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Straight Edge Interview Project- Lilian, 37, Berlin/DE

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

Vegan baker, love watching Star Trek and one day I’ll live in the country side and adopt 5 dogs. ☺️

Favorite straight edge (or non-straight edge) bands? If you have links, please provide them!

xKingdomx, Seein Red, One day Kills, Tørsö, Point of No Return, Together, Undying, Doughnuts, Gather, xConvictusx, I object!, Iron, Eat my Fear, To See You Broken, Sect and xTrustx, This Time Tomorrow and Indecision.

What is your definition of straight edge?

I see sxe as political sober punk. All the reasons why I decided to live a drug free life are political related.

What specifically motivates you? What politics are driving you?  

I grew up in a poor neighborhood surrounded by drug dealers and gangs. I saw since a very young age what drugs can do to your life, and I don’t even mean as a user. I saw so many people die, especially young blacks or POCs. I saw bodies being carried by the police or adversary gangs. Bodies that would sometimes disappear forever. I do believe people should be free to consume whatever they want (their bodies, their choices!), but if you finance social wars against marginalized communities and a system that gives them not much of a choice than join the local drug dealer for a living and to help their families, you are financing all this social violence and the continuation of it. And doesn’t end with drug dealers using minors to sell drugs. The state and the police benefit a lot from this system too, by locking thousands and thousands of people in private jails and profiting from a semi-slave work condition, where people earn not much more than U$$1 per hour OR EVEN a day. I could go deeper than that, but I am giving here just the top of the iceberg.

I’m at an age now where I have been straight edge longer than I was not. I got involved in the scene around 1994-1995.  In my experience there are a few “rules”, tenants”, guidelines which if you were “claiming edge” committed yourself to following.  The commitment was to be a life time commitment. Was this your experience?   What are the basic “rules” for lack of a better word, that you think embody straight edge?

Yes, that was exactly my experience too. I got involved in 2002, but those were already some kind of behavior code, lets say. 

A life free of drugs and addictions used to be the “rules”, as a subcategory of an already existing sub-culture (alternative/underground culture). 

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

Well, we are under a pandemic, so music/concert wise (which is also a big part of this sub culture) it shouldn’t be happening much. But a bit before the world turned down, I would say that it really depends of the region in the world you would look at. Atm there are very active scenes and sxe people doing their best. Helping to feed homeless people during this hard times, selling merch to finance BLM related causes or fighting neo Nazis and ring-wing extremists (where I am based). But in some other parts, can be just a shit show of misogynists predators fucking up the scene (well, mostly every scene had at least one or a few cases already). Things like this upsets me a lot and sometimes makes me question if I still want to be related to sxe and that perhaps I should better only claim I live drug free. But then I see the examples of fellow sxe doing good things, or bringing back an amazing platform like yours, and I am reminded why I decided to claim sxe 18 years ago. 🙅🏾‍♀️

What’s your local scene like? Is there anything interesting or exciting going on? 

There are some people I am connected to that are part of https://www.instagram.com/blnsxe/ , but they do not represent all the local sxe. Still there are often interesting postings about our local scene and the city’s political struggles. At the moment, because of the pandemic there is not much interesting things going on, except for people being sadly evicted from their homes or some solidarity merch sale. 

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 everybody should be free to be or claim whatever they want. I don’t condemn people that does that, but a “sxe” person that isn’t connected with the music scene (that literally originated this “philosophy”) or the political part of sxe, technically ends being just a drug free person. Because without the music, even my younger sisters or myself were sxe in our childhood, as we wouldn’t make use of drugs. 😉

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

That most of us are not sex positive or that we are “prohibited” to consume drugs. Especially the second one, it’s a choice, not an obligation.

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 think back to 18 years ago, being a black person in the hardcore scene was always a challenge. And wasn’t different in the sxe scene either. After I immigrated to Europe in 2013, this became even more evident. There is a big difference between what people sings and writes in their bands and zines, and in what they are really committed on a daily bases and in their lives. And I heard a bunch of bullshit that really hurt me, because of spoiled white kids that can’t see their own privileges.

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 became vegetarian a year before I claimed sxe. But as I see sxe in a political way, I don’t believe I wouldn’t became vegetarian or vegan as I am nowadays, after claiming sxe. To me, there is a huge connection.

What is the connection between straight edge and veganism?

At least from my point of view, being sxe is not only about not causing harm to yourself, but also avoiding causing harm to others. Domestic violence cases for example, in many times are related (obviously not only) to a partner’s alcohol or drug use problem, as one random example. If I am aware that living a sober life can benefit not only myself, but the lives of others, why can’t I extend this compassion to other life forms, other than only the human one?

 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 heard about vegetarianism and sxe from local bands in my home town, but literally the reason why I am sxe it’s because of the lyrics of “Point of no return” band, that inspired me a lot. They also inspired to become vegan. I was 19 to 20 years old.

