Passing Through the Closet

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As we consider Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP leader and white woman who passed as, and identified as, a black woman, let’s consider all types of passing. We may consider Bruce Jenner’s passing as, and identification as, Caitlyn Jenner. Is passing really passing or is it being in the closet? At which point is the line drawn between these two similar concepts? Honestly, it’s easy to pass as mainstream, but it is difficult to be in the closet. Not only are our GLBT allies in the closet, but Goths the world over are in the closet. The more our GLBT allies come out of the closet, the more the Goths go back in, if you just look at the statistics from Vampire Freaks, the largest Goth organization that would have the data, you would know what I’m talking about.

If people think Rachel is crazy or Caitlyn is crazy for acting on how they self-identify, then call me crazy for self-identifying as a Goth and never giving up that identity. In today’s world, why must we pass for mainstream people? In today’s world, why must we continue to be shoved into the closet when everyone else is coming out? Why does everyone else get a protected class except for us? Does society think that everyone else’s identity is more important than our identity? Every time you think the world is being more open-minded about race, sexuality, etc. just consider for a moment if all that applies equally to Goths. If it doesn’t, then we still have a long way to go. We are not ghosts, and we are not invisible.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping to stick around so that something may be done about it.

Culture Wars

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You may have heard of the culture wars. You might have heard that it’s political, between the two major American political parties. I disagree. There is a culture war going on, yes, but it ain’t in politics–it’s in corporations. If you feel that you have to be anyone other than yourself, then the Man is keeping you down. You shouldn’t have to be more articulate, more hardworking, afraid to express anger, willing to trust the system, or perfect to survive, to pay your bills, or to afford rent. People who make it in Corporate America are not cultured, just the opposite–they are without culture. Lets just take a look at the United States of America. You’ll find culture in the tourist spots and the poorest cities–Albuquerque, Baltimore, New Orleans–because Corporate America does not reward culture or history. Corporate America rewards the DC area because the shiny, happy judgers of others all have smooth edges and surround themselves with suburbs and newness. They are the Stepford Wives of America, and as with the movie, they could all easily be replaced with robots and androids. Corporate America drains the color out of everything and everyone until all that’s left is white collars. We need to put lipstick on those collars, add color back to the workplace,  and have an affair with real living. We need to admit that we cannot rely only on the innovators–those only concerned with the newness in the technology sector–to carry the weight of a nation. We need to admit that we need all people. Many Goths and like people have heard people say of them that “it takes all kinds,” and in a way that’s true. It does take all kinds of people to make the world go round. We should not put all of our eggs in one basket; we should diversify. What is America if not diverse? We need to celebrate that diversity–and I don’t just mean diversity of race, but diversity of skillsets, diversity of insight, and diversity of personality. Above all, we need to celebrate culture, whether “subculture” or not. If we don’t, then we may lose any remnants of the past and of ourselves.

Who Would Know Black Better Than Blacks?

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A while back I said that Goths don’t come from ghettos. Perhaps it’s time for me to revise that statement. Goths didn’t use to come from ghettos, but times have changed.

Back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s Goths were mostly white, but they were also mostly openminded, intelligent, and accepting of those not accepted into regular society, such as full-figured people and people with disabilities (as is apparent from Goth retailers).

Nowadays, it’s possible that the demographics have changed—it may or may not be mostly black now because Goths don’t look entirely like what they used to. And this is why people think that “Goth is dead,” but I believe that you cannot kill a spirit and you cannot kill a soul (the Goth spirit and the Goth soul).

In my area, most of the white people from the suburbs wear suits and ties and most of the white Goths have moved to other cities and states.Aspects of the originally white Goth culture have trickled to the black community in DC. Most of the black people from the city have adopted Goth styles—rainbow hair, piercings, and tattoos.(Granted, they have gauges now too, which elder Goths would have worn earlier if they had the idea.)

It is now more acceptable to employ black people with rainbow haircolors than white people with rainbow haircolors. I see this daily on buses and trains. Granted, I speak from a narrow viewpoint as someone from the DC area and can only tell you the changes I have observed here.

Some blacks have even gone so far as to take on the Goth label, whether intentionally or by others labeling them. For example, black rappers like Kanye West and Rocky A$AP (originally from my area), have led the street Goth fashion—which consists of mixing high end fashion with low end fashion.

To me, this makes a lot of sense. Who would know the power of the color black better than blacks? I think this is fitting because Goths have always been associated with the color black as well as with an edgier attitude. As times change, the black community has been more willing to take on the role of the rebel.

People avoid the Goth label to avoid the stereotypes, but every group has its stereotypes. If you have black skin will you say you are not black to avoid stereotypes? People would look at you like you’re crazy. If you are a Korean adoptee and you say you are not Korean people will still look at you like you’re crazy, even if you aren’t part of Korean culture. Should you really avoid a label to save your own skin but not to save others who need the power of unity? For example, just because you say you’re straight doesn’t always mean you are. And if you act flamboyantly you can’t be assured of safety just because you haven’t yet owned the label.

