What if I don’t fit the gender definitions of my culture for my sex?
What does it mean to be a man or to be a woman in our society, in goth, in Christianity?
Or how about this question: To what extent are gender expectations consumer driven?
I am a man and I have no desire to be a woman, but I do prefer figure skating to football, Vogue magazine to Car and Driver, and I am small though I prefer the word petite.
One of the many things I love about goth is that characteristics normally associated with the feminine of mainstream culture are not forbidden to me. I can take from both genders whatever I want in order to create the person I most want to be.
Strictly speaking, the word “androgyny” refers to a mix of both genders. But in my opinion, goth is a distinctly feminine subculture whereas punk is distinctly masculine regardless of whether the particular punk or goth in question is male or female. Of course, by referring to “masculine” or “feminine” I am not referring to sex but to the gender roles, characteristics, or “energies” normally associated with a particular sex by our culture.
Both David Bowie and Boy George were role models of androgynized masculinity for me. They demonstrated, in my formative years, that a man can be something other than a football player or a mechanic and still be very much a man.
It is the rigidity of gender roles that I find repulsive in both mainstream and often mainstream Christian culture, and it is the freedom to be the people we really are that I find most attractive in goth. I can display so-called feminine characteristics or do so- called feminine things without sacrificing my sex.
I’m not ashamed of my femininity, and it does not nullify my masculinity. On the contrary, I celebrate the feminine within me while remaining at peace with the fact that I am male. I am sensitive without being mushy, I am emotional without being weak, and I am “artsy” without being effeminate.
Cross cultural pollination has been a part of the spread of the gospel since the days of Acts. Most of the struggles recorded in Acts are the struggles of one culture to reach out to another. As gothic Christians we will be affected by our gothic heritage. Picture if you will a marriage between Christianity our father and goth our mother. We are the genetic offspring of the union.
Androgyny is a part of our genetic heritage. It, at least in part, defines who we are. But the abolition of strict gender roles is a gift we offer, not a deviant rebellion against the established norms. There burns inside of every person, male or female, tendencies of masculine and feminine. As goths we offer a better way – the freedom to combine masculinity and femininity in ways that express the uniqueness of who we are as individuals.
Does it make sense that women have to struggle in the market place for equal pay and equal opportunity while men are told they cannot be tender on the basis of their gender?
As gothic Christians we have the opportunity to stop, or at the very least call attention to the gender based insanity of our mainstream and Christian cultures.
I was once asked by a sincere, brilliant young woman if I thought she could make it as a minister of the gospel. I asked her why not, and she said, “Because I’m a woman.”
I asked her what her sex had to do with it. I said, “It’s the message that matters not your gender.”
So when goth men put on a skirt, or more importantly an attitude or disposition that is, in our mainstream culture associated with the female gender, I applaud their courage. In goth we are free to be the people we were created to be – free of the narrow confines of our mainstream culture’s gender identity rules.
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus,” – Galatians 3: 27 – 28
Embrace who you are, celebrate who you are.
This is a world of equal opportunity for men and for women if you choose to make it so.
Much love and many blessings,
Every time I read Matthew 23 half of me is angry with those mean old Pharisees and half of me is afraid that I could have been among those mean old Pharisees.
Pharisaical behavior is something I’d like to avoid, it’s nothing I ever want to be accused of, and if there is an opposite, I’d really like to run to it as fast as I can.
Jesus gave us a fearsome image of pharisaical behavior in Matthew chapter 23. He said:
23: 3 they don’t practice what they teach.
23:4 they crush others with impossible religious demands
23:5 everything they do is for show.
23:6 they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the most prominent seats
23: 7 they enjoy attention
23: 23 They ignore the important things – justice, mercy, and faith.
23:25 – 27 they make a polished and clean outward presentation but inside they are “full of greed and self-indulgence like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.”
Jesus concludes this discussion with this endearing phrase: “Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?” (23:33)
Ever hopeful, longsuffering, and patient, Jesus offers some insight as to how a Pharisee might “escape the judgment of hell” when He said, “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
At one time, the setting aside of our own self-importance for the sake of serving others in a Spirit led and often unsung manner, was emphasized where ever I went. The promise of humble service was always genuine and lasting joy. I often wondered, as I contemplated those messages, if it was possible to be joyful without unselfish love.
