Straight Edge Interview Project- Alexis, 22, Brazil

Tell us about you? What do you do for a living? Do you have any pets, hobbies, pet projects?

I’m currently on my last year in Law School, about to start writing my thesis. I’m a music lover, writer (poetry and novels), and I absolutely love languages. Right now I’m learning German, as I’m looking forward to moving to Berlin in the next couple of years. I also play a bit of guitar and want to start learning piano soon (I can play a bit of Für Elise but it’s not enough haha).

Favorite straight edge (or non-straight edge) bands? If you have links, please provide them!

My favorite Straight Edge band is still Minor Threat haha it was the first I’ve listened to and I can’t let go. I also used to listen to Infect (Brazilian Straight Edge band), but haven’t in a while. My favorite non-straight edge band is Rammstein.

What is your definition of straight edge?

To me is a commitment and a promise to myself to respect my body and my mind. No drugs, no alcohol and no cigarettes. It’s staying true to who I am.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

Where I live I don’t see many straight edge people, so the only contact with the community that I have is online.

There’s an ongoing debate on whether one can be straight edge without being a part of the music scene, what’s your thoughts on this?

I think you’re not obligated to enjoy the scene and the genre, but at least understand that the music scene is a big part of it.

What are some funny/common misconceptions people have about you being straight edge?

I think most people see it as if I’m judging them for drinking or that I’m ‘boring’ (classic, heh?). I personally have a mindset that as long as you’re not hurting anyone, you do as you want, so it’s not in me to criticize or call out people for drinking around me. Just don’t try to force me into it, and we’re good. But most people initially react by explaining to me why they drink, they seem to be very defensive, as if I’m going to shit talk them lol

What are some challenges you have faced when interacting with other people who are also edge? If you haven’t had any challenges, tell us some challenges you’ve faced when interacting with people who are not edge?

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The only challenge I had with other edge people was when I just got started, a few older people would think I was a ‘poser’. But I was also lucky to find other people that helped me and were very nice as well. As for people that are not edge, sometimes interacting comes with a lot of judgement. “Why don’t you drink? Everyone does?”. Especially as a University student, where most social events are about getting drunk together, and unless I have someone that also chose to be sober around, I’d just be left aside or not invited at all.

Is your diet influenced or informed by your choice to be straight edge i.e. organic, antibiotic infused meat, genetically modified foods, vegan, vegetarian?

No. I’ve thought about veganism but never really started.

What’s your straight edge story? Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life? How old were you? How did you find out about straight edge, was there someone in the community that introduced you, or were you introduced to it through people/bands, etc? What drew you to it?

Well, I grew up in a place heavily influenced by alcohol. Everyone in my family would drink at parties, and since I got into music earlier, finding the ‘sex, drugs and rock n’ roll’ lifestyle also influenced me. I started stealing drinks from my parents at around 10, because I thought it was “cool” and that since everyone did it, I should too. An older friend tried talking me out of it, but I just thought it was silly. When I was 13, I had two things happen: I had found the punk scene, which eventually led me to Minor Threat, and I also found CM Punk (I’m a wrestling fan). At first the whole Straight Edge deal seemed dumb to be and I was blinded by the norm. One day I got into a lot of trouble for stealing whiskey and getting drunk, so that kinda made me start reading more about Straight Edge. It felt shitty and pointless, so I wondered why was it something everyone did? Straight Edge welcome me in, I opened my eyes, honestly. Found some people online that talked to me about it, and I think it was the first time I really realized it was okay not to drink, because by them everything just seemed to point out to: you should drink, that’s just what we do, y’know? So yeah. I got sober, and claimed on my 14th birthday.

Define what straight edge means to you? Has this changed over the years?

No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes and avoiding things that will harm my body and my mind. In the beginning I only saw this, but as I learned about politics and activism, I also started seeing the political side of the scene as well.

Do you consider yourself an activist? What is/are your cause(s), and how have you been working to advance them?

Yes. I’m feminist, antifascist and anti-capitalism. I try to be aware of my environment, so I started joining more political discussions and intend to find groups next town as soon as this pandemics ends.

What, if anything, keeps you committed to the straight edge lifestyle?

I made myself a promise and this is something I won’t break. I know it’s a lifestyle that is good to me and also goes along with my beliefs. It’s a life commitment to me.

What is something you didn’t think you would struggle with by claiming edge?

Making friends haha I never thought my decision to not drink would be something people would consider when befriending me. I also didn’t think the first year or so would be so hard when it came to not drinking. Especially being a teenager and all my friends getting into the phase where they were starting to drink. Drinking to me wasn’t an option, but it didn’t mean my body didn’t have an urge to do it. Eventually it went away, and now I get sick by the smell of alcohol, but in the first couple of years it was really hard.

