Where my Goths at?
August 31st, 2011
08:00 AM ET

Where my Goths at?

The sprawling, battered, hand-me-down sedan had slowed down to a putter alongside me in the dark for at least a block or two, but I willed myself not to acknowledge it. Head down, bangs yanked over eyes, one combat boot clomping in front of the other, I tried mightily to will myself to disappear into the night air - or at least brace for impact.


The passengers exploded into laughter and peeled off down the suburban avenue. They'd not offered any specific critique or cause for their verbal assault, but I had a sneaking suspicion that it was black lipstick I was wearing. Possibly the long black skirt and black fingernails. Definitely the dog collar.

It had not gone unremarked upon before; in fact earlier that week, my mother - generally a supporter of my right to individual weirdness - had sat me down in the kitchen for a serious talk. "Mrs. B. said she saw you walking along Fort Thomas Avenue and she was worried you looked like a...a...punk rocker!"

Author Kat Kinsman in high school, circa 1990.

I sighed and rolled my eyes, as 17 year old girls are contractually obligated to do when dealing with parental figures. "Did you mention to Mrs. B. that I was a National Merit Finalist, got a 5 on my A.P. English exam, had been a varsity cheerleader, am the editor of the yearbook and got into every college I applied to - with scholarships, even?"

She nodded grimly. "Of course I did. It's just that you've started to look so...different..."

I snapped back, wounded. "And by the way, Mom. I'm not a 'punk rocker.' Geez. I'm Goth. I'll be downstairs."

"Downstairs" was my parents' basement. Cliched, yes, but it was increasingly the only place I felt any semblance of safety. I painted, made sculptures, wrote dreadful and lovelorn poetry, listened to the dark and bloody-voiced bands that I adored and generally bided time until my impending escape to art school. Life just hurt less down there, and I felt comfortable in my own moon pale skin.

It was true that I looked different on the outside than I had before, moving from pastel flowered miniskirts, jelly shoes, polo shirts and jean jackets to shredded black tights, witchy dresses, clunky boots, cross necklaces, purple-tinted hair and eyeliner galore. I wasn't trying to stand out. I was trying to match my appearance to my inner self. I was trying to be beautiful - even if no one else thought so.

In the late 1980s in suburban Kentucky, there was no Goth.net, no "Lady of the Manners" Jillian Venters offering sage advice online to babybat Gothlings struggling to come out of the coffin, no Goth Cruise, no copies of Gothic Beauty magazine gracing the shelves of my local Waldenbooks. While so many of us have found and befriended each other later in life - catching a glimpse of a slightly ornate ring, spying an old cemetery-posed picture on Facebook, or a mutual "like" of a band like Bauhaus or Siouxsie and the Banshees - there's a constant refrain: "Where were you when I was younger? I needed you. I was the only one where I was."

While some young Gothlings managed to find a kindred soul at their school or at their local alternative club, so many of us were left to our own devices. We stayed up through the bleary hours, hoping to catch a Camouflage or Ministry video on MTV's 120 Minutes. We rifled through bins of 12" singles at record shops, read Anne Rice books in college coffee shops, wandered through cemeteries with cameras and sent away for Burning Airlines band T-shirt catalogues - all in the hope of finding another soul singing in the same key.

Now, twenty-some years later, there's a light in the crypt. With the advent of the internet, a 15 year old girl in rural Indiana is not just scribbling verse upon verse about rose thorns and bloody tears into a journal she tucks into her backpack; she's posting them on her Livejournal for all the world to see. She's got Goth friends - who, technically, she may never have met in person - but she's not alone. Gone is the record store scramble and snail-mailed mixtape for a penpal in another state; it's a Last.fm or Spotify playlist or jockeying for a turn to DJ in front of a virtual crowd in a turntable.fm room. There is guidance just a click away from ElderGoths who've seen it, done it, bought the concert shirt and written a book on how to do it with style and grace.

For those who seek it, there is community in both online and off, via message boards, mailing lists, Facebook groups, blogs, dance clubs, elaborate Steampunk parties (Is Steampunk part of Goth or not? Discuss.), Goth Weekends and other forms of assemblies. For the more reserved among us (last year I went to a Gothic picnic and knew no one and tried to talk to groups of strangers and it was wicked awkward), there is the quiet peace and pleasure in knowing that that we’re not the only ones perusing sinister and pretty items on Coilhouse.net and pictures of people we might well have known, way back when on nowthisisgothic.tumblr.com. The emotional and aesthetic solidarity does my dusty old heart an awful lot of good, and I’m sure – at last – that I’m not alone.

Those of us who stumbled through the dark alone may have toned down our lipstick shade (which didn't stop a makeup artist from suggesting he style me as "CNN Goth" as he was prepping me for a recent live TV shot) and spider web necklaces to meld more seamlessly into the work environment, but if you look closely, the little details shimmer through. An elementary school teacher in Las Vegas has barely-covered tattoos and Peter Murphy on her car stereo. A high-level executive assistant in midtown Manhattan sports black polish in his fingernails and a suit-wearing real estate executive in the West Village wears a heavy, silver cemetery cross ring and plays Dead Can Dance on his iPod on the subway. A Chicago restaurant marketing director posts Sisters of Mercy videos on his friends’ Facebook walls late on a Friday and a London internet creative uploads pictures from yes – the Goth Cruise. Old Goths don’t die – we just dress that way.

At its core, Goth is not about liking a particular band, the height of one's hair, rejecting sunlight and obsessing about death. The outward manifestation varies wildly, from Hello Kitty fetishists and Victoriana recreationists to Pagans, Steampunks and closet Corporate Goths. It's notoriously difficult to pluck out the common thread but I've come to believe this to be true: despite many of its outer trappings, it's not a fixation on or desire of death - quite the opposite.

Goths are in love with a darker beauty - a life scored in a minor key and played with great passion. While some people may dally and dabble for a while and toy with the accoutrement (I was not annoyed several years ago when black nails and lips were all the mainstream rage - it just meant I could stock up on better brands), every now-adult Goth I know says essentially the same thing. "I didn't decide to be Goth. I just…was."

And it wasn't easy. Though the outer trappings may float into fashion (okay - I'll admit that I am cranky at Ed Hardy for appropriating our lettering, cemetery crosses and fleur de lis, but mostly because it all looks so dopey – and while we’re on the subject, vampires may dominate books, film and TV right now, but this incarnation is Emo, not Goth), people can be downright cruel - even murderous [Sophie Lancaster], or at least rudely inquisitive. It's up to each one of us to decide how high to let our (black, studded, shredded, skull-bedecked) freak flags fly.

As it happens, some six and a half years ago, rifling through responses to my online dating ad, I came across a message from a handsome, black leather jacketed man leaning up against a stone graveyard monument in his profile picture. We got married on the altar of the deconsecrated  1850s Gothic stone church in which we now live together, and for our five year anniversary, we're going to Northern England's Bronte country and Scotland to tromp around castles and run through the moors screaming for Heathcliff.

My inner 17 year old self might be rolling her eyes at how giddy and lame that sounds, but I bet when I look away, she'll crack a smile.

soundoff (504 Responses)
  1. guest

    The guys in the car had it right.......

    August 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Princess Purgatory


      August 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Kevin

      you are a moron. tell us your idea of hanging out...tell us your idea of being an individual. Or do you strive to be like the rest of society? Normal? Dull? Boring? Inept? Good show sir.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • beelzabarber

      oh please...You're probably a country fan with boots and a hat but no horse. That's far more ridiculous than any goth, emo, or metal look. Relax and un-bitter yourself

      August 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
      • Sarah

        hahahahaha! Ive seen that so many times. I really dont get it either. Guy with a cowboy hat but lives in suburbia or in a nice apartment. Drives a truck and usually has a big pair of rubber balls hanging off the back.

        September 5, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Jamie Strange

      ::Golf Clap::

      Oh YAY, another shower of mental diarrhea from the "I'm a Self-Loathing, Pant-Shitting Coward Who Would rather die than ever find the courage to express myself or be my own person, so I have to tear down everyone else around me in order to have a scintilla pf perceived relevance" Peanut Gallery.

