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Straight Edge Interview Project- Sarah, 36, Maine, She/Her

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

I’m a Lab Tech at the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Lab. I have a bachelor’s in Biology and I love my work! I have two cats and a snake named Mr. Slithers. I like to read, binge Discovery+ shows, go to shows (before COVID), do anything involving the ocean, and go on adventures to new places.

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

True Love, American Nightmare, Hope Conspiracy, Throwdown, APMD, Thursday, Poison the Well, Defeater, Limp Wrist. I’m pretty much still in the early 2000s in terms of what I listen to these days haha.

What is your definition of straight edge?

Probably not much like everyone else’s. Which I think is probably due to how I got into straight edge. For me it’s mostly about the concept of living a clean life. Clean of substances, clean body, clean mind. The music for me is a bonus.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

Once I moved out of the city it became harder to get to shows due to not really having much of a scene up in Augusta, Maine. I’m probably very out of touch with the scene at the moment but I’m hoping to change that by having a place (here) to connect with other people, ladies specifically, and get more involved, and have a sense of community.

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 you can absolutely be straight edge without the music. As I said previously, for me it’s a lot about the healthy lifestyle and choices.

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

That I hate anyone who does drugs or drinks but for me, that’s very far from the truth. Or they have no idea what straight edge is.

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 actually don’t know many other straight edge people where I am, so I don’t have a lot of experience with that. Interacting with people who aren’t edge can be interesting, drinking and other drugs are so ingrained in people’s lifestyles that when you don’t do those things a lot of people don’t even bother getting to know you. I have some friends that may drink or smoke but I don’t go out with them or anything, it’s just such a different mindset that I would rather be with myself or my friends that don’t drink or do drugs.

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 was a part of the local Boston scene back in the early 2000s. I was not straight edge at this point. I was very much the opposite. I drank a lot and was pretty much a hot mess. I had some friends that were straight edge, I couldn’t understand why they would chose to NOT drink. The fact that they could have fun without drinking is something I admired but just wasn’t where I was at. I also liked some straight edge bands and they message they sent. I was drinking but it was something I wanted to be a part of I just wasn’t willing to stop drinking. Fast forward a whole lot of years and I ended up with a really bad drug addiction and in jail. I knew this wasn’t the person I was or wanted to be so I found recovery. Even though I was in recovery I was still smoking cigarettes so I still had my vices. Today I have 10+ years clean from any drugs/replacement therapies/alcohol and 2 years off of cigarettes. Once I stopped smoking I felt comfortable identifying as straight edge since, for me, I was clean of substances etc. so I became edge at about age 34. I haven’t been edge for life but I’m grateful I am now.

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

As I said in my original answer edge is about the lifestyle choice to be clean of substances and have a healthy body and mind. The music is a very sweet bonus.

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

Knowing that if I don’t continue to make the right and healthy choices that I could lose everything I have gained.

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

The judgment from other people that think I shouldn’t be edge due to having a previous drug addiction.

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

I meditate, self-reflect, talk to others, work in my past traumas and try to utilize healthy coping mechanisms.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

I didn’t find it much different.

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

No.

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 wasn’t edge for the majority of my life and would not want to get back into those self-destructive habits. My life has gotten insanely better and I wouldn’t give that freedom up.

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 was in a relationship where my partner did not claim edge but they did not drink or use and substances. It was a very nice change from trying to date someone who drinks or used drugs. I could relate to them a lot easier and we were on the same mindset level.

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?

My life has not been positively impacted by my choices.

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’m not sure, I don’t have many straight edge people where I live so I only really know what it’s like to live without other straight edge friends. I would love to have straight edge friends! That would be so awesome.

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

I don’t really talk to other people about it much.

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 don’t have a lot of experience with other straight edge people so I have no idea how they feel about me being in recovery. I am worried that I would be looked down upon because at one point I had a drug problem, so I do worry about being judged.

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

I just hope that people see that women can be straight edge without needing to have been “brought in” by a boyfriend or a male friend. Women are strong and independent and able to make the same lifestyle choices that men do.

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

Yes. Never being taken seriously or treated seriously. A lot of the time I was just looked at as a sexual conquest, not an independent woman who deserves respect and can be equal. Or that I didn’t “really” know about the scene or music. A lot of dumb questions about bands, oh well who is this and what band I that, etc.

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 haven’t seen a whole lot but I just hope that people in the straight edge scene are a little more friendly than I remember. I think that a strong group of women could really make an impact on other women who may not know we’re here. Like, we have a place and you do too so let’s do this!

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

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

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?

I’m not sure, seeing as I don’t have much of a scene up here where I am. In the past I didn’t have the best experience, the straight edge kids tended to be assholes if you drank or were not straight edge. I hope it’s a little more friendly these days.

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

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