I don’t write much about labels or who qualifies as goth. Out of more than 60 posts so far, I’ve written maybe two on the subject. I see my blog as a scrapbook or a cabinet of curiosities, so most of my posts are about what I find beautiful and interesting. I don’t worry too much whether those things are goth or merely ‘darkly inclined.’ I don’t worry whether I’m a ‘proper goth’ or merely a goth-adjacent horror geek, and I’m way too old to let other people tell me whether I’m goth enough. I’m happy enough lumping it all together and I’m mostly content to let others do the same.
There’s this idea out there that being ‘goth’ is better than being ‘darkly inclined.’ As if anyone can be darkly inclined, but being truly goth is more exclusive than that. It’s ironic, because I find the ‘darkly inclined’ to be more flexible in their interests and curious about new things than the people who worry about who’s goth or not.
That said, I think it’s weird when people who like no goth music at all want to call themselves goth. A large number of goths still like goth and darkwave and such, and still use the label to find others who like the same music, being ‘goth without the music’ gets in the way of that. You can still type ‘goth’ into instagram for fashion purposes without actually calling yourself a goth, so why not leave the label for the music lovers?*
Or better yet, give the music a chance. Be curious about new things and flexible in your interests. Back in the day you either had to know an obsessive fan or shell out money for actual cassettes or CDs, but today it costs no money and just a few minutes to try out all sorts of goth music. If you can’t be bothered to do that, you’re boring and I’d rather not know you.
To be fair, I’m equally bored by ‘gother than thou’ types who peaked in the late ’80s or ’90s (or last year, or whenever) and haven’t tried anything new since. As if trying new things will ruin their eldergoth reputation or something. It doesn’t hurt to be curious about new things and flexible in your interests. You might find a new twist on an old favorite.
It’s all been said before and will all be said again, and this is why I don’t write about it. I mostly mention it now to encourage everyone to just be curious and try new things. (Did you get that theme? 😉 ) Precious few of us are interested in dark things already. I just want us all to feel free to express ourselves and find each other. Don’t just be goth, or just darkly inclined. Be interesting.
*Gothic Soul Flower had some great things to say about this on YouTube. I agree that the music makes more space for people who don’t look like Instagram perfect goth stereotypes.