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.
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.
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.
Fashion freedom is the final frontier for anti-discrimination laws. We all agree that you can’t change your skin color, age, or gender (unless you try really, really hard and are determined). Many agree that you can’t change sexual orientation today. However, not everyone agrees that you can’t change your fashion style. I argue that clothing and body modifications reflect personality and culture, which are both ingrained and are both aspects of one’s identity, as are the intricately connected values and priorities that come with them. The suppression of freedom of expression in a country that values freedom of expression, and the denial thereof, points to an entire society’s complete hypocrisy. A suppression of personality, culture, and identity, as well as the belief that certain people must conform and alter who they are not only to be liked, but to survive, destroys not just a country, but an entire world.
Lavoce’s new, simpler logo is representative of Lavoce’s changes.
Lavoce has gone through many concept changes since 2010. The original idea of Lavoce was that it should be a bookstore, then the concept changed to relationship coaching, and now the concept of Lavoce is as the producer of the world’s largest alternative lifestyles print directory plus the potential to evolve into the cross between a temp agency and consulting agency.
But even though the concept of Lavoce changes, the mission and focus has always remained the same. No matter how much Lavoce (and its logo) changes, it will always have the same soul—a soul filled with compassion for the downtrodden and oppressed.
The attack on who we are as human beings is more destructive than an attack on our race, age, or gender for it goes to the very root of us and what makes our life worth living. It is the ego’s final push to make us all pliable, willing subjects to an authority’s rule. The suppression of our style is different from any other type of discrimination that was brought to light before for it does not seek to contain us in a box, but to move us from our natural state of being into a way of being that seems natural for others who are not ourselves. We must not kowtow. We must not give in.
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.
I have discovered a new nonprofit ally of the cause in the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. We now have a plan.
With the four Ss we can make our dreams a reality:
- Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work (STAPAW): STAPAW can make sure the fashion-oriented are legally protected.
- The Sophie Lancaster Foundation (S.O.P.H.I.E.): S.O.P.H.I.E. can work on eradicating hate crimes against the fashion-oriented.
- The Silver Ribbon Coalition : The Silver Ribbon Coalition will help those who need help getting back on their feet so they can fight. It’s possible but would be harder to fight if you’re dealing with depression, abuse, addiction, etc.
- Stickers: So we can show the world we’re here without having to risk our being seen in case it would put a bill-paying job at risk.
To remember why we’re doing this, take a look at the typical office dress code. The below only covers casual business attire when authorized.
To convey a positive image to customers and guests, our employees are required to dress in appropriate traditional business or, when authorized, business casual attire.
Appropriate Business Casual Attire
- Blouses, collared shirts
- Sweaters, turtlenecks
- Slacks (khakis, chinos)
- Skirt, culottes, or skorts, (with the fullness of a skirt)
- Blazer, sport coat
- Casual shoes
- Collared shirts
- Sweaters, turtlenecks
- Slacks (khakis, chinos)
- Blazer, sport coat
- Casual shoes
- Jeans of any color
- Bicycle pants, leggings, stretch pants, spandex Warm-up or exercise clothes
- Sundresses (spaghetti straps, strapless, backless, halter)
- Halter or tank tops
- Revealing or low-cut blouses or dresses
- Clothing which exposes one’s midriffs
- Athletic shoes (sneakers, tennis)
- Beach shoes, flip-flops
- Torn, cut, worn, or frayed clothing
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.