Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Some Thoughts on Not Prioritizing Goth

A lot has changed in the past year for me. I went from a full-time college student to a full time employee, traveling the world and dedicating myself to my industry and career. I read fewer horror and fantasy novels, focusing instead on nonfiction, history, and art publications. I wear less winged eyeliner and fewer ankhs (although, casualty of working in the art industry, I wear just as much black.) My music taste has expanded, my circle of friends has expanded even more.

When I choose to describe myself, Goth is never as high up on the list as it used to be. It's always "art dealer, traveler" first.  I reflected on this recently while making a social media profile. One of my colleagues from work called me a Goth once and I actually kind of jumped, I don't think I'd ever mentioned it specifically to her. 

People age with Goth differently. Some people, yes, grow out of it. It's not a shameful thing to do. Other people hold Goth near and dear to their heart well into their old age. I seem to be pitching my tend somewhere in the middle.

I started out in Goth in my younger teenage years. My mother has always loved alternative music, from metal to Goth, and I remember coming home from school and hearing her and my aunt listening to Bauhuas. I started exploring forums about Goths, always struck by how rude some of these older, crabby people were and how defensive they were about "their" subculture.  Now as an adult, I think if I saw a thirty year old speak to a fourteen year old the way some of them did on those forums back in the day, I'd scream at them. I was a kid, in love with this incredible amazing subculture and shocked at how adults could act towards other people my age. I did a lot of lurking, not much interacting, and developed an ingrained anxiety about being seen as a poser. 

I never had to "push" liking Goth things. For me, liking the music, the style, the literature, the decor, always came naturally. But as a younger Goth, I do think I had to try harder to suppress my love of other things for fear of being called a poser. I listened to only Goth music, ditched pretty much all my other clothes, and only enjoyed books that other Goths seemed to approve of. 

Fast forward to August 2011, when I started this blog in my junior year of high school. I've done a lot of growing in the mean time, my confidence has grown in more areas than one. One of the main things I thought when I started this blog was that I would make sure the next generation of Goth teenagers knew that there was no such thing as being a poser, that they could enjoy Goth however they wanted to. I can't count the number of elitist e-mails I've gotten telling me I'm spoiling Goth, but they swiftly get deleted. Fuck that noise.

The most common question I get asked on this blog is "How do I be a Goth?" The answer is always Here is a list of Goth things. If you like some of them and want to call yourself a Goth, you're good to go. It's followed closely by "Can I still be Goth if..." insert whatever qualifier you care to name here. The answer is always yes.

Some might think that this post sounds an awful lot like "I'm leaving Goth." But that's not it at all. The fact is, the older I've gotten, the less I've worried about seeming Really Goth. For me now, Goth is an aspect of who I am rather than something I feel like I have to work at to appease anonymous fuckwits. ,And, that's made me enjoy it more than I have in a long time. When I let Bauhaus mingle in my iTunes with Adam Lambert, Postmodern Jukebox, Tool, or whatever else, I actually enjoy it more when my beloved Goth music comes on. I can dance harder, knowing that Goth is a part of me that I'll always love, and that I don't have to worry about being called a poser when I dance just as hard for Kongos. 

Looking forward? Who knows. I do have some travel plans that include some incredible Gothy locals, and maybe as I move up I can incorporate more Gothy elements into my style, but I'm not going to force it. I'm content to be what this blog has always said I am--an everyday Goth. 

Goth gets better the less you worry about it. Who knew?


  1. I am a little older than you by a couple of years, in my mid-thirties. When I was about your age, like you, I was in the middle, then I left Goth but came back. In the nineties,when I was a teen, I experienced the same kind of bullying as you with regards to Goth beint their subculture although there were many friends who were older than me that took me under their proverbial bat wings. I like to think that it is thanks to the Internet and the fact that people could spew vitriol under a keyboard so easily. I admire what you do for the younger kids. After all, I think it is because of people like you who has managed to keep this subculture alive. As you get older, being goth wont be your entire identity and that is OK. You have a fantastic career ahead of you and I sincerely wish you the best! I think this is normal growing pains and you will learn to balance to the two if that is what you wish. Keep up the good work!

  2. That was so well written! I feel the same way too. When I was a teenager there was so much worrying of how to be a real goth that I started to reject things that I liked but that were not "goth enough". Nowadays things are not so black and white for me which is nice. However I still feel a little weird about how to describe myself in social media, what to wear and so on.