      You people seriously need to go the way of the Dinosaurs.

      Your time is OVER.

      August 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
      • Sarah

        Jamie, you are strange and sounds like you have issues. Maybe you need to stop shitting on everyone else and grow a new asshole

        September 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  2. Kylie

    I really love this article, especially about the bit about "I didn't choose to be goth, I just... was." As a "trendy" hairdresser, I feel as though my 16 year old self would've hated who I am now, but I, too, still wear my silver ring with an the Egyptian unk and have one side of my head shaved that can only be seen when I choose to show people. It's good to know I'm not alone. =)

    August 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  3. 30 years ago

    She could have been my fraternal twin when I managed a Sam Goody store back in the 80's. The term or classification 'goth' hadn't entered into the common vernacular at that point and I had never really labeled myself 'punk' or anything else for that matter. I was just the guy with the insanely black, huge, spikey hair who wore nothing but black all of the time. Yeah, I was called a few names in passing. One customer who I asked if she would like assistance finding something actually backed up, looked me up and down and said "You're EVIL" before departing the store. It was a look. A fringe trend. Wild oats being sown from a black bag. So freakin' what?!? Now I'm the 48 year old father of 3, have a great wife and family life and could easily pass for a tech geek. Point is that when I see someone who's "goth" I think ... good for you. If someone say's they don't like it, tell 'em to go s#it in their hat.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  4. Bulloch

    Long live Culture Club!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  5. dion

    Wasn't the TV program "CSI" featured that girl in the forensic lab a GOTH GIRL?

    August 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Billy

      Your thinking of NCIS her name is Abbey.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • DrChem

      It's NCIS. Her name is Abby Shuto the brilliant forensic scientist.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Kit

      I believe you're thinking of Abby on NCIS. Wrong show, right idea 🙂

      August 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  6. Evil Grin

    I always liked the look myself, if it was done well. I knew people who did over-the-top goth, and those who did I'm-just-playing-with-black-make-up goth. The ones I always found interesting were those ones who struck just the right balance between the two. I think more of the casual style that reflected what the goth philosophy was supposed to be – anti-style.

    Once a "goth" started gushing about hot topic, I lost all respect for them.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  7. jillmarie

    Long live Goth! I honor my inner goth girl with my black wardrobe, dyed black hair, red lips, and porcelain skin from years of eskewing the sun (thank goodness- my skin looks great!) I don't wear ripped tights, and no more shorts with fishnet under them, but I've discovered some fishnets with a fabulous LBD and still wear black boots- they're just not Doc Martens.
    Thank goodness for Sirius/XM with the classic and current alt rock they play! And gotta love Halloween- nobody does Halloween like Goth- I go as Morticia and look the part- I love it!
    This article bought back some fabulou memries- thanks, Kat!

    August 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  8. Donby

    Thanks for the blast from the past Kat. I too listened to Dead Can Dance, Suixie and the Banshees, Ministry, Lords of Acid, Bauhaus, although it was in the early 90's for me. I never went all out looks wise but wore a black trench coat and hung out with other like minded friends in dark places. What I find interesting is it seems that most "goths" or whatever you want to call it end up very successful and tend to be intelligent. Most of my friends ended up doing amazing things. My friend Kyle helped start "Magik the Gathering" when that company (Wizards of the Coast) only had about 15 employees. I helped make the first five versions of the iPod. My friend Arne runs an IT business, etc. For me it was a way to seperate myself from the "masses" I guess.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  9. seansolo8

    Not sure you'll get around to reading response #140, but I must strongly suggest that if you're going to be in "Northern England", you pay a visit to Whitby Abbey.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Oh, it is soooooooo on the list! October seems so far away.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  10. Luvsfuzzysweaters

    Wow, I do not seems to remember this many cliques when I was in school (1956) and certainly these cliques did not hang on so long into adulthood. I do not understand why we have to continue to break up socially into tribes?
    On a personnel note, I feel Gothic looks have a certain dark artistic dynamic that I do enjoy. I often find when talking to these young people a higher level of intelligence with an under lying mild depression.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • gothiscool

      When I was in high school there was a bunch of goth kids, I use to stare at them. Everyone was scared of them but I was mystifed by them. One day one of them said something to me. I think they were trying to stare me away by going up to me and talking to me and confronting but I wasn't scard at all I was excited,lol.
      This goth person winded up being really cool. I gain even more respect for them, they seems so smart, not like the other kids. From them my love for goth grew. I'm hispanic like snookie's color on jersey shore so sterotypes are for the birds.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
      • Andrea M

        Ain't nothing wrong with hispani-goth. There's plenty I've seen around Denver, even sold my car to one.

        August 31, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  11. richk

    As a 42 year old fan of punk and all things counter-culture, it amuses me to see so many kids dress like this on a mainstream level. Not shocking by any means and it is not "different" by any stretch of the imagination, just yet another pop culture exploitation/manifestation. It has gotten to the point where clean shaven and tattoo-less is the new "rebel" (for men at least).

    August 31, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Richard

      "I missed the 60's and I think if I could have been there to make my contribution, everything would have been alright!"
      Nuclear weapon's thief and killer, William Stranix (Tommy Lee Jones) in the movie, "Under Siege."

      August 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  12. Trish

    Sung in the voice of Edith Bunker "Thoooose were the daaaays..."

    August 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  13. Lu

    Did anyone love the South Park episode "Ungroundable" when they talked about the whole "Goth" "Vamp" difference?

    August 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  14. BigRed

    The look was always interesting in the evenings or in dark places. Outside it was just plain silly. Still I have always wondered what deep seated meaning the whole Goth thing meant or symbolized.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Nah

      It means they have no lives, are trying to impress each other, and trying to make a statement to society.

      It has nothing to do with matching your "outer self" to your "inner self". Wearing clothes, specifically for a reaction from others, is based on a desire to "make a statement". That means, by necessity, that you care what others think about you. Whether you care that they like you or hate you is irrelevant.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
      • Yikes

        Looks like somebody has Goth envy... or was broken hearted by a Goth. Or had a Goth family member who got more attention than them. Or just isn't okay with other people doing what makes them happy. Or fears that which is different. Or has ESP and can assign motives to others. Or is just a douche.

        August 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
      • Andrea M

        Try again. The goth look is as much an artistic fashion choice as any. there are even couture designers known for practicing what is known as "haute goth." Only in high school is fashion about fitting in with a certain group and in many cases it isn't even then. The way one dresses is a form of art to those with an interest in fashion and hot damn if goths aren't serious practitioners of fashion as art! I am continuously in awe of goth fashion and supremely jealous of much of it, unfortunately as a New Romantic I can only crib from it to a certain point. Goth fashion also can tend to be very expensive, so that dude you're hating on for his incredible brocade coat, yeah that thing probably cost more than your car payment, he probably has a lot more money than you. Most likely because he wasn't bothering with football practice in high school and actually got decent marks.

