Being goth

Why do they love black? Why are they always vegan? And why are they so weird?

31st October 2017

Goths have a reputation for being gloomy, reading books about vampires and listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees.

But what’s behind all that eyeliner and black lace? We grabbed a bunch of goths – Elz, Tim Sinister, Lindsay Ashford, Lisa-Rose Clarke, Kat Sparling and Emma Gallimore-Martin – and they answered all the ignorant questions that we were too embarrassed to ask.

First things first: why do you love black so much?

Kat: I don’t really understand why people don’t love black! Black is slimming, sexy, edgy and… well a little bit dangerous. You see it all the time on Netflix: all the best dressed characters on all your favourite shows have “gone to the darkside”. Why save all the fun for one night of the year (Halloween) life’s too fucking short.

Elz: Slimming. Stain hiding. Goes with everything.

What is “goth” or what makes someone a goth?

Goths in Whitby
Image: Bryan Ledgard

Emma: I think there are many things that make a goth. For myself it is a deep and abiding love of all things spooky and dark, a genuine love of the music and wanting to look like I’ve just been dug up.

Lisa-Rose: I think “goth” can mean many different things and there are many types of goth. People who identify as goth can be very different to each other and will all have different reasons for calling themselves goth.

Tim: It’s actually quite hard to define. Generally, liking goth music is a good start, but we can’t even decide what makes a band goth! If you self-identify as goth, and you pass your Entrance Exam, you’re in! (Only kidding…)

Why are goths always vegan?

Elz: Not true. What about all the vampires?!

Kat: Haha, well I do have a lot of vegan goth friends but I’m actually a meat-eater so carnivore goths do exist! I think a lot of goths are because a lot of goths are also highly principled and likely to be feminists and vegans. Also it is probably because goths tend to be animal lovers.

Emma: The souls of the innocent are more filling than bacon will ever be.

Why are goths so weird?

Emma: Because we actually hatch from tiny black eggs.

Tim: It would be weird if humans were all the same, all going to gardening centres or supporting Arsenal. Being different doesn’t equal being weird!

Lindsay: Everyone is weird if you get to know them well enough.

Why are people scared of goths?

Lindsay: Projection. The people who’ve been scared of me have also been terrified of not fitting in.

Emma: I think a little bit of it is because on some subconscious level we remind people of their own mortality but that’s probably thinking about it too much. Some people just fear the spooky. We look strange and we challenge their preconceived notion of what’s acceptable. Or maybe it’s because they wish they looked this good. Who knows!

Kat: A lot of people don’t like people who dress differently to them. A friend once said: “I bet you think my outfit is boring then? Aren’t our clothes good enough for you?”, so maybe it is that they see our outfits as a rejection of theirs, when it is more an expression of how we feel.

Tim: Because they don’t understand goths. They believe a lot of strange rumours about devil worship or being obsessed with horror movies or being mentally disturbed and dangerous. Generally we’re quite peaceful and funny people!

What are goths scared of?

Lindsay: Mediocrity.

Tim: That we might never get another album by The Sisters of Mercy. We’re scared of a lot of things that everyone else is, and in particular a big bunch of “normal” people. Because normal people are also people who attack and hurt other people who are different to them.

Kat: Beige maybe? Hehe.

Emma: The perfect pale foundation we’ve searched years for, that gives us the perfect graveyard parlour but can also be worn to the office being discontinued. That and running out of eyeliner. Or there being a black hair dye shortage.

Elz: I am afraid of the dentist.

What are goths’ personalities like?

Goths in Whitby
Goths are all different. Image: Bryan Ledgard

Elz: The best ones have a dark sense of humour and a nerdy amount of passion for things. The worst love themselves or take themselves too seriously.

Emma: I think we’re mostly a good crowd. You get the odd ‘more goth than thou’ type person but for the most part I find us to be funny, kind and accepting of others.

Lisa-Rose: All very different, unique, interesting and honest. Nobody saying they like things because someone else said it… usually.

