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Straight Edge Interview Project- Alina, 27, Berlin, She/Her

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

I‘m a master of ophthalmology by day and a metalhead by night (ok I‘m a metalhead all the time.) Going to concerts is one of the best things on earth for me, but I also love exploring abandoned places as well as foreign countries. Sadly I don’t have any pets, but I take my neighbor’s dog out whenever it’s possible.

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

H2O, Minor Threat and Converge

What is your definition of straight edge?

Being straight edge means a commitment never to drink, smoke, or do drugs. Some people include abstinence from promiscuous sex, others abstain from caffeine. It’s a promise to yourself.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

Even though the representation of the straight edge lifestyle has changed over time and it seems to have become way more mainstream‘, the core values of it remain unchanged from when the movement started.

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?

The term originates in the hardcore punk scene and I think most people who claim to be edge (myself included) listen to straight edge bands. Otherwise, you can just call yourself sober I guess, but I also wouldn’t judge on anybody who just lives a clean and sober lifestyle for claiming straight edge.

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

People often think that I‘m either boring or that I’ve been an addict in the past (which for them seems to explain my sobriety).

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?

As there are different types of straight edge people, I had some more so interesting than really challenging interactions with other people who are also edge. One of my friends for example doesn’t agree with drinking caffeine or having sex in general, whereas I‘m not totally against these things. It led to some interesting talks in the past.

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

I‘m a vegan for over 10 years and I‘ve been a vegetarian from when I was 6/7 years old. This doesn’t really have anything to do with being straight edge for me because the thought of eating meat or genetically modified food has never been an option for me (since I’m able to decide on these things for myself.)

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?

What really got me into straight edge was to see a person close to me at the time suffering from heavy drug addiction, including many emotional outbursts, and a change in their personality as well as two overdoses. One of them resulted in the person’s death. I was about 14/15 years old when all of that happened and it changed my whole life and I guess it somewhat made me the person I am today. I decided that I never ever want to be like that, cause so much pain to others or lose myself. One of the skateboarding friends I had back then, introduced me to straight edge.

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

Straight edge means to stay conscious, sober, and fully aware of your surroundings all of the time. It means staying true to yourself.

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

I am an animal rights activist, but sadly due to work and a different location I haven’t really been as active as I used to be in the last few years.

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

I saw the negative effect drug abuse can have on a person and their behavior towards people around them. Ever since then I know that I don’t want to be that kind of person. Numbing any feelings, or even worse losing myself, is not an option for me.

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

I‘m not struggling with anything, but I’m surprised how often I have to justify my behavior. In today’s society, it’s way more, normal‘ to drink and to do drugs than to not do anything.

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

I‘m a pretty Zen person, but dancing and hearing loud music help me when I’m stressed.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

Being straight edge is always easy for me. I’m straight edge since I was very young, so I don’t even know what it would be like to drink or do drugs.

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

I have never considered breaking edge, but I would take medication (like antidepressants) if that’s considered breaking edge.

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?

I have been with people who were not straight edge and that’s perfectly fine with me as long as they don’t consume on a daily basis. Acceptance and tolerance is very important in a relationship in my eyes.

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?

Everyone is pretty supportive of my straight edge lifestyle, but my parents don’t really seem to get it as they still offer me a glass of wine for dinner sometimes when it’s a special occasion.

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?

So in a perfect world, all of my friends and people around me would be vegan edge. I know that that’s not the case and I have no problem with people’s other lifestyles, outlooks, and opinions on things. I have my reasons to be straight edge and I’m sure they have their reasons to not be edge.

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

I just explain to them that I live a sober lifestyle because I don’t need alcohol or drugs to get through or to feel good.

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?

I feel like we could be even more welcoming and less judgmental. 🙂

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

Straight edge is all gender-friendly and I really hope that this will show even more in the future, especially in the hardcore scene.

Have you ever had a negative experience in the scene related to your gender?

I‘m lucky enough to answer this question with no, but I’m sure that some people have had one and I hope they people will keep learning and informing themselves to be a loving and tolerant scene, welcoming all genders.

Straight edge and the associated music scene have long been male-dominated. What do you see as a woman/girls role in the scene? How has this role changed since you have been involved and what changes would you like to see?

More female-fronted bands have played at the concerts and festivals I went to over the last few years and I hope that someday we have a huge variety of female-fronted bands and I hope that a lot of them are headliners bands as well!

What if any challenges have you faced that are specifically related to being a female in a male-dominated scene?

I have faced some sexism and some verbal abuse at concerts.

Please add anything else you think we should know or you would like to share!

Be nice to each other 🙂

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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