According to Straight Edge Worldwide, straight edge is a youth movement and community based around the values of punk culture. Members of this community hold a lifelong commitment to live without drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and abusive/addictive sexