Throughout my life I have identified as goth.
I am always found in black clothing, dark makeup, with an overall vampy aesthetic, but what does it mean to be goth?
To put it simply, gothic culture is just a group of people who share a similar interest in the beauty of darkness but, to me being gothic is less about what you look like and more of a feeling.
Yes, it comes with the territory that you feel inclined to wear black, but under that blanket goth signifier, there are so many sub-genres.
Since the 70s – when gothic and punk music and culture and fashion movements began – what it means to be goth has evolved.
Today you have genres including traditional, romantic, industrial, death-rock, metal, pastel, nu, cyber, fetish, hippie, baby, cabaret, Victorian, steampunk, Lolita and gothbillie.
No matter which one you feel fits your gothic heart most, the fact is, no one genre is more gothic than the other. This is why I say that goth is a feeling.
As a young girl I discovered that I preferred horror movies to the children’s films most kids my age were watching.
I was only five years old when I first sat through an entire film. And I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.
After this I was hooked. My dad was a preacher, which did limit the amount I could get away with watching, but the desire to watch more of them was there.
My desire for the dark and beautiful manifested itself in other ways too. Black and white photography always appealed more to me than life in full colour, the bad guy in movies was always my crush and my heart would swell whenever it heard minor chords.
I had a passion for art and so would begin drawing these comic book characters and writing their stories.
Without knowing what a goth was, or what one was supposed to look like, I came up with this character. She wore an industrial style black dress and combat boots and had lengthy raven hair – similar to Morticia Addams.
The scenes were set in graveyards, melancholy woods or very vacant, dreary islands.
Finally, one day when I was out shopping with my family, I saw a young, gothic woman for the first time. She was hand in hand with her boyfriend. She was wearing a Tripp brand skirt, combat boots, fishnets, pigtails highlighted with red streaks, a choker and a Type O Negative shirt.
My memory of her is so precise because that moment was like an epiphany of self-discovery. It finally understood who I was. She looked over at me very briefly and from then on I couldn’t stop smiling, I knew how I wanted to present myself to the world.
I became engulfed in the history, fashion and culture of the many gothic genres. My hours were spent discovering alternative models, music, clothing, makeup, literature and various other aesthetics that clicked.
Unfortunately, my father was quite old fashioned and stern about how I presented myself.
I saw myself as a gothic fairy but I was stuck in the body of this blue jean, white t-shirt wearing adolescent. It was heart-breaking to love something so much but have it ripped away from you because of other people’s misconceptions.
My friends also just saw it as a phase or downright silly. It made me a ‘poser’.
But I knew that one day I would be able to be the person I truly am, despite the backlash.
So here I am today, 23 years young, finally living how I want to. Goth is not a phase, or just about how you look. Being goth is a passion and inclination towards everything dark and beautiful.
Not every gothic person would agree with me here, but we are all connected. No matter your gender, race, expression or genre, being goth is imprinted on the heart of each of us in awe of the dark.
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