Can One Be A BME Goth?

I can’t decide whether I’m amazed or appalled that this question even needs to be asked. This is what happens if you let Goth become nothing more than a fashion statement – if you don’t fit the pro-forma of pale skin and dark hair while being twig thin and six feet tall, you’re not Goth. And that attitude, quite frankly, is not Goth at all. I’ve always found it to be a most welcoming place, whatever your shape, size or ethnic background.

Before I go any further, although I am not myself BME, I do not fit the Goth stereotype either. I’m barely average height, and even at my thinnest never had a flat stomach. I’ve always had childbearing hips too. And – while I’m on the subject – I wear glasses and am now best described as middle-aged. And yet none of my friends would dispute my Gothic status. I’m just too downright peculiar.

But if we want to get into the nitty gritty, there is no reason why BME individuals can’t enjoy a little Gothic if that’s what they want. Indeed, one of the earliest classics of Gothic literature is Vathek by William Beckford, which is actually great fun – and the palest thing in it is the moon. It’s set in an unnamed Arabian country (more than a nod to the Arabian Nights, I suspect) and is full of witches, djinns and all sorts of bonkers nonsense. It’s a complete hoot, even if it is a bit wordy at times.

Ancient Egypt also offers the Goth a lot of inspiration – quite aside from ubiquitous ankhs and Eyes of Horus. How many eyes did Horus have, anyway? Some Goths prefer an oriental theme to their lifestyles, finding inspiration from Imperial China and classical Japan – or they go the full techno-Goth and model everything on a battered copy of Neuromancer. The Creole cultures of New Orleans and St Louis – and Haiti, come to think of it – provide a great deal of inspiration for the Gothically minded so I don’t see why other cultures can’t join in. Please do!

As far as I am concerned, Goth is not what you look like. It never has been. It’s about who you are and how you behave. So if a pale-skinned, dark haired, twig thin little wraith tries to tell you otherwise – perhaps you need to explain that it’s not just a phase they’re going through.

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