Goth is Goth: Does it need additional labels?

Nowadays everyone is so concerned with putting things into a boxes. They want everything to be categorised, including goth.

You have to understand this is a subculture and ‘goth’ is basically an umbrella term. It is a category all by its itty-bitty lonesome and it doesn’t need to be broken down further.

It’s so hard to keep track, you have: ‘gothic lolita’, ‘nu goth’, ‘trad goth’, ‘romantic goth’, ‘Victorian goth’, and erm…’bubble goth’…whatever that is.

There is this mindset that your whole identity is tied to the style you choose and you HAVE to choose.

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And this is just a few…

If you happen to own a belle-sleeve lace gown and a few chokers then that’s it, you’re romantic goth! That is your identity! You may choose no other style!

Now this concept is a very dangerous way of thinking.

You’re breaking something down that’s already been broken down for you.

Goth is a subculture, it is a category by itself.

When you’re shunting things into all these little boxes you’re causing an unnecessary divide.

Goth is already a small and often misunderstood subculture, so the last thing we need is to be creating divides amongst ourselves.

Let’s look back a little further into the 80’s when goths didn’t even know what they were. They were a new subculture rising out of the punk scene. They just wanted to listen to the music they liked, dress up, and have fun in the clubs. There were no rules, there were no exclusions, and there were no guidelines to follow.

The standard goth didn’t fit into any category other than ‘goth’. They weren’t ‘trad’ or ‘Batcave’, but they were very unmistakably goth.

This doesn’t mean there wasn’t a wide array of different styles of clothing, it just didn’t define us. It was simply just a part of your wardrobe.

‘Labels are for clothes, NOT people.’

There was a time when I refused to call myself a goth. I was afraid that if I adopted the label then I’d be put into a box that would limit me. I believed I couldn’t claim to be goth but then listen to Katy Perry and wear colour because it would present an opportunity for elitists to start up the whole ‘gother than thou’ dispute. Categorising people through stereotypes can be bad enough without making those categories even smaller.

If you were to go through my wardrobe you’d find pieces that you would deem nu goth, post-apocalyptic, trad goth, Victorian goth, fetish goth. Just because one day I decide to pull out a fishnet top and tease my hair this doesn’t automatically make me trad goth. It just means I’m exploring one of the many fashions relating to my subculture.

But honestly dressing to the extreme everyday would just be tiring. Usually I just chuck on a pair of skinny jeans and a band t-shirt, does this stop someone being goth? No. You don’t have to wear makeup, dye your hair black, and live in black clothing to be goth. This is just a stereotype, goth is mostly about the music and having an interest in the culture anyway. You’re style doesn’t define who you are.

There’s nothing wrong with using descriptive terms to find a pair of boots or a dress online. Labels are great for describing the fashion itself. However, that’s probably where you should draw a line.

If you’re a goth then you’re a goth, there’s no need to bust it up into a million fragments and add additional labels.

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Planning A Gothic Valentine’s Day

It’s that dreaded time of year again. All the decorations are pink, sweets and chocolates are overpriced, and sappy gifts fill the stores. I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day, in fact I thought we should petition to have it replaced with a second Halloween.

If you are anything like me, the cliche traditions might put you off celebrating, however, just because you prefer the darker things in life doesn’t mean you and your significant other should avoid the day entirely.

I personally get through this holiday by imagining the hearts everywhere are those of my victims, and renaming the day ‘Frankentine’s Day’. Imagining everything to be spookier than what it is helps me cope with the sickly sweet decor and lovey-dovey themes that surround this day.
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There are a number of ways to celebrate this holiday that don’t include red roses and heart-shaped balloons. Here are a few ways to make your Valentine’s Day more gothic.

Cards:

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If you are willing to plan ahead and order early, then it is surprisingly easy to find spooky and gothic Valentine’s cards online. They often have some creepy-cute quotes on them and the images are far less generic than everything else in the regular card shops. You can usually find Valentine’s cards on gothic online stores at this time or by simply searching the internet, however, I think one of the best brands for gothic cards are Nightmoth.

