Utah G.O.T.H.I.C.S Decry Colorado Violence
April 21, 1999, Salt Lake City, UT -- As news of the tragedy in Littleton, Colorado spreads, members of Salt Lake City's Gothic Organization To Help In Community Service have reacted in the same way as millions of Americans, with horror that such senseless violence continues in our society.
"I am shocked and saddened to hear of the tragedy that took place in Colorado yesterday," stated G.O.T.H.I.C.S. director Madelyn Boudreaux. "This tragedy is almost too terrible to imagine, and our sincerest sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of the victims. This act was one of careless disregard for human life by disturbed and confused people. We hope that others will not fall prey to the assumption that innocent people were killed because of the way the murderers dressed or the music they listened to.”
Members of the organization, who are also "goths," are discouraged and disheartened to hear that the suspects in the Colorado high school shooting are being associated with the gothic subculture. They stress that the gothic subculture is a large and varied one, and includes many different viewpoints and beliefs. Goths, however, are very rarely drawn to violence, preferring to find nonviolent solutions to problems. Goths generally appreciate individuality, emotion, drama, art, intellectualism and creativity. Comparisons of gothics with vampires, cults, and gangs often result from misunderstandings by outsiders and from the growing popularity of musical acts and other pastimes sometimes mixed with, and easily confused with, more traditional gothic ideas.
Gothics are distinguished from other youth subcultures most overtly by dress style, which usually consists of black clothing and sometimes extreme makeup on both males and females. (Black lipstick and heavy black eyeliner are common.) Besides the common dress style, most Gothics listen to several related styles of music called Gothic, Darkwave and Industrial. Gothic music can be briefly characterized as intensely textured, often gloomy or dark both lyrically and musically, and heavily influenced by Celtic and European folk styles, punk rock, heavy metal and classical roots. The subculture's origins are usually placed in 1979; and the culture has grown steadily in the past ten years in many places around the world.
Much of the confusion regarding the gothic subculture stems from a refusal of such an individualist group to willingly define a too narrow set of beliefs. The tendency of many young and rebelious teenagers and “outcasts” to be drawn to goth can add to this confusion, but these people rarely remain involved for long. Most goths who have remained involved past the age of 21, however, will agree strongly that goth is not a cult, a religion, or a gang. Involvement in the gothic subculture does not suggest or lead to violence, criminal behavior, deviance, or antisocial behavior. "Goths go to school, hold down jobs, pay our taxes, fall in love, raise families, go to church, and watch the news. We are normal people, with slightly different perspectives and aesthetics," explains Boudreaux.
Most goths do not appreciate fascism in any form, and have no interest in Nazism. If the suspects professed to be gothic while maintaining an interest in Adolph Hitler as a hero or upholding Nazi beliefs, these were individual and personal choices. “We are not in any way supportive of racism, fascism, or bigotry,” says Boudreaux. “The senseless behavior of these individuals was their individual choice, and we condemn it utterly. We can only offer our deeply felt condolences to the victims’ families and hope or pray that these events never occur again.”
For more information on the gothic subculture in general, please visit A Study of Gothic Subculture: an Inside Look for Outsiders at http://www.gothics.org/subculture/. Website creator Alicia Porter has amassed an excellent collection of information for those unfamiliar with the subculture, including interviews and profiles of goths from around the world, definitions, music, analysis and descriptions of related groups and genres. The site also includes advice for concerned parents and educators.
The Gothic Organization To Help In Community Service is a not-for-profit organization formed in the spring of 1998, and exists to promote a positive change in the community while allowing members of the gothic subculture to work towards changing and helping their community in a comfortable environment. The group hopes that, by engaging in such actions, others will see the subculture as life-affirming and positive. Members range in age from 19 - 28, and most members work full-time jobs while maintaining the organization in their spare time.
Past G.O.T.H.I.C.S. activities have included a concert to benefit the People With AIDS Coalition of Utah, sponsorship of endangered bat species through Bat Conservation International, a cleanup at a Salt Lake City battered women's shelter, crocheting warm items for the homeless and needy, organization of food and clothing drives for local shelters, art projects with terminally ill children at a local hospital, and graveyard cleanups. Their website is available at http://www.gothics.org.