Murdered For Being Different

When I started this blog, I told myself it would be a record of things I loved, but now it is more than that. I don't want to deny my future self of hearing the full story, and so sometimes I will dip into things that make me cry as I type, that quicken my breathing and make my heart race. 

When I was around 12 years old, I spent many nights experiencing those feelings. My older sister would go on nights out, with her thick black eyeliner, dark clothes, and dyed hair. I knew that she was my sister, my idol, clever and sarcastic and fierce. But to somebody else, a drunken stranger, she would simply be Different. 

Thankfully, my sister always came home safely, but I had good reason to fear the opposite. A year or so earlier, we had heard about an attack on 2 goths, in our part of the country. We heard that the girl had died. We heard she had been murdered. We learned that Sophie Lancaster had been murdered for being different. 

promotional thumbnail from BBC Murdered For Being Different
Credit: BBC
Recently BBC3 produced a harrowing film detailing that story, and it was seriously tough to watch. To see Sophie being brought back to life and to walk with her and her boyfriend, Rob Maltby, to see and hear the attack they suffered for merely daring to enjoy metal music, piercings, and long, dreadlocked hair. I must give credit to the entire production crew for working with Rob, and Sophie's family, to produce a piece that was true to them yet still sensitive, showing Rob and Sophie as people, not just victims. 

At first I felt that the film made a hero of Michael Gorman, who finally gave the name of the attackers. He had been a bystander, and at first I felt furious that he didn't stop them. The film was so realistic that I felt I was stood there beside him, and I know that I would have intervened, but I am a 22 year old stranger, and he was a teenage boy who felt seriously threatened by his 'friends'. He may not have separated the physical attack, but ultimately he was the person responsible for seeing those vile people were rightly punished. 

I would hope that the film reminds people not to bully others for their dress sense, their hairstyle, or their music style, but it goes much further than that. We are a diverse society and unfortunately there are still people who hate others simply for being different. A different colour, a different race, a different religion. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, set up in Sophie's honour, spreads the message Stamp Out Hate and Injustice Everywhere, and while the use of the word 'stamp' makes me wince in relation to the attack, I realise that it is meant to encourage people to play an active part in stopping all hate crimes and prejudiced attacks, to act with force to extinguish those awful acts. It's not enough to simply step away or watch on, we must all work to spread the message that hate is never okay.

I know that it's not always easy, especially in a society where we are more self aware than ever, but since watching the film I have been reminded of the small ways I can help anyone who is made to feel vulnerable for who they are or how they look. It's not always safe to intervene, but there are things we can all do that are better than looking away. Learn and share information. Sit next to the girl on the bus being eyed up by the men opposite, carry a scarf to offer to a Sikh man if his turban is grabbed, smile at the goth kids walking through the park.

What other small things can we do to fight hate?

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3 comments

  1. It has always made me furious that people can't just live their lives. I don't care what gender, sexuality, religion or anything else you are, I just want people to be happy and safe!
    This post teared me up, well written.
    Laura x

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  2. I have never heard about this awful crime Lyd, I am shocked and sick to the core. X

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  3. I watched this the other day and it made me feel sick. I thought it was very well put together though and must have been hard for both families to view but it definitely has a strong message behind it. I hope if it could prevent just one hate crime then it has made a difference.

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