        August 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  15. Richard

    They are more alike than any of the "normal" people they pretend to be superior to. Just like all fringers, they are nothing but clones of one another with a hive mind.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jenk

      Nice superiority complex there, bro

      August 31, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  16. Gavin

    Yay CorpGoth and GothCruise! Where all my Convergence peeps, LOL. Good to see the stealthGoths acknowledged – we hold real jobs and indulge on our private time, no longer have to wear tip-to-toe black 24/7 to prove anything to anybody, and have gentrified in a variety of ways.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  17. Jonathan

    Thanks for the good read love.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  18. Houstonian

    @Kat its funny how many of my friends where 'those' kids in high school. I had the kind of mother who wouldn't allow me to make my own wardrobe choices, which of course had me looking like the biggest dork in the school. But I fit in with the 'group' not because I looked like them, but because I shared the same tastes in music, books, wrote angst filled poetry (and was encouraged in the pursuit by several teachers) and had a generally darker outlook than the preppy jock/cheerleader types. More power to the Goth kids today. Being an individual, even if there are others who look 'just like' you is a powerful thing. My oldest is on of 'those' kids. He's got the long dyed black hair, wears the concert t-shirts, black nail polish, eyeliner, ect. He's also one of the most polite kids around. He holds the door for ladies, offers to help older people with their packages and is currently in th Navy's DEP program with a ship out date of February 21st. I have always encouraged him to pursue his own path and be his own person. BTW, you left out Vampirefreaks(dot)com in your list of Goth/Industrial sites. It's an awesome MySpace/Facebook style site but for the Gothic/Industrialist genre. Lots of music, lots is networking. Take a look! 🙂

    August 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Jon

    Thought the top photo could have been the daughter of Gene Simmons. Kiss started in 1973 with the make-up and fire breathing, blood spitting and more. But no one here has even mentioned Alice Cooper with the guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, boa constrictors. "Welcome to My Nightmare"

    August 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  20. Andrea M

    I love goths, they're awesome! I fancied myself a bit of one in high school what with long velvet skirts, corsets, witchy boots, and such. I listened to Siouxsie, Joy Division, and Android Lust, but while I still love all that, in the end Duran Duran, Visage, and the paler colors of New Romantic fashion won out in me. But alas there is not exactly a New Romantic scene here in Denver, so if I want to dance to my music, I have to go to a goth night. The good news is goths are generally fun people and as long as everybody respects everybody else, it's always a great time. I recently went to Gothnik (goth picnic) here and had a great afternoon sharing food and drink with friends and meeting new people while drooling over fashion I'd thoroughly missed the boat on getting to wear. By outward appearances of my grey pirate "semi-jodhpurs" (palazzos, all the swash buckle without the stigma) and black lace tops with bell sleeves, you might guess I'm something a little different, and I certainly am, but you'd probably never guess that I'm the fashion and music next door neighbor of goth.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  21. JoJo

    There is nothing sadder than a 30yr+ old Goth. When you dress up for Halloween everyday as a grown adult it starts looking f'n silly.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • mpls

      (everyday is) Halloween. Ministry 1984

      August 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Princess Purgatory

      ditto that....

      August 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  22. MorningofMourning


    August 31, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  23. Olaf Big

    Is that Michelle Bachmann on the photo?

    August 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Katrine

      LOVE YOU.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  24. chris

    Its funny that you put this vampire garbage in with "emo" while trying to write an article explaining and defending being goth. While I have no problem with goths, the mainstream media (and about 90% of people) still don't seem to understand that "emo" was born from punk rock in the mid-80s. In its purest form "emo" is just as raw and angry as the punk and hardcore of those days. And while I defend it as a musical form, it should show you where to group those people.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Angela

      As I tell my three sons...you put produce and furniture into groupings, not people. But yes, you're right, emo is different. 😀

      August 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • richk

      When I hear the word "emo" I think of Rites of Spring, Cap'n Jazz, Braid, Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate, jawbreaker. As with most things, the term was hijacked to represent everything from men with dumb haircuts and eyeliner, to really cheesy screamo bands.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
      • Chelle

        ^^^Seriously could not be more right, but you need to include the cure, the smiths, and The Promise Ring. Goth is for whiney rich kids who tried to be scary to combat against the norm... ugh goths turned into Juggalos!

        August 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  25. Dedalus

    Kat, I grew up across the river from you in Batavia... same graduation year... same experiences but from a male perspective. I LOL'd at your 120 Minutes comment. Every Sunday, after my parents went to bed, I'd sneek to the TV in a desparate attempt to hear the music I connected with.
    Thank you for bringing back some memories... though considering what I've let adulthood do to my individualism, they are bittersweet memories.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Oh please tell me you went to The Clubhaus. I'd go on occasion and lurk in the corner, happy to be there, but too scared to talk to the cool kids who came in groups and had much better hair than I did.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
      • Dedalus

        No, but I did have 2 friends who regularly won us Bogart's tickets off of Night Waves (WVXU overnight alternative show). The deal was if they won the tickets, I'd drive them to the show in my 1978 Pinto if I got the 2nd ticket. We'd go to Short Vine early to make sure we had time to hit Sentiments Rock City and Wizard's Records. But other than Short Vine, we had no idea where to go.

        August 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
      • Kat Kinsman

        Bogarts! I saw Nine Inch Nails, Peter Murphy, They Might Be Giants and so many other shows there. And if I'd known you were around, I'd totally have wanted to drink endless pots of coffee at that Perkins in Clifton with you.

        September 2, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  26. Lady Bloodlust

    Real "Goths" don't wear black, they sack Rome. I am not saying that because I have anything against the way people dress or look, I am just stating a fact. It drives me insane that people who dress all black, with a lot of make-up are labeled as Goth. I actually find beauty in some of the things they wear and the make-up they apply, but they are not Goths. They are just people who choose to appear differently than the majority. I have done the "goth", "emo", "punk", etc look but if anyone ever asked me what I was supposed to be, I always looked at them and said "human". Labels limit, human imagination is limitless, don't let anyone put you in a category.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Catherine

      The English language uses the same word for different things often. Get over it.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Andrea M

      The term comes not from marauding hordes but from Gothic art in the classical sense. Y'know, flying buttresses and stuff like that? To my understanding, an English music critic tagged the name "gothic" to Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album (which really is pretty damn gothic in the art and subculture senses) and thus it spread from there.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Katrine

      I'm so glad that there are still people in existence who know that Goths are actually people who sacked Rome.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Scott

      If the only valid meaning of "Goth" is a tribe, then what am I to make of gothic cathedrals? Is it incorrect to refer to Chartres as a gothic cathedral because it wasn't built by a bunch of barbarians? What about gothic novels? Shall we rename the genre? I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that the term "Goth" (people wearing black, etc.) was derived from "gothic" in the literary sense, something bringing to mind 19th century clothes (trad goth?) and old castles. Old castles which not coincidentally serve as the backdrop for Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and conjure up Halloween images of bats, cobwebs, skulls, etc.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Seriously?

      Do you also claim that real "stoners" don't smoke pot, they bludgeon people to death with rocks?

      Welcome to the English language, where we allow words to mean more than one thing.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
      • Khaled

        I'm sorry – weren't you just telling me it gets eaiesr? Seems like you just swap the old problems for a big heap of new ones. But at least yours come with charm...

        August 2, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
      • Jawan

        HELLO,Im IRANIAN Your website is great,I Love it I rescareh for my english class about STEREOTYPE.I found your websit and read it, and I nice to read your web site your websites article are good, I Try come to yore websit some time .and pleas excuse me if I have som misteyke in my writting,my english is not very well by yoshke.

        August 5, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • nahbro25

      That was actually the Visigoths, but in your post you shortened the name to “Goth” much the same way people shorten Gothic to “Goth”

      August 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  27. Regina Powell

    Amusing to see that the ignorant, name-calling jocks haven't completely shed their high-school personas, either. I was never specifically "goth," I lingered somewhere around goth, punk, skater, metal...some kind of freak-fusion, I guess. This article really hit home, though. Reading my music catalogs cover-to-cover, hoping to memorize all the bands that sounded good, in case I saw them in the discount bin. There was no Hot Topic, so if you wanted something fancy, you had to go to the thrift store and alter some 1940's funeral dress. If you were lucky, there was a headshop or record store nearby that sold Manic Panic (or you had to get creative, although after burning the hell out of myself, I discovered that olive green RIT dye will not actually dye your hair). I'm 35 now. Standard outfit is still long black shorts, Skinny Puppy t-shirt, giant clunky boots (I became a chef, so we can get away with a lot more as far as workplace attire). My hair still looks like I'm a Fraggle with a grievous head injury. I live in a city where I can go out to a club and stomp around to Ministry, if I'm not too tired from work. I have my own house, that I can decorate with vintage gas masks (and do). It is perfectly fine to grow up and still be who you want to be. Thanks for the article.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Princess Purgatory

      another verb is 'wannabe'....i saw you missed that one.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  28. Brad

    While reading your article, I noticed how clean, easy flowing, intelligent, and friendly your voice is. It is very unfortunate that those who are calling you names are often not very intelligent or friendly. Perhaps they weren't strong enough to be different from the those who barked loudest when they are younger. Perhaps they don't understand inner happiness and peace. Perhaps what they say isn't really what they want to say.

