In 2008, 15-year-old Larry Fobes King (who may have identified as transgender and used the named Letisha or Latoya) asked a boy at his school in California to be his Valentine. A day or two later, the boy shot King in the head.
This news really struck Raziel Reid. “I just thought it was so cinematic, that such a sweet and innocent question that everyone wants to hear — ‘Will you be my Valentine?’ — was answered in such a brutal and shocking way,” he says. “I was devastated and inspired and started writing.”
The resulting novel, When Everything Feels Like the Movies, will have its Ottawa launch Sun, Oct 5 at Venus Envy. The evening will also include several other authors — Vivek Shraya, Elisha Lim, Vera Wabegijig and Shawn Syms — reading from and signing their latest books.
Reid, 24, is a graduate of the New York Film Academy and lives in Vancouver, where he writes a pop culture blog for Xtra. Movies, his debut novel, follows in the tradition of racier young adult novels.
His interest in King comes in part from the sense that they have some things in common, including a feminine side and the willingness to reinvent oneself. “I renamed myself; I moved away from home. Like a lot of gay people, I left for the big city to try and make something of myself,” he says.
The book is not a true crime novel. It takes some of the details of the King tragedy and combines them with elements of Reid’s own life and personality, resulting in a story about a character named Jude, a “flamboyant high school student” who “lives for Louboutins and celebrity magazines [and] doesn’t fit into any category.” Jude is determined to have Luke Morris as his date to a Valentine’s Day dance.
To coincide with the autumn release of When Everything Feels Like the Movies, Reid will release a pop song on iTunes called “Like a Movie Star.” All proceeds will go to Out in Schools, a program that uses film to campaign against homophobia and transphobia in schools.