What song by Point of No Return inspired you and what was it about the lyrics that really spoke to you? 

The song that inspired me about living sxe (don’t even think the music aim was that! 😀 ) is “Letargia”. I’ll post below a quickly google translation. This song made me question who was living my life, myself or the state choices on how I should socially live? Did I really enjoy drinking and smoking weed, or I was doing that because of youth social pressure? 

Letargia - Point of no return.jpeg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw73e5v-LdY

And this part here, was like a spark bomb in my heart!!*REFUSE the lethargy that “takes your life”. The resistance starts in “yourself”. “Write” your own history.*
(*with my personal interpretation/translation)

And the song that made me become a vegan person, is originally in english, so no need for translations. 
“Bloodless Life”The message was passed on.
With the compassion I’ve earned,
Now I show the others
The same things I’ve learned.
I won’t rest until all lives are defended
Until the last sign of unjust exploitation is ended.
Those who shut their eyes
In the face of this murdering sin
Are the same ones who turn their backs
On human suffering.
Depleting a sick Earth
That man has despised.
Selfishness is what makes
This cycle alive.
So many in the death rows
Waiting for the darkest hours,
But we can stop this crime.
The decision is ours!
Love is absolute.
We should share it with all forms of life.
I wait for the day when humans
Will open their hearts to our cries.!
I will no longer get dirty with the innocents’ blood!  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnM-rXUQS2k

And since then, I repeat to myself daily almost like a “mantra”: “I will no longer get dirty with the innocents’ blood!”    

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

I am a political activist, an intersectional one. Which means there are lots of causes I believe and that I consider related to each other in some way. But sadly nowadays I mostly help by making donations or writing about my views online. As an immigrant, I can’t risk being arrested, which can lead to me being deported. And this prevents me to attend demonstrations. It hurts a lot, but there is nothing I can do about, unless immigration rules changes.

Can you describe, for those who are outside of the activist community, what it means to be an intersectional political activist?  What causes are near and dear to you, and any advice you have to those who want to get more involved?

To me, it’s to see the connections (and connect) in very different types of oppression, but that still might have something in comum, without making any of them more or less important than the other. Let’s start with feminism for example. 
Feminism in the 19th century started as a women’s fight to have equal rights, equal wage and the right to vote (as a starter, let’s say). But we were still in a society where black women were not included in this fight. It was a feminist strike foccused on white women rights, and not including all women. While the white woman would fight for better positions in society, the black women in some countries were still slaves, or if free, had no right for education, vote or work positions differently than to be a house cleaning lady. Had no right to use certain sides of public transport and were not allowed in many public places (as the black men).  At least my grandmothers and their mothers were black cleaning ladies working in white families houses. The grandmothers of my grandmother’s mothers were still slaves, at the end of the 19th century. 

A feminism that didn’t include my ancestors (and mine) racist struggles means shit to me. Means nothing. It’s a feminism for only a certain part of society, that besides also struggling with sexism, still had a lot more privileges than the black women in my family tree. Understanding that racism problems that other women face, it’s also part of feminism, making it intersectional and inclusive. 

Including the struggle of LGBT*IQ+ people it’s also part of feminism, including our trans* sisters rights too. Not forgetting that the cows and females from other species are exploited daily in the name of capitalism and profit, makes it inclusive (bring vegan ideals here). Because at the end of the day, is the same capitalism that profits from lower wage payment of women, even lower wage payment  for black-, poc- and immigrant women, limits the positions that  LGBT*IQ+ people can work and how much they can be paid, and slaves the lives of other sentient lives in the name of profit. And that’s how feminism, LGBT*IQ+ rights, anti-racism, anti-capitalism, veganism and many other justice fights, can find a connection among each struggle, and be intersectional and inclusive. 

As an advice to get involved, look around your community and their needs, as well as your own life. Try to connect with local groups that resonate with your beliefs and see how you can help. The Internet can help a lot to find some connections!

The other day we posted an article which challenged men in the hardcore scene to take a deep look at their own behavior , as in, You may not be
sexist, but how to you facilitate it. One of the responses was as follows:

“Dear woke PC/Cancel culture, anti free speech, left’s, please stop ruining hardcore, comedy, our country, and trying to make it a safe space where everyone better do and say what you think they should. PS hardcore was never about making a place where you’re never offended and or your ideas are never challenged, if you want that go back to your mom’s basement”

What are your thought?  I know I have a few… 

First of all, it feels like it comes from a very privileged position. Feels like the person that wrote this always had a lot of space in the scene, and never had to worry about things that other people have to. Free speech and offending people, or inciting harm to others are very different things. If hardcore is a place where one can feel offended, that’s not a place for me, Challenging opinions and offending people are as well very different things. Hardcore to me had a sense of community. What this person is describing feels very selfish. I think this person that should go to their mom’s basement, for the safety of others. 

