The History of
A Study of Gothic Subculture: an Inside Look for Outsiders


In April of 1997, media scapegoating of Goths was rampant in Utah. This was mostly due to an unfortunate incident involving a local teen's death, as well as the 1997 Utah Gang Conference. Prompted by the widespread misrepresentation of Goth, I began researching and interviewing in order to present the complexity of gothic culture as fully as possible. My friend Ian Leicht gave me the idea for the web site and helped me get started. I thought most gothic web sites at the time were aimed at a gothic audience. I wanted to explain it for your average, everyday, non-goth person in order to counter the media's simplistic, and often negative, view. The site first appeared on July 29th, 1997.

I'm not really shooting for the acceptance of Goths by society. I am ideally attempting to promote understanding, or more realistically, non-interference. I don't want to see schools adopt a ban on "gothic clothing" in their dress code; this was proposed in Davis County, Utah, in 1998. The measure was ultimately defeated because several students spoke out against it. Talk of possibly classifying Goths as a gang has appeared in the Utah, California, and Texas news. In 1998, a woman in Utah tried to get Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails CD's banned from the public library because she deemed them pornography. The school dress codes and harassment of Goths became an even larger issue in April of 1999 after the tragedy at Columbine. These sort of attempted infringements on a person's fundamental individual rights are what I am trying to stop, or at least curb, with the site. I am concerned about my personal rights, but I am more concerned with the rights of the younger generation of Goths who are more subject to authority figures. I think it is a worthwhile goal to educate adults in a position of authority -- parents, teachers, police, etc. -- about this subculture. I'm willing to explain to people: "Yes, we're different. No, we're not evil, dangerous, or something you should prevent anyone from being. Here's some information on what we are. We're people with the same feelings and dreams as the rest of humanity. If you sat down and talked with us, you might even find that we're not that bad. If you can't understand us, then just let us be."

This will always be the primary reason that the site exists. Mostly, I felt compelled to do it for my own conscience. Even if the site never changes anything, at least I tried. I don't expect to change society's knee-jerk reaction to blame that which is different for its problems. Yet I had to do something. I couldn't be satisfied if I didn't.

Apathy & Doubt
My feelings about the site have fluctuated in the years it has existed. I don't put effort into updating or maintaining it anymore. I hope it serves the purpose I intended it to, but I am usually disappointed by the thought it hasn't. Lacking much tangible evidence that it does, I have let it collect dust. I continue my research in order to expand my own knowledge, but the passion I used to have about this "crusade" no longer exists.

I know, fully admit, and am sometimes disturbed by the fact that I have molded Gothic into what I want it to be -- a sense of aesthetics, appreciation of dark beauty, creative energy etc. I have presented it in an entirely positive way and glossed over or only given nod to some of the negative aspects. I sometimes doubt the truth or validity of what I've done when I am faced with the ugly side of Goth.

The site is not meant to be a resource for Goths, nor is is supposed to be a guide on how to become gothic. I can't say that enough. I'm sorry, but I can't offer any help with finding gothic clothes, music, or telling you whether or not something is Goth. I feel a little bad when people write to me and say, "I have been this way for all my life, but I never knew I was gothic until I read your page." I am not here to say, "Yes, you are gothic," or "No, you are not gothic." It's up to everyone to find what they are most comfortable with, and it makes me apprehensive when I am the reason someone has attached a word or label to how he or she is. Especially because I know some people might begin to develop their identity around that label and close themselves off to doing or being something that does not fit that image. Calling yourself Goth is fine, but as Kevin said, it should be a starting point for self-creation and discovery and not a cubbyhole for comfort or acceptance.

updated 07.03.00

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