Plushies:

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If your are still wanting to get a cute gift, you can often find left-over Halloween teddies in some stores, e.g. TY Halloween collection. You could always search online, there are often collections of zombie teddies or maybe search for brands like: Skelanimals or Gloomy Bear.

Chocolates:

If you still want to stick to ‘traditional’ gifts like chocolates, you can add a spooky twist by getting an anatomy heart, skull chocolates or gothic themed boxes. Again, the internet is your best friend for items like these, I tend to find that buying unusual and quirky gifts is a lot easier online.

Flowers:

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I’ve never been one for flowers, but I can’t deny the beauty of black roses. You could buy a single rose or a whole bunch, and depending how much you want to pay you can buy them real or fake. They would be perfect as a gift or just as decoration if you plan on having a quiet dinner at home.

Candles:

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Want some mood lighting? Candles are perfect for creating a romantic setting. You could just buy your bog-standard plain candles or get some red or black taper candles. If you want to be extra decorative then skull candles would be perfect (these would also be an amazing gift).

Drinks:

If you’re planning to have a quiet dinner at home, why not get creative with your food and drinks? You could put drinks in these cute ‘love potion’ bottles, or create a vampire theme with bottles filled with ‘blood’.

Jewellery:

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A heart locket is a sweet way to show your love and is a perfect sentimental gift. You could also opt for other designs such as a coffin or book locket.

Clothing:

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Valentine’s day is also great for fetish goth fashion as stores stock up on kink and BDSM inspired clothing. Great just for some fun on Valentine’s or for use all year round. The majority of gothic clothing stores will have this style clothing for sale everyday, however, you might be able to find it cheaper in other stores round Valentine’s day. I recommend checking out the online store, Kinky Angel, they do a lot of alternative clothing, as well as leather and PVC pieces and other gothic Valentine’s gifts.

Activities:

Deciding what to do to celebrate can be difficult, you might have already booked a table at your favourite restaurant. But if not here are some activities to consider: strolling through a cemetery or graveyard picnic, horror movie night, ghost tour, stay in a haunted hotel.

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Alternatively, if you are single, invite your single friends over and have an anti-Valentine’s party, hex your ex or do a Friends inspired ‘boyfriend bonfire‘.

Happy Frankentein’s Day!

Interview With Eric Sparkwood of Foghorn Lonesome

“I have a video of myself crying!”

I was in the middle of one of my usual YouTube binges, when in the background of a Gothic makeup tutorial, I heard some music that really appealed to me. It had a kind of dark wave, electro Goth  vibe to it. Immediately, I thought “I need to know who this band is!” A quick look in the description revealed to me that the song was ‘Svea’ by Foghorn Lonesome, something I later found out is that ‘Svea’ is the name of Eric Sparkwood’s grandmother.

Eric Sparkwood is the face behind Foghorn Lonesome. He started in 2011 as a one-man band in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2016, he played his first show with Jessica Isaksson on vocals and Nikita Smirnov on bass. In 2017, Krzystof Rozwadowski and, long-time producer, Tomas Rosenberg joined the band.

After speaking to Eric Sparkwood I could understand how the music came to be. It was clear he uses his life experiences as influence in his music. Even as someone with such talent to produce this music, Eric revealed to me that he does have his struggles. He came across to me as someone very kind, thoughtful and dedicated to his music and fans.

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From left to right: Krzystof Rozwadowski (Bass), Eric Sparkwood (Lead Vocals/Bass), Jessica Isaksson (Vocals), Tomas Rosenberg (Drums). Photograph by Bo Reinerdahl.

How did you come up with the name Foghorn Lonesome?

“I never reveal that actually. But with a quick Google search I’m sure people can figure that out.”

What made you want to start creating music? Is it something you would like to pursue full-time?

“I started playing bass when I was 16 and joined my first band. I guess it felt like the natural thing to do at the time, since I’d been constantly listening to music as a kid. I have mixed feelings about having this as a full-time thing since the music industry is in bad shape these days.”

I’m curious to know more about how you feel about the music industry. What do you think the main issue is nowadays?