Now I understand that you have more choice over the matter concerning what you call yourself, being that the Goth movement, more than any other subculture, has been marked by been indefinable and without a leader. In fact, it is definable as indefinable. Many have tried and many have failed. True, it was a culture that sprang up from music, but in the end it became a culture as rooted as much in fashion as it was in music.

If it has morphed into a fashion culture, then how can you say that you are not Goth if you have a full head of unnatural rainbow hair color in shades of red, orange, pink, yellow, green, blue, or purple when you were born with black hair? How can you say that you are not Goth if you wear a wig of those colors on a daily basis or if your dreads are dyed one of those colors? How can you say that you are not Goth if you have piercings, gauges, and tattoos? How can you say that you are not Goth if spikes are on your shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks? How can you say that you are not Goth if you have a mohawk or liberty spikes?

Wherever outcasts are there Goths will be. Wherever artists are there Goths will be. Wherever rebels are there Goths will be. Wherever openminded people are there Goths will be.

It doesn’t matter if you are black, Goth, or a black Goth; we all fight for the same thing—a safe environment in which we can be free. We also fight against the same thing—appearance-based discrimination, whether in the workplace or on the street.

We fight for safety. We fight for freedom. We fight for acceptance, not just toleration. We fight to be who we are. We fight to pay our bills and feed our children. We fight to live. And we fight for something to live for.

Identify who you are. Accept who you are. And know what you will fight for.

Gray by eBo Young

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The grayest sky,

the grayest sea,

no color is more in between extremes.

There’s nothing boring about the middle way.

Inclusivity is unlike the holier than thou 1% in every way.

When positive thinking marketers make darkness dim

and white cookie cutters grin,

the last option for compassionate artistic expression is gray.

Gray cements the foundation.

When the blackest building is demolished,

it’s the gray cornerstones that remain.

Black ties rule the night and white shirts rule the day,

but gray pants of every shade are here to stay.

As solid as stainless steel,

gray metal is more consistent than I feel,

from day to day to day.

Neutrals go with everything,

and for employees who go with everyone

an employer will handsomely pay.

Like the loyal stones, they stay.

There is nothing more lasting for our purposes than gray.

No matter our form, we will not go away.

Existing employment practices hold no sway.

We will have our day

when darkness turns to gray.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

I just wanted to take this moment to remind everyone that you are not alone in your fight for a decent job and a good paycheck without compromising who you are. I made a collage of pictures of people who have rainbow-colored hair, dreads (even if they’re not black), multiple piercings, and darker aesthetics. The only way we can navigate through darkness is because we are all made of light. Keep your light burning bright and never put it out.

People Like You heart

People Like You heart

Post-Halloween Blues: “You Can’t Have It Both Ways”

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Happy Belated Halloween. I hope it was better than mine. I intentionally didn’t put an exclamation mark there because, frankly, I was throwing myself a pity party. When you still can’t be fully yourself even on the one day when it’s allowed, it can get a little depressing. My dad said to me “you can’t have it both ways.” I can’t have a job that pays the bills and allows for comforts AND be myself, and, likewise, I can’t be myself AND have a job that pays the bills and allows for comforts. There’s something wrong with this statement. Maybe now it’s true. Maybe in DC it’s true. But it shouldn’t be true. It shouldn’t need to continue being true, not for our children’s generation. No, not for them. Something has got to give. And it’s not going to be me.

Remember why we are here. We represent rebellion. We are the visual representations of rebellion. In order to suppress change in society, the easiest thing a society can do is to suppress its rebels. Do you hear me? A fight against us is a fight against change and a fight against freedom. It is a fight against all humankind. American society today that strangles freedom by its throat, that cuts off freedom’s purse strings, is not the type of America that I would support. The only type of America I would support is the America of freedom. The America of free expression.

I have heard some say that the spirit of Christmas should be year round. I believe that for people like us the spirit of Halloween should be year round too. I generally mean that we should be able to wear whatever we want whenever we want to wear it. We shouldn’t have to suppress who we are. Another aspect of Halloween is that it’s scary. Yes, it is a little scary when people want to go changing the world, but if it’s a cause you truly believe in, then what’s a little fear? A little fear with a lot of guts–that’s called courage. I encourage you all to be courageous in the midst of suppression.

Again, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to do what you can do to change this. I was hoping to be the one who could change this singlehandedly, but that’s unrealistic, and I need some help. So what I’d advise everyone to do now, again, is to go to STAPAW and support them. If you want to support us both, then I’d advise you to wear a gray ribbon. When someone asks about the ribbon, you can tell them about Lavoce: We Are People Too. We need as many friends and supporters as we can get.