It is a naturally human tendency to want to argue that we are not the Pharisees, those other people are. But I would like to suggest that the truth might not be so much either/or as both/and. What I mean to say is that instead of being godly or not godly, a Pharisee or not a Pharisee, isn’t it more likely that we are all a combination of Pharisee and Christ, pride and love.
We are all capable of yielding ourselves to God in a way that produces genuine acts of unselfish love and we are all capable of satisfying our ego needs at the expense of our brothers and sisters.
In a recent message, Dr. Earl Baldwin, who happens to be one of my all time favorite speakers, said; “Modern Christianity is a personality cult.”
I must tell you I was alarmed by that comment.
Is it possible to “work” for God and for humanity not because we love but because we need? And if we allow that motive to go unchecked, then isn’t it also possible that soon we, “love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the most prominent seats.” Soon we, “enjoy attention.” Soon we are admired. Soon we depend on that admiration, like some depend on prescription pain meds. Then we start encouraging and then protecting that admiration. And then we have “a personality cult.”
“Few things can breed insecurity faster than trying to maintain a position that we have gained by our own promotion. What God is building is not raised up by might or power. When we start to fear people leaving more than we fear God leaving, we have departed from the true faith…Self-seeking, self-promotion, and self-preservation are the most destructive forces to true ministry….a pseudo-spirituality (is) used to gain influence or control by wearing a super-spiritual mask. Those using this…will almost always think they have the mind of the Lord, and therefore conclude that the leadership are the ones in rebellion.” – Rick Joyner
Dustin Hoffman once asked Sir Lawrence Olivier why actor’s work so hard to perfect a craft that for so many never yields a substantial reward. Sir Lawrence never said a word in reply. Instead he smiled, placed his hands together and applauded.
We do it for praise was his implication.
That may be a fine motivator for an actor but is it an appropriate motive for serving God? Who alone is worthy of praise? Should we allow anyone to get in the way of praise and admiration reserved only for God?
I’m no psychologist but it seems to me we are all just lookin for love, some more desperately than others.
Once a needy person finds a group of people that look to him/her for leadership, he/she will find ways to hold on as if their very life depends on it.
We never need to protect the work of God.
He is capable of doing that all by Himself.
If you are afraid to welcome new people it’s a sure sign you have stumbled into error. If you are afraid to welcome people that are different it is a sure sign you have stumbled into sin. The Gospel thrives when people of difference are not only welcome but actually sought after, nurtured, and loved.
New people can pose no threat to your “position” or “authority” if those things are of God to begin with. A genuine work of God will never be destroyed by adversity or diversity.
Love grows in the sunlight of authenticity.
“4 We are writing these things so that our joy will be complete… if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” – 1st John 1: 4 – 7
Light in this context is authenticity, honesty (see verses 8 – 10). We need it to grow in God, and to grow in a love relationship with one another.
Preachers always tell me I have a God shaped void that can only be filled by Jesus Christ. Well, it seems to me that I also have a people shaped void that can only be filled by a sincere, genuine, love relationship with you. If either one of us are busy trying to satisfy our ego needs in inappropriate ways or if our devotion belongs to someone who needs it for inappropriate reasons, the genuine article will have been traded for an illusion and when that happens no body wins.
We were created to be in love with each other, to live in a love relationship with each other. Genuine love will shy away when one of us prefers admiration. Admiration belongs to God and God alone. I want to know and be known for who I really am.
I want God’s best for my life and I want it for yours. Strip away all the exteriors and we’re all pretty much the same underneath, the goth and the not so goth, we’re all hungry, hurting, and wanting desperately to belong. The miracle of the Gospel is that it’s open to “whosoever will.”
If modern Christianity is indeed a personality cult then please lets agree right here and right now that gothic Christianity will be characterized not by its glitzy personalities but by its love for one another.
There is one simple secret to avoiding the Pharisee trap, to being in love and staying in love. Here it is:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better then yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2: 3 – 4 NIV
The High Calling
If God has called you to be really like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience, that He will not allow you to follow other Christians, and in many ways, He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.
Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot. And, if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.
Others can brag on themselves, on their work, on their success, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. And, if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.
Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them or in having luxuries. But God will supply you daily, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, and that is a helpless dependence on Him, that He may have the privilege of providing for your needs day by day out of His unseen treasury.
The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hid away in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.
God will let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it, but he will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work you have done. This will make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.
So, make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He will not explain to you a thousand things that may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.
God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and let other people say and do many things that you cannot say or do. Settle it forever, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hands, or closing your eyes.
Now, when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Sprit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven. – Author Unknown
Convergence 11 April 2005
“For goths, forming the tiny percentage of the population that they do, plus being spread out all over the world, the need to meet and greet those such as oneself under a full moon can become painfully paramount…At its best, Convergence is a truly magical event. Convergence was created for and by the users of alt.gothic newsgroups.” – Nancy Kilpatrick, The Goth Bible
Convergence is one of the largest and longest running goth gatherings in the United States. It is held in a different city each year in the spring.
I attended Convergence 11 (April 22–25, 2005) in San Diego. This was my first trip to San Diego and I will never forget the flight in and out. The airport is situated in a valley so we literally flew right past the bedroom windows of residential areas.
The largest goth con in the world began with a kick off party on Thursday April 21st and it ended officially with a masquerade ball on Sunday April 24th though there were some hold overs to the 25th.
Fashion is a big deal to me. I respect the goth notion that black is the absence of fashion but I also believe that the way we dress expresses who we are not only as goths but as people. Fashion can change the way you feel and think about yourself. It can help or hinder your sense of individuality and identity, it can make you feel wonderful or uncomfortable and it can speak not only to who you are but to who you want to be.
The fashion statements made at Convergence 11 were first of all unadulterated. Baby bats either make their purchases thoughtlessly from Hot Topic or they mix and match in an effort to find the niche that best expresses who they are. Many seasoned goths mix and match with the intention of finding a unique expression. But at Convergence the death rockers were pure, some of the best I have ever seen. Victorians (my kind) were in mass as well, and so well dressed they looked like they stepped out of the pages of history. Cybergoths, rivet heads, ethereals, punks, perky goths, vampires and even goth-a-billies abounded but beyond the usual crowd some individual and unique creations stood out.
Many designed and made or had someone else make their clothes. One gentleman told me he was a civil war reenactor and he wanted his gothic appearance to reflect that value and historical period. He wore a black civil war military hat and a coat that he designed but was made for him by one of my favorite designers, Kambriel. Another gentleman had a black pirate thing going on that was breathtaking. Many ladies wore period pieces. They did so with an uncommon attention to detail and strict adherence to the chosen period.
“The thing about goth fashion is that it reflects who you are,” one designer told me. “What are your values, what makes you feel elegant, what periods of history best speak to your heart? Then give that look a gothic twist. There is only one you so your look should be unique and difficult to categorize.”
Coincidentally, the spring 2005 issue of Gothic beauty features the classic designs of Dark Angel, as well as Victorian and death rock looks. But it also presents some very unique styles, one reminiscent of the flappers of the 20’s by Doll Flesh.com and something really special they are calling “Gangster Noir” by Joy of Killjoy Productions.
Okay, enough about fashion.
Convergence 11 also had a film expo featuring films from goth independent filmmakers. The filmmakers provided a panel discussion on Sunday. Too bad it wasn’t better attended. They did a great job.
At the art exhibit I wanted to buy everything. I couldn’t show you pictures of the art on-line even if I had been allowed to take them owing to copy right infringement but writing about art, fashion and film just can’t capture the beauty of it and beauty is what we’re talking about.
Convergence 11 was beautiful from the San Diego setting to the people and their fashions, to the art and music. It should have been called beauty con.
On Friday Convergence officially began with a meet and greet that lasted from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. in the courtyard of the lovely Shelter Point Hotel. I showed some photos of the meet and greet to my not goth sister-in-law and she said, “I’ve never seen so much black.” It was awesome.
At 6 on Friday there was a flea market where you could exchange or barter for clothes, music and movies or anything else goth. I met a young lady at the “swap” that made garments out of chain mail, I hope I’m spelling that right. She had a crusader-esk corset with a gothic cross on the back that was amazing.
