Combs sells art to save the love

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Leana Combs

Sophie Lancaster is remembered through the foundation her family started in her honor.

The story of Leana Combs begins with the story Sophie Lancaster, a British teen who died in 2007.

As Lancaster walked home with her boyfriend one evening, a group of teenage boys attacked them both. They beat Lancaster’s boyfriend to death, and Lancaster, who went into a coma after the attack, died soon after. The reason for the attack was that Lancaster and her boyfriend were both Goths.

When Combs found out about the attack, and the foundation that Lancaster’s mother started because of it, it touched her at a personal level. “She was beaten to death just because she was different, and that really hit me hard because I had always thought that I was a little different than other people,” she said. Like Lancaster, Combs identifies with Goth culture, which has helped her plan a fundraiser to support The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

Leana Combs smiles at the 2011 Georgia Goth Evening.

On April 11, Combs will host an artist’s market at Academe of the Oaks, the school where she is a senior. It will last from 7:00-11:00pm.

The market will feature the art of local Decatur artists, and the music of bands Caspella (led by Combs) and Sader Vixen. The artists plan to donate 20% of their profits to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Combs plans to set up a silent auction and donating stations around the market in addition to the art and music.

When enlisting artists to join her in her cause, Combs called on Decatur artist Michelle Maxwell, whom she has known for many years. “She’s one of my very best friends,” said Maxwell of Combs. They share a common Goth identity as well as an enthusiasm for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation’s cause. “It’s for being yourself, and as a Goth, I can really relate to the story because Sophie was attacked because of the way she dressed,” Maxwell said. “They didn’t know her at all.”

Now, it’s the goal of Combs, Maxwell, and the Sophie Lancaster Foundation to spread acceptance of all types of people and to end all types of bullying towards them. “It’s not just for Goth kids,” Maxwell said. “It’s for if you’re being bullied for whatever reason. Like if you’re gay, or trans, or if you just happen to be shorter than everyone else, it’s about embracing those different qualities about yourself.”

Michelle Maxwell at the 2011 Georgia Goth Evening.