    Be who you want to be, and be happy. And above all, have a great sense of humility.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • teddy

      Burning Airlines are still in business! must say, HOT TOPIC sold out! They sell Justin Bieber!

      August 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
      • Jenk

        The store IS called "Hot Topic" – what did we think that meant XD
        Sad thing is it's still always staffed by goths, and they are all horrified at the Bieber/Twilight stuff XD

        August 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  29. abono

    This is awesome. This was so totally me in the 80s. The record stores, those burning airlines catalogs, the parents. *sigh* The total freakout moments like, "Oh, they're playing Killing Joke on MTV!?" and it wasn't even 120 minutes. And the other goth friends or acquaintances who were so few and far between.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  30. Grand Pubah

    I am black i wore black i thought black bammas called me Shadow

    August 31, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  31. EditorialQuery

    The author clearly has goth cred, but I'm puzzled as to the unnecessary capitalization of "goth." We don't capitalize punk, rap, rock, country or other musical styles/scenes. A "Goth" is someone who beat up the Romans; a "goth" is someone who frequents the Temple of Love...

    August 31, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Nini

      ahh such an eicitxng giveaway!! i've been very curious about the physique 57 workouts and these dvds ever since I read about them on your blog!don't have a blog of my own but i'll definitely email a friend to up my odds of winning! : )

      February 1, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  32. Srhs

    LOL. I went through all of this but in the late 90's early 2000's. It seems so long ago...in actuality it isnt. I'm nearing 30 and 16 year old me seems just like a stranger. Thanks for your story. I'll play some Sisters of Mercy or Type O Negative tonight (probably freak out my husband) in honor of 16 year old me.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Stacy

      I am 42 years old and I still love Sisters of Mercy. I miss college sometimes. : )

      August 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  33. coffee

    Atta girl. Everyone should be comfortable in their own skin and have the freedom to be. She's not hurting anyone with her self-expression, so leave her alone. Ms. Kinsman, thanks for your perspective.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  34. teddy

    I was the very 1st "grunge" guys in my high school in 1991-with my flannel shirts and chuck taylor sneakers–and listened to the cure, nine inch nails, ministry, soundgarden, alice in chains and Nirvana way before "Smells like teen spirit" was released. Talk about posers? 1992 and a few years beyond college and the mall was full of kids and generation X'ers were in flannels!

    "Goth" replaced the "alternative rocker" label in the mid-90's with the emergance of white zombie and marilyn manson.

    Now in my late 30's, my skull rings, chains, fannels and black nail polish are gone, but still love to attend "underground" band concerts and wear my chuck taylor / skater sneakers and black rock shirts.

    I'm college educated and hold a job and back in college to build my work skills again in the subtance abuse counsleing field. "Goths" are usually the most polite and smartest kids on the planet: and the "Hardcore" kids do clean living (no drugs and alcohol) The "preppies" are the ones to watch out for–they may look "nice"–yet are usually the most bigoted, snooty things going-and are also the biggest users of illict drugs, alcohol and date-rape..

    If your kid is Goth–give them a break–they will be the ones who 9 times out of ten will come out best in life.....

    August 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  35. Lisa

    I can tell you this,I am a lesbian and very EMO and I will say sex is out of this world with another Goth/EMO girl you tend to do things you would never otherwise do very naughty things and I LOVE IT.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • richk

      Thanks for that enlightening comment.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  36. dragonwife1

    I wish the Goth life/look/whatever had been around when I was growing up, because it would have suited me perfectly. Of course, being a teenager in the 60s and early 70s, in Georgia, there's no way I would've been allowed to look like that, either at home or at school. The few kids that were into the hippie look/lifestyle at that time were constantly harassed, and of course had to adhere to the school dress code – very conservative – girls had to wear skirts, no culottes (the old term for skorts) or – heaven forbid! – pants, so you can get an idea of how a "dang hippie" or proto-Goth person would've been received. When the author was growing up, it was at least a choice. But – I did go on to develop my own style as I got older – a little bit Goth, a little steampunk, a little Victorian, and some just-plain-weird thrown in for good measure. When my kids were growing up, I figured, as long as they adhered to the school dress code they could wear whatever they wanted there, and then as long as it didn't violate decency standards, they could wear whatever they wanted on their own time. Surprise! They all grew up normal and are now adults with steady jobs. Fashions come and go, so I don't see why it should be a big deal how someone dresses, as long as he/she is a productive member of society and is respectful of his/her surroundings (dress appropriately for the situation).

    August 31, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  37. hawkechik

    I once wore nothing but black for six months or more in the late 1970's. Nobody noticed. Most disappointing.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  38. jim

    i was a "late bloomer" ... never fit in, never knew why, didn't have the tools to look for others with similar views. went to a goth club totally by accident and knew I'd found home. love the music, love the fashion, love the positive-ness, love the care for others. it is without question, who i am through and through. i will always be goth.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Johnp

      When I was young it was the 70s. I at that time liked what the "Hippie" movement was about, Freedom to express one self and all. But I was never accepted because I did not like my hair long and did not conform to their dress code. So I stayed on the farm and continued being a "Hay seed" and being the person I wanted to be. So much for freedom to express yourself.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  39. Goth is completely fake

    I grew up without friends, and was picked on a lot at school because I guess everyone deemed me weird looking or ugly. I thought that the small population of goths at school (and afterwards, as an adult) might offer some bonding through similiar experiences. Boy was I wrong!!!!!!! They were just as mean or shunned me just like everyone else. Kinda of hypocrisy, they want to be accepted yet they still judge ppl for superficial reasons.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jenk

      Yes based on your experience in high school, an entire subculture must not really exist.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  40. Capercorn

    Back when I was in highschool, steampunks were more associated with the nerds than the goths.

    I myself was one of the nerds, and as a joke once, I announced that I was going to be "cyberpunk," which to the dismay of the actual cyberpunks [who didn't actually know anything about computers], and the lulz of everyone else, I started wearing plad button down shirts, tucked into jeans, with pencil in my ear, and TI-83 at my side.

    Just like a real hacker. Ah... Those were the days... Back when the cool kids knew what Phone Phreaking was, and got free long distance.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  41. Danie

    Goth, geek, spiritualist, yuppie..it's all the same. Dress a human up like an idiot and it's still a....

    August 31, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Bucklee

      ...a human?

      August 31, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • jim

      and what does an "idiot" dress like? do they were the same clothes everyone else wears for fear of being original?

      August 31, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
      • grim

        An Idiot is anyone who thinks their clothes defines them...

        August 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
      • Kevin

        @ grimm "Clothing makes the man, nked people have little or no influence on society." -Mark Twain

        August 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
      • Kevin

        @ grimm "Clothing makes the man, naked people have little or no influence on society." -Mark Twain

        August 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  42. Shane


    What a great essay. We grew up in the same era... and in OUR neck of the woods (Western Illinois) all of us goth/industrial kids were derogatively called "corn chips" by our classmates. NONE of us know where the term came from – but it was used extensively at pretty much every high school within 100 miles of here. Once I had a car swerve in front of me and 4 dudes got out and threw tire irons at us, presumably because we were "corn chips." It was a battlefield – and I swear to one and all, I didn't WANT to try and be different – I just really quite liked Cocteau Twins and Depeche Mode, so sue me.

    Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks for such a great article. It totally made my day. It's good to know that there are still folks out there who enjoy a good Black Celebration now and again. That music and those friends from back in the day have shaped me into the person who I am today, and I quite like the me of today. 🙂

    August 31, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  43. Chris

    Because how you look is what makes you a unique individual, right?

