Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Stand up or stand back

The Gothic Liberation Front - a MySpace, FaceBook and YouTube based organisation with branches in many American states and most parts of the UK, which previously boasted the stunning Goth model and head of DevilDoll Photography, Laureli Slaughter, as it's outspoken spokeswoman. The GLF's main objectives are to have assaults and murders based on appearance considered hate crimes so that stricter penalties will be enforced; to hold law enforcement (e.g. the police) accountable for inaction or poor quality action based on the appearance of a victim, and to educate the public on truth behind subcultures and dispel myths spread by the media and popular religion.

The statistics they present on their flyers reveal that in the last year, 96% of the members of alternative subcultures whom they surveyed reported being verbally assaulted on more than one occasion based on their appearance. 43% - nearly half - reported that they were physically assaulted for the same reason. Out of all those surveyed who contacted the police, all but one felt that any inaction or poor quality of action was based on - you guessed it - their appearance.

I originally posted this rant on the old website, when the GLF still actually seemed to be somewhat active - although I have been informed that their Facebook page is still being updated, there seems to be a distinct lack of anything useful going on. Nonetheless I was, and still am, a strong supporter of the GLF's cause and objectives, which was what caused me to write another angsty complaint, at the time after the attack on Sophie Lancaster when I wasn't allowed out of the house without an escort and you couldn't log on to Google News without reading about the latest spate of violence against alternatives:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the GLF a group created to help us, to support us, to fight for the rights of the members of alternative subcultures to be recognised as people, as equals, not to be assaulted in the street or passed over for promotion because of the way we like to dress. So why on earth are they having to post videos asking Goths - yes, that's right, Goths - to stop hassling them and sending them hate mail?!

Apparently the reasoning behind this is that these people are afraid that the GLF are 'provoking' the mainstream - 'if we draw attention to ourselves it's going to get worse'. How much worse can it get? People have been beaten up, raped, murdered in cold blood like Sophie Lancaster (yes, it was murder - if you repeatedly stamp on somebody's head, they will die. You know that, I know that, those evil little thugs sure as hell knew that, and they did it anyway). Are we going to sit around and take it? Wait for somebody else to do something about it?

Organisations like the GLF and the Sophie Lancaster Foundation exist so that WE CAN STAND UP FOR OURSELVES. Nobody else is going to do it for us. No one in the popularity contest that is politics is going to think, "Oh, those Goths aren't really such a bad lot, they don't deserve this, I'm going to stand up for their rights this week." Why? Because for a large segment of the population, people who are weird, who are different, who look 'scary', are an embarrassment to be swept under the carpet at best and a target at worst. Befriending Goths is not going to help a politician get popular.

These organisations are creating a ruckus so that we can be heard. Yes, people might be shocked. Provoked? I damn well hope so. If we 'provoke' them enough, maybe they'll realise that things have to change.

When the GLF's campaign was at its peak a few years ago, I put up a whole bunch of their flyers around my area, and within days all but one had been torn down. Shops refused to display the flyer on their noticeboards. Our message is not 'appealing' - we're not cute, we're not hearts and flowers and puppies, and so nobody wants to listen. So we have to get louder. More campaigns. More being nice to little old ladies so that one more person things, "Oh, those scary-looking freaks aren't actually so freaky."

The GLF's campaign may have tailed off into semi-silence, but the Sophie Lancaster Foundation seems to be starting to make a difference. If you don't like what they're doing, that's fine - just get out of the way. Don't heckle. Don't hate. Just watch from the sidelines. It's time to stand up or stand back. Make your decision.

OK, so that's a little melodramatic, but surely the GLF's statistics show that something needs to change. I don't know about you, but I don't want the next generation of alternatives, and the next and the next, to be afraid to express themselves as they choose in case they get their heads kicked in at the bus stop. It's bad enough already - hands up any Goth who's NEVER been on the receiving end of physical or verbal abuse. And this is something that we tend to accept as 'normal'; just the way things are.

What if we didn't have to?


Laurence 'The Beard' Williams said...

I find it absolutely ridiculous, not to mention insulting, that there are people of this subculture who'd have the gall to send hate mail of any kind to the GLF, especially since the GLF exists entirely to protect them and thier rights. I'm sorry but ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away. The only way I was able to rid myself of 10 years worth of bullying was by punching the face of a guy who shouted abuse in my ear. The only way to deal with any bullying, in the schoolground or on the streets, is active resistance, and the people who say that what the GLF are intending will make things worse should feel ashamed.

Anonymous said...

we need to stand together people if the police are going to do any thing i hate discrimation based on anything we need to stand say we will stand up and back away we are hear for ever and are not going away

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