At 7 the shuttle started to 4th and B, the local goth club that hosted the evening debauchery. DJs and bands played all through the night every night. By Monday morning hung over goths were laying like litter all over the hotel grounds.
Bands: Friday featured Shaolin Punk, Mister Monster, More Machine Than Man, and one of my favorites Ego Likeness.
Saturday featured the event I’d been waiting for and it was my favorite event of the trip, the courtyard tea party and fashion show. The schedule of events described it as “an opportunity to wear ones finest while taking brunch and tea. A salon style fashion show will let everyone see the designs at close range as the models stroll through the tea party.”
The tea party was $20 extra but it was well worth it. The crowd was at least as well dressed as the models and the models exhibited some truly creative fashion designs. This event also gave us another opportunity to talk, meet and greet, more on social and spiritual interaction later.
At 2 I went on the alt.gothic fashion-shopping spree. There was a $5 fee for this excursion that basically paid for the tour bus. We went downtown to a kind of alternative shopping district. I had actually never seen the inside of a fetish shop and after seeing one I hope to never see another. Fortunately there was only one fetish shop on the tour. The other shops were vintage, second hand or alternative clothing places. They also had some cool second hand book shops in the area.
Imagine a busload of goths invading your favorite shopping district. I never tire of seeing the looks on people’s faces when a crowd of dark culture people walk by. But the people of San Diego were kind and courteous and took us as we should be taken, with a wink and a smile.
At 7 the main fashion show was presented indoors. I enjoyed the afternoon courtyard show better because it was less formal and less noisy but the show was awesome.
4th and B featured a Saturday night modeling talent contest. Donna Ricci of Wicked Talent gave the winner “a fully sponsored membership, marketing team, and portfolio induction into Wicked Talent.” I really wanted to enter but, alas, I chickened out. They only had one, okay maybe two male models all weekend so I thought with the dearth of male talent I might have a chance but then this little voice inside said, “you’re too old and short to strut your stuff on a catwalk you idiot.” And, unfortunately, I listened to that voice. Hey, you only pass this way once. So I’m old and short so what? Not participating in that event was my one regret of the weekend.
Saturday night bands included Mercurine, Machine in the Garden, The Strand, and the ‘oh so awesome’ Azoic.
On Sunday, I could have attended any number of workshops including a “witch dance” workshop in honor of the “Dark Goddess,” or “basic rope bondage,” or I could learn to “make my own spun wool dreads.” Hum, let’s see…nah! I decided to see San Diego. I hired a cab and went to La Jolla, Mission beach, and the San Diego Zoo.
Convergence should be on every goth’s bucket list; great event, great fun.
The First Annual Gothic Christian Conference November 6, 2004 Ten Years Later
Christian goths got together before November of 2004 but for those of us that were there something intangible and very difficult to put into words was born on that weekend ten years ago.
Beginning on Thursday November 4 and extending to Monday November 8, we came off of the internet and into each other’s lives, we became a family. I will never forget how I felt when I saw Jamie to the train station on Monday or how I felt when I watched Donna and Mike drive away shortly after we said goodbye to Jamie.
I knew that something had been born, something that only existed in dreams before.
I wept on Monday and I don’t weep often but I wept that day because I had found in the company of those that attended something I didn’t even know I was missing, something I did not want to let go of on Monday.
Donna and Mike Sheehy arrived on Thursday and they truly set the tone for the conference. I knocked sheepishly on their hotel room door not knowing what manner of greeting I might receive but Donna opened the door and any apprehensions I might have had were swallowed up in her warm embrace.
As each person arrived, it was like watching a family reunion except that, for the most part, none of us had ever met. Still, there was a sense of family. I didn’t realize how hungry I was for the company of my people until I was actually there and then I never wanted it to end. For this one weekend, no one was left behind, no one was an outcast, and there was nothing to explain or apologize for. We belonged to and with each other.
Some of our most memorable images are below:
Group Photo – everyone in attendance in 2004 was in this photo…
That’s Jamie second from the left…
In loving memory of our beloved brother “Feather Phil”…
The scripture says, “No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love has been brought to full expression through us,” 1st John 4:12
I believe I saw this passage fulfilled at our conference. I saw God bring people, events, and circumstances together, I heard God’s voice in their words and I saw His love in their eyes. It is the closest I have ever come to seeing God.
