Saturday, March 31, 2012

Of Being "Goth" and How I Feel About Labels...

                                                     (Most Goths do NOT worship Satan)

So by my blog title and my Tumblr (if you follow me), its apparent that I claim to be a Goth. I don't consider myself a baby bat, but I've only recently starting calling myself gothic. Even when I worked at Hot Topic in college (scoff all you like, but in the deep south, that is the only store you can find that is even remotely alternative), I never considered myself a Goth. I was just quirky little Audrey. I've always been drawn to dark, macabre and offbeat, music, movies, books - you name it! I'm not a fan of going with the flow...being like all the sheeple around me! I'm proud of my strangeness...whether for being nerdy or spooky! But for as long as I could remember, people have called me gothic. I never knew why....because I certainly never tried to be any such thing. Growing up, I hadn't seen many goths and generally just thought that being a goth meant looking like Marilyn Manson, sacrificing goats (who I kept as pets and still have a love for), and worshipping Satan....scary stuff! I thought it was a bad thing to be associated used to really piss me off. I was sick of being called a Goth, a devil worshipper, and a witch because I wore darker clothing and kept to myself. Excuse me while I rehash some things from my previous posts...but growing up, my parents were poor. The majority of my clothing was hand-me-down and the rest were picked out by my parents or grandparents.... I mostly wore jeans and random shirts. Nothing dark....Just old. I had no sense of style, let alone gothic style (which my parents most certainly wouldn't have approved of).... so there was no reason for such a label. Then as I got older and discovered my love for horror movies and rock music, I still thought of myself as a normal(ish) girl. I owned some dark, quirky clothing because I thought it suited me.....then I started working HT and dressed accordingly...still didn't consider myself goth. I had teachers and even my internship supervisor confronting me about being gothic....still strange to me especially because I had to dress in a very business-like manner for my internship (I taught music classes in a public elementary school) and couldn't fathom how I came off Gothic in the slightest! I was baffled time and time again...and didn't know what to say/answer. Finally, after graduating and not having to be under an oppressive, religious institution (my college)....I was free to figure out who I really was and wasn't restricted to fitting in with any people and their prejudices/puritanical judgement and paranoia.... I felt myself drifting even more towards what I now know to be Goth without a shadow of a doubt...I started reading a popular blog (I will tell you all about it shortly, I promise) as suggested by an old college friend and discovered that, low and behold, I really have been Gothic all along.... I realized that it was time to embrace it and learn all I could about what that meant! I will share with you guys a little about that....

(Siouxsie important founder of the Goth Music Scene)
(80's vampire flick "The Lost Boys")

Brief history of what it is and is not...what matters and what matters not (that was NOT meant to rhyme, alas!)... So the gothic subculture started with (but is certainly not restricted to!!! Despite what some may say!!!) the developed from punk! Bands like Siouxsie (Sioux) and the Banshees, The Damned, Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure (that's one that most people should recognize), Adam (Ant) and the Ants, and Sisters of Mercy are all bands from the late 70s and early 80s that paved the way for Gothic Music and culture as it is now....and they are all important to know/give a listen if you want to have any credibility as a Goth. I will go ahead and tell you, you do not have to necessarily LIKE them or certainly be their biggest fan in order to be Goth. But know the history of your culture, baby bats! I started out listening to mainstream rock and still listen to a lot of that now....but just by research and recommendation, have found a lot of great Goth rock (and other forms of rock which goths can and do still enjoy...unless they are staunch purists! And that's no fun at all!) bands that have made their way in to my regular listening vault! As for movies, books, and gets a little hairy! There is so much to cover and I'm at a loss for how to sum it up! Books....I will sum that up by a quote from Wikipedia " is a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance"  I think that puts it perfectly! You have classic literature like Brom Stoker's Dracula (I will say, that I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who claims to be gothic but hasn't bothered to read that at least once...but then again, it is responsible for vampire culture altogether...and happens to be my favorite novel of all time!), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein  , ANYTHING by Edgar Allen Poe (!!!!), Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and many others leading up to more modern gothic horror such as the works of Anne Rice (another definite must!). Most goths like to read classic literature in general and/or any spooky or romantic stories involving the supernatural! Cliche as it may seem, it is the truth! Vampires are a guilty pleasure that we just can't resist!! Movies are about the same... pretty much supernatural horror movies are a stereotypical goth must! I like horror movies in general....but good goth standby's are Dracula, The Lost Boys, Interview With A Vampire, The Crow, anything Tim Burton....but most certainly NOT Twilight! When you see a goth or hear them talking about vampires, opening up with asking them about/talking about Twilight is not the way to make a friend! Some like it, most don't.....I read the books long before there was talk of a movie and liked them...but I liked them for what they were - a fluff romance series for young adults that happen to revolve around supernatural creatures. If you see it for what it is, it's decent....the horrible movies and fandom kill it so I avoid Twilight like the plague despite its original charm! But I digress......Fashion!!! Fashion is the main scary part to talk about...especially because I'm more of a casual goth most days which can be looked down upon by the elite.... Let me make this a separate matter!
                                                                   (Victorian Gothic)

