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Straight Edge Interview Project: Vanesa Valentinova Mitova, 25, London UK, She/Her

At 25, Vanesa Valentinova Mitova, fresh from completing her studies in Film and Screen at UAL, is just beginning her career as a trainee in the industry. Like many who have been drawn to the hardcore and straight edge scenes, Vanesa had a childhood shadowed by alcoholism and abuse. As a pre-teen, she listened to Minor Threat and her trajectory changed. She found validation in their lyrics and ever since has identified as straight edge.

Tell us about yourself! 

I graduated from UAL with a degree in Film and Screen Studies and have recently started working for a small production company as a trainee. I love spending time with animals as often as possible and love feeding the squirrels in the local park.

What are you listening to these days? 

Redound– is one of my favourite Bulgarian beatdown bands

I love Hatebreed, Napalm Death, Gorilla Biscuits, Minor Threat, Terror, Throwdown, Mortician.

Jluch

What’s your straight edge story?

I have always been straight edge, I believe I was around 13 when I claimed edge. I became vegan at the same time. I just never felt like drinking or smoking or doing drugs I always knew that I didn’t want to follow this unhealthy path. I had to endure mental abuse from my own father because of his alcoholism and I always knew that I didn’t want to be like him.

When I was around 12 I came across Minor Threat and their song Straight Edge and I remember how I wanted to know more about this movement. After educating myself about the movement I knew that this was the path.

How do you define straight edge?  What makes straight edge different from being sober? 

For me, straight edge is not about just being sober because I said I don’t even know what it feels like to ger drunk since I have never tried it. For me, it’s a way of living and proving that you can be happy without drugs, alcohol, and other substances. I can’t imagine myself not being straight edge. For me what keeps me committed is staying true to myself and following a lifestyle that makes me feel amazing and alive.

True or False: “If you’re not now, you never were”? 

I can’t give you an answer to this question because I have always been straight edge, but what I can say is that it’s never too late.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon straight edge, and it has spoken to them.  Do you feel that the straight edge community has been, and should be welcoming to those in recovery?

I believe that we can only help those who really want to recover and those who want the knowledge and need this inspiration to help them keep going. If I know that I can inspire someone to recover I will be more than happy to talk to them.

Have you ever felt that your gender has influenced your experience in the straight edge and/or hardcore scene?

I myself am quite introverted and I don’t know a lot of people from the scene, but I have not had a bad experience so far. All the people I’ve met are amazing!

Do you feel that the straight edge movement/scene is inclusive?

I would like to see people from more diverse backgrounds. 

Has being straight edge had an impact on your relationships (family, friends, significant others)?

It has actually had an impact, especially at family gatherings and all the questions about why I don’t drink and that I should do it just to fit in and this made me avoid gatherings in the last few years.

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?

From my personal experience, I haven’t met a person who is straight edge and is not a part of the music scene, but that doesn’t mean that these people don’t exist

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

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