  3. I've stopped worrying about being one thing or the other. I'm . . . nothing in particular: A bit goth, a bit grunge, a bit granny chic, a bit 1940's, it depends on the day and my mood. But I think it's very reasonable not to want a look or a subculture define us. How is that really different from letting mainstream expectations define us? It's still shoehorning ourselves into an outside set of rules.

    But since I don't feel anything *against* it, I don't think I've abandoned it so much as . . . things shift.

  4. I'm 46 and these days, Goth clothing styles are relegated to my choice of garb in medieval reenactment (SCA), but I still hold the aesthetic near and dear to my heart and I listen to the music still. My 20 year old daughter, who is most assuredly Goth, informed me a couple of months back that I am an elder Goth...not sure how I feel about that as a title, but there it is. :)

  5. Very beautiful and very true to your words! I was a teenager, I had the problem that I was dressing in black and loved what was definable goth (literature, clothing, bats and horror, esoterism... :D), but I mostly listened to metal music. They treated me all wrong, metalheads defined me "dark shit" because I dressed in black (in Italy the term goth was mostly replaced with Dark), for Goth I was not quite black, and I did not attend any of belonging to these two subcultures .
    Now I have 41 years and I think I was right to be alone, because even today, when I go to a concert sometimes I have moments (last only a few seconds), in which I almost feel bad, "not enough."
    But I persevere ... I'm me, with my clothes blacks, bats, metal music and sometimes color detonations and pop-music.
    Love your blog ^ _ ^

  6. When I was in my teens, I just thought of myself as an oddball/weirdo. Even though, I wore some styles that could of been considered goth, I didn't refer to myself as one. I guess I didn't think I was cool enough for the label. It wasn't til my early twenties that I got more into goth.

    That's when I discovered the music and some alternative shops. As I learned more about the subculture, I started to question my gothiness. After a period of agonizing over the label, I just threw my hands up in the air and said, "Fuck it!." Goth is a part of me, and nobody is going to tell me different.

    You can do non-gothy things, listen to other types of music, and not know about/listen to every single goth artist/band on the planet. It doesn't make you any less goth. Keep Calm. Goth On.

  7. Well said! If you have that dark germ inside you, then no one can make it come out and shout, look at me! I'm a goth!! If people notice it without you having to scream it, that can feel nice.Hard to miss with a blog title like Bathory's Closet. But it isn't so nice if you put a label on yourself, and it stops you from growing. I'm goth, so I shouldn't like Adam Lambert. Bram Stoker only, no Lord of the Rings. I tend to think of my goth side as part of my core--for art, music, media,'s always my preference. But I love plenty other things too, I see beauty in darkness, but I see it in the light too. Hooray for Goths of all shapes and sizes, for we can see beauty everywhere.

  8. Great post. Glad to see that you are embracing change and adopting new lifestyles. Expanding your world will only make you enjoy life and become a better person. Good luck with your job. Your travel post was quite envy worthy.

  9. I am not sure if Goth was around when I was growing up. I spent my teenage years smoking pot, making out to Led Zeppelin surrounded by black light posters. If I ever wear black it is by almost by accident. I tend to love clothing that are sorbet colors that do not occur in nature. I love an overgrown gothic looking garden. I was googling gothic gardens and found my first Goth blog “Insomniac’s Attic”. Now I follow mostly Goth blogs. I find the people to be highly intelligent, sensitive and interesting. I feel sad that you were treated unkindly but good for you that you are true to yourself.

  10. I wonder what it's like for kids today who are probably being goth at a much younger age, and being a goth in the zoo that is social media. Probably a while different set of insecurities.

  11. I'm so glad I was a goth-teen pre-internet. I also lived out in the country (raised by a nightshirt worker who only wore dark suits and watched Science Fiction ) so most everything goth had to be deliberate to be encountered. Macabre tv and books came naturally. I guess the closest thing I had to discussion board forums was Zines. It's been a few decades but I always remember the community being nice to Little Me. I still laugh about not being goth enough since I've always been so darn silly. It's just that now I don't have to worry about such things and I know there are elitist jerks in all communities.

    It's been fun watching you finish college and start working professionally in your field. It's also like reading a mystery: what is her job and where will she travel next ;D

  12. I think it's fantastic and exciting that your world and your tastes are expanding, as you step out and explore what's out there. It can feel like you're moving away from the things that made up your identity as a younger person, but it's not really like that. There's lots of room for the many facets of you, and goth will always be one of them. I personally think goth is a mindset - it's not confined to certain bands or clothing or books. That would make for a very small world. Goth is being who you are in the world, with a 'fuck you' attitude toward anything or anyone who calls for you to conform.

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