Expressionist Cinema: The Beauty in the Dark Night of the Soul
“Expressionism is a style made popular in the art world during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Instead of creating an objective or realistic image, expressionism seeks to reflect emotional/psychological states through distortion and exaggeration of the image. For the expressionist, it’s not about what you see; it’s about what you feel.” – Author Unknown
Image below from: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
I grew up on dark, moody, atmospheric films, the expressionist films. This style originated in Germany and influenced many of the great early directors of Hollywood. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922), Metropolis (1927) and the Man Who Laughs (1928) are the forerunners of the great Universal classics like Frankenstein (1931) and the The Bride of Frankenstein (1935).
The Bride of Frankenstein is one of my favorite films. I love it primarily for its atmosphere but also for its Christian imagery and for the quest of its anti-hero, the monster, played brilliantly by Boris Karloff. He is searching for companionship. He is different, he knows he’s different and he doesn’t want to be alone. At first he tries to befriend a blind man, a sad and bittersweet effort for both involved. Then he tries to persuade his maker to build for him a mate. When the one person that was literally made for him rejects him, he declares; “we belong dead,” and he tries to commit suicide. Touching, isn’t it?
James Whale, the director of the Frankenstein films has provided the inspiration for modern directors like Tim Burton (Sleepy Hollow) and the director of Underworld.
Similar but not the same as expressionist cinema is film noir. These are predominantly cheesy thrillers with corny campy dialogue but the atmosphere is amazing.
Some of my favorites in this style include but should not be limited to the films listed below. Not all of these are “horror” but they are all moody and atmospheric. Some films are “dark” by nature of their style (I prefer these) some concern dark subject matter (American Beauty) and some combine comedy and darkness (Fargo and Ghost town).
Alien – you know the one, Sigourney Weaver. “In space no one can hear you scream.”
Batman – Tim Burton director. Tim Burton is a great Goth director. If you aren’t familiar with his work you need to be. See the sequel Batman Returns
Beetlejuice – Winona Ryder was born to play Goth.
Blade Runner – Harrison Ford, dark, oh so sweetly dark
The Birds – Hitchcock’s horror
The Bride of Frankenstein – 1935 my favorite film bar none
The Brotherhood of the Wolf – 2001 French film, very cool
Citizen Kane – 1941 Orson Wells masterpiece
The Crow – 1994 – a true Goth film if ever there was one. Sequels were made. See them all. They are magnificent.
Dark City – 1998 – so delicious it should be on the menu of every Goth.
Dracula – Lagosi
Horror of Dracula – 1958 Christopher Lee. Most of the Hammer Horrors, though not as strong as the classic universals in my opinion, were all really good.
Dragon Slayer – 1981, like having a good dream
Dracula’s Daughter – 1936 Yeow was this one better than expected.
Edward Scissorhands – Johnny Depp meets Tim Burton
Excalibur – 1981 – the way it should be
Fisher King – Robin Williams
The Fog – 1980 John Carpenter at his best
The Girl Who Knew Too Much – Mario Bava – Italian 1963
La Femme Nikita – 1990 Anne Parillaud – French
The Man Who Laughs – 1928 silent – do not neglect silent film. Some of the best work in the history of filmmaking is silent. Film is, after all, a visual art.
Matrix – its great the first time around
Metropolis – 1927 The Kino Restored version is the most complete but the rock soundtrack version is a guilty pleasure
The Others – 2001 Nicole Kidman – this is what modern horror should be.
Phantom of the Opera – 1962 Hammer version, Chaney did great work but Hammer wins on this one.
Portrait of Jennie – 1948
Prophecy – 1995 – anything Christopher Walken does is cool. I’ve seen him in straight parts, he’s still Goth, he just can’t help it.
The Rocketeer – 1991 definitely not horror but very stylish
Rocky Horror Picture Show – yea, I know, another guilty pleasure. We all have at least one.
