Today is World Goth Day, a small but growing movement celebrating gothic culture. There are events going on around the globe (check out www.worldgothday.com for details of events in your area) and in theory it’s a time for goths of all shapes and sizes to get together and embrace our common interests.
Sadly, the reality of the gothic culture isn’t such a happy image (yep, poor wording but you know what I mean!). Gothic culture is suffering from a seeming epidemic of so-called ‘gatekeepers’. People who are so protective of their opinion of what ‘goth’ is that they spend their time denigrating anybody who dares to differ from that while still calling themselves goth. Dress like a goth but don’t like the music? Out. Like the music but don’t like the fashion? Out. Like some of the music but not others? Out. Cyber goth? Nu goth? Industrial goth? Pastel goth? Out out out out. The list goes on.
Now this may sound harmless and trivial, but in actuality it can be really damaging both to the individual under attack and to our culture as a whole. A lot of the time, mainstream society is a pretty unwelcoming place for us goths – you only have to read the story of Sophie Lancaster to see that – so imagine how it must feel to be rejected by both mainstream society AND the gothic society which you feel should embrace you? Are we really willing to reject people for being ‘different’ without seeing the inherent irony there?
If you keep in touch with world events it won’t surprise you to learn that there is often a racist element to this gatekeeping too. Far too regularly we see posts in social media claiming that you can only be goth if you are white. It’s difficult to put into words how disgusting that is. Not to mention monumentally stupid. Look at the history of music and try tell me that goth music would have happened without black musicians. Look at how heavily gothic fashion has been inspired by African designs (the most obvious example being the Egyptian Ankh). But that’s almost beside the point. Racism has no place here, or anywhere.
Goth is a subculture with a wide range of facets, full of interesting people with interesting ideas. Part of the joy of being goth is finding beauty in everything and embracing people’s differences. So sack the gatekeepers, break down the walls, and celebrate the diversity that makes us all wonderfully, weirdly goth.
Anna Bat x