of a gay teenager is no more. It is a fact of life that was always there in full view. Trust me. I lived it.

  • Chitown Kev

    You and me both. I was fortunate that I went to one of those schools where they had a lot of the black upper-crusty so it wasn’t as bad as it is now.

    We have asked our GAY School CEO Huberman about a gay high school here in Chicago. On one hand, I don’t like the idea of seperatism. On the other hand, gay kids need a safe space to learn without all of this ghetto shit (which results in depression, failing grades, etc.). I leaning toward having one because I think gay kids would thrive in a safe atmosphere and they can get out of the sometimes awful circumstances in which they live.

    Too bad this young man never had the chance.

  • Dabq

    Well its a start, since most of the media in this country, main stream media straight or even gay for that matter does not seem to realize that there are even people of color who are gay, or, if they do its after a horrible incident like this one.

  • Seattle Slim

    This story hits close to home for me, and I was straight. I cannot imagine what he felt because I can imagine they were even more cruel if they felt he was gay.

    I’m calling the school and the superintendent and it may not do anything, but I’m going to give those people hell. He should be here with us.

  • Anna

    It’s a very sad story, to be sure. And frequently in stories like this, our first impulse is to blame the schools. As a teacher, I want to remind you all that while many schools have certainly turned a blind eye to this sort of thing, not every school (or teacher) is so callous. I know that my colleagues and I consider slurs like these to be harassment, and therefore a very serious offense requiring huge disciplinary measures.

    …however, even the most eagle-eyed teacher or administrator cannot be around to monitor what goes on in the bathrooms, the hallways, after school, before school, in the cafeteria, and (ESPECIALLY for right now) online. Schools can certainly help situations like these, but I think we need to all put the onus back on parents. It’s what a child sees at home that dictates how they’re going to act even before they set foot inside an educational institution. Because if you’re not going to teach your child to be accepting of others’ sexual orientations, at the very fucking least teach them to not be a monster to other people.

    I’m not saying that schools are completely innocent, but too often they shoulder a disproportionate amount of the blame.

  • Taylor Siluwé

    I’m on the fence regarding ‘gay schools’. Although I would never oppose one, “segregation” — even for a noble cause — will always make me wanna spit. Many of us went through that meat-grinder; being called names, beat up, chased home, etc. I don’t know if a gay school would have made me stronger, or weaker. I just don’t know.

    And the media may be paying more attention because they’ve got a cool soundbite now — Bullycide. Like ‘Sexting’, it’s good for rating. But the fact that this is a fem black boy is still note worthy. I have hope.

  • Brianna

    Another thing to note with ‘gay schools’ is that students/graduates will have to list their school (say, Harvey Milk High School) on their resume and if the employer is bigoted and knows of the school’s reputation – they might not even get considered for the job. It might end up hindering them, though I suppose the employer would eventually find out the person was gay/bi/trans.

    And what about gay-specific retirement communities? This is similar too.

  • Taylor Siluwé

    Now gay specific retirement communities are all for. Without a doubt. In ones golden years there should be as little stress as possible.

  • rogue dandelion

    @Brianna: well you probably got a zillion answers to this already, but the whole “your gay lolz” (masculinity policing) has mostly stopped in college, with some exceptions. (Then again i do go to berkeley, so that probably has something to do with it) but anywho, it still is fairly common within certain bro heavy circles (frats, athletes, more suprisingly also included: hipsters, band geeks, and gamerz)- they usually are less prone to making the comments in mixed company than their younger counter parts and a bit more aware.
    But I don’t want to understate the difference in atmospheres, I came out to my friends immediately in college, -I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing that in high school.

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