Run Lola Run- 1998 – Germany – hold on tight, it’s a fast ride
The Seventh Victim – 1943
Sleepy Hollow – 1999 Johnny Depp and Tim Burton again
Terminator – Arnold – “I’ll be back.”
Two on A Guillotine – 1965 Cesar Romero & Connie Stevens – very hard to find but worth the effort
Underworld – already a Goth classic. Don’t miss it.
No doubt I’ve left your favorite off. Don’t let me get away with it. Drop me an e-mail and tell me why it should be included. Until then boys and girls, enjoy the darkness.
- David Dellman
I have often heard goths described as “disaffected.” I love the way that sounds but I’ve never been sure what it means so I decided to study it. I’m a curious person and once something attracts my attention I usually obsess on it until I’ve drained every ounce of vitality from it. Then I go to sleep in my coffin for the duration of the day.
I’ve always liked the word affection and though I would never refer to myself as a demonstrative person, I think I am very affectionate. Affection can take on many forms. Physical touch is only one.
The word disaffection refers to the absence or loss of affection for something.
In the case of the Christian goth, that something may be elements of the mainstream culture or maybe elements of mainstream Christianity or usually both.
In my opinion the behavior of Jesus and later his disciples was often radical and sometimes distasteful to the mainstream palette.
Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” John 15: 18 –19
And again, Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The words of our Lord are counterculture and they tug at our hearts to stand out and be different.
It is the nature of our mainstream culture to judge by appearance but, “The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” 1st Samuel 16: 7
The problem is that some people never make a conscious choice. They do what everyone else is doing simply because everyone else is doing it and they think, often on a subconscious level, that any person that deviates from the norm is “weird.”
When someone does make a conscious choice and that choice doesn’t jive with the mainstream, the mainstream tends to fear or at the very least gently nudge to get the deviant one back in line. They fear not because the difference is fear worthy but because they are uncertain of what they believe and why they believe it and therefore insecure.
An insecure person will always fear any deviation, any variety, any diversity.
Sadly there are some within the mainstream of Christianity that condemn any and all that disagree with them. The disaffected don’t so much walk out, as they are pushed out, they aren’t as much outsiders as they are outcasts. It isn’t that the disaffected want to create fear, it’s simply that some in the mainstream of Christian culture can’t help but fear what they cannot or will not understand.
In one sense, it all comes down to knowing what one believes and why one believes it. It’s about conscious intentional choice. When a person is secure in his or her position, he or she has nothing to fear and in fact will not fear when someone disagrees with that position.
And so we are disaffected, we lose our affection for that which no longer represents us. But disaffection with the mainstream church does not equate to disaffection with God. As the old saying goes, “I love Jesus, it’s His groupies I have a problem with.”
Alienation is another word that describes a relationship that has gone from affection to estrangement. When you look at something that you once called home and you feel that it never really was, when the everyday is strange and unfamiliar while the honesty and integrity of goth is comforting and satisfying then some sense of alienation is inevitable and even desirable.
If there ever was affection for the mainstream it is withdrawn with the realization that it simply isn’t our way of life. It is not necessary for the disaffected to feel hostility for the mainstream any more than in it necessary for the mainstream to fear the disaffected.
Mutual respect remains or can remain even when indifference is the order of the day.
For the disaffected there is no sympathy with the mainstream and by that I don’t mean caring, as goths by and large are a caring people. No, instead I mean harmony. We are out of step with the mainstream, the proverbial crowd, and have made a conscious and deliberate decision to be so.
Alienation hurts and disaffection is not as warm and comfortable a place as affection but for the sake of integrity, pain is sometimes worth the price. For all my jibbing and jabbing the Bible best described and called those who truly love God to disaffection when it said,
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” 1st John 2: 15 – 17
When you see selfish ambition in the guise of “ministry,” when hurting people are hurt more in the name of “preserving Christian values,” when hate is called “a stand for righteousness,” then you become one of us, one of the “disaffected.”
Disaffection is indeed a curious word. If I change but one letter the bittersweet connotations give way to a hidden pleasure:
Dis Affection = His Affection
So the next time someone tells you that you are disaffected, smile and know that God is smiling on you.
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2nd Corinthians 5:17
Can A Christian be a Goth?
Almost every Christian Goth will be asked this question at some point.