(Deathrock couple! How sweet)
(Gothic Lolita)

Because I am currently unemployed (and therefore do not have fabulous budget of doom), have not mastered my sewing machine (which is helpful, baby bats!), and so rarely leave my house in this god-forsaken town, I can't afford to dress to the nines! Most days, I settle for black jeans or Tripp cut-offs (I will warn you, they are not in style any longer - even among Goths, but damn it all to hell, they are so comfortable!) and a black tshirt sporting either a band or something cute and batty..... But enough about my lack of style, let me go back to the lesson.... Goths don't dress in a particular cookie-cutter style....they are so many different styles of music and fashion all falling under the Goth title! You have Victorian goth (which is a favorite that I wish to be able to afford or make) which has you wearing corsets, top hats, elegant curls and dark mourning/funeral have Cybergoth where you wear alot of shiny PVC material, neon hairfalls, and goggles, etc (think fetish-wear), you have Steampunk (another fave!) where you wear antique-looking elegant clothing that is like Victorian goth but not as dark (alot of white and brown and some other complimenting color schemes - tame colors) but with an edgy reimagining - alot of brassy bits! Goggles, monocles, gears on everything, crazy contraptions galore! Punk and deathrock look similar to me....alot of mohawks, ripped up clothing and wild makeup! Rockabilly (which some would argue is not goth) is more 50's style apparel...think Betty Paige, Grease (but not as campy), Cry Baby! Alot of leather, tight fitting clothing, leather prints, heels, red lipstick...very sexy and vintage! There is also Gothic Lolita...which is a form of Japanese street style (pardon me if I have that all wrong) that is based around being dark but still very cutesy and girlish... dresses, cupcake stuff, bonnets, and curls! There are sooooo many styles and I'm probably doing none of them justice with my half-asleep descriptions.... You will primarily run into alot of normal looking youngsters wearing some random quirky or dark things that you MAY think are gothic but they say they are Hipster. If you don't already know, Hipster is NOT GOTHIC. In the least...
                                                   (And this is me....not all that decorative, right?) you have to fit one or all of these descriptions perfectly to be gothic? NO!!!!!!  Not at all.... But you should see some reflection of yourself in this blog at least if you are questioning your Gothy-ness! You don't have to like everything goth to be goth.... It doesn't matter if you're a Size 0 or a Size 18...doesn't matter if you're 13 or 35...doesn't matter if you're black or white... male or female or genderqueer....vegan or carnivorous! Those are important to get over first. Then realize that you don't have to be a Tim Burton junky, well read, or have nothing but designer darks in your wardrobe.... What you do need is to research/get in touch with your Gothic heritage and have an affinity for the macabre....the rest truly doesn't matter! I play Dungeons and Dragons, drink alot of tea, smoke pipes and cigars, and enjoy most things British and anime....those aren't very Gothy hobbies (well, maybe the tea has gotten to be lately) but I'm okay with that. I'm not Cookie-Cutter-Goth, I'm Audrey. And you're you - figure out what that means and embrace it! :)

I think I have covered the Goth subject as much as I intended to briefly address the second part of my blog title. Labels.... One of the other big reasons that I embraced the Goth title after all these years, is to find people of like-mind! I was sick of being around people that looked down on, disapproved of and generally misunderstood my personality... and have ached to make friends that I had these things in common with! The best way to do that, was to start self-identifying myself as what I was looking for - Gothic! There aren't many to be found in this area...but I have found a few (mainly through the internet).... Still this is a strange thing for me to do not only after shying away from it for so long...but also because I make a point of telling people that I am uncomfortable with labels and the extremes that come with them. After growing up fanatically Christian, the idea of throwing myself into a closed community of ANYTHING and exposing myself to their control, judgement and abuse is truly terrifying.... Which is why I am openly saying that I am myself - not living under the rules of a society. And as much as a few like to judge who and what Goth actually is down to a T, no one has that right and they certainly cannot sway me. And most Goths have been (at some point in life), bullied or oppressed for their choices/personality and should therefore know better to do it to others in their community. But anyways, labels and extremes are something that I still struggle with to this day. I try to moderate myself in everything. With my diet, I'm pescatarian...I cannot bring myself to go to the extreme of Veganism but I want to be healthier and therefore have managed to start cutting meat out of my diet... I glean positive things from what I learn of various religions into my life...I still hold some of my Christian beliefs (only the important, good things) but find myself being drawn towards Paganism but I have a hard time with the idea of committing because I am still on this search to figure out the truth (if we could truly ever know it) and where it fits in in my life.... I have been with women in the past and find them to be beautiful (part of my "Don't Hate, Congratulate/Appreciate" if you read my other post of the night)...but do not consider myself bisexual...I'm with the love of my life (a man) and don't worry about stuff like that...but I think that you are attracted to what you attracted to - love is crazy...its not under your control and certainly isn't always gender exclusive.... I don't feel the need to label everything in my life. If you do and need to in order to have order in your life, that is awesome. I just have no desire to. As for now, Gothic is about the only thing I feel the urge to claim.... 

