Anthony Avalos: Family of murdered bisexual 10-year-old boy plans superhero-themed funeral
The funeral of Anthony Avalos, the 10-year-old boy who was abused and murdered shortly after he came out as bisexual, is scheduled for Friday (July 20). His family has a special request for those planning to attend the service: wear superhero shirts in his memory.
“It’s the perfect way to honour him,” the boy’s aunt Maria Barron told PinkNews in a message. His favourite superheroes were Batman and Spiderman. “He could never choose,” she added.
The family expressed its gratitude for the love and support received from the community throughout the difficult past few weeks. “We don’t know how many people will show up, but we are ready to accommodate up 320 people. We want the community to know how grateful we are for all their love and support,” Barron said.
Avalos died on June 21, after he was taken to the hospital with injuries to his head and marks of cigarette burns on his body the previous day. His mother Heather Maxine Barron, who has since been charged on accounts of murder, torture and child abuse along with her boyfriend Kareem Leiva, initially claimed the injuries were the results of a fall.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Families (DFCS) said it would be investigating whether homophobia played a role in the child’s murder. Avalos’ relatives had long expressed concerns over the wellbeing of the child to the authorities. At one point, he was temporarily removed from his home for several months and returned after a family member received counselling, the Associated Press reported.
Overall, the DFCS received 13 referrals about the boy in the past five years—the last one, received in April 2016, was closed after a month after it was found unfounded or inconclusive. Avalos’ family and their supporters have been holding protests outside the DFCS office to demand justice for the boy and ensure reports of child abuse are appropriately handled.
The boy’s death was tragically not the first instance of parents abusing their children because of their sexual orientation, declared or perceived. In February, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez pleaded guilty of killing her 8-year-old son Gabriel in May 2013 in California with the help of her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, who thought the child was gay. In March, Sean Cole was convicted of ordering his girlfriend to rape his autistic 11-year-old son because he thought he was gay.