“I didn’t know you could do that?” is an oft heard comment, not necessarily made in judgment but astonishment as if God has a book with a checklist of “may,” and “may nots,” and goth is on the “may not” list.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an attraction to the gothic. I love it. I find it beautiful and safe.
If goth is your nature than embracing goth may well be the single, most therapeutic thing you will ever do. Living a life that is out of harmony with what you believe about your self is unhealthy.
Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” John 8:32
Like many things that Jesus said, this simple statement is subject to interpretation.
Perhaps he meant, “When you are in a right relationship with me you can be the person I created you to be without fear.”
Maybe authenticity is what really matters, that is, being true to the people we believe ourselves to be and living that life as opposed to the life someone else or some other culture wants for us.
When you find your tribe, and you may belong to more than one, you will feel that you have found a family. Growing up gothic was like being a bird in a squirrel’s world. It was one of the happiest days of my life when I finally discovered other birds and realized I wasn’t the only one.
Asking if a Christian can be a goth is like asking me why I wear a size small shirt.
The obvious answer is, “it fits.”
Perhaps a better question is how a Christian or anyone else of any faith or no faith at all can conform to any standard other than the one God called him or her to?
I understand that goth is “different” but differences can be strengths.
Diversity itself is a strength because it can expand our world view.
Instead of focusing on the perceived difference why not focused on the contribution that difference can make to the greater culture:
• Goth encourages us to accept people for who they are.
• Goth inspires awe and wonder.
• Gothic culture is much older than the modern Goth underground movement. If you look for it, you will find it everywhere—reflected, perhaps, in the church building you worship in.
• Goth can open our eyes to the beauty in sorrow or the elegance in darkness.
• A close association with the darker side of life will increase one’s appreciation for the light, the way eating a strict diet will increase one’s sensory experience of food. It will heighten sensitivity; it will make one more aware not less. In short, it will increase sensitivity and awareness of the spirit world.
• Goths have a different perception of beauty than the mainstream culture, different, not better nor worse. Gothic beauty invokes awe. It puts us in touch with the magnificence of God and the utter transcendence and the limitless depths of our own supernatural, eternal existence.
• Goth reminds the mainstream that there is more to life than the material and we are more than material beings.
• Goth reminds us to be outraged at oppression and hatred.
• Goth encourages everyone to come out from behind the mask and be the people we believe ourselves to be.
• Goth is a counter-cultural movement. In many ways, Jesus was counter-culture. He swam against the mainstream and was persecuted for it.
This is what others have said:
“God offends the mind to reveal the heart.” – Author Unknown
“Goth culture is a movement embracing the romanticism of darkness and the outcast persona…it is a statement against what was seen as the oppressive, materialistic, and superficial values of mainstream society…Goths are usually gentle people with artistic and literary tastes. Sometimes their deliberate off-putting look is a test to see who will accept them for what they really are…we should not assume that all in the Goth subculture are damaged. They search for the authentic, not the plastic, intimacy, not the grandiose. They are sensitive to artificial and superficial social behaviors.” – Marcia Montenegro
“Goth is the ability to find the art where art seems to be lacking; to find the light in the darkness and embrace it for all its worth.” – Jennifer Mason
“Goth unashamedly celebrates the dark recesses of the human psyche…many people lead unhappy, unachieved lives. And that’s sad. Goth makes depression and angst a lifestyle choice and that’s art…Goth is about living precisely when suicide is the only reasonable option.” – Unknown Author
“I could not adapt to the cookie-cutter Christian model…Being Goth to me is also being real with myself, real with others, and real with God…In “normal society,” people seem so concerned with appearances, they hide their true selves in order to gain the favor of others. This mask wearing is accepted, yet stark honesty is often shunned, even by those in the church…If I were to be anything but gothic in my views, I would be among the mask-wearing hypocrites.” – Pastor Ed Carter of Sanctuary
Think of it this way:
“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,” – 1st John 1:7
Walking in the light is not rejecting darkness or those in dark culture; it is honesty. Taken this way, a Goth is walking in the light and a mask-wearing hypocrite is walking in darkness. Kind of ironic, isn’t it?
