What is "Goth" to me?Last year I celebrated World Goth Day with a pic and a small caption, this year I had plans of writing a long drawn out, well researched article about my feelings about what it is to be "Goth". Since my recovery has monopolized my time, I'm not able to invest as much into this year's post as I had hoped to. The message, however, remains the same.
I have read many viewpoints on what it is to be Goth, which varies widely, but for the most part the older generations support Trad Goth and the newer generations are pushing Nu Goth. Trad is largely based in musical tastes whereas Nu Goth is rooted in fashion (despite what one website attempts to define it as - I do not believe it has anything to do with a fascination with the occult, philosophy, OR Trad Goth, which doesn't make much sense anyways). There are at least thirty different subtstyles within the Gothic community, everybody's tastes are so vast and varied, and for this reason I just can't accept that Goth can be easily defined or categorized. I don't believe Trad Goth is the first Goth ever to exist, although I acknowledge that the movement has it's place. I know for a fact that the Gothic style predated the Trad Goth movement and it had *nothing* to do with music. Which leads me to a very important point, Goth has nothing to do with music or fashion, it is a state of mind and a matter or personal taste.
Let's talk hypothetically here... Let's pretend that music disappears, you're not allowed to dress differently, you can't dye or cut your hair, can't have piercings or tattoos, or anything remarkably different from anyone else. I've turned you into a human cookie cutter! Are you still Goth? Does it continue to live inside of you? If so, it's likely Goth is an aspect of your personality and has nothing to do with the way you look or what you specifically watch, read or listen to.
I have struggled with my own personal definition of Goth for years. I have felt an innate desire to be defined as Goth but I have relented to identify myself that way, simply because of the persecution I could face by brow-beating Goths who impose their incredibly limited and bias viewpoints onto other members of the community. In simpler terms: assholes. However, I cannot help but feel Goth. I have felt this way for a very long time. Since I was a little girl, I've had an affinity for all things macabre; taxidermy, murder mysteries, the supernatural, Hallowe'en! I was a different child. I didn't like the normal stuff other kids did; I wasn't interested in stories about love, I didn't care about braiding my hair or going to summer camp. I wanted to read about vampirism, I went to cemeteries expecting to find something really awesome there, and I wanted to be with bats. My parents struggled to accept my personality (and still do to this day, although they've improved dramatically). I would often break out the Halloween decorations and craft books in early spring, much to my mother's dismay. I was always yelled at, "Halloween is in October, damnit! Why is all of this stuff here?!" I couldn't understand why I was wrong. When I found out in my youth that there were other people like me in the Gothic community I felt an impulse to join them, but was limited in my understanding and exposure to those people. I recall once listening to a Gothic radio station when I was eleven and my father quickly switched it off saying it "wasn't for little girls".
Now as an adult I find a wealth of information at my fingertips. I have studied the Gothic subculture in my spare time, I have exposed myself to the various musical influences and the fashions, and I pick and choose what's relevant to me. That's the way it should be too, I shouldn't have to submit to someone else's ideas of what Goth is, I shouldn't have to listen to The Bauhaus if I don't fucking want to. And I really don't think it determines whether or not I am Goth, or to what extent. Goth lives within me, it's a part of my personality. I don't know why it is the way it is, why I especially like dark things. Perhaps in another culture, where death and darkness is revered, I would be the person obsessed with life and candy and all things super nice. It's not that my interests are malicious, they're unusual, and for many that's problematic. But I'll never change. I'll never stop having the desire to break out my Halloween decorations early, or read about vampires and monsters all the time, or watch classic horror films whenever I can, or wear dresses with bats and spiders printed on them. This is just who I am. I will probably hesitate to identify myself as Goth because of the assholes, but in my heart I know apart of me will always remain Gothic.