    August 31, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • jim

      nope. but clothes do say a lot about the person.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  44. Henry

    Goths are just very depressed people. Like Eyor from Winnie the Pooh.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  45. Scott

    Yeah Goth chics! Love s3x with them.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • nene

      u nasty

      August 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  46. danial54

    Pat yourself on the back...it official..your a freak.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      Pat yourself on the back...It's official...YOU can't even type a couple sentences without making a grammatical mistake, loser... You're just like all the "jocks," bullies, and other losers from high-school who now work at Wendy's or mow my lawn...

      August 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
      • John

        Well said idiot it seems you did the same thing that you accused him off. If you are going to criticize someone at least be correct when doing it.

        August 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  47. ME!

    Know the difference between Goth and EMO.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • boodles

      What is emo? Seriously, I'm looking it up on Wikipedia and I never heard of many of the bands, the ones I had heard of I always thought of as "alternative". I guess there are more types of music than I thought. I must have missed that whole scene!

      August 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  48. Gothic San Diego

    That was so Emo.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  49. Amber Ann

    I didn't let my goth out till after highschool...... Now I am a gothic go go dancer and I am part of a new dance troop SCI.... its intersting on a daily basis going from the funny stares outside and the loving friendly smiles when at clubs or events. . but amungst all this fun I also work in the medical feild(yep Corprate goth too )..... so for parents that have crazy goth kids let them exspress themselves... but remind them that some jobs they might want latter in life wont look to kindly on that face tattoo...... so help gide them in sensible body mods.... I have 12 gage ears and a nose peircing all of which I take out for meetings, and a tattoo on my back that is well hidden with work clothes and is out in full force at night........ I even have a female friend that has half her head shaved and she wears a wig to work....so once again allow but gide

    August 31, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  50. NICKYP

    Trouble is, too many people are into Goth – just like Steampunk.

    So when everybody's in, it's time to get out.

    Stand out, where white to Goth nite.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  51. Farhibide

    I was wearing black makeup when the only place you could get it was in the Halloween costume aisle. I was pale before every single fashion model looked like walking death. I was a fan of horror movies when vampires were scary monsters not angsty teenagers. I was reading classic literature before it needed zombies or vampires to make it interesting. I was goth before goth was mainstream, before it fragmented into twenty different subcultures, before it was trendy. Now when I dress goth (which I rarely do anymore, though my tastes haven't changed) I feel like a sell-out. Part of being goth was the outward expression of how you differed from the mainstream, especially as a teenager when the "cool" kids all wore the same things, did their hair the same way, listened to the same music. Now being goth just makes you one in a crowd, unfortunately.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Me

      My girlfriends and I grew up around the same era as the author (a few years after, but not by much!). We didn't have Hot Topic. We had the Salvation Army, and other thrift and vintage stores to create our look. It took real individuality and creativity back then. Whenever we go out together and see the young Goths, we always catch ourselves saying "yep. We did it better." We had to work for the look, not buy it prepackaged from the mall. It has become a mass market just like everything else. Though I'm still Goth at heart (yes, I still take my camera to cemeteries and take pictures, cliche as it is, and now my son is an eager tag along, though at his age, he calls them Gardens), and I still blast my Dead Can Dance, and Delerium, and Siouxsie... I just don't bother to dress the part anymore. Jeans, T's and Docs...

      August 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  52. Michael

    I'm always amazed at the number of jocko d-bags (or adult versions of same) who look like 40 million others will tell anyone remotely different that they are unoriginal because there's a hundred thousand just like them. Pot. Kettle. Its black.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Mina

      Completely enjoyed this. Thank you for sahnirg Skot's heart for God with us. And, his words, well, I found some of his views to be calming- soothing. THank you!

      August 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  53. WodeYazi

    Bauhaus is goth? No fooling? I found them a few years ago at 50 on you tube and thought they did a screaming cover of Ziggy Stardust, who in my day I s'pose was the Gothman of his time. We all wanted to live in Suffergate City.

    But if you want to go back to the womb, no one was cooler than Barnabas Collins, played exquisitely by Jonathan Frid. And who can forget the local flava of Indy's Sammy Terry or Dayton, Ohio's Dr Creep? I'm sure there are many other examples, but these came immediately to mind. Thx for a trip down memory lane!!

    August 31, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • UltimaRatioRegum

      Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows – Father of Goth. The clothes, the makeup, everything.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  54. ramicio

    Maybe they realized that to be dark and gloomy and look like it is just a childish fad, and they grew up. They put effort into adult things like a job, instead of satanism. Or they are all sitting at a Denny's somewhere drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Lisa

      Expressing yourself IS adult... what, being adult is CONFORMING? Wow, you have 0 imagination.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Jefry

      bhn ji in rachnaaon ki prnsasha ke liyen mere paas shbd hi nahin hai or tlaashne pr mil bhi nahi rahe hai fir bhi badhaai ..akhtar khan akela kota rajsthan

      August 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  55. GRS

    I could care less about this story, but can someone at CNN PLEASE use correct grammar in the headline? It's just as bad as saying "My baby daddy". So much for journalism.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • WodeYazi

      GRS, you are missing the snarky humour here. Be not so rigid. It's only rock and roll.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:46 am |
      • Lu

        Well Said @WodeYazi

        August 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  56. gnmommy

    I was 'dark' before goth was known. 1978-1980. Thank G-d for Anne Rice and Billy Idol.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  57. spooky

    Goth is 'better than' normal– it's abnormal, and scurrs little old ladies and dudes that aren't secure in their masculinity.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Lu

      Listening to DCD right now. "Toward the Within".

      August 31, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  58. Jinxadorah

    I want to thank you for this article... it made me smile. I was always the goth girl growing up, and will always be that girl. For the past few years I have felt like I lost that part of myself, because I "grew up"... but its nice to know that she's still there and its okay, that she has just evolved...

    August 31, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  59. puckles

    Goth people are just as bad as all the people they are trying to "separate" themselves from – the cheerleaders, jocks, preps, nerds, etc. They are all CONFORMISTS whether they would like to believe so or not.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Mike


      August 31, 2011 at 11:43 am |
      • incubi

        call me a conformist if you like but I tell you what. I found my first pair of 'conformist' pants in a thrift store made by the chick who ran it and an old Iron Maiden shirt, why did I do my nails red and throw on eyeliner and lipstick as a boy? because I WANTED to. The reaction of my 'peers' was of no consequence to me, noone liked me before that and I was fully content with it. Whilist you may think of it as "conformist" that's these mainstream kids who do it for the shock value, there are plenty of kids out there these days doing it for the same reason I did. It expresses something we feel.

        August 31, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Henry

      Exactly! They couldn't fit in with other groups so they created their own exclusive group. No different than jocks, nerds, etc who all tend to hang together. People all want a sense of belonging, and goths find it amongst like-minded people like most people do.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • spooky

      bah, look at you conforming to the english language! I bet your wearing clothes right now, probably have one of them jobs, a car, obviously a computer. Damn conformist! You should be out in the woods running around naked killing deer with a spear or something... though i'm sure you're much to hip for retro-conformity. 🙂

      August 31, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  60. Saavik

    Growing up even part Goth in Indiana in the 1990's wasn't a picnic. For one, you couldn't BUY goth cloths in those days – at least not in rural country – and especially not in anything larger then a size 10. You had to make most everything. And the schools started restricting dress codes... Then Columbine and no more black trench coats or dusters and THAT meant half my circle didn't have coats anymore. So while I may not have always looked 100% in line with the goth stereotype, I was right there with you girl. I had my elizagoth outfits, my dog eared Anne Rice, and enough black nail polish to repaint a car. Nowadays I joke that I'm in teacher drag.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  61. Joseph

    So sad to see the negative comments. It is such an easy thing to say that all this is a "look at me", "I want attention" situation. I feel so sad for those of you who feel superior. Walk a day in their shoes is all I have to say.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • USMCgeek

      walk a day in their shoes? so for a day you want me to think that the whole world hates me and that no one understands me. you want me to think that i have the worst life in the world because someone with different opinions speaks against my opinions, while at the same time i bash theirs? and to ignore the people out there that are really going through extremely shitty times and think that i'm worse off than them?