You don’t need to conform to someone else’s cultural standards to be a Christian.
God loves diversity.
God made diversity.
God wants you to know that you are highly valued, loved, and appreciated for who you are.
I think Goths are creative, imaginative and courageous people. They tend to present the uncensored truth, not hypocrisies or lies. But, truth can frighten. That is why we must speak the truth in love. We must show love when we are shown hatred. We must understand when we are misunderstood.
If Goth is who you really are and not just some fiction you are hiding behind, then Goth will set you free.
Truth is liberating, just as lying and hypocrisy are enslaving.
Goth is not a fad. For some it may be. For others it may be a temporary stop along the journey home. But for the vast majority of long-term Goths it is a part of our personality, our very being. It is an outlook on life, a point of view, or a value system and we are here to celebrate it.
What is goth
“Goth is a state of mind. Romance is at the heart of what it means to be goth. Most goths are goth because of a refined sensitivity to life… goths try to live with dignity; they aim to respect one another. The Victorian goth is a genteel character, mourning that environment which nurtured sensitivity and venerated consideration… goth is a realm devoted to the deepest yearnings of the collective unconscious. It respects what has been traditionally called feminine values in both men and women, beauty, love, refinement, creativity… goth is about surviving with style and grace.” – Nancy Kilpatrick, The Goth Bible
“Goths serve a shamanistic role in society to protest, to mourn, to amplify and relay mourning and anger for the collective mind.” – John Shirley as quoted by Gavin Baddeley
“Goth is a distinctive style of music and fashion.” – Paul Hodkinson, Goth: Identity, Style, and Subculture
“A Goth is a fan of gothic music. They wear black and act melancholy. Themes that appeal to Goths tend to pertain to the dark aspects of human existence—such as death, romance, and feelings of loneliness or isolation. Many Goths are drawn to the scene due to experiences of abuse, discrimination or ridicule at the hands of “normal” people. To the outside, Goths are weird; black clad freaks who are obsessed with death. Take a closer look, however, and you will find a rich tapestry of ideas and practices and a menagerie of colorful characters. There are many kinds of Goths including but not limited to Romantic Goths, Death Rockers, Cyber Goths, Rivet-Heads, Ethereal Goths, Punks, Perky Goths, and Goth-a-Billys. Each has a distinctive style.” – Voltaire ‘What is Goth’
“Goth in its simplest form is a subculture, a group of people who feel comfortable with each other’s company. There is no specific thing that defines what you need to do or be to fit into the goth scene (except of course the implied black clothing). People in the goth scene all have different musical tastes, follow different religions, have different occupations, hobbies, and fashion sense.” – Goth.net
“Many people lead unhappy, unachieved lives. And that’s sad. Goth makes depression and angst a lifestyle choice, and that’s art.” – A goth primer
“Goth refers to the modern underground scene. But Goth is more than just a subculture, a gloomy aesthetic or literary genre. It is a philosophical perspective. In Goth, the strange and eerie are commonplace, while the everyday is somehow uncanny. Camp is an important concept to anyone who wishes to understand the gothic aesthetic. The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural, of the exaggerated and the off.” – Gavin Baddeley, Goth Chic
“Goth culture is a movement embracing the romanticism of darkness and the outcast persona… it is a statement against what is seen as the oppressive, materialistic, and superficial values of mainstream society… Goths are usually gentle people with artistic and literary tastes. Sometimes their deliberate off-putting look is a test to see who will accept them for what they really are. They are sensitive to artificial and superficial social behaviors.” – Marcia Montenegro
“Most people pass through the valley of the shadow of death, you people build condos there.” – Lynn Vigliante
Goth means many different things to many different people but this is what it means to me: Goth is beauty. Those that are Goth are tender, sensitive, and courageous. Goth is empathy and Goths are the bearers of sorrow and sadness for a lost and dying world. Goth is an expressionist response to the pain and injustice that diminishes every human being. When one suffers, we all suffer. Goth is a gentle and elegantly masochistic answer to a cruel and sadistic society. Goth is choosing life when death is a seductively tempting option. Goth is art, a means of expressing the darkest and saddest of all human emotion. Goth is, always has been and always will be as long as people hurt.
- David Dellman