Related to the post above, you mentioned that the scene is still comprised of a majority of white cis dues, who can’t even hide how they think we are “fragile” or incapable of doing things.  What do you think can be done to negate this? How do we get more women and girls involved? How do we change the hearts and minds of men who view women in general in such marginalized terms?  

It’s shit to always have to be the ones educating others, regarding their bullshit towards us. But I think we can collaborate to change things a bit by writing songs and lyrics, answering interviews like this one, writing in zines. Spreading information in ways commonly used in this subculture. Still people need to come to a conclusion by themselves. They need to want to hear, learn and search for information. Question their positions and why there are mainly only dudes around. Perhaps they (the dudes majority) also feel the need for change and act. This can lead to more people feeling included and interested in participating and engaging more. And we would all benefit from that! Otherwise, I can only see the punk and feminist queer scene distancing more and more of the old school way of the hardcore scene, and engaging only with it’s on parallels scene. At least here, this is with no doubt a thing, and I usually feel more welcome and comfortable in queer and/or feminist organized hardcore initiatives. 

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

Well, living sober became something so natural and normal in my life, that the word “commitment” wouldn’t describe how I feel about. What I could tell you is that, living a life without self-destruction and having 100% control of my body and mind, in a racist/sexist society that tries in so many different ways to destroy me or put my life at risk because I am a black woman, feels just about right. Also, as some of the many reasons why I am a vegan, I decided a long time ago to not have in my life what wasn’t necessary for me to live, and drugs, alcohol and so on, aren’t essential to me at all. In addition to that and because of that, I have extra cash to buy vegan gelato! ❤️🍦

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

Walks. That’s the one thing I like to do. But I wouldn’t suggest that during the night time. Reading a book or watching Star Trek can do that for me too. And that’s how I ended watching every ST series made so far. 🤓🖖🏾

You mentioned a few times that you are a fan of Star Trek-  I am too!  What’s your favorite Star Trek series and why? Who’s your favorite captain?  

I kinda love something about every broadcasted television series (didn’t really watch “The Animated Series” and “Lower Decks” isn’t available in europe yet, as well as aren’t the new Short Treks. :/) . BUT there is a priority in my heart. My list goes like this:

Discovery, TNG, Picard, TOS, Voyager, DS9 and Enterprise.

In general the captains aren’t exactly my favorite characters. Following the up described list, my favorites in each series are:

DISCO: Michael Burnham❤, Sylvia Tilly❤ , Saru and my “space daddies” Paul Stamets❤ and Hugh Culber❤. But Honestly, all the acting crew is just amazing!

TNG: Captain Picard, Riker, Data, Worf, Geordi La Forge❤,  Deanna Troi and Wesley Crusher.

Picard: Picard obviously :D, all the TNG reappearances, “Dahj/Soji Asha”, Raffi and Rios.

TOS: UHURA ❤, Spock ❤, McCoy, Sulu, the “Nurse”/ “Number One (Majel Barrett ❤) and Scotty.

Voyager: Tuvok ❤, Janeway, Chakotay, B’Elanna Torres, Seven of Nine and Harry Kim.

DS9: Quark, Jadzia Dax❤, O’Brien, Rom, Nog😭💔 and Lwaxana Troi.

Enterprise: Hoshi Sato, T’Pol, Travis Mayweather and Trip Tucker (a bit).

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

Normal, nothing changed. Except the musical gathering of concerts and festivals.

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

Not in the sense of making use of drugs, but as referring to myself as drug free, every time I hear about an asshole that abused women and LGBTI+ people in our scene. As I mentioned before, nice examples of sxe people that can make a difference it’s what changed my mind.

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 would love to be in a relationship with a sxe person, but sadly life isn’t a fairytale. All the relationships I had with non sxe people ended exactly because after a while they felt uncomfortable because I wouldn’t drink or smoke weed with them, and broke up with me. Not a lucky person here. :/”

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?

I think I feel more romantically isolated because I am a black fat woman than because I am sxe. My body isn’t what society dictates as beauty standards, and honestly, these standards are clearly very strong in any political community I am part of. In the sxe/hardcore scene isn’t different. AT ALL.

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

Obviously. The scene it’s still a majority of white cis dudes, and lots of them can not even hide how they think we are “fragile” or incapable of doing things. It’s sad but true.

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 see the same shit over and over again for 20 years. The difference now it’s that the “me too” movement it’s also known. And the “call outs” may have helped people believe survivors more than protecting bros. But there is still a long way to go.

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

A bit, but can do way better. This year was a blast, with sxe bands or folks helping raising founds to amazing causes. But that’s not the norm. Sadly.

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

Take care of yourselves. Wear a mask please. Wish I didn’t have to say this but “My life matter/Black lives matters”. If you have the means, help your local people. There are a lot of people in pain under this pandemic.

Instagram: @lilixvx

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

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