Goth and Identity
So its been a while since i last blogged about goth, but sure enough i have discovered something within the subculture that has again left me torn between multiple sides. I’m talking about issues pertaining to identity. Identity is something very personal to each and every individual and it seems that a lot of people are again choosing sides when it comes to identity and how goths identify with the subculture.
Today i want to discuss these sides and where i stand between them. I also want to discuss some of the good and bad of having each of these minds sets about identity.
To begin, i want to discuss the goths who try too hard. So you’re one of us who really enjoys and cares about the subculture. You love the music, you also might be really into the fashion and it shows. But sometimes you might go overboard. I’m talking about the goths who get so caught up in being goth and proving just how goth they are that they almost miss the point of it. They let goth dictate their lives so much that they sometimes suppress parts of themselves that they feel make them less goth. This is not a good way to be. Of course there are goths out there that naturally love goth so much that it seems like they go out of their way to express it, and that’s fine. Its the goths that force themselves into tiny boxes and actually go out of their way to express it who are in trouble.
Say for instance you like goth music but Bauhaus isn’t really your taste, but you feel pressure to listen to them and make yourself like them because you think that it will make you more goth or that other goths will dislike you if you don’t. This is toxic and the only one you’re hurting is you. You don’t need to like every goth band just like you don’t need to backcomb your hair or wear authentic winklepickers to be goth. This is where people let goth get in the way of their own identities. Sure in order to be goth, you should probably know certain bands and care about the subculture, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop watching Steven Universe or throw away all your unicorn plushies just because those things aren’t stereotypically goth.
Goth is a label for people to identify with. Its not meant to rule your entire life. Ive said it before and I’ll say it again goths don’t like the things they like because they’re goth, they are goth because they naturally like those things. This does not mean you have to abandon all the other things you like just because those other things aren’t goth, this also means that you don’t have to like every aspect of the subculture to be a part of it.
Now moving on to another side of the subculture that has sort of a different way of looking at goth and identity, I’m going to call these people the “Goth is Goth type” These are the goths who believe that goth is simply a one word label and that substyles of goth are pointless or negative.
Now if you’ve been in the subculture for a while you probably already know that goth has multiple substyles and these substyles didn’t really start popping up until after the 80′s. Before then there was just goth and all it took to be goth was listening to goth music. So its understandable that most of these “Goth is Goth types” are elder goths who were around before goth started breaking off into substyles.
Many of these “Goth is Goth types” argue that substyles are nothing more than superficial fashion genres and that substyles automatically restrict you to a little box. What they mean when they say “goth is goth” is that it doesn’t matter how you dress, if you’re goth you’re goth and you shouldn’t let a substyle get in the way and dictate how you should express yourself through goth. And to an extent, i do understand this. I do understand where these goths are coming from. But i don’t think these goths are really taking the time to analyze it even further.
There are goths out there that dress in multiple substyles but there are goths out there that dress in only one or two. And some of these goths dress in a particular style, not simply for superficial reasons but because that style actually reflects their own identity. For example, there are some goths who call themselves Victorian goths and dress in nothing but Victorian goth fashion. Many of these goths actually have interests rooted in the Victorian era. Their favorite past times might be visiting Victorian themed exhibits at the museum and having Victorian inspired tea parties. So for them, Victorian goth just best reflects their personal tastes and identities. So you might think that by telling a goth that they shouldn’t limit themselves to identifying with a particular style is helping them to better express their identities,but it’s actually doing the opposite. For many goths, it’s more than just a substyle, it’s almost it’s own mini subculture that people can identify with that’s still a part of goth.
Not everyone feels like they need to put themselves into boxes or identify with one thing in particular but some do. Some take comfort in it. Lets also not forget that not every goth is neurotypical. Some goths may have mental illness and some may take comfort in compartmentalizing things. It might help them to break goth down into substyles and put them into neat little boxes that they can identify with.
Also breaking goth down into even smaller subgroups within the subculture is not always a bad thing. Some goths may argue that having subgroups is negative because some goths are only befriending other goths of a particular substyle instead of making friends with goths of all types and this is true to an extent. It is very important that we put certain differences aside and make friends with all goths, BUT sometimes its just easier and less stressful to make friends with goths that dress like you. Why? Because you already know that you probably have more than one thing in common. Sure it would be great if a romantic goth made friends with a cyber goth but if their tastes are totally different then they may have trouble attending clubs together or hanging out because their hobbies and music tastes just clash too much.
So for the most part how goths identify with the subculture really is subjective and not as black and white as some goths like to think. Whether you choose to dress goth, listen to every goth band or experiment with substyles, its important to respect everyone and create a balance so you aren’t letting goth dictate who you are. Its okay to care about goth and express it in every way possible but only if that’s what you really want to do and you aren’t sacrificing other parts of yourself to do it. Its also okay to enjoy non goth things and express yourself through specific substyles that you enjoy. Yes, you should make friends with goths of all types but its important to remember that you choose your friends and if you are more comfortable with making goth friends who dress and act similar to you that’s fine, the only one who should have a say on the friends you make is you.
The bottom line is everyone identifies with goth a little differently and that’s okay as long as you respect others and don’t let it change who you are. Don’t let goth or anyone in the subculture dictate your life or how you choose to express yourself. Self identity is important and you should never let goth change it.