What you do for stress relief instead of drinking/drugs, tips for peer pressure?

I write, mostly. Reading, music, watching movies, anything related to art are VERY good. My tip for peer pressure is honestly remembering your choice and why you claimed. Whenever someone’s trying to pressure you into drinking, ask yourself what led you into that decision. Also, stay true to yourself and your beliefs.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

It was a little bit of added stress and anxiety, but regarding Straight Edge, it hasn’t been much of a change. Stress and anxiety are things I had before, so I knew how to cope. I know some people are drinking more due to quarantine and all, as a coping mechanism, but that’s just not something that even occurred to me personally. It wasn’t a struggle.

Have you ever considered breaking edge? What were the circumstances, and what changed your mind?

Never considered breaking edge, but it was a bit of a struggle not to drink in the first few years.

Have you ever stopped being edge for a period of time, and if so why? Did you regret doing so? What brought you back? If you have come back, how do you view your commitment (i.e. for life, for now)?

Nope. Never stopped.

If you are in a relationship is your partner straight edge, or have you had a previous relationship with someone who was not straight edge? What, if any, challenges have you faced relating to your lifestyle/choices?

I’ve never been in a serious relationship, but the people I hung out with in the past were (surprisingly) positive about it. I’ve had some people say they considered not drinking anymore, or just asking if it’d be uncomfortable if they had drinks around me. Like I said, I never got into a relationship so I don’t know if it was just first/second date talk haha

Has your family and social life been negatively or positively impacted? Have you faced or are you facing any specific challenges because of your lifestyle choices? If your family/friends are unsupportive, how do you deal?

As I mentioned before, social life has been a bit impacted as most people drink and instantly just think I’ll be a bore. I generally don’t make friends easily, but I have some that are very understanding and very supportive. As for my family, they see me as the poster child regarding to it haha I have my parents telling everyone I don’t drink when in family gatherings, or when talking to their friends. They’re very supportive.

Some straight edge women/girls I have talked to have told me that they feel isolated and that they find it difficult to relate to people outside of the straight edge scene. Is this something you can relate to?

A little, yes. It all comes down to how some people assume I’ll be judgmental or boring. Like I said, I’m mostly in touch with the scene online, but the music scene in general where I live is very welcoming. Outside the music scene in general is harder.

How do you explain your lifestyle to others outside of the scene? Do you find it difficult? What’s your elevator pitch?

I usually don’t haha explaining opens up the possibility of being questioned or invalidated and I’d just rather not get there. I just say I don’t drink, if they ask me why, I say I’m Straight Edge. If someone’s genuinely interested in the scene, I have no problems explaining, of course. But generally that’s not the case.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon the straight edge lifestyle and it has really spoken to them. Do you feel that the straight edge community has been welcoming to those in recovery? Do you have mixed feelings? Strong Feelings?

I have mixed feelings. Being sober isn’t the same thing as being Straight Edge, there’s a lot involved. But I feel like if these people need a place to feel welcomed to, I think we can and should educate them. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be recovering from a drug addiction, so being supportive, as individuals that can go without alcohol/drugs can be a big help to these people. And who knows, if they learn they might actually join the scene.

How do you feel your straight edge commitment plays into the bigger social justice movement for gender equity?

I must admit I haven’t talked to many other women in the scene (online or not), so I wouldn’t know how to reply to this question.

Have you ever had a negative experience in the scene related to your gender?

Not that I can remember! Of course it’s an issue everyone, but inside the Straight Edge scene, I can’t remember having negative experiences nor seeing anything. Not saying it can’t happen, tho.

Straight edge and the associated music scene have long been male-dominated. What do you see as a woman/girls role in the scene? How has this role changed since you have been involved and what changes would you like to see?

I think the scene should be more open to women in general. I don’t see many women in bands, and I’m sure there are straight edge women out there that also make music. I think this is definitely an aspect that could be improved.

What if any challenges have you faced that are specifically related to being a female in a male-dominated scene?

In the music scene in general it’s a bit harder to be taken seriously. There’s always questioning, there’s always some type of discredit and not being heard.

Do you feel the straight edge community has done enough to advance gender/race/social issues?

As I’ve said most of my contact with the community have been online, but I don’t think so. There’s a lot that should be done, it’s still a space dominated by straight white men (as is the music scene in general, to be fair). There are bands out there, but are we giving these band space to grow and to be heard? In my opinion, it is a space where, to me, seems more welcoming, but there’s a lot that could change still.

Is the scene as inclusive as it likes to think it is? Do you think there’s work to be done? If so, what would you like to see change?

Are any scene as inclusive as we think? Haha. But yeah, no. Is it welcoming and trying to be inclusive? Yes, I think so. But there’s still work to be done.

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Written by kellysisterhood
Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org
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