Straight Edge Interview Project- Mads- 35, Hertfordshire, UK

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

I’m a drug, alcohol, and offending support worker. I live with my husband of ten years, Luke, who is also Straight Edge. I enjoy traveling to see my other partners, anything Star Wars related, horror films, and naps. Oh, and playing Animal Crossing!

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

Youth of Today, Minor Threat, xThe Break Inx

What is your definition of straight edge?

No drugs, no alcohol, no smoking, no casual sex (that is, with no emotional connection/intention to see the person again or see what becomes of the connection). I’m vegan and it is a natural part of my moral outlook, but I think people can be Edge without being vegan, if that’s their thing.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

I honestly don’t know. I don’t particularly feel a part of the scene, in all honesty. However, I do think that there are a fair number of us almost/middle aged Edge kids who are just quietly going about our lives with the same morals and values we always had, with some nostalgia for how the scene once was.

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 guess, technically, yeah? It would be strange to have literally no connection to the music scene though, just because that was always where the sense of family and camaraderie came from.

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

That I give a fuck about other people not being Edge! I’m Edge for myself and no one else. I work with people who have serious substance misuse/alcohol problems and have no judgements whatsoever about how they live their lives, I just want them to be as safe and healthy as possible. It would be lovely if the whole world was free of the ravages of drugs and alcohol, but that’s not going to happen. So I’m passionate about harm reduction and supporting people to achieve their potential, whatever that may look like for them.

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?

I don’t interact with many Edge people, other than my husband and one friend! Non-Edge people often expect me to be judgemental or critical of their lifestyle choices and are surprised when I’m not. My main friendship group is users of ‘party drugs’ and their acceptance and love for me is unconditional, as is mine of them. I just tend to be the first to head home for a night out – I’d rather be in bed while they’re just getting the party started!

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

Yes, I’m vegan.

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 about 14 and discovered AFI. Davey being Straight Edge meant that I started researching online, looking for other bands he name-checked, then the bands *those* bands mentioned etc. I’d never felt any inclination to drink or do drugs and my friendship group was only just starting to explore alcohol but were much too well behaved to even consider drugs. I’ve had mental health issues my whole life and ‘losing control’ (by being drunk/high) would lead to dangerous impulsive behavior. My husband always says that he genuinely believes that without Straight Edge, I’d have been dead in a ditch years ago. Call it fate or whatever you like, but finding Straight Edge before I could even experiment with drugs likely saved my life.

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

It’s the code that keeps me safe, reminds me to respect myself and my body, be mindful of what I do to it and what I put into it. It reminds me that it’s ok to not be like everyone else.

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

I’m passionate about veganism and animal welfare, bodily autonomy and reproductive rights, intersectional feminism and opposing religious oppression (I’m a non-theistic Satanist).

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

It just makes sense, even after all these years. My day job means I see the chaos wreaked by drugs and alcohol, how they destroy people’s lives and leave a trail of devastation. The job definitely helps!

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

I’ve not really encountered any peer pressure, truth be told. I wouldn’t be friends with people that gave me shit for being Edge! I’m accepted by my friends, regardless of the choice to be drug free. I enjoy going to the gym, practicing mindfulness, crafting, all sorts of things that help relieve pressure.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

It made no difference on a personal level. My client case load has increased by over 100% though, sadly. People who already had issues are struggling and a whole host of people who would never have consider themselves as ‘addicts’ have started drinking every day and suddenly found themselves with alcohol problems. Add to that people losing homes, jobs and loved ones… I come home more Straight Edge every day

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

Never.

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?

My husband is Edge, as was my ex of 7 years. I’m poly and my partner is a stoner who drinks a lot, my girlfriend doesn’t do drugs but drinks socially. It has never been an issue, we respect and accept each other’s choices. Would I prefer they were sober and drug free? Yes, if I’m being honest. But they don’t force anything on me.

If your partner is edge do you have similar views/outlooks about straight edge? What are some examples of ideas/beliefs that you agree and/or disagree on?

We are pretty aligned in our views. I’ve been Edge a few years longer but we are both vegan etc.

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?

I’m incredibly fortunate to be accepted and positively impacted.

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?

Sometimes, yeah. But not often.

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

No drink, drugs or smoking. I get my kicks from kinky sex and a good night’s sleep!

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’ve not encountered anyone who has become Edge in recovery, despite my job. I think it can be a helpful tool in finding who they are without substances, but it isn’t a magic phrase that can do the work real recovery requires.

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?

We are not coat racks!

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

Just feeling a little ‘on the outside’ sometimes. Accepted, but not *quite on the same level.

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

I think we need to reflect on why the scene is dominated by white men.

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