Home » Straight Edge Interview Project: Zaina! 24 She/Her/Hers. Salt Lake City, Utah

Straight Edge Interview Project: Zaina! 24 She/Her/Hers. Salt Lake City, Utah

Tell us about yourself! Hobbies, jobs, passion projects, interests? 

At the moment, I’m currently working CX at a tech company, which is all good fun! It’s paying my bills and keeping me afloat while I finish my Masters degree for Elementary Education. I’m hoping to be a first-grade teacher by the fall of 2023!

Initially, I went to school for Journalism, as I wanted to write about music for a flashy publication—but my path didn’t exactly line up that way. Even though I didn’t end up pursuing music journalism as a career, I do have quite a few years of contributing to local music magazines under my belt. My time as a music writer really connected me with my local scene at the time, and immersed me in the vast history of the scene here in Salt Lake City. While it’s more of a hobby now, I really loved making interviewing my friends, reviewing new releases and going to hardcore shows my job for a little while.

In regards to passion projects, my husband and I are hoping to start our own zine this year! One of his primary hobbies is hand-drawing flyers for shows and so we’ve been flirting with the idea of creating our own little publication and throwing it into the world. I don’t have a ton of details to share about that yet, but I’m eager to get the ball rolling and to contribute something creatively to the scene. A major side-affect of the pandemic in my own life was losing my creative spark within the scene (no shows=no inspo) so, getting back into that warmness of feeling inspired is really exciting for me.

Outside of work and a potential passion project—I really love watching movies, reading books, journaling and roller skating! I’m dying for it to get warmer in Salt Lake so I can go outside.

What are you listening to these days? 

My friends recently started a band and released an EP—and I’ve been listening to it all of the time. They’re called Snake Eyez (https://xsnakeeyezx.bandcamp.com/), and their self-titled EP is streamable on all platforms so please go support them! Otherwise, I’ve been listening to a lot of Pain of Truth lately.

When I’m not listening to hardcore, I’m almost always listening to pop-punk, $uicideboy$, or a 2000s throwback playlist.

What’s your straight edge story? How old were you when you “claimed edge”?  How long have you been straight edge?  Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life?   How did you find out about straight edge, was there someone in the community that introduced you, or were you introduced to it through people/bands, etc?  What drew you to it?  

I initially claimed when I was 19/20, and, admittedly, my initial go about it didn’t last very long- only about 9 months. In hindsight, I think that I initially jumped into it thinking that I was truly doing it for me and that I had all of my “right” reasons accounted for, but I was actually doing it to feel like I belonged. I didn’t claim immediately after I started going to shows, but I didn’t take a lot of time to mull it over, either. I didn’t have any reason *not* to claim, right? So I did!

At that time, my boyfriend and a lot of the other people I loved and respected in my life were straight edge, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. Now, that I’m older and wiser, I can look back at that time of my life, and recognize how naive and eager I was to be apart of something bigger than myself. I wanted to solidify my identity and fit in with the people I spent all of my time with. Ultimately, as time passed, I started to second guess myself and my ability to stay true. I think in that moment, I really lost sight of my why and it started to occur to me that maybe I didn’t do it for the right reasons. Maybe I *did* claim to be liked and to feel like my identity aligned with the scene

It definitely takes a lot of strength and courage to admit that to myself, let alone to write it down for a ton of people to read. I’m not proud of it. What followed, was a short flirtation-ship with drinking, smoking and partying. Throughout my life, I was never really a big drinker. I didn’t love alcohol, but I drank it when the festivities called for it. I never felt good or happy with myself when it was all said and done. The thing I really got roped into was smoking and vaping. I struggled for a few years with that, and once I finally broke out of that addiction, I realized that I was truly wasting my time and my good health and started to separate myself from spaces where my friends were partaking. I also really struggled with peer pressure, feeling left out and eventually giving in when I didn’t plan on drinking in the first place. This caused a lot of frustration with myself, which would then manifest into me being frustrated with others—which is never a good thing.

I went back and forth between reclaiming for a long time. Objectively, I knew that if I moved forward with the commitment, I would have a true reason to stand my ground and own my “no.” I knew that no one would undermine my decision to stop drinking, and that I would be able to truly honor myself and my feelings without ridicule. I wouldn’t have to deal with the “Come on, just one!” comments and the relentless pressure anymore. The “what ifs” were really holding me back from doing it. “What if everyone thinks I’m just doing it for attention?” “What if they make fun of me?” “What if they think less of me?” “What if they don’t take me seriously?” What if? What if, What if.

Then I took a big step out of my head and realized that, yes, while I want the community (my community) to love and accept me and be on my team—this is ultimately a decision that I’m making *for myself.* No one else has to live with my decision, except for me. As much as it’s nice to feel validated by others, I don’t have to have it in order to do what’s right for myself. In that moment, after mulling over all of my fears, and the multitude of experiences that validated my negative feelings surrounding nicotine, drugs and alcohol—I knew that I was ready to recommit myself to the Straight Edge lifestyle. I know I’m being dead serious, and I think that making this decision was a big step towards taking myself seriously. I’m not in it for anyone else, I’m in it for me. At this point, I reclaimed two weeks ago. I understand that reclaiming gets a bad rap—but in my perspective, it’s very nuanced. Had I not made the series of decisions that I did back then, I wouldn’t be where I am now—standing up for myself and what I truly believe in. It may be corny to even say it, but I know now that I had lessons to learn about myself and I learned a lot of them the hard way. I, without a doubt, came out stronger at the end of it, now here I am!

