Straight Edge Interview Project- Elisa Gonzales -38, Southern California

ELISA GONZALES

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

Currently I am a Stay-at-Home Mom. I’m looking to get back into the work field.My experience is in the field of education. I have a tortoiseshell cat named Daisy and she’s been in our family for 12 years! My hobbies are reading, photography, playing guitar, going for hikes, watching movies, and collecting 1980’s and 1990’s toys/books/games.

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

I like so many bands, it’s hard to pick favorites. Some of my many favorite bands are The Muffs, The Clash, Blondie, Descendents, Go Betty Go, Dancehall Crashers, Goldfinger, Letters to Cleo, Veruca Salt, Elastica, Horrorpops and Tiger Army.

What is your definition of straight edge?

My definition of straight edge is someone who loves punk but doesn’t love the self-destructive activities that usually go along with the punk scene. Being straight edge means a life commitment to be free of drugs, alcohol, tobacco or anything that could be considered self-destructive.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

I’m new to the straight edge scene but it seems like it’s not as strong as it was in the 1990’s. I remember meeting people at school, shows and just through other friends, who were straight edge. Nowadays, I have to reach out online to find other people who are straight edge and most are in other states or countries.

Where online do you go to meet other straight edge people? Have you found that you feel welcome?

Online I found the Straight Edge group on Facebook with regular posts by Skate Straight Dallas, xsisterhoodx and other individual members. I feel welcome and have had people reach out to me. Unfortunately, they all live in other states/countries. Once I saw xsisterhoodx, I got very excited that there was a community of women and people who support straight edge women. I started following on Instagram. One of my favorite YouTubers is Adam the Woo. I stumbled across his videos because I really like Disneyland. As it turns out, he is straight edge and I think he’s a good example of how to travel, set goals, and have fun all while being committed to being straight edge.

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 it’s possible to be straight edge without being into the music scene if you consider straight edge to be more of a lifestyle rather than an identity that follows a music scene. I think people should like what they like. If they are into straight edge bands, then that’s great. But I think there’s so much good music out there, life would be boring if we limited ourselves to just one genre.

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

I think people just assume that I judge them if they drink. I’m totally fine with other people drinking. My choices are just my own and I don’t impose them on anyone.

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?

ELISA

Challenges I’ve faced when interacting people who are not edge is having to refuse their offers of drinks over and over. People do it to be polite, but it some people get their feelings hurt when they don’t understand how committed I am.

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

I try to watch my diet but it’s not connected to being straight edge.

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?

I was introduced to the straight edge community in high school when I met some people at school were straight edge. But unfortunately I never befriended them and made punk friends who were self-destructive instead. I got tired of constantly dealing with their shenanigans and ended the friendships. I made new friends over the years but didn’t commit to being straight edge until this past July. I was going through a horrible separation from my husband and I felt pretty low. I thought going to my cousin’s BBQ would cheer me up, but my cousin kept offering me alcoholic drinks. I remember thinking how badly I wanted to get drunk to numb my pain. This was not the first time I had a thought like this. Thankfully, I never acted on my thoughts. Knowing I had the potential to become an alcoholic scared me. So I committed to being straight edge and what with the Covid and all, tried to find other people who were straight edge, online.

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

I don’t consider myself an activist but I try to spread awareness online and in person whenever I can. I am trying to spread awareness of Human Trafficking because it’s a true problem in the United States and around the world. People have no idea that slavery still exists and it is happening all around us.

What sort of activism are you doing around the issue of child trafficking?

I don’t consider myself an activist for human trafficking. Yet. But I do consider myself  someone who is involved with spreading awareness and resources. I am in the group Children’s Lives Matter Rescue. I share articles, educational videos, parent resources, documentaries, and petitions. This is all online but I try to talk to friends and family about these issues as well. I would like to become an activist and do more for the cause. Especially because this is a problem that is probably never going to go away and its heart breaking to know that within the limits of our own cities, maybe even our own neighborhoods, human beings are abused and sold into sex slavery.

