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Straight Edge Interview Project- katie; 32; brooklyn, nyc; she/her

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

i build my life around relationships and communities. i enjoy bringing new people into my life and maintaining connections with those who have been around a while. i’m particularly active as a cyclist and ride organizer. i love attending kinky play parties when it’s safe to gather indoors. i’m also. burgeoning coin collector and numismatist. i have a cat who’s four and a pup who’s two and they have been my biggest life boat’s in the sea of this literally depressing pandemic. i’ve been a barista for a few years now and my most grandiose current goal is to open a brick & mortar coffee house. oh and i’m also a veteran lol.

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

my favourite edge band that i never got to see would be good clean fun. i love how not-serious they were with their serious commitment to the vegan edge. my favourite edge band that i have had the luck of seeing is bane and there are few things and invigorating as jumping on stage for a singalong with them. and my favouritest bands overall are modern life is war and defeater. i’m very much a post-hardcore kind of girl and that dark, brooding heaviness is what i crave. also i myself am a classically trained musician and my favourite composers are kaija saariaho and sofia gubaidulina.

What is your definition of straight edge?

no drinking, no drugs, no smoking, no pot. i’m trying to live with less black & white in my life, though, so if anyone has come up with a less strict vision of edge then i would love to hear it.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

honestly, it’s hard for me to say. ever since claiming edge as a teenager i’ve felt like an outlier in the scene. i’m only now starting to meet more edge women and other folks who don’t fit the typical masculine hardcore image

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?

straight edge literally comes from a hardcore punk song, so why would someone even want to claim edge if they’re not at least a little punk? there are so many other identities to claim or create that can be edge-adjacent and not edge. just let us have our thing and you can go create your thing and in some ways, we’ll overlap and in others, we won’t.

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

xsisterhoodx- straight edge stories project-katie; 32; brooklyn, nyc; she/her

i’m the kind of straight edge who claimed when she was a teenager, so i often have to explain to people that i’m not ~sober because i never did drink or do any drugs in the first place. i also have a lot of pot-smoking friends and they’re always surprised that i liked them in the first place. just cuz i make a choice for my own life doesn’t mean i expect everyone else to fall in line just the same!

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?

really i just wish there were more queer women in the edge scene, or at least i wish i could find them! being a woman in a male-dominated space is hard enough, add to that being a queer woman in a straight woman dominant minority and i feel doubly on the outskirts.

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 claimed edge when i was seventeen and went vegan when i was nineteen. they’re certainly related now but at the time i didn’t quite draw the parallels. not to be mean to those who aren’t, but i just don’t understand how someone can be one (vegan or edge) without being the other.

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’m an only child who was raised by a single mother who dealt with a bad alcohol addiction. i knew that i never wanted to drink or smoke, but frankly when i was a teen i was intrigued by drugs like ecstasy and mushrooms. luckily, i lived in a small town at the time and never met any people in that realm of the drug scene. when i started going to shows there was this Cool Kid™ who was edge so i read into that and decided it was something i wanted for myself (ironically, this militant straight edge teenager who also turned out to be a classmate of mine died a few months after high school graduation of a heroin overdose). then once i found and claimed edge it stuck and became a habit and now it’s something i don’t even really think about.

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

ya know, i never really have thought about my own personal definition of edge and if it could be different than the typical oldschool minor threat definition of edge. to me it means that i don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs but i also drink caffeine and have casual sex, and don’t think that that negates my being edge. i want to see if i can find a definition of edge that isn’t so black and white but so far i haven’t.

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

xsisterhoodx- straight edge stories project-katie; 32; brooklyn, nyc; she/her

i become less and less interested in using simple words to define who i am and instead prefer to let my actions speak for themselves. so get to know me and see how i live my life and then you tell me if i’m an activist or not.

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

really just a force of habit. and i’d probably be really, really hard on myself if i ever broke edge, so i just don’t give myself that option.

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

life is so full of constant struggle. i have never thought that claiming edge would alleviate any sort of life struggle.

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

sometimes this is a really hard question to answer. i never think of turning to drugs or alcohol to relieve stress, but i too often just sit with the stress and struggle and don’t give myself ways to cope with it or distract myself. my best self relieves stress by talking to friends, watching movies, going on bike rides, getting sun and fresh air, swimming in the ocean, and listening to loud music.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

the pandemic has led me to seek a lot more community online, which in turn led me to a few straight edge communities such as this one and thus introduced me to more people. so in a strange roundabout way, the pandemic has brought me just a little bit closer to the edge community to which i have always felt distant.

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

i often wonder if i’ll get to be like 104 years old and be like “fuck it, let’s do all the drugs before i die” but that’s really it.

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)?

this is such a foreign question to me cuz i’m still (unfortunately) in the militant edge mindset that was all i knew when i first claimed edge in the early aughts (“if you aren’t now you never were”). but i’m glad to see that this is even a question being asked because it’s really good to know that people are allowed to slip and come back as opposed to one life choice completely ostracising you from this lifestyle/community.

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 had many, many relationships in my life and not once have i been in one with another edge person. i would so very much like to be in a relationship with an edge person, but also my experience so far has been that the overlap of straight edge and queer in almost nonexistent.

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 never had anyone in my life who has looked down at my being edge or tried to get me to be anything but edge. lots of friends and partners even try to never drink or smoke around me which i guess is super nice and sweet but also i don’t want to feel like my manner of living causes others to be an inauthentic self around me.

If you are single, have you found it difficult to date?

xsisterhoodx- straight edge stories project-katie; 32; brooklyn, nyc; she/her

broadly speaking i don’t find it very difficult to date, but i also allow myself to date people who aren’t edge. trying to date someone else who is edge, though, is exceptionally difficult.

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?

YES! except i find it kinda hard to relate to people outside and inside of the edge scene. almost no queer people are edge and almost no edge women are queer so in both communities, i feel an outsider and different than.

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

i like to say i’m a teetotaller cuz it’s a cutesy old-timey word and from there i can say that i actually don’t do any drugs. if the person asks if i’m straight edge then i say of course but if they don’t know then i don’t really bother to explain.

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?

really i have no idea. i don’t have enough experience to speak to this one way or the other. but with that, i will say that regardless of the circumstances, more people choosing to abstain from substances is always a step in the right direction.

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

i haven’t really drawn any notable parallels between edge and gender equity yet.

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

nothing overt, but i can’t help but feel isolated and othered when the majority of the scene is straight men.

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 want to see women keep doing what they’re doing just the same and instead of us having to do anything different i want more men to step back, shut up, and give women their platforms. men need to cede some space to us and we shouldn’t have to fight so damn hard for it.

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

it’s sometimes difficult to be taken seriously and then there are the dudes who try to test my knowledge or commitment to edge in a way that they wouldn’t of another man.

Do you feel the straight edge community has done enough to advance gender/race/social issues?

there seem to be lots of boy bands singing and screaming about these issues but at the end of the day it’s still a man’s voice that is at the fore. lots of cishet white men who acknowledge their privilege but they’re not stepping back and getting out of the way.

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?

no. yes. headlining boy bands should make a point to only fill the rest of their playbills with majority-women bands. boy bands should release splits with far lesser-known majority-girl bands. boys should be put on, like, a ten-year pause from making any new bands; just stop filling the airwaves with boy music until women have released at least as many recordings as men.

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

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