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Sarah Kuretzky , 48, Detroit, Michigan, she/her/hers

Tell us about you? What do you do for a living? Do you have any pets, hobbies, pet projects?

Sarah Kuretzky- Straight Edge Woman

I’m the Head of Experiential Education, Social-Emotional Learning for a school district in the Detroit area. I sadly don’t have any pets but if I see your dog, I will most likely baby talk it. I am also a personal trainer and a holistic health coach, I spend the majority of my free time in my gym since we haven’t been able to go to shows since last year. I love cooking and baking and trying new recipes. I have 3 kids, a 20-year-old, 18, and 13-year-old so they keep me pretty busy as well.

Favorite straight edge (or non-straight edge) bands? 

Shelter, 108, YOT, Gorilla Biscuits, Judge, Into Another, Quicksand, Dag Nasty, Samiam, Knapsack, Vanishing Life, and Rival Schools. I could go on but these are all bands I still listen to at least once a week.

What is your definition of straight edge?

I mean straight edge meant no smoking, drugs, or drinking when I was a kid but it has evolved for me. So the above is the same but I would add being positive, supporting each other, no illicit sex ( though I am sex-positive this is what it is for me), and at least being vegetarian.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

It is hard to have a scene with a pandemic but I don’t think Detroit ever had a strong straight edge scene. I do think one good aspect of social media and the internet is finding community in other places which were harder to do unless you were driving to shows in other cities or having pen pals from back in the day.

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

I think that music is so important but I do not believe it is ever my place or someone else to dissuade a person from being edge. I am all about calling yourself straight edge if that is what a person wants.

What are some funny/common misconceptions people have about you being straight edge?

Well, the two funniest things I have ever heard were when other adults have asked if I was sober because I was in AA or an alcoholic or that straight edge is a gang that beats people up for not being straight edge. I think it’s funny for people to assume you don’t drink it must be because you have substance use disorder. Also, why would I fight anyone because they were drinking?

What are some challenges you have faced when interacting with other people who are also edge? If you haven’t had any challenges, tell us some challenges you’ve faced when interacting with people who are not edge?

I kind of answered that above. People often make generalizations based on the music a person listens to and how they dress. Also, I wish (and this is generally not women in the scene) younger people in the scene would be more positive and pick people up when they fall from stage diving or just be aware of their space. I have encountered a lot of people that will trample other people and not give two F##k about if they are hurt or help them.

Is your diet influenced or informed by your choice to be straight edge i.e. organic, antibiotic infused meat, genetically modified foods, vegan, vegetarian?

Yes, I have been at least a vegetarian for 35 years and I am vegan most of the time especially if I eat out. I will eat Krishna conscious food that is not vegan,

What’s your straight edge story? Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life? How old were you? 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 became straight when I was 19 years old. I was into hardcore for years before and loved straight edges bands. I really didn’t drink or do drugs in high school but started dating someone who was really into drinking every weekend and I felt the pressure to do the same. I will just say some bad shit happened to me and I’m grateful I had a friend that was straight edge and I started hanging out with him and his friends. It was a pivotal time for me because my old friends started getting into heavy drugs and became people I didn’t want to be. I felt more myself than ever being part of the straight edge scene in the ’90s and I’m grateful every day that I became acquainted with Krishnacore and bands that had a higher purpose.

Define what straight edge means to you? Has this changed over the years?

Straight Edge is about living a cruelty-free life and having a higher purpose than yourself. I don’t think it has changed much for me other than I chant Hare Krishna!

Do you consider yourself an activist? What is/are your cause(s), and how have you been working to advance them?

I mean I’m a teacher. I teach students about community building, activism, finding their truth, and how to leave this place better than they found it.

What, if anything, keeps you committed to the straight edge lifestyle?

I am committed to my truth and living my truth so that is what keeps me committed. Also, I hope I’m an example to my kids and my students that living a substance-free lifestyle brings you pure joy rather than manufactured happiness.

What is something you didn’t think you would struggle with by claiming edge?

Explaining to people it’s a life choice not a substance use disorder.

What do you do for stress relief instead of drinking/drugs, tips for peer pressure?

Working out is honestly the thing that helps me more than anything else. Lifting heavy.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

It hasn’t changed for me at all.

Have you ever considered breaking edge? What were the circumstances, and what changed your mind?

No, there is no reason to.

If you are in a relationship is your partner straight edge, or have you had a previous relationship with someone who was not straight edge? What, if any, challenges have you faced relating to your lifestyle/choices?

My boyfriend is also straight edge. I have been in relationships with people who were not straight edge and it is much easier to be with someone that comes from a commonplace and has the same core beliefs.

If your partner is edge do you have similar views/outlooks about straight edge? What are some examples of ideas/beliefs that you agree and/or disagree on?

We are totally on the same page when it comes to our values and outlook on straight edge. We are both into Bhakti so it helps with the same ideology.

Has your family and social life been negatively or positively impacted? Have you faced or are you facing any specific challenges because of your lifestyle choices? If your family/friends are unsupportive, how do you deal?

I have not had any issues with this whatsoever

Some straight edge women/girls I have talked to have told me that they feel isolated and that they find it difficult to relate to people outside of the straight edge scene. Is this something you can relate to?

Yeah, this is probably the hardest question to answer for me. Throughout my life, I mostly hung out with boys when I was a kid. Growing up in the ’70s and 80’s I was always called a “tomboy.” I never felt that comfortable around other girls, so ever since I was little I always hung out, played sports, and got into music. I always felt weird going to shows when I was in high school and college and being the only girl there. I always felt weird with hardcore dudes having girlfriends there holding their jackets. I always felt different, like this was a place I belong. It was a boys club when I was growing up but I think things have changed a lot since the Riot Grrrl scene and I’m glad. I’m so happy that girls and women can have a voice and be a part of the scene. I love seeing women in bands with men and making amazing music.

If you are straight edge and a parent, how has being straight edge informed how you parent and/or relate to other parents?

I’m really honest with all of my kids about how I experienced life and how I have had friends who went through addiction and so much pain, and the pain I have gone through because of people’s addiction. I want my kids to understand the seriousness of drugs and alcohol but know they can come to me about it. When I was young and I drank, I hated it but felt like it was a rite of passage or something. I want my kids to know that there are other ways to experience growing up without those influences.

How do you explain your lifestyle to others outside of the scene? Do you find it difficult? What’s your elevator pitch?

Honestly, I don’t even bother anymore.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon the straight edge lifestyle and it has really spoken to them. Do you feel that the straight edge community has been welcoming to those in recovery? Do you have mixed feelings? Strong Feelings?

This is difficult for me. I really can’t answer this question without sounding kind of like a jerk. I think there is a difference between sobriety and straight edge.

How do you feel your straight edge commitment plays into the bigger social justice movement for gender equity?

I think this depends on the individual, not the scene tbh.

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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