      I did for a few years, until i realized my life was awesome and that i was pushing away people that loved me and they just meant the best for me.

      then i joined the military, and for some reason, people that bash us don't bother me. i don't cry for attention by trying to be 'different' than everybody else by being a clone of all my friends. people wouldn't mind goths so much if they weren't so annoying trying to act as victims.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
      • JJJ

        Then maybe they shouldn't pay attention to you and they'll be happy.

        August 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
      • USMCgeek

        and we'd be going in circles for the rest of eternity, but yes, when they whine less about others 'misunderstanding' them and just do their own thing, most goths are actually pretty chill. i get along with every 'stereotype', just goths that start victimizing themselves are the ones i cannot stand.

        an ex i am still friends with does the whole goth thing. goth chicks are hot as hell, and as stated above, can be pretty damn cool to hang out with.

        August 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  62. KateB

    Great article! Thanks :O) I rocked black and violet hair, piercings, whimsical/black clothing, etc. in the late 80s and 90s. My relatives would berate me: "you'll NEVER amount to anything, or EVER get married, why wear all that GLOOM and doom, you should wear more PINK! You'd be SUCH a pretty girl if you'd just get some blonde highlights and a TAN!"

    Here we are 18 years later, I have 3 degrees, an awesome creative job, a wonderful husband, a nice house, no wrinkles from staying out of the sun, and I STILL wear all black and listen to my gothy/industrial tunes. Their preppy kids all got pregnant right out of high school, married frat-boyish, chisel-jawed asshats and ended up divorced and miserable...but they all wore pink, bleached their hair blonde, and rooted for The Team. So please excuse my gloating, but the schadenfreude is just TOO delicious.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • halo19boy

      lol, its so true...glad you had the strength to show them. or maybe its their ridicule(spelling?) that helped drive you to prove them wrong?

      August 31, 2011 at 11:55 am |
      • KateB

        Nah, I credit my innate intelligence, creativity, and progressive parents who, while they did little "parenting", were lovers of knowledge and learning and let me be myself (fortunately I didn't screw it up!) :O)

        August 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • USMCgeek

      Ive seen many goths in my high school reunion that suffered the same fate as the "preppy" kids you mentioned, also, many 'preps' that had the same success reached by you. it's got nothing to do with what clique you were in.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
      • KateB

        Sure, I've seen that as well...but I'm talking about my childhood, and preppy relatives who were spoiled, indulged in everything, and generally treated like they pee'd Channel No. 5, yet turned out to be useless wastes of space.

        August 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  63. Brian

    This a great article!! I give props to CNN for posting something like this. There's too many ignorant people in this world that are afraid of their norm.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  64. Dee

    I had a pompadour. And that's all I'll say about that. Lemme stray cat strut outta here.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  65. Lisa

    Kat I can totally relate to your article.

    You were so lucky to have parents that were understanding of your need of individuality. I grew up in a southern conservative home. There was no way I was allowed to wear any shade of nail polish or hair color that was anything other than "natural." Thank goodness they didn't pay too much attention to my music or I am sure that would have been stopped too. I will never forget the time I went to see Bauhaus and my mother actually complimented me on how I looked. I wasn't sure if I was suppose to be mad or glad.

    I guess I fall under the catagory of your corporate goth. I am not able to show it through dress but it is still represented with my hair style, choice of optical frames and Granite nail polish that I hide on my toes. I still enjoy the occasional walk through a historic old cemetary, a nice pair of Doc Martens (although they are not as good as they use to be) and you will find Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Siouxie and of course The Cure on my ipod. They use to say it was a phase but if it is true to you...it never really goes away.

    Hope you have fun on your anniversary and thanks for reminding me of my youth

    August 31, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  66. 30yrs old ex-punker

    The internet and corporate clothing stores have cheapened the counter culture experience in America. It's a shame. Sometimes, I stumble into metalcore shows and see kids carrying the torch of the new generation but it's not really the same.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  67. PunkieBrewster

    All these goth dressers are screaming for attention. I blame the parents in virtually all situations. If you have a teenager resorting to tattoos, piercings, extravagant make-up/hair and equally whacko clothing,.... then they are clearly not getting attention and/or creative outlets for themselves. That's pretty much it. /sigh

    August 31, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • jim

      not true. a real goth does not "scream for attention". they are happy with who and what they are and they don't much care what you or anyone else thinks. go ahead and rant if you like ... it doesn't change our comfort level with who we are ... it's YOU who are uncomfortable, and I go further and say that uncomfort you feel is YOUR problem. not ours.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • KG

      Agreed. They're whiny teenager who didn't get enough attention.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • puckles

      This is so true. They are absolutely rebelling because of problems at home. They are in DESPERATE need of adult attention. They are also usually very angry. This is why they are obsessed with death, dark music, etc. They are trying to shock people into giving them attention because sadly this is the only way they feel they can get it.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:53 am |
      • StudioPH

        Glad you guys got that all figured out. It must be great to know the answer to these things.

        Wait... no... I had lots and lots of family support. My parents were married, attended almost all of my many many extra curricular activities (which I excelled at) and my mother helped me find the clothes that I wore. My grandmother even sewed some of it for me. I grew up to father 3 great kids and marry a great woman to whom I'm still married after almost 12 years. SHOCKER!

        So, keep trying. Just because you don't understand it doesn't make it wrong. People who dress this way are no more "weird" or prone to personal problems than any other person that dresses in any other way. Get a clue.

        FYI, the road to heaven is not paved in Khaki.

        August 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
      • teddy

        Puckles, that is toal BS. Many "goths" may enjoy the imagery of horror films and dark music, it doesn't mean they are suicidal. It's entertainmnet and goths usually can laugh at the "darker" things in life. I've never met a miserable hard core or metal band. It's just fun. Goth kids are usually polite and not egomaniacs like most Yo Boys (who want to "gang bang, sell drugs, kill and get booty"), Pop Divas (Girls and gay boys that think being slutty is glamourous) and Jocks (that all they wanna do is roid up, drink bear and commit date rape)..

        Goth kids are intellectual, read and write poetry, are artistic and can hold a thought provoking conversation–just don't tick them off becuase they'll give you an earful–and the idiots that try to start with them won't understand what they say because they tend to have a great vocabulary!

        And TRUE goths don't go out of their way to be seen as Goths–it's a more natural existence vs. being a jock or cheerleader....and true goths can see right through the POSERS!

        And many goths are not into the devil...notice they wear crosses? they believe in goodness and God. Damn, even Slayer don't even take what they do seriously! And not for nothing-but how many rappers and pop artists are arrested or found doing dirty deeds vs. the goth/hard rock and metal community?

        The mainstream garbage of this world like Jersey Shore, Lindsey Lohan, Kayne West,Lady Gaga and the like are the true evils of America–NOT the goths!

        August 31, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  68. linus

    Steampunk is goth in earthtones.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Joshua Ludd

      Or as some say... steampunk is what happens when goths discover the color brown. 😛

      August 31, 2011 at 11:44 am |
      • Kat Kinsman

        That actually made me laugh out loud. Thank you for that.

        August 31, 2011 at 11:48 am |
      • linus

        I've seen pictures of models dressed entirely in victorian black, with pale skin and all the standard goth accessories and make-up tricks, and then identified as "steampunk" because they're standing in front of a sepia-tinted backdrop.

        August 31, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • WodeYazi

      Thx for the clarification. I always wondered.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  69. jlroberts111

    Oh how this brought me back to my youth...writing letters to those who I will never meet yet shared so much...lovely memories...