“I think the main issue is that artists don’t get paid. We’re not signed to a label, but usually they tend to make most of the profits. I grew up before the internet and the MP3, so we had to pay for all of the music we wanted. Most people today don’t. But I’ve let go of all that. Sometimes I offer free downloads on the music on SoundCloud. I’m very grateful if someone purchases the music off Bandcamp or iTunes, but it’s fine if people don’t. The most important thing is that people have access to the music. Today’s mainstream music isn’t for me. But I do wish I could write three-minute pop songs. Then maybe I’d be summering in the Hamptons.”

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Foghorn Lonesome’s logo

How did you meet the other members?

“Jessica and Krzystof answered an ad I had online for new band members and I already knew Tomas since he produced all my music. The debut album was done and recorded by the time the band was put together.”

How would you describe your music?

“Melodic, varied and dark I suppose.”

What are the current projects you are working on?

“At the moment, we’re rehearsing for a show in March. I’m also off and on working of two new songs: ‘Strawberry Moon’ and ‘Stockholm, You Have Let Me Down’. There are demo samples of them on SoundCloud. I’m also working on another song, which at the is titled ‘Dumb Boy’, but the song isn’t the priority right now. I’ve also been putting tigether an acoustic rendition of a previous song. But I’m in no rush to finish them. I’m rarely in the mood to work on them.”

Do you have a favourite song you have produced or that you recommend people listen to first?

“No, I don’t have a favourite song. If someone was going to be introduced to Foghorn Lonesome, I would recommend songs like ‘Svea’, ‘Uliecry’, ‘All I Want Is Some Love’, ‘Night & Gale’, ‘Winter Blue’ and ‘Like A Storm’. Choosing just one is difficult.”

Where do you get your influences from?

“I would say my personal experiences are where I draw most of my influences. I think all of the music I’ve been listening to in my life has gone into my musical DNA. But when I discovered Diary of Dreams back in 2003 I was introduced to a new genre that kind of combined electronic music with gothic music. So when I started Foghorn Lonesome I knew that these genres would come together in my music too”.

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Eric Sparkwood (Lead Vocalist). Photograph by Darklark.

Foghorn Lonesome seemed to disappear for a while, but you are back with new social media pages and working on a new gig and some songs, was there a reason you took a break from your music? 

“My girlfriend left me and I hit rock bottom. Then I hit a level lower than rock bottom and did some things I’m not proud of. Eventually, I started working on new music.”

Do you find that writing helps you deal with that? 

“I’m not sure, but usually I would say no. The problem doesn’t go away just because you express it. Sometimes it can make you feel worse. You just get reminded of it when working on the song. Especially when writing the lyrics.”

I’ve listened to your song ‘Like A Storm’, and something that always fascinated me was at the end of it you have a monologue with you crying in it. I wondered if you were crying for real during that recording. Could you talk a bit about that?

“The crying is real. It was the first thing I wrote and recorded for the song. It’s a very personal song, but in that part I took things one step further and let it all out in the moment there. When I recorded that part my sound card wasn’t working because it was old. So the only way for me to record it at the time was through the microphone in my laptop. But the only way to activate the microphone is if you record a video. Then I removed the video part and just kept the audio to use in the song. I still have the video of me sitting in front of the computer crying recording that part which I won’t be showing to anyone.”

What is the song writing process like for you?

“I always start working on the music first. Then the lyrics. Sometimes I have to put some more effort into it. Maybe I’ll go sit at the cafe and listen to the song and try to come up with lyrics and vocal melodies in my head. When I’m really into working on a song I will listen to it a lot. I’ll listen to it when I’m out for a run or on the subway and at the same time be thinking about the lyrics. Usually you reach a point where things just feel done. Then you know it’s time to stop. You can rework things forever if you wanted to.”

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Eric Sparkwood (Lead Vocalist). Photograph by Darklark.

You seem very interactive with fans through social media and I noticed on your Instagram page that you have some fans who got tattoos of your lyrics, how does it make you feel to know that your music creatively inspires and also connects so strongly with people?

“It means I must be doing something right. It’s a great honour of course. James Hetfield of Metallica said it well when he said: “It means a lot to me when my darkness can connect with your darkness and make it ok.” So if my shit can help someone else cope with their shit better then that’s a good thing.”

Do you have other hobbies outside of music that would help rejuvenate your creativity?