STAPAW

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Since it will take a while for Lavoce to accomplish its goal, I want to direct you to Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work (STAPAW). Their goal is essentially the same or similar to Lavoce’s but they are more well established. I first found out about them through Pinterest. Please support them in their efforts through donations or volunteering. Just because Lavoce is a business doesn’t mean that I put profit first. I put the cause first and everything else comes after. I would be very happy if you could all donate time and effort to STAPAW. The link is below:

http://www.stapaw.com

Time to Take a Stand

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For most people, they might have one time in their life in which they were courageous, maybe a handful of times. For me, being who I am is courageous. Every day I have to remember to be courageous. Every day is an opportunity to let the world know who I am. My existence is a political act by God. My existence reminds people that there are paradigms outside of their own. My being me seems to narrow down possibilities of where I can work, how much money I can make, who I can marry, etc. My being me puts me at odds with the world around me. People want me to explain why I am me. They would never ask others something like that, but they ask me. Why I was born this way I do not know. All I know is that I am me, and there’s no changing that, and I don’t want to be someone else. Oh people have all those platitudes about “just be yourself,” not really realizing how much that puts my livelihood at risk, how much that puts my life at risk of relationship loss, but there gets to be a breaking point when you realize you can’t keep living a lie. There comes a point where you realize that no one really knows you, and it makes you feel lonelier than if you really were lonely. There gets to be a point where you realize it’s all up to you. You have to buy the clothing, the tattoos, the body modifications yourself. It all comes out of your paycheck. And once you do all of it, you might not even have a paycheck anymore, but that’s the risk you take just for being alive, just for being alive and being able to feel, being able to feel outside and uninvited. It takes a lot to get someone there, but in the end, it’s time to stop playing their game and time to play ours. At a certain point you have to just go all out and to hell with what people think, even if they hold your livelihood in their hands, even if you’ve grown up with them all your life, even if you would die for them, but they won’t do the same for you. At a certain point, you have to stand up for yourself because, dammit, no one is going to do it for you. They can’t unlock your cage, if they can’t even see you’re in one. Only you have the key. Only you have the power, not to change your destiny, but to accept it. And that acceptance in itself is a very powerful thing that changes everything.

Related link

Being Authentic-A Matter of Courage: http://shar.es/Msb1I

Pavisand

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The Oxford English Dictionary defines “pavisand,” a verb meaning “to display an impressive or opulent array of clothing and ornament; to flaunt one’s appearance.”

Goths, freaks, and other fashion-oriented types (including the tattooed) live lifestyles of pavisanding. To us, there is no other way to be. Our bodies are works of art. We are artists first and foremost, and we want the world to know. I was expressing this to my mother the other day. She looked at me with a confused expression and gave me the trite question: “But isn’t that a phase?” Here we go again. You’ve all been there, haven’t you? You all know what it’s like to explain. I don’t know if it’s a personality type thing or not (like maybe only the introverted feel the need to express what their mouths do not), but for some reason it is a real challenge expressing why we express who we are. Apparently, many people do not feel the need to self-identify for strangers. My father tells me that he doesn’t understand why homosexuals feel the need to express who they are, thinking that what is one’s entire identity is merely a private act that should be kept secret. My mother tells me that she doesn’t understand why I also feel the need to state that I’m an adoptee, as if the fact that my race, being different from my parents’ race, should also be a private and secret thing even when it is clearly visual and easy to see even for Captain Obvious, and is an important fact to convey to a medical doctor. What are your feelings on self-expressions of identity? Why is it important to you? How do you explain this to others? I remember taking a philosophy class on identity. What a challenging class! Is identity even important? Why do we obsess about who we are? Why does it matter? Leave your comments below.

Freaks Don’t Come From Ghettos

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Who are freaks?

I do not use the term in a derogatory way to refer to people born with deformities or disabilities. I use the term as descriptive of a subculture of people who own and claim the word as their own for lack of a better term.

If they don’t come from the ghettos, where do freaks come from?

Freaks come from the suburbs, mainly, and sometimes from populated cities. They are mostly white, but not always. Their parents were probably overbearing. They grew up in a world of conformity, and found it too restrictive. Maybe they were not allowed to wear makeup or listen to rock music, but did anyways. They went to a secondary school. They had an intimate taste of being bullied and could withstand it (if they’re still alive). They have to be thick-skinned by necessity.

Why is this important?

This means that freaks, though formerly privileged, took the road less traveled to stay true to themselves. They are idealists and artists. Their bodies are their canvasses. Most of them are ISTP or INFJ personality types, according to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This is important to understand because this means that these people have employable skills. Though they might not have the right look for public relations, they might be good behind the scenes. One type is good with detailed artwork, crafts, construction, graphic design, music, etc. They might be good at IT or help desk call centers. The other type is good with people and empathetic skills, such as counseling, coaching, or selling online. They are good at working with people who had substance abuse issues, experience homelessness, or other challenges that nonprofits work tirelessly to eradicate. They are friends of those who need friends the most. They value their idealism more than they value a high paycheck. With enough motivation, they will work hard for you and stay loyal to your company. These are people you should have in your court, either on your corporate team or in your network of friends. So why don’t you give them a chance?