Hello, Faithful Readers, and welcome to December’s edition of Gothic Charm School. This month we have a letter from a reader to answer; a letter that contains a few questions AND a compliment for the Lady of the Manners. The Lady of the Manners likes getting compliments very much, but will answer reader concerns that come without compliments. Really. Even tho’ the Lady of the Manners has been told of late that she looks quite fetching in her new hat. But, enough of preening! Onwards to the Delicate Query of Our Reader.
Dear Gothic Charm School,
I must first offer my shameless worship of whom I believe to be one of the last true “ladies” in this new era of goth. Also I wish to commend you on your quest to reinstate manners among the mass of goth society. to quote an now departed friend of mine: “It is just common courtesy, and without it you are just common.”
Now to the question. I am myself a “small town goth”, which means I am a subculture unto myself for the most part. This is typically harder because of the fact I am male and the majority of the populace is, to use a crude term, rednecks. It is a constant battle with family and strangers just top gain acceptance for being a person not a sideshow freak. Take into account that the only differences in my dress and the majority around me is the fact that you will never find me without my black nails, dark clothing, and shiny rings. I have not attempted, though I dream of doing so, decked myself out in complete velvet loveliness as of yet and my clothing is very normal, except for the color. Yet I am still on the edge of ridicule at all times. Faggot, queer, and fucker follow me at all times. (forgive the profanity)
I attempt to use manners in my defense and as an example to others of how I truly am on the inside, but i find that snarky demon that lives inside of me is finding more and more openings to lash out with acid comments. These never go over well and I truly try to keep them in, but the odd one always slips out.
There are no clubs or retreats for me in this little portion of “booneyvill” except for the net. Yet there again I risk, when I actually get away and find myself with others of my kind in a larger city, of being ostracized as a net goth who knows nothing of the “scene.” Any advice would be very helpful.
Thank you for your time.
Goodness. First of all, allow the Lady of the Manners to congratulate you on your determination to combat the unkind and unwanted attention you get with good manners. The Lady of the Manners is well aware of how difficult it is to keep snarky retorts and comebacks to oneself, but she hopes that you will keep trying. Remember, the people who are heckling you are (probably) only doing it to try to get a reaction out of you so they then have an excuse to escalate the conflict. There is no such thing as stunning the people you described with a witty comeback. As hard as it may be, just ignore them.
Of course, now you have first-hand experience as to why many, many people involved with a subculture (and not just the goth one) end up moving to big cities. As cliché as it sounds, big cities tend to be a little more accepting of the freaks of the world, just because of sheer numbers. If it is AT ALL possible, start planning to move. Yes, it is a tough decision, and is a bigBIG change in your life. However, it does sound like you would be happier in someplace a bit more cosmopolitan than where you’re living currently. (Of course, if you’re a teenager, hang in there and work on your grades so you can be eligible for a scholarship to a college in a different city.) But! Don’t just haul up your stakes and take off for the bright lights on the horizon. Do some research first about places you might like to call home. Surf the web and see what sort of employment prospects there are for your skills in places besides “booneyville”. When you’ve narrowed the field down to a couple of choices, see if there is a mailing list for the local goth scene, subscribe to it, and ask people about their city.
Which leads the Lady of the Manners right to your second concern — people ostracizing you for being a net.goth and knowing nothing of the scene. Yes, there are goths who are OldeSkool, and think that you aren’t a REAL goth unless you’ve been smoking cloves in a darkened club since you were 6. Those sorts of goths usually think that anyone who is a net.goth is merely some pathetic, socially inept geek who is thinks goth is a way to become dark, mysterious, spo0o0o0o0kie, and to meet “hot vampyre chix”. With that preconceived notion, of course they’re going to ostracize someone who is a net.goth; they don’t know any better.
(Did you tell them you were a net.goth? Or did they just act like pretentious twits from the get-go?)
This is where the mailing lists for local scenes come in handy. They’re a quick way to meet other people in your area (or hopefully soon-to-become-your area). Most local goth mailing lists organize social events. Go to one of those (if you can make it), and meet some of your fellow online goth folk. If you’re very brave, you can post something along the lines of, “Hi, I’m Jonathan. I’m going to be at X club on X night. I would like to meet some of you — how do I find you?” (Yes, this is where the time-honored jokes of “I’ll be the one in black” will crop up, without fail.)
You see, many OldeSkool goths know and are friends with net.goths in their cities. They just don’t know that their friend LadyBloodCountess Lily hangs out online. And many OldeSkool goths are becoming aware that the internet is a useful thing, and that having geeky tech skills can command $$ in the job market, thus allowing one to acquire more Dark and Gothy toys.
The thing to remember from all this is: mailing lists for goth scenes = good. This is how you meet people with similar interests to yours. Just remember to lurk for a bit to get an idea of how things work on whatever list you join, be polite in your emails, and use white space in your posts.
With Jonathan’s concerns (hopefully) answered, that wraps up this month’s column. Pop by next month when the Lady of the Manners will assure people that there is no crime in being a jeans ‘n’ t-shirt goth, even if her own sense of style doesn’t run along those lines. As always, if you have burning etiquette questions, send them to email@example.com.