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What is 'Goth'?

We may prefer the night, but we are not the creatures who go bump in it

This is a letter sent to major American newspapers by 'Calek Hunter,' the online role-playing alias of Russ Brewer, a 22-year-old sales- floor associate at Wal-Mart in Waukesha, Wis. It is an explanation of 'Goth,' the youth subculture that apparently fascinated the two students who killed 15 people last month at a Colorado high school.

Because of the terrible tragedy in Littleton and the wrongful accusations of a handful of reporters, open season on Goths has begun.

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In hopes that a few of you may take this to heart, I want to explain what "Goth" is.

Everyone outside who sees someone of a gothic nature wants a peek inside. Most are afraid and chastise us for how we look, even before they see who we are, how we act, and why we prefer what we are over all the other stereotypical archetypes.

Jocks like sports. Cheerleaders like jocks. Skaters like skateboarding and other extreme sports. Goths like beauty, and the wondrous imagery of the supernatural and occult.

People wonder why we dress like something out of "Night of the Living Dead" - frilly poet shirts, lace, leather, and fishnet. It's not that we're obsessed with death. It's that dressing like we're in a casket is our own way of expressing ourselves.

In a perfect world, Goths would accept everything and everyone for who and what they are. But unfortunately it isn't a perfect world, no matter how much we all attempt to delude ourselves. So we must suffer the degradation and harassment of everyone outside.

Goths live by their own rules. Most people see that as anarchy. We don't. We live our lives the way we see fit, disregarding all everyone else says about us. We strive to be content with ourselves and surroundings. To find peace. We may see beauty differently than you do, but beauty is beauty any way you see it. It may be dew on a rose in the morning, or the way the clouds wrap the moon at night.

The reason Goths may lean toward the supernatural and the occult is the extreme nature of those things. The imagery of the supernatural and occult myths and facts appeal to us in many different ways. Vampirism and fairy lore, for example, are the most popular among the Goths.

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If you look deeper into the mythology of the vampire, you'll see that it is nothing short of a romantic love myth. As for the fairies, who can resist a beautiful male or female with wings?

We do not set out to avenge any wrongs committed against us, we do not wear our trench coats to conceal automatic weapons to open fire on our peers. If someone would act against a Goth, the most we'd do is toss spiders in his hair. At the darkest, we'd glare with an unsettling gaze from our black-rimmed eyes. Then we'd talk and laugh about it later with our friends.

The dark music we listen to is not why we are Goths. That music is made by Goths for us. For this reason, most Goths tend to disregard the claim that rock star Marilyn Manson (b. Brian Warner) is Goth - simply because the teeny boppers who have become Goth because of him don't know the true meaning of the culture. Instead, they revel in the wave of demented anarchy that Manson has brought into the limelight. At best, Brian Warner simply took from us a small amount of the fashion. At worst, he has warped the idealism in favor of his own twisted thinking, lyrically, photographically, and in appearance.

We may seem to act strangely to you, but we are merely content with ourselves, and know that no matter what others think of us, we know our own self-worth. You see us acting ethereal, or depressed, or zombified - but that is just our way of showing you how we feel inside. We aren't afraid of our emotions; we revel in them and show the world how we feel, because how we feel is what makes us who we are.

Whenever the "objective" media come along and do a report on our subculture, many times they see us as a threat. Very few reporters have been brave enough to actually dig deep into our lives, our thoughts, and our reasons for being true to ourselves. Those who have, know we are not a threat and come away more enlightened - not just about us, but about their own lives as well. The majority of reporters who take us at face value deem us "evil" or a threat to the "normal people."

We are not a "gang." We group together due to friendship and camaraderie just like jocks - who are never considered a street gang - would go to a basketball game together.

We wear black for many different reasons, some symbolic, others not so symbolic. Black is the absorption of all colors. Like black, we wish to absorb and feel the range of human emotion and sensation. Also, black clothes go with anything - in a fashion sense. Black also makes the skin look paler which adds to our dramatic and theatrical appearance. That dramatic flair is an outlet for expressing who we are and how we feel, not to scare little children and the elderly.

I hope this explanation helps you in the media to see a little more into our lives. Maybe next time you'll be a little more kind when it comes to finding a scapegoat in a terrible tragedy like Littleton. We may prefer the night, but we are not the creatures who go bump in it.

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