    August 31, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Rosa

      I've actually got a peclertfy squidtastic shirt lined up, but I need to find it in a US based store that won't gouge folks on the shipping or Euro conversion rate. If I can't locate one by the middle of the week, I'll just run it anyhow.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  70. IronManXXX

    Being Goth, doesn't make anyone a freak or odd ball anymore then someone with a shaved head, tattoos, piercings, mohawks, crewcuts, etc. It is all about expressing your image/self to the world. Be who you want to be. I find nothing wrong with it and frankly, a Goth girl with tatts turns me on because I prefer it. I am not int country western twang, cowboy boots with skirts, but that doesn't bother me either. It's a choice and I am all for being yourself, expressive. Why look like every other person on the earth, be different. Nice to allow yourself to dye your hair, add some hardware to your ears, etc. and enjoy life rather then judge others based upon your perception and "standards" not even taking the time to know the real person inside.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  71. R Mann McMurphy

    Don't be so naive: Goth and Geek are two totally different genre.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  72. T3chsupport

    I was that 'weird kid'. It wasn't in the 80s, but in a very small town out in the mountains where time doesn't really ever seem to move. I was the queen of *the* goth power couple (we were the only ones for awhile). We liked to go on long walks at night. Often got the cat calls of 'f@gs!' from stacked up pickup trucks, full of rednecks who were sitting on each others laps... all guys, mind you. I never considered myself goth though, I didn't really know what that was. I simply liked black clothes, and silver looks great with black.

    I'd likely still dress like that today if I hadn't had a kid. Pregnancy made me just wear whatever fit and was comfortable and was cheap, which limited my nice black wear. Never got my wardrobe back in order, so I'm not exactly 'goth' anymore. I still wear a good bit of black and silver, still dye my hair black, but everyone assumes my hair is naturally black (no one notices when it fades back to reddish brown, or when I dye it back to blue black... several days after I dye it, they ask if I've cut my hair recently!).

    I miss my goth days, they were fun. But I think I might feel a little silly these days taking my kid to school in full makeup and chains.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • T3chsupport

      Now I just look like Baroness from GI Joe.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  73. StudioPH

    Your high school photo really brought me back. I was right there with you except in a high school in NE Nebraska. I don't sport the look anymore, it just became too much work but 20 years later I still keep it inside me and I still listen to the music.

    As for some of the classy commentary on here... I enjoyed the article. It's called introspection, you should try it sometime. You might learn something about yourself.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  74. Aj

    to all the naysayers... it’s called freedom of expression, and if it’s not directly harmful to anybody else then who cares if somebody dresses differently?? Get over yourselves.. an no I’m not Goth.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Mike

      Naysaying is also freedom of expression. Nobody will be silenced.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:45 am |
      • Mike

        Sorry, the above was posted on impulse. Should read "Freedom of expression includes naysaying" or something to that effect.

        Anyway, it is human nature to want to conform and be a part of a larger group. It is also human nature to oppose this behavior. Then there are people who identify somewhere between the two/don't care. And see what I'm doing now? Still pidgeonholing and categorizing 🙂 This is also normal.

        August 31, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Joshua Ludd

      The thing to understand about those who conform to what society says they are supposed to be is... they are terrified by anything and anyone that violates the conformity they embrace. Conformity is necessary for things like corproate culture. Just look at the way those kind of people dress for work.. and some of them even outside of work. They all dress exactly the same and do exactly the same kinds of things... because its what they are told life is supposed to be if you want social acceptability and money, etc...

      August 31, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  75. Santa Claus

    I'm such a unique and special snowflake that I'm going to be a carbon copy of a couple other million people and go all emo.

    Yeah, that will show the Establishment

    August 31, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • halo19boy

      says the guy wearing aeropostale

      August 31, 2011 at 11:59 am |
      • teddy

        don't forget amercromie and express! I bet his mom picked out his clothes and now his girlfriend does–at, like, the mall, ya know?OK?

        August 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • jim

      it's not like that. no one is out to "show up the establishment". do you wear jeans to "show up the establishment"? clothes are just clothes ... and, while they do reflect something about the individual, in the end, they are all just pieces of cloth.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
      • Ogre


        August 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  76. Christian

    I've never quite understood this craze. It was even around in the 70s and 80s when I grew up. I'd like for you all to keep one thing in mind though...this death, that you crave to adore so much...is not a good thing for a person seperated from God. For those that are saved it means eternal peace. For those that are not saved it means eternal damnation. Forget what you read in books and see in movies....Hell is a real place and you don't want to go there.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Cass

      Wait, this i have to hear: how are Goths separated from God? i know a LOT of Christian Goths, buddy...

      August 31, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • AustinIsFull

      Exactly. I am a Christian, and just because the music and clothes are dark doesn't mean I want to kill you or myself. Ignorant, closed minded Christian you are. Do we scare you? Good. That means leave us alone.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:51 am |
      • teddy

        I'm into goth, a catholic and a lecturer for mass. And I dress appropriately for church, for there is a time and place for everything. Gothic stuff like music, art and films are entertainment-as long as it does not consume you, there is nothing evil about it....And gothic materials tend not to be outragiously about sex, money, drugs and ignorance-for it goes against the grain of the evils of the secular world.. Its a safe expression about the darker side of life and dealing with it in a non-violent way (even in moshing and circle pits poeple in those usually are not violent or out to hurt others in them).

        August 31, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Jenk

      You didn't even read the article did you?

      August 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
      • Daniel

        Clearly not.

        August 31, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  77. Colleen

    I smiled at so much of this story! I was friends with many in this crowd and shared similar tastes in music and style, but my style was more subdued – I wasn't into the collars, black makeup, spiked hair, etc. It wasn't for me. I went for the black clothing and silver jewelry, asymetrical haircut – Peter Murphy, Bauhaus, MTV's 120 minutes... ah, the 80's! 🙂

    August 31, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  78. closetiguana

    I always thought that Goths would make great tour guides for caves.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • IronManXXX

      I think Goth girls, no matter the age, are HOT! I love the self expression, being themselves, expressing whatever they desire to be...nothing wrong with that....

      August 31, 2011 at 11:25 am |
      • charlie

        You probably think goth elephants are hot also.

        August 31, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  79. Jonathan

    Trying to be different by all looking the same.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • HRH 1

      With bad skin too

      August 31, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • jim

      not even close, jonathan. not even close. every goth I know ... and i know a LOT of them ... has their own style, their own aura, their own way of being. they all, without exception, are different.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • puckles

      LOL! My sentiments exactly. They are just cookie cutter people like every other social click. I have not seen genuine "individuality" in a single one of them. It is hilarious that they think their inner struggles as adolescents were any different than any other teenager. All the same.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:47 am |
      • teddy

        Goths are not cookie cutter-looking–Many are very original in what they wear. I can tell you how Jocks dress–Jeans, white sneakers, polo shirt or team jersey. Prep guys...hmm...Jeans, Khakis, skecher shoes, polo shirts. GAY GUYS..Jeans, tank tops, man-clogs and anything on the store dummy in the mall. Preppie/teenie bop/cheerleader girls....mini shirts, tube tops, too much make-up, skanky shoes/boots and anything on the store dummy in the mall! Yo boys-oversized pants, big gold chains and guady bling, team jerseys, wife-beaters, jogging suits and usually the ugliest sneakers they can find!

        I'd list what goths wars, but there's too much to list–since they tend to be more original in their attire!

        August 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Jenk

      I've never met a goth I couldn't identify across a dark crowded club by their style.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  80. Cass

    The people that don't grow up aren't the adult goths but the adult bullies here that seem to think it's not juvenile to call people freaks for how they look. Been goth for a decade and rather happy there. It's a very easy look to maintain, especially at work since black matches everything and no one said make up was required for the style. If you all want to look the same, feel free. I won't judge you. I can understand the need to fit in. But I'm beautiful in my way and I'm proud of it. None of you saying "grow up" will change that.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  81. 5150time

    Never ceases to amaze me how people always express their individuality in groups

    August 31, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  82. Vince

    Where is your grammar 'at'?

    August 31, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  83. Kate

    "I didn't decide to be Goth. I just…was."

    That's exactly it. 🙂

    It's great to see a goth perspective allowed a forum on CNN. It's encouraging for us newbs who missed the window of the 80s and 90s but are trying to keep the party going. Goth kids are some of the most close-knit friends you'll ever have and it's some of the best music ever. Thanks for writing this! 🙂

    August 31, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  84. TheMurgen

    Yea for goth. Yea for emo. Yea for geeks, and freaks, and weirdos.
    It is nothing new, and yet strangely uncelebrated. For those who can stand on their own two (booted, hi-heeled, sandal clad, etc) feet when teenage pressure to conform is nigh-smothering, good for you.

