ALICIA Philpotts decided to organise a Celebration of Diversity march through Sheffield city centre after talking to young people from the alternative and Goth subculture in the Peace Gardens.
“I asked them about their experiences and walked away horrified,” said Alicia. “One 14-year-old was bricked on the head by some grown men while she was on a bus and another girl had her hair set on fire in a school canteen. This was a Sheffield school and the school’s response was more or less ‘she brought it on herself’. She was 13.”
Around 40 people joined the march, all ages from toddlers to originals from the Cure generation, in a celebration of a subculture that has spread across the world over the last 30 years.
Participants stopped at Sheffield’s Anglican Cathedral to remember the people who have been killed, injured or disfigured because of their clothes or hairstyles.
Alicia’s daughters carried photographs of the Sheffield Goth Lucy Emmingham, attacked and knocked out on her wedding day in Sheffield, and Sophie Lancaster, who was killed by teenagers in a Lancashire park because she looked different.
The Dean of Sheffield Cathedral, Peter Bradley, joined the marchers outside the cathedral last Saturday to condemn the violence.
He said the celebration of diversity is “a core value in the city and the cathedral. This is a place for all people and I think it’s appalling that people have been hurt because of how they look. I want to be part of a society where everyone can belong.”
It could be that some people feel a little scared about the way that Goths look, said the Dean. “But the way to get over that is to talk to people and get to know them.”
Robb Philpotts agreed. “Sometimes people are insecure and afraid of things they don’t understand but they should get past that fear and talk to people who have different lifestyle choices. It doesn’t make us evil or different to anyone else.”
Alicia Philpotts proudly wears an “I am a mum” t-shirt to emphasise her place in regular society. The black clothes and coloured hair are about romanticism, not evil, she said.
“The best description I heard was that Goths wear black not to embrace evil but to mourn the evil that exists in society.
“Sheffield prides itself as a city of culture, there are so many aspects of that in this great city and we’re one of them. Don’t fear us if you see us in the street, we’re like you.”