I've never been involved nor had a friend involved with a hate crime before. I didn't know what to expect or how that would feel. I've read stories in the news. I've read about 'The Sophie Lancaster Foundation' online. In fact, I first heard of it because of my friend Mika, who works for the makeup company, Illamasqua. Mika is an incredible makeup artist. He is vibrant, he is loyal, he is a good friend and he is passionate about life. At a party he is loud and fun to be with. If it's a fancy dress party, his costume is the best. He's the first person on the dance floor and he's the one you sneak off with a few hours later to share secrets and discuss the importance of the Spice Girls.
I remember a night out with Mika that was about to end in a kebab shop. We walked down the street to find a cab and agreed collectively to have one more drink. We somehow ended up at a Turkish woman's private 50th birthday party and after 10 minutes of being there, we were invited to the table, given birthday cake and Mika was hand-in-hand, dancing and laughing with the birthday girl until the bar closed. Nights like this come often when you spend time with someone as fun and spontaneous as Mika.
Mika was at my house last Thursday night, 11 July. I had a couple of friends over for a BBQ and he stopped by that evening. He had just come from a comedy show where he had been selected from the audience to participate, which he was more than happy to do, and he had a Clint Eastwood-style shoot down with balloons. The night ended with us painting each other's faces in KISS-style make up.
On 13 July, Mika went out with one of his best friends - a girl who dresses alternatively and has a lot of tattoos. They were in a chicken shop in Soho when a couple of guys took a disliking to her alternative look. They threatened to stab her because of the way she was dressed, Mika stood in and was beaten so badly, he now has a fracture in his face.
When I looked on Facebook and saw a picture of him, I cried.
This next part of this piece is harder to write than describing to you how awesome my friend is. I want to say a thousand things about how I am angry, disgusted and about how sad and sick it makes me seeing my friend like this. I want to scream "fuck" into a pillow. I'm concerned as to how my friend will get his confidence back after this. I can't even imagine how he feels. All I can do is be there for him. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation has also been there for him. They were in touch instantly and helped guide him through how to deal with the police and the investigation.
There are some small things I can do to help my friend, one of those was write him this song. But there must be more that I can do. I want to stamp out hate and prejudice. I want things to change. If this story has made you want to change things too then please head to http://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com. Read Sophie's story and let's see how we can help.
You can listen to the song I wrote for Mika below.Suggest a correction