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Straight Edge Interview Project: Bethany, 29, Southeastern Kentucky, She/Her

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

I own and operate my own bakery. I have 7 dogs, 1 cat, 5 lizards and 4 snakes of various breeds. I’m very artistic, I spend a lot of free time painting or creating things. Hiking, exercising, spending time with my family and friends, playing music and watching scary movies!

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

Casey Jones, H2O, Have Heart, Minor Threat, Throwdown, xelegyx, youth of today, earth crisis, hatebreed, terror, straight line stitch.

What is your definition of straight edge?

Living life by your own rules, approaching everything with a clear mind and perspective. Enjoying every depth of life to its absolute fullest, without clouded judgement. Being truly alive in every moment. Respecting your body and listening to its natural choices to be clean and pure. Living a prosperous life with no dependencies whatsoever. Being better.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

I feel like the scene has been pulled in so many different directions than from where it originally began. But I still feel it’s something to be proud of. Loyalty is still as strong as ever. Acceptance is low, people in the scene can be quick to dismiss others because of their past or even some present beliefs. But I personally, have always felt welcomed and more at home with the straight edge and punk scenes than any other.

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 feel that straight edge solely derived from the music scene, as it is a base for the movement, I don’t feel that you have to be part of the music scene to claim edge. Over the years it’s became more than just about good clean music and more about a lifestyle. Though, I believe everyone who claims edge should do their research and know where their roots came from and how it all began.

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

they think I’m boring, no fun, a prude even. A big misconception is that me amongst all others are “snobby.” I hear consistently, “all straight edge kids think they’re better than everyone else.” I personally don’t feel that way, but I can’t speak for others.

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 do find a lot of people in the scene are quickly to dismiss others with opposing beliefs, some are not so accepting of others. I’ve even met some who refuse to associate themselves with anyone outside of the scene. I’ve also encountered similar issues with people who are not straight edge.

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?

My first encounter with the straight edge movement was at a local punk show in a little town called Whitesburg Kentucky, inside of an old post office, where I was introduced to the band Casey Jones. I saw all of these people wearing x’s and “straight edge hardcore” shirts and was instantly intrigued. A couple years later, my younger brother had a really bad experience with a drug overdose and I decided then, I’d never be that person. My hometown was infested with drugs, they were everywhere and it disgusted me. I had never been into anything bad anyways but seeing everyone around me fall victim to it, it just pushed me so much farther away from it all. Once I learned that straight edge wasn’t a club for cool kids that you had to be accepted into and it was just a lifestyle, I took it on full force and never looked back. For the first time in my life, I finally felt like I belonged to something that really meant something.

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

Straight edge to me personally, means to live a clean and pure life, abstaining from any and all things that could control my mind, body or spirit and taking life on with a clear and fully focused mind. My views have never changed.

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

My family and friends, being better for those I love and for myself.

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

Making other people understand my choices.

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

Long car rides with lots of loud angry music. I usually drive somewhere with some gorgeous scenery, park my car and just breathe. Don’t let others pressure you into being someone you’re not. Stand by yourself and your beliefs. If others care about you, they’ll care about your beliefs.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

I ordered lots of clothes! Lol. I imagine it was no different than anyone else’s experience. I did lots of online shopping, cuddles with my puppies, yummy food and lots of movie nights.

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

It’s never crossed my mind. In my opinion, it’s never an option. I’ve been through a lot of terrible tragedies that would cause most people to fall back on a crutch, but I stand by who I am, I embrace the moments as they come and them move along. We as humans, are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

Have you ever stopped being edge for a period of time, and if so why? Did you regret doing so? What brought you back? If you have come back, how do you view your commitment (i.e. for life, for now)?

I’ve never broke, never will.

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’ve never dated anyone straight edge. The relationship I’m in now, he does not claim, but he respects my choices and I respect his. We each have our own views on life and just because we see things differently, doesn’t mean we cant find a happy middle.

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’ve had nothing but positivity from my family and friends. Everyone supports me and my choices. Though they don’t share in my beliefs, we’ve never had differences due to them.

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?

At times, it can feel isolating when you go to a dinner and everyone’s drinking but you, or you’re at a show and everyone’s smoking outside and your standing on the other end of the parking lot alone. But I don’t feel that it’s them isolating me so much, as it is me isolating myself from those type of situations.

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

I explain that I choose to refrain from the use of drugs or alcohol, or any other types of stimulants. My pitch is usually “I’m the ideal mascot for the D.A.R.E. Program, I always say no.” Lol

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 the community isn’t always welcoming to those peopled I feel it’s because of the history of relapse with addicts. Loyalty is a big thing in the scene, loyalty to yourself as much as others, and some addicts find it hard to break the cycle. I feel some use it as another type of crutch for what they’re battling instead of an actual lifestyle change.

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

I think the straight edge community really started as a more male based scene, over the years, lots of females have slowly and openly adopted the lifestyle, not always welcomed, but dove in head first anyways, and it’s really owned up the community to be more accepting, which is always a step forward!

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

I have not, I’ve luckily always been welcomed with open arms.

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?

I remember going to shows back in high school, where guys controlled the floor and girls just stood to the side, shy and almost invisible. Now I go to shows and I see SO MANY girls in the pit, stage diving, holding their own right along side of the guys. It’s so amazing to see females stepping out of the shadows and embracing the things they love.

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

The only challenge I’ve faced is that I feel like my opinions don’t carry as much weight as they should with some men. Some still view woman as outsiders trying to force their way in. I feel that, honestly, they just feel threatened by us. We’re the strongest of the strong, spirit and mind, bold, beautiful, and most men can’t relinquish control to a female of those standards, so they try to hold us back instead.

Is the scene as inclusive as it likes to think it is? Do you think there’s work to be done? If so, what would you like to see change?

There’s certainly work to be done. But I do feel it’s came a long way. I think the community as a whole should be more accepting of people who’s looking for a major change and is interested in learning about the straight edge lifestyle.

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

I’m a double organ transplant recipient due to long term effects of juvenile diabetes. My health issues have also, played a major role in me choosing to be and sustain my straight edge life style. I do it so I can love myself everyday, love my body, be healthy and most importantly be proud of myself!

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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