“I try and run often. I go running for an hour. I get energy from that. Sleeping is probably the best thing I know. It’s the closest to death I can get.”

You recently became a grandfather, how that make you feel?

“Old.”

What is your ultimate goal as a band?

“I don’t think there is a goal. We’re lucky if we can get a gig somewhere. It’s difficult for all bands to get anywhere. Originally my goal was mainly to release an album and hope some people would enjoy the music. Both of which I have achieved.”

Where has been your favourite place to perform?

“We’ve only had three gigs so far. The first one was the best. It was at Klubb Död here in Stockholm. We might be doing a festival in August.”

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Eric Sparkwood (Lead vocalist). Photograph by Jonas Fransson.

Would you like to travel and perform in other countries?

“We’ve looked into it. Unsuccessfully so far. Again, it’s hard to get gigs.”

How do you think your music has evolved?

“That’s hard to say. Two songs have been released since the debut album, ‘Like A Storm’ and ‘Neon Thighs’. I think they sound like they could’ve been on the album in the sense that they’re similar in style. Now I’m working on some new music. I don’t know. It sounds similar I suppose. I guess I haven’t really evolved. Hah.”

What has been your greatest challenge?

“Finishing the debut album was a long and tiring ordeal. It demanded a lot of patience. Something I don’t usually have.”

More of a fun question: What would you do if you had £10 million?

“Pay off my debts and buy a house far away from everything and everyone.”

Any hopes for 2018?

“A fatal heart attack.”

You can find Foghorn Lonesome’s tracks on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Bandcamp, SoundCloud and Spotify.

You can also follow them through their social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

2017: My Gothic Year in Review

So after the soap-opera that my life was in 2016 (if you’re curious to find out about this let me know and I’ll do a few ‘story-time’ posts for you, although they will be verging on all round depressing topics), I hoped for some vast improvement in 2017.

Of course, there were highs and lows to the year (granted there were generally more low points) and I can’t say there was much improvement from 2016. However, I want to look back at the best that came from 2017 and step into the new year with optimism for a better year and greater things to come.

For this post I want to focus on all my favourite experiences and the best things that I lived through in 2017. I know in years time it will be great to look back and see all my best memories.

The Poland Trip:

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I was so amazed at how tiny and detailed the snow was there. I’m used to it falling in big clumps in England.
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January was still Christmas in Poland and it was bitterly cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I kick-started my year off with a trip to Poland with my University. I really recommend people go there, because it wasn’t just a regular holiday. For me it was a learning experience and a really valuable insight into the past. I visited Auschwitz concentration camps, Schindler’s factory, and visited the Jewish Quarter. As well as having a guided tour around Krakow and meeting a holocaust survivor.

 

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Thank you Fed Ex Van for ruining my photo…

 

Mog On The Tyne:

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I visited my first cat cafe in Newcastle! I loved being surrounded by these adorable felines. It was brilliant to see the personalities of each individual cat from the cheeky one trying to steal our milkshakes to the shy one who would hide in a box and peek out at us. It is not just an experience for us, the money goes towards caring for these precious bundles of joy as they now live permanently in the cafe after being brought there from Rescue Homes.

Climbing Roseberry Topping:

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Seems like a simple task, but when you have the elements against you it’s a challenge. I had a really amazing day, my friend drove us all the way there and for a little while we thought we were going to be lost when we took a wrong turn and ended up on some farm land. It was a laugh trying to get up the hill, as it was so windy we thought we might die up there. My friend was freaking out saying “Lets go back down!” as even some big tough jogger gave up halfway. We did manage to make it to the top eventually, and rewarded ourselves when we got back down with some tasty parmo burgers.

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Still smiling even though we feared for our lives!
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Parmo Burgers

 

First Publication in the University Newspaper (Tside):

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I was pretty pleased with my article getting published and also creating awareness for the Gothic Subculture and Sophie Lancaster Foundation. It’s a great feeling to know someone enjoys your work and that it will be shared with others. Hopefully there will be more of my content getting publish as I continue towards finishing my Journalism degree and life as a student, and move on to finding a career.

