Are you watching the storyline in the UK soap Coronation Street about two young characters Nina and Seb being viciously beaten, and subsequently one of the characters losing their life, in an unprovoked attack for daring to live their lives as they want and dressing differently to how society deems you should conform?
Tragically the story reflects a true story which is very close to my heart.
Sophie Lancaster was a twenty year old student when she and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby were walking through a park in Lancashire. They were dressed, as they normally were, in gothic clothes, hair and makeup. They were approached by a group of youths who after it seems chatting to them quite amicably attacked the pair without provocation and Sophie and Robert were so badly beaten and kicked that when the police arrived they could not identify them or even distinguish if they were male or female.
Sophie and Robert were transferred to hospital both in a coma. Robert luckily gradually regained consciousness but devastatingly Sophie never recovered and thirteen days after the attack on August 24th 2007 her family had to make the heart breaking decision to turn off her life support and Sophie Lancaster died.
Five individuals were arrested with connection to the attack, although there was said to be many more, and charged with grievous bodily harm which was changed to murder when Sophie passed away.
All five pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm and one of them pleaded guilty to murder.
Ryan Herbert and Brandon Harris, were found guilty to murder and sentenced to life imprisonment and the other three defendants were found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent, were also sentenced to jail for their role in the attack.
I remember Sophie and Robert’s attack being reported in the news and it struck a chord with me. I have never fitted into society ideals as I readily admit I am one of life’s misfits. I do not see or judge anybody by their race, religion, gender or sexuality. So long as they are good to me and what every they do does not hurt or affect anybody else, in a negative way, then live and let live. Therefore my life is enriched by a large variety of amazing friends from societies minority groups.
Many of my friends are of different sexual orientation to heterosexual and quite a few friends I do not know their sexual preference because unless I am in a sexual relationship with them, why would I? Most, like myself, do not feel the desire to label themselves to one sexual preference box.
I remember a few years ago a predominantly gay club opening up in the local area and people getting attacked at leaving time. How was this portrayed? To me it was obvious that there was nobody at fault but the attacker. However not everybody saw it that way and actually blamed the people innocently leaving the club for provoking the attacker! The victim did not say anything to provoke but it was deemed that leaving a venue that they had chosen to attend and chosen to leave was provoking! The club was closed down because this was easier than, what should had happened, tackling the hate culture in the area and allowing people to have a night out and leave a venue without fear.
These type of attacks should be classed as hate crimes. Sophie Lancaster’s mum, Sylvia Lancaster, who I have been lucky enough to meet a few times, set up awareness of these types of crimes and teaches to respect everyone regardless of alternative culture or beliefs and become a more tolerant and less violent society. She received an OBE for her work.
I purchased my ‘S.O.P.H.I.E’ wristband at one of the many alternative goth festival in Whitby I have attended. Her name stands for ‘Stamp Out Prejudice Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere’ and every time I attend the festival I pay my respects to her memorial bench on West Cliff Whitby
Sylvia Lancaster has apparently been in collaboration with the script writers of Coronation Street to make sure the portrayal of the attack is done to portray the heinous crime and the devastating effects that affect so many lives. https://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com/
Stop Hate UK is one of the leading national organisations working to challenge all forms of Hate Crime and discrimination, based on any aspect of an individual’s identity.
Courage is being yourself everyday in a world that tells you to be someone else
Love to hear your views on this topic.
Sparkle Hugs and Glitter Kisses xx
All photographs, unless stated, are the copyright of Lorna Liza