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

What keeps me committed is my two daughters. I want to be the best mom I can be to them and set an example for them. I want to be around as long as I can, if I can help it. They deserve a good life and my decisions affect them greatly so I want to make good choices.

How old are your daughters?  Do you talk to them about your choices or straight edge?

My daughters are 17 and 6 years old. To them, I’m just mom and they don’t see me as anything else. But I did explain to my 17 year old, the commitment I made to be straight edge. She thought it was a good decision and she agreed with me that there’s no point in turning to substances to feel good. As mom and daughter, we have a lot of fun together and laugh a lot. She has a pretty good head on her shoulders and we talk a lot about goals, relationships and about making good choices so that it doesn’t negatively affect those goals and relationships we have.

Are your kids old enough for school? If so, are they going to school virtually or in person?  How has the pandemic impacted you as a mom?

Both of my kids are in distance learning, which is definitely a challenge. I had to establish a separation between home and school. And then I had to establish a separation between Mom and Teacher. Then I also had to make sure we are taking breaks from technology and getting that Vitamin D outside. It was a nightmare at first, but I found that routines and changing environments worked for us. Doing school in a special area that is designated for school helped. And for my little one, I developed a reward system for listening during school time. Every time she participates, completes something, waits patiently etc., I put a token in a cup. After 8 tokens, she gets to choose any activity she enjoys.

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

I didn’t think it would be so hard to find locals who were edge.

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

To relieve my stress, I try to do things that make me feel good but are also good for me. Sometimes when I am at the end of my rope, I just go get myself a tall glass of ice water and after I drink it, I go for a walk. I take pictures on my walks and try to consciously notice the details of the nature that surrounds me. I also listen to music that makes me happy. I make jokes with people and try to make them laugh. Then we end up laughing so much, I feel so much better. For peer pressure, I just try to be as polite as possible when refusing offers. Then I excuse myself and go grab something like water or diet soda. I try to ask them questions to change the subject. And again, try to make them laugh.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

It’s hard because I can’t meet anyone in person. But it’s still cool to have internet resources to meet new people. In fact, I think that even if there wasn’t a pandemic, I’d have to use the internet to find support because most people from my area are not straight edge.

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

I haven’t been edge for long. It’s only been three months. I am not tempted to break edge at all. Before I became straight edge, I had never done a drugs or smoked. It wasn’t as extreme of a transition for me.

So, you’re relatively new to straight edge?  How old are you (or would you rather not say)?  How do you think your experience is different than say someone like me, who claimed edge in her teens and is now 40?

Yes, I just committed to being straight edge three months ago. It’s interesting because I made this decision during the pandemic and there’s no shows and no meeting people in person. The only straight edge people I have met recently are online. I don’t have any friends or family who are straight edge. Just about everyone I know drinks alcohol to some degree. I guess a seed was planted when I first heard about the straight edge scene, in high school. That was back in the late ’90s. I am now 38 years old so it might seem a little late in life for me to make this commitment. But I’ve always had friends who were punk and enjoyed the punk scene. And I can totally understand how the straight edge movement came about. I definitely witnessed a lot of substance abuse in the punk scene and with those friends. They were actually awesome people when they weren’t drunk or high so I didn’t understand why they had the need to turn to substance abuse to “have fun.” None of them had successful relationships and eventually I ended my relationships with those friends. I made new friends but none of them are straight edge or punk.

From my understanding, claiming straight edge is a lifetime commitment. I have never heard until now, of people claiming straight edge for a season. I always saw being straight edge as a long-term commitment. A way of life, if you will. I figured that’s why most people who are edge, have tattoos because it’s a visual reminder of a life commitment. The commitment is permanent, like the tattoo.

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

I think that being straight edge plays into gender equity because it’s not only important to support others who are straight edge, but it’s also important to support other women who are straight edge. In both cases, we are a minority and it’s important to voice who we are and what we stand for.

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