Tim: We’re usually very creative, writing or making art or playing in bands. We’re usually very social, hanging out with our friends and going to gigs or clubs or festivals. Goths have a very good sense of humour, we’re often very wry and self-deprecating.

What do you do for fun?

Elz: Eating. Drinking. Dancing. Fucking.

Emma: I’m a mum so my idea of fun is a lie in past 7:30am!

Lisa-Rose: Hang out in graveyards and sacrifice goats… no… what everybody else does… watch TV, listen to music, go out for food, etc.

Tim: I enjoy running my blog! I’ve been a goth for more than fifteen years and I enjoy my subculture. I like the music and the events and the friends I’ve made. I also like books, computer games, cats and coming home from the gym. I don’t like going TO the gym, that’s the problem.

What are the most common misconceptions about goths?


Goth and emo
There’s a distinct difference between goth and emo. Image: Comedy Central

Lindsay: That we’re miserable all the time.

Tim: There’s lots, but we aren’t all devil worshippers – I’m an atheist. You’ll find goths of all colours and creeds. We aren’t all depressed and self-harming, it’s just a little more prevalent in the goth scene because we’re a community that welcomes those with mental health concerns and doesn’t shame people for talking about their problems. We aren’t Emos! They have their own musical legacy going back to a subgenre of punk. I don’t get the jokes about Monster energy drinks. That’s news to me.

Kat: Oh wow, let me just adjust my shoulder-raven. There are so many assumptions people make about goths! Here’s the list: that we are unfriendly (only to dickheads, most of us are super polite and nice) that we wear all black ALL of the time (many wear red, green, purple and blue or at least an “accent” colour to complement all the black. That we drink blood (most goths do not believe they are vampires. A very small proportion do). That we love crows and ravens (okay that one is true!).

What do you do for a living and do you have to pretend not to be a goth at work?

Kat: I work as an independent consultant. I have felt like I had to hide my darker side a bit at jobs before. Or at least initially to let people get to know me before declaring my love for skulls.

Lisa-Rose: Well I am a body piercer so I guess I fit the mould quite well and I get to be and look how I want.

Tim: I’m an administrator in the NHS. I don’t see patients or the public so I just keep myself as smart as any office job would require. My colleagues know I’m a goth but it’s no more remarkable than the blonde highlights or designer glasses or ugly sweaters other people wear!

Lindsay: I just finished an IT job where I was in “the Goth in the basement”. I had a poster of Richmond (IT crowd) above my desk. Before that I worked with architects, so no-one thought wearing all black all the time was unusual.

Elz: I am an English teacher. I do try to be “normal” but the odd always seeps out.

What’s the worst thing about being a goth?

Lindsay: Cat hair.

Tim: Your blacks not matching.

Lisa-Rose: Not being able to find many foundations that are pale enough.

Kat: The worst thing is probably the judgment you get from some other people: the dirty looks, like you are a prostitute for enjoying a sexy look, or like you are a strange creature that doesn’t belong. It can hurt sometimes and be annoying when you just want to go about your business, everyone on some level wants to belong and not be judged.

Emma: When October rolls around and suddenly everyone is dressed like Wednesday Addams. Tourists!  

What’s the best thing about being a goth?

Kat: There’s a huge sense of belonging among the Goth community for people who have always felt like outsiders. In my friendship group we all love coming together and getting excited about the things that we love: spooky things, gothy music, alternative clothes etc.

Lisa-Rose: Being an individual who is comfortable to dress how I want and like what I want and not have to pretend to be anything to suit anybody else.

Tim: Finding a matching black t-shirt and pair of jeans. Going to the pub with your goth mates. Watching a good goth band play. Dancing at a goth nightclub to goth music. Introducing people to the world of goth. Other goths.

Lindsay: Being part of a global community. It’s great to visit somewhere new knowing you’ll be able to find like-minded people.

Emma: Everything. Especially The Cure.

So now you know!

31st October 2017