    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." – Henry David Thoreau

    August 31, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      I wish we had a "Like" button on comments. It's not about how it happens to manifest - it's that you have the courage to like who you are and express it. People who like themselves tend to be kind to the people around them, and that's surely not a bad thing.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:28 am |
      • InCogneeto

        Ah, where are we?
        Goth-Alt- Punk... real type from the 80's pre fashion, we should develop signals and handshakes like the FreeMasons so that we can identify each other and secretly change society into the lovely sorrow that it is.
        Just kidding (maybe), I am now in my early 40's and still living th same way, except it is a halloween switch.
        I dress in costume every day and only when they are not looking do I put my real self on.
        Sucks to be a sell out.

        August 31, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  85. BobZemko

    All the Goth movement says to me is "I am angry but I don't know why or at whom.:"

    August 31, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Cass

      Except I'm not an angry person...in fact, I'm one of the most optimistic people I know, b/c I think everything no matter how dark or different is special and beautiful in its own way. I never thought being goth was about rebellion but what do I know.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • SAMBO


      August 31, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • jim

      speaking from the inside ... it doesn't say anything at all like that to me. in fact, the most angry people i know are decidedly NOT goth.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  86. ANDROS

    What a narcissistic load of crap!

    What did you do when you grew up? Get all "normal" and conformal?

    Welcome to real life. Now get over yourself.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • jim

      excuse me, but, "real life" isn't determined by the conformist jeans you wear, the tan button down shirt, the contrived music on the top 40's radio station ... unless ... that is what you want, and if that is what YOU want, then, by all means enjoy it as you will. but, don't you dare impose your value system on me and mine. and it's clear, from your post, that YOUR "real life" is very different from mine. and i wouldn't have it any other way.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  87. Sheila

    I enjoyed reading your article as I could relate to most of what you said. Thank you for the definition of emo, I wasn't sure of what that was. I too searched as a teenager for kindred souls to no avail. The music yes, I still listen to. Congratulations on you anniversary, I hope you enjoy your visits to European castles. One day I just might do the same. God Bless! Sheila

    August 31, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Jesse

      You didn't live in South Texas back in the mid 90's did you?

      August 31, 2011 at 11:25 am |
      • Sheila

        No, I didn't. May I ask what made you think that I did?

        August 31, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Jesse

      Knew a Sheila that I thought was into Goth b/c of hair, pale skin, tats & piercings, black lipstick/makeup, etc. (what did I know). Anyway she was very cool to hang out with and smart as hell. Haven't seen her since '98 and I hear she's a writer now. Was just asking.

      September 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Belal

      lsiten shut up the pair of you im a bialionlire and i dont even know what the hell to do with the money. i want to to buy the camera but what is so special about it? whereas what is so special about the painting.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
      • MadCatUSA

        Interesting... You're a Billionaire, but yet you can't spell it? How about sending me $500?

        February 1, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  88. charlie

    Beetlejuice groupie.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • John Dillinger

      Way to drive by the article screaming, "FRRRREEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAK!" Nothing like a mention of anything gothic to bring the trolls out of the woodwork.

      Right on, Kat. Made me wanna dig out my old Bauhaus and Joy Division t-shirts...

      August 31, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  89. Kristin

    All this look does is scream "look at me! PLEASE look at me!!!!!!!!!'. Give us a break, grow up.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Cass

      Every single person dresses looking for attention. That's what humans do. You act like it's a bad thing.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Really Now

      Totally agree...the people that dress like this do so to "rebel" and to show that they refuse to conform....they are also the same people who go to Anarchist meetings. You know, the people who are anti-establishment coming together in their own....establishment.

      Also, I wanted to point out to the author that if my child were to suddenly "change" as you did going from prep to goth, then that's one of the first signs of drug abuse that we as parents are told to watch out for. So don't hate on those who contacted your parents. It's called caring about others.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • jim

      actually, no ... it doesn't scream "look at me". goth's like the way they dress ... it's as simple as that. do you like your jeans? i tell you now, a person dressed in jeans going to a goth club stands out. would you say THEY were looking for attention, because they have jeans on? come on. get real.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  90. Activechipmunk

    crying for attention?

    August 31, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • jim

      nope. not even close.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  91. The Dude


    August 31, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  92. TP3D

    I always feel bad for adults that never grew out of it.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Voltaire

      TP3D ... ya you never grew out of being a douche. Guess it takes one to know one. People like you are miserable and you need to make others feel so, I feel bad for someone like you ... really bad ... your life must be a living hell (not to mention the few people who have to live their lives around you).

      August 31, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Julia

      I'm sorry to say, but this is my response too. I grew up goth and loved every minute of it, but even I had to admit that 24 was the absolute cut off.

      So yeah, I can appreciate what your saying here Kat, though it's hard to identify completely because I grew up in a goth town and it was in the water or something, so I never had that isolated aspect. But, what I'm reading in your article is more of an attachment to a persecution complex. You're not about the goth aesthetic so much as addicted to feeling persecuted, or like an outcast. I mean, dressing goth is a choice, and if you don't like being called names, wear something else. If being called names on the street doesn't bother you, then why bother writing a blog about it on CNN? Sorry, it's not my goal to be mean, but writing like this is exactly what makes me cringe about my years as a goth: adults who never grew out of it and parade around this "woe is me, I'm so misunderstood because I wear black lipstick" attitude. Ugh. It's embarrassing.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
      • TP3D

        I'm okay but thanks for your concern. Though if my life was a living hell I'm sure it would help you feel a little vindicated, so make up whatever you want about me to feel better. Buck up though fella, it'll get better.

        August 31, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  93. The Dude


    August 31, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  94. Reds

    Um.... it's "Anne Rice", not "Ann Rice."

    August 31, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  95. The Dude


    August 31, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Another Dude

      Smooooch 😉

      August 31, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  96. George

    You be whoever you want to be. And and even then, remember, this is not all that we are.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  97. Maverick


    August 31, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  98. sunny lovetts

    Stop obsessing about looks start caring about people.

    August 31, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  99. a darker shade of black

    nothin' like a hot goth chic....

    August 31, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • BobZemko

      There's no such thing.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:12 am |
      • jim

        then you haven't been paying attention. either that or you are one of the 10% of men who prefer men.

        August 31, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  100. badfae

    I didn't decide, either, except for finally having the nerve to just go for it. I went to a tiny school in a redneck-y town, and was trying to stay under the radar...until my twenties, when I didn't care so much about that anymore. These days, I'm more...not conservative, but, lazy, I guess, with how I dress, but I don't feel that much different from how I was then. And I'm still attracted to the same things, and have many of the same tastes, even if I don't always express it anymore.

    Also: 1850s Gothic stone church? *drool* What a great place to live, with all that history. Don't you love just standing quietly in an old building and feeling the weight of the people and time that have passed there before you? And your anniversary trip sounds *perfect*.

    August 31, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      You are very right about the church. You can just feel the force of all the weddings, funerals, baptisms - the lives that passed through there before us. It was there before us and will be there after us, and we're just trying to honor it while we have it.

      August 31, 2011 at 11:10 am |
      • Philip

        What a great post. Loved every word. I wish I could have dressed goth, but I just never felt I would look any good doing it. Heh, but after seeing the lead singer for Necessary Response, whenever I dress like him my wife is like 'omg, you look just like him'. And I feel awesome =D We wanted to get married in a gothic church, and we did wind up doing so, it was beautiful. So full of artwork and stone angels.... Don't listen to the trolls, they are just jealous......

        August 31, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • nene

      she is ugly

      August 31, 2011 at 11:47 am |
      • Daniel

        I think that the statement "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" rings true here – if you are talking about the girl in the photograph, I think shes pretty.

        August 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
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