RTP took the time to interview 3 people about the straight edge lifestyle so we could better explain it to you. Here’s what they had to say…
RTP: How do you identify?
Zephyr (pictured above): i identify as a vegan straight edge gay trans male
Alex (pictured above): i identify as a guy
Jacob (pictured above): I’m Jacob and I’m a straight edge dude.
RTP: What is Straight Edge?
Zephyr: “to me, straight edge is an extension of the hardcore community that represents a purposeful abstinence from drugs and alcohol. it’s very much about maintaining control of my actions and emotions and not contributing to the culture of addiction that drug and alcohol corporations have created, as well as stepping away from addictive tendencies that run in my family and are commonly experienced by folks with mental illness.“
Alex: “Straight Edge is looking out for yourself, whether it being that you know you wouldnt possess the self control to limit yourself from substances, or the fact that you hate the effects it has on you/other people. It’s a life style that characterizes a lot of people. No drugs, no alcohol, no cigs (or anything of the sort ) and no promiscuous sex.”
Jacob: “Straight edge is taking the phrase “everything in moderation” to the fullest you can, it’s about taKing the extra step in knowing what’s best for you.”
RTP: What does someone have to do to label themselves as straight edge?
Zephyr: “i believe that as straight edge grew out of the hardcore community, that being a part of that scene is intrinsic to being straight edge, in addition to (obviously) not partaking in drugs, alcohol, or smoking cigarettes or vaping. i think the “third x” nonsense about abstaining from “promiscuous sex” is a fundamental misrepresentation of the values of being straight edge and an extension of cultural misogyny and the purity myth, and really has no place in straight edge.”
Alex: “To label themselves as straight edge you have to be drug/alcohol/tobacco free. And most consider refraining from promiscuous sex as a straight edge value.”
Jacob: “It doesn’t take much to be straight edge, just a couple generic guidelines; no drugs, no alcohol and no promiscuity. Some people go as far as ostracizing those who drink caffeine or have sex in general but I think that ruins the community aspect of it.”
RTP: Hardcore music and being straight edge go hand in hand, right? Do you have to fit into the hardcore music scene to label yourself as straight edge? Are there people who don’t fit into the hardcore music scene or don’t even like hardcore music that are straight edge?
Zephyr: “that’s tricky. i really do believe that straight edge is a part of hardcore and vice versa. that being said, radical sobriety is a part of many countercultural scenes, and hardcore in particular can be extremely inaccessible to women, queer folks and people of color, so i hesitate to insist on a generalized hard and fast rule about it“
Alex: “It does go hand in hand, but not being into hardcore and being straight edge is pretty common. I know kids who have no idea about the culture but still identify as straight edge.”
Jacob: “I don’t think you have to be into hardcore or punk or any sort of music to be straight edge. I think it definately helps though, just because hardcore is where the origins of the movement lie, it’s just good to know the history I think.”
RTP: What’s the most common misconception about Straight Edge?
Zephyr: “that it’s inherently violent. while hardcore is a music scene that is characterized by aggression, straight edge does not come hand in hand with intolerance or violence. while certain crews may feel the need to impose their beliefs on other people through violence, the truth is that a lot of that tough-guy attitude is getting left in the past. it’s becoming part of common radical dialogue to acknowledge the power structures in place that encourage and exacerbate addiction, and to recognize that we can’t expect our values or morals to be universally upheld. i like to believe that the gang mentality that people come to expect from straight edge is no longer the norm.”
Alex: “The most common misconception is that we are all very militant and elitists. With the exception of a few crews, most straight edge people are friendly and humble.“
Jacob: “I’d have to agree with Alex as far as most people thinking straight edge kids are elitist in most cases, I’ve actually lost friends over this even. People think that just because we hold ourselves to a higher standard of living it means we think of ourselves more highly I think. Most of the straight edge kids I know are the furthest thing from militant and yet the stigma still applies.”
RTP: There’s a stereotype that violence is part of the straight edge lifestyle…Is this true for some? Why is this a stereotype?
Zephyr: “i mean, it’s silly to pretend that violence in straight edge doesn’t exist. it does. i’ve known people to take the community “family” feeling too far and use it as an excuse for exclusivity, which evolved into enacting violence on those who weren’t a part of it. but that attitude, i feel, is becoming less and less common”
Alex: “the violence stereotype is almost always never true, at least here in Denver. I havent seen any violence from straight edge kids in denver, but in other scenes, im not sure. It could be a stereotype because of militant crews throughout the country, but really in this genre of music, it could be anything .”
Jacob: “I wouldn’t say I’ve ever actually experienced this but I could definitely see how someone would, I mean even Ian Mackaye (Minor Threat) left the DC hardcore scene because of violence. Most of the music is angry sounding so people could just kind of assume we’re always angry.”
RTP: What’s your most favorite thing about being straight edge?
Zephyr: “my favorite thing about being straight edge is very personal. having a mental illness took away a lot of the control i had over my emotions. remaining sober and having a community to support that sobriety allows me to take back at least a little bit.“
Alex: “My favorite part of being straight edge is knowing that I am always in control, not under the influence of something that could hurt my understanding of my surroundings. I like the independence from it, it’s like watching the world from a different perspective.”
Jacob: “Honestly the best part of being straight edge is knowing that you’re doing something for the betterment of your own life. I feel like there are too many things in this world that are bad for you and just finding a community that’s proud to cut some of those out of their lives is super refreshing.”
RTP: Zephyr, You just got a straight edge tattoo, can you explain it’s meaning?
Zephyr: “i’m a barista, and getting ready to move away from utah after three years (hence the golden spike). i wanted to get a tattoo that would be a nice little reminder of the time i lived here, and the straight edge community was a huge part of that. i also think it’s funny when people think coffee isn’t straight edge, so it’s a little bit snarky haha”