[Edit: Have realized that I forgot to include all the pictures that I intended to add for well as the important references that I intended to share....adding now - hope that blog doesn't lose its coherence! Apologies! ]

At the start of this entry, I mentioned a blog that helped me initial discover my own Gothy-dom... and I would like to share it with you all and hope you find it as informative (and fun!) as I did and still do....Gothic Charm School !!! (Click that link to find yourself there) Jillian Venters wrote a book of the same title (that I still desperately want to own) and this blog where she gives advice to Baby Bats and Elder Goths alike! Its basically a much more in-depth, trustworthy (ha), and interesting version of this entry... plus she is simply delightful! I follow her on Tumblr as well (she is what inspired me to create a Tumblr)... she is hilarious, has excellent taste and style, is friendly and is on a mission to help the gothic subculture seem more understandable and approachable...and is a nerdy Goth, much like myself! Definitely a hero of mine...Please, please - go to her website and enjoy! Another great resource I've found on the internet is the blog that was formerly called The Ultimate Goth Guide (now Stripy Tights and Dark Delights) is a similar blog that is constantly updated with informative articles about the Gothic Subculture as well as the insight and journey of a gothic girl! I love her posts! Other than those...I find my best allies to be tumblr and Etsy (there are many affordable gothic clothing and accessories handmade by goths themselves).... Although a great resource for any goth as far as clothing goes, is to make and/or altar your own clothing by learning to use a sewing machine! I am working on that myself....And once I have gotten around to creating my Etsy store (I'm currently making all kinds of goodies), I will share the link so that you can purchase affordable Victorian, Steampunk and Lolita goodies from yours truly :)
                                               (Jillian Venters, Lady of the Manners. Gothic Charm School)

What about you, dear readers (if there are any!)? Where do you fit in with the Gothic subculture? Or are you an outsider with questions? How do you feel about labels? As always, keep your comments polite/ non-argumentative or you will swiftly be deleted.... 


  1. Please don't take this as me being impolite (I think you know me well enough to know that I would never intentionally be mean or impolite to you).

    That being said, I don't think it's fair to be so judgmental about a school that is very obviously a Christian school (plus, it's not fair to label them as judging when you are doing the same towards them) - when the reason people go there is because they strive to live for Christ and learn as much as they can about Him and living the way He asks us to (granted there are always students who go there because there parents made them, or for whatever reason, and could care less about the beliefs the school is grounded on, and will act as such - Or the students who pretend like they live that lifestyle but don't, and act as such). But I think it unfair to be so harsh against a school that does not hide the fact that it's Christian. I know you were sort of made to go there - but that's not the school's fault, and you can't blame them for being "oppressive", when all they are doing is following their convictions and trying to uphold the guidelines we, as Christ followers, are given to live by.

    I only say this because I have now been lumped in with these people in which you claim to be prejudice and judgmental. I have never judged you or been prejudice (to my knowledge). The only time I would ever say anything to you would be if you are saying you are a Christian but not following the rest of what comes with being a Christian. You can't pick the "good parts" and leave out the rest - it doesn't work that way. Jesus is very clear when it comes to this matter. I don't say this to make you choose to be something you're not, or say you are something you're not. I say this because I would rather tell you the truth now than to sit back and let you believe you're going to heaven because of the "good parts" (if that's what you even believe) and then in the end, that not be the case. I can't judge your heart or your soul - only God can do that. All I can do is remind you of the rest of what He has given for us to live by. Whether you take it or leave it is up to you, not me.

    I realize that saying all of this may get me deleted, and that's okay. I realize I have said some things that might be taken in a confrontational manner, even though they are not meant that way. Either way, I would rather say the truth when it needs to be said. I will still love you, whether you delete me or not. Please know that. :)

  2. I have not lumped you in with said people...maybe for your beliefs, but not the rude judgemental people! If I did, I wouldn't have added you on here! I understand what you are trying to say and still love you as well...lets just say that you know that I know the Bible and what it has to say... I am doing this with my eyes open. And I just have to agree to disagree both on the bit about religion and definitely about the school ;)