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Straight Edge Interview Project: Melina, 23, Pittsburgh PA, she/her

Tell us about yourself!
One of the biggest things going on passion wise is my band Princess that I do vocals in. We’ve been a band for only 6 months now and it really has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. Other than my music, I love going to shows, doing makeup, playing video games, and finding fun new vegan spots in Pittsburgh with my partner Jordan.

What are you listening to these days?
Recently I’ve been for listening to a lot of Hardcore especially new releases from Zulu and Weapon X. But, I’ve also been listening to a lot of goth metal music like Type O Negative, Sisters of Mercy, and Bauhaus. My favorite bands are Knocked Loose, Type O Negative, and Kaonashi!

What’s your straight edge story?
So, I actually didn’t claim edge until this year, so it’s only been about 3 months for me! I grew up around my family that never drank a lot or smoked which help a lot with my influences. But of course as I went into middle school and high school, I changed a lot mentally and how I chose to live my life. I slipped into a hard depression that I at the time never told anyone about and all I wanted to do was drink and forget about it all. I would go to my friends houses and party and drink whatever was in front of me. As I got older and went through college I found out what straight edge meant because of my roommate who was at the time. It took me many years where I got a little better with on and off drinking until the beginning of this year when I went to FYA. Something clicked in me that weekend after watching all the straight edge bands and talking to some friends who are straight edge. As soon as we got home I decided that I wanted to live my life differently and freely from everything. And from there I claimed edge. Although I’ve only been edge for a few months, everyone starts somewhere, and I’ve never felt more happy and proud of myself for making this decision.

How do you define straight edge?
I would define straight edge as someone who doesn’t drink or do drugs, and goes against the society norms and the thoughts that you need substances to make it in this world or be “cool”. Sober can be a little different. You can be sober from alcohol but still do drugs, and vice versa. Being sober though is such a big step in someone’s life though, and I would never belittle them for that, it’s a step closer to claiming edge. I genuinely don’t think that I will never not be straight edge. It’s something that I’ve known for a while that I wanted to be and needed to be. And, when I finally claimed it, something in me knew it would be forever. My friends, my family, and the people I surround myself with are what keeps me committed.

True or False: “If you’re not now, you never were”?
False! No matter where you stand with your personal journey of being edge, it’s something that will forever be apart of you. Everyone’s journey is different and even if you’re someone whose fallen off and has claimed edge again, you’re still important and strong.

Do you feel that the straight edge community has been, and should be welcoming to those in recovery?    
Absolutely!! Straight edge is for everyone. You never know what someone is going through with their journey with claiming, and we should be welcoming them and supporting them. They’re doing it for a reason, and they’re making those steps to get there.

Have you ever felt that your gender has had influenced your experience in the “straight edge and/or hardcore scene”?
I definitely have. I haven’t personally experienced it with the straight edge scene, but definitely the hardcore scene. Especially since I’m now a little bit more involved than I have because of my band. I’ve noticed it a little more than I have before. Being a woman as well as a person of color in the scene I’ve mainly experienced a lot of people not taking me as seriously as the “men” that are around. Even playing shows I still get a little nervous that someone’s going to come up to me and ask who I’m dating in the band to be there, or even trying to communicate with people just to shut me down cause I’m a girl. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced that too too much, but it still can be hard to have that thought in the back of your head.

Do you feel that the straight edge movement/scene is inclusive?
I would say yes! However, I think it depends on what your scene is like. Having people in your scene who you know if straight edge and can relate to how you feel about it can be one of the best ways to take steps in making the movement and scene more inclusive.

Has being straight edge had an impact on your relationships (family, friends, significant others)?
Since I’ve claimed edge it hasn’t really impacted my relationships too much. My friends and family who understand the importance of it have been nothing but supportive. Of course though with support, also comes some people who don’t quite get it. I’ve had a couple friends recently who I’ve told question me why and basically feel as though I’m “not living out my life”. But, all it takes is a little bit more educating and conversation.

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 personally think you can be straight edge without being in the music scene! I’ve had a couple friends who’ve claimed edge and don’t tend to listen to a lot of the music in the scene, whether that be local or not. But, regardless they appreciate it and understand the importance

Final Thoughts?
If you’re thinking about claiming edge, I highly encourage it so so much! And if you are edge, I’m so thankful to be apart of something so big and something so fulfilling. Lastly, if you like going to shows, please support your local scene. You never know who you’ll meet and the connections you’ll make.

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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