 

 

New Piercing: 

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I was happy to get a new conch piercing. I had been debating it for a while and I can say that I’m happy I did. For those who aren’t aware the conch is the inner shell of your ear. This is my seventh ear piercing, I’ll go into more detail about the piercing and healing process in future posts.

 

 

 

Whitby Steampunk Weekend:

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My brother and I
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A renovated Volkswagen Type 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the second year that this event has been run, however it was the first I had attended. I usually go to Whitby Goth Weekend every year, so I was interested to see how the Steampunk weekend would differ. I was surprised to find that there were a lot more photographers taking my picture. I felt more dressed down than usual and as a goth girl I didn’t really own anything I would class as ‘steampunk’. However, my style did seem to grab the attention of a lot of people as we developed quite a crowd round me and my brother as we stopped to pose with people. There were plenty of interesting stalls and although steampunk isn’t really my style, I would definitely attend again as I felt really welcome with other alternative people.

 

My First Goth Club:

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Celebrating with friends: James, Luke, Zack, myself, and Jade.

As my teenage years ended and I turned 20, there was conveniently a goth night called Contagion in one of our local clubs. I attended it with a bunch of friends to celebrate my birthday. This was the first goth club I ever attended and it didn’t disappoint. I was so pleased to finally be able to dance to my type of music and to be surrounded by beautiful like-minded people, who were welcoming and happy to start up a conversation with us. It was a great first experience and something that has persuaded me to attend more goth clubs in the future.

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I’m not the best of dancers but I try haha
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My friend Jade and myself

 

More Travelling:

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Pork Of Cork

I took a cruise with my Mam and Nanna visiting France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Gibraltar and Ireland. I loved visiting new towns and cities and it was fun spending quality time with my family. I made an amazing new friend on the ship, who I still keep in contact with through video calls. If you want to see many places in a short space of time then I recommend taking a cruise. It’s so exciting to wake up to a new destination everyday. By far my favourite place was Ireland, I loved seeing Dublin and Cohb and it’s somewhere I’d love to go back to and explore for longer.

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Dublin
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Me in the caves on Portimao beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Hairstyle:

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I’ve had a few hair changes the past couple of years and I never expected to do this, but I did. I decided to get a full fringe cut in. A lot of people were telling me not to do this as its hard for this hairstyle to suit people. But I can say that I do love the way it looks on me and I’m planning on keep my fringe this way for a while as I continue to try and regrow the rest of my hair long again. I think with all the changes made to my life, it’s nice to see a change in myself too.

So there we have it – some of my favourite moments from 2017!

Of course, I cannot forget all the new friends I have made. For a long time I was feeling lonely and, as cheesy as it may sound, they came into my life and helped to brighten it. I want to thank them for sticking around through my struggles, making me laugh, and helping create new experiences and happy memories throughout this year.

Also, the fact that 2017 was the birth of this new blog! It’s only in is early stages, but I’m loving sharing my opinions and stories with you all and I love the interaction I get from you, so thank you to all the people who read, comment and follow my blog, it means a lot to me.

If you have any experiences from 2017 that you want to share then please leave some comments, I’d love to hear your stories too.

Here’s to 2018, hope it’s a Spooktacular New Year!

 

What Not To Say To Goths

So I thought I’d do something a bit fun and light-hearted based on the daft comments I receive regularly for being a goth. Over the years I’ve learnt not to take things people say too seriously, usually people don’t mean any harm by it.

Here’s some of the regular comments I receive and my thoughts on them:

“Oh, I went through a Goth phase. You’ll grow out of that.”

It’s not a phase, it’s a way of life. Do not try to tell me what I will or won’t be interested in. Goth is not just for teens, there are plenty of Elder Goths out there!

“When are you going to stop dyeing your hair?”

Also anything along the lines of changing my hair can be annoying. I often get comments like “If you keep dying it then it will fall out…Your natural hair was such a lovely colour…don’t get it cut like that it will look ridiculous.” It’s my hair so I’ll do what I want with it, the way I look has no impact on anyone else. If I decide to shave my head tomorrow then why is it anyone else’s concern? It will grow back, if not I’ll buy a wig…

“Don’t get that pierced/tattooed.”