Now, I feel like I want to channel that strength into breaking the negative stigma around reclaiming. It isn’t corny, cringey or a sign of weakness that you are wanting to do better for yourself. Ultimately, I’m really excited to be embracing this part of myself in full force, and living a life that I’m proud of.

How do you define straight edge?  What makes straight edge different from being sober?  Is your definition fluid or concrete?   Do you think you will ever NOT be straight edge? What keeps you committed?

I define straight edge in the same way (I think) a lot of people do: as a lifelong, commitment to not smoke, drink or do drugs. It’s a promise to stay true to staying sober and to stay true to yourself. AlI touched down on this earlier but I, personally, believe that there’s nothing wrong with reclaiming. I think that the integrity of straight edge needs to be preserved and taken seriously, and that reclaiming needs to be just as important and impactful as it was the first time. If you feel ready to show up for yourself and to make the commitment, then that shouldn’t be off limits. Making a lifestyle decision that’s going to empower you to make better decisions, do right by yourself and positively impact your life should be encouraged and celebrated. I don’t think that Straight Edge is something to around toy with, or to disrespect. I think we’re all allowed second chances, but I think you have to *really* mean it. Sincerity goes a long way.though I reclaimed, I don’t think Straight Edge is a fluid thing. You either are, or you aren’t—and it should be taken seriously. In my eyes, claiming straight edge is a major commitment and it always will be. I believe that straight edge is different than being sober because there’s no grey area—you’re all in or you’re out. Straight edge is, ultimately, about your own convictions and how much they matter to you.

I see myself being straight edge forever, because my experiences have given me so much clarity and insight into the life that I really want.

True or False: “If you’re not now, you never were”? If you were once straight edge and now you are back,  what happened?  What brought you back? How has your relationship with straight edge evolved?

I touched down on this earlier but I, personally, believe that there’s nothing wrong with reclaiming. I think that the integrity of straight edge needs to be preserved and taken seriously, and that reclaiming needs to be just as important and impactful as it was the first time. If you feel ready to show up for yourself and to make the commitment, then that shouldn’t be off limits. Making a lifestyle decision that’s going to empower you to make better decisions, do right by yourself and positively impact your life should be encouraged and celebrated. I don’t think that Straight Edge is something to around toy with, or to disrespect. I think we’re all allowed second chances, but I think you have to *really* mean it. Sincerity goes a long way.

I know that many people have felt the internal battle of “to reclaim or not to reclaim.” I’m definitely not the first person to go through the motions of selling out and coming back. Truthfully, I’ve never felt more connected to Straight Edge than I do now—after failing the first time. I hope that by sharing my story and speaking openly about it while it’s still fresh brings comfort to someone out there that may be feeling the same way I was.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon straight edge, and it has really spoken to them.  Do you feel that the straight edge community has been, and should be welcoming to those in recovery? 

I think this is really interesting. I don’t think that I know enough about this to speak on it completely, but I would hope that the community welcomes folks with warm, open arms. It is, after all, a positive thing for everyone.

Have you ever felt that your gender has had influenced your experience in the “straight edge and/or hardcore scene”.   If so, how?  Have you had negative/positive experiences?

I definitely don’t have it as hard as other women/folks have had it. I realize that I’ve had an easy time getting into hardcore and existing in hardcore spaces. I think that, for the most part, the Salt Lake scene is a very encouraging and supportive scene to be in—or at least it has been for the duration of my time within it! I was in a band for a little while and that, ultimately, was a really positive experience. I heard the “female-fronted band” comment every once in a while, but I think that with time and with awareness, that will eventually stop being so prominent.

I know that there’s always been lot of talk about how girls can’t be straight edge and that misogyny had a seat at the hardcore table for a long time—but I honestly feel like it’s very obvious that these notions are painfully outdated. If you’re reading this and it isn’t obvious to you, then, I’m sorry, but you’re the only person that feels that way. I’m not at all saying that misogyny/sexism in the scene doesn’t exist (because it does), but it at least isn’t so prominent that I feel like I can’t be myself or be taken seriously.

A lot of our spaces/venues in Salt Lake are welcoming to everyone and encourage diversity. I’m also confident in saying that a lot of the kids that show up to the shows and actively support the scene are passionate about cultivating inclusive, safe spaces. Going to shows, ultimately, feels empowering.

Do you feel that the straight edge movement/scene is inclusive?  What are things that can be done to make it more inclusive?  What sort of changes would you like to see?

I think that the straight edge movement has a long way to go, but I think that it’s starting to diversify! I think that I found a lot of comfort in finding xsisterhoodx, and that I felt a million times more empowered to raise my voice and share my story knowing that tons of women have done it before me. I think that there need to be more spaces, online and off, that amplify diverse voices within the scene.

Has being straight edge had an impact on your relationships (family, friends, significant others). If so how would you characterize that impact?

I’m extremely lucky that the majority of the people in my life support me in my decision to be straight edge. My husband, my mom and my closest friends have all shown me nothing but love and kindness about making this choice for myself. I think that the concept can be confusing for my other family members, but apart from the occasional joke, its apparent that it doesn’t affect them very much.

There’s an ongoing debate on whether one can be straight edge without being a part of the music scene, what are your thoughts on this?

I mean, folks that aren’t in the scene *can* be straight edge, but I think that there’s no denying that being straight edge is in hardcore scene territory. I feel like if I were to hear that someone was straight edge, I would immediately assume that they were connected to the scene and cared about the culture.

kellysisterhood
Author: kellysisterhood

Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org

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Written by kellysisterhood
Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org
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