When I shared my story, and the others, of being black and, goth I had no idea the impact it would have. I received so many DM's from black goths all over the country. I wasn't alone. Our stories are all different. All deserve to be told.
Being black is beautiful and, our individual blackness, interests, spirituality, types of music and other qualities that make us who we are can't and, never will fit into one single image. Goths have always been looked upon as scary and, weird. So, have black people! So, you'd think that black goth's would be used to adversity. But, when our own black family members, community and, peers see us, we sometimes face scorn. The black struggle comes with centuries of trauma that ultimately leads to many black families and, communities to be mistrusting of outside influences or, perhaps, things that projected "whiteness". But, when black kids listen to rock and roll and, choose a form of art over a college degree, it would come off as disrespectful to the family who struggled before them. But, it doesn't make it right to condemn a black goth for not being "black enough".
For the black kid walking down the street in South Central LA, with the faux leather pants and, mesh top on, the anxiety is doubled. Not only is it dangerous for a black kid to walk down the street because of the Police but, because this kid doesn't match the alleged black aesthetic, making him a target for degrading slurs, bullying, getting their ass kicked.
Beautiful People of Color. We have to talk about being more accepting of each other in our own communities and our own families. The Gatekeeping needs to stop as it hinders progress. We have a common threat to overcome.
I have been honored to have @misfitnightmare open up to me. I was him and, he is me. But, he is wise as he is young so, I know his future will be as he has envisioned. How remarkable it is to bear witness to a young black goth, stand firm and, defend all that he is and, believes in. Denzel is unbudging when he is met with sneers and judgements. He won't compromise who he truly is to comfort others. Youth is not always wasted on the young it seems.
Boils and Ghouls, its my honor to have you meet Denzel @misfitnightmare
In the beginning, there was a little boy, who happened to be 10 years old and, was raised in Los Angeles, California. African American, light skinned, thin as a stick and, really shy. The boy didn’t want to make friends and, tended to be by himself based on the interests that most kids, where he lived, just weren't into. Almost every three weeks, he would ask his mom to go to the library with him. He had an interest in books about dinosaurs and loved them since he was a toddler. But, on one trip to the library, he spotted a popular thriller book. Better known as “Goosebumps”. What interested the boy about the book the most was because of this weird picture of a family barbecuing in a forest and, they had no skin. The boy asked his mom to buy that book and, as many as the others as possible. The young dude began to read them furiously until he got into that very last page where other "Goosebumps" books were recommended. But, he’ll always remember his first Goosebumps read: “Say Cheese and Die”. It remains favorite till this day because it was then that he discovered and understood the word “horror”. And do you know who that little kid was by now, right? You got it! It was me. Denzel, Misfit Nightmare.
Let’s skip to the time I got into the goth scene. Before I did, I remember I went through different phases. Most of my time as a teenager was difficult because, I was a nerd and, I was bullied by Latinos and, African Americans. Latinos came after me because I was black. African Americans tormented me, because I would always hit the books, was a very good student with average grades and, especially because I was not “black enough”. What I mean by that is, I was not behaving like I was from the hood, because I didn't speak the way most of them did/not knowing what they even meant when they say that to me. I was given shit because I didn't know how to dance and, I still do not recognize any rappers that are around today. I would try to fit in with my own race but, I'd often get rejected because I wasn’t “cool enough” to do anything to earn reputation. The demographics of where I went to school was only Black and, Latino. I would get bullied by almost everyone and, I had contemplated committing suicide. But luckily, I didn’t because, I was actually just scared.
I turned to music. I went on YouTube, watched metal, scream and, alternative rock music videos. Then I discovered my all time favorite band, Black Veil Brides, thanks to WWE. Yes, I am also a fan of WWE. I still give thanks to WWE for using one of their songs, "Set the World on Fire "during a pay- per-view event called “Hell in A Cell”. I got deep into Black Veil Brides and, collected, loads of posters, T shirts and, even a wallet. That’s when I started my Emo phase which lasted from the age of 16 until 19. Then I moved into a Punk phase for a few months and, then *drumroll*, to the goth phase.
I discovered the goth scene again thanks to YouTube. I observed several popular goth YouTubers such as “ItsBlackFriday”, “ToxicTears”, and “AdoraBatBrat. I became familiar with popular goth music, learning the culture, the different types of goths and, I tried it on for size. I rocked different hairstyles; Spiked hair, liberty spikes, synthetic dreads, an afrohawk, and, presently box braids. I've also try on different goth personas, Rivethead, Vampire Goth and, Cowboy Goth since I love Wild West stories. With all of this, I was inspired by the fashion and, curly hairstyle that was prominent in the 80's and, it goes without saying, I am a fan of 80's films, 80s rock and, goth music; which all makes me maintain an old school mindset instead of having the kind of mindset of my peers.
I remember going out in public, on college campuses, taking the Metro train to my favorite places and, I would get a lot of weird stares. The majority of sideways stares came from African Americans. Even now-a-days because they would believe that rock music, the fashion and, the hairstyles does not associate with the black community. So, while out in public, I would get laughed at, approached with criticisms like, "I’m trying to be white". I was followed with Bible verses in my ears being shouted at me. I have been told that I’m an embarrassment to the black community. I have had black people snap photos of me, without my permission, and they shared them for their friends to join in on the mockery. After years of getting bullied in school and, being harassing for being a Black Goth, I began to have trust issues and, didn't want to even try and make friends with anyone.
With the Rona, being black in America and, being a Black Goth, it has been easy to stick to myself. I love that I am able to present myself by being different and, not following the trend, despite the adversity. I speak two languages; English and, Spanish. I play bass and, am building up the courage to perform in front of the camera performing cover songs. I have followers on Instagram who send me messages confiding in me and, considering me as an inspiration. Having fans, making myself more noticeable with creative photoshoots (that I take myself) and, ignoring what people have to think about me, builds up my self-confidence and, belief that everything will be ok. I will lead, not follow and, continue to love what I love.
To view Denzel's photography, modeling shoots and, his written words, visit @misfitnightmare on Instagram.