I find these types of comments usually come from concerned family members. I’m a girl with 7 ear piercings and I’ve been told if I get more piercings then I’m going to ‘overdo it’. In the past I was going to get a septum piercing to which I was told it would look like a ‘bull ring’ in my nose.

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Old photo of me with a fake septum ring

I also have a few tattoo ideas lined up, to which I’ve been told “You’ll look common” or “People won’t want to hire you for a job”. Sometimes they are worried for my safety, and try to talk me out of it by telling me all the possible infections I could get. But usually their reasons are just superficial. But as most goths know, we don’t look like this to please other people. We choose to look like this because it makes us happy.

“Don’t wear that, it looks boyish”

I’m sure goth guys also get the opposite with people telling them they look ‘too feminine’. I’ve personally been told not to wear certain things because they don’t look flattering enough. One time I was told not to wear a pair of my favourite shoes to a family event because they were ‘too boyish’. News flash: I don’t want to look girly! I don’t care about which gender my clothes were ‘meant’ for, I wear them because I love them.

“You’d look so much prettier without all that makeup”

I think this applies to everyone, not just goths in particular. I don’t wear makeup to look pretty. I wear it because I feel it completes my outfit, I like being creative, and most importantly I enjoy wearing it and the way it makes me feel. It also annoys me when people assume you are wearing it to impress someone. Just no! I’m not going to change who I am for other people, so why would I put makeup on for the sake of them? I wear it because once again it’s a thing that makes me happy!

“Are you into BDSM?”

Please, please, please stop asking us this! First of all, I’m not going to answer that. Secondly, a person being goth doesn’t determine whether they are ‘kinky’ in the bedroom or not.

“It’s not Halloween yet”

Well, Ministry would seem to disagree with you there…

This one is just a classic. For some reason people seem to think they are being funny and have thought up a really clever original phrase to say to us. Nope, I’ve heard this one tonnes of times before. If anyone knows when Halloween is then it’s me.

“Who’s funeral is it?”

Yours…

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There was a brilliant quote being spread round the internet: “If you can dress like this without going to a yoga class, I can dress like this without going to a funeral.” That pretty much sums up my thoughts on this comment.

“Are those your real eyes?”

This may sound like common sense, but honestly some people genuinely believe that bright red contact lenses are my normal eye colour…

“You look so scary”

Sometimes I will actually take this as a compliment, makes me feel like I’ve reached full goth potential!

 

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“You look dead”

Well I am a future corpse…

“You should get a tan, you look so pale and sickly”

Believe it or not I don’t want to risk skin cancer or to end up looking like an oompa loompa, so thanks but I think I’ll stick to my ghostly complexion.

“GOTH!”

I’ve never understood why people feel the need to shout this at me. Yes, I know I am a goth, well done for noticing 👏. I don’t take the word as an insult, it was my intention.

“Look its a vampire!”

I wish I was that awesome!

*Insert sarcastic voice* “Where did you get your coat from?”

Questions are fine so long as you are genuinely interested. But otherwise I don’t see the point in asking. This seems to be a thing chavvy teens love to do. Best one I’ve heard yet was: “Where’d you get your bag from? Toys R us?”. Personally I wish Toys R Us sold goth accessories, it’d be a lot easier to shop!

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My coffin bag

“There’s holes in your jeans”

Thanks for pointing that out, I never noticed that when I bought them…

“Do you worship the devil?”

This is unfortunately a stereotype that comes with being a goth. I’ve had people genuinely ask me if goth is a satanic thing out of pure curiosity. Just to clarify, not all goths are Satan worshippers! Goths can be any religion, just like anyone else.

“Do you cut yourself?”

Hold your horses! Firstly, you should never ask something this personal to anyone, mental health is no joke! Secondly, the stereotype that all goths are depressed is so wrong. We don’t dress in black and listen to this sort of music because we are all mopey. Honestly, if I were to stop being goth I’d be even more miserable, expressing myself in this way makes me happy.

“You have terrible music taste”

I could say the same to you. Everyone has their own taste, just because we don’t listen to mainstream tunes on the radio doesn’t mean my music is any less enjoyable than yours.

I hope you enjoyed these and maybe got a laugh out of some of my experiences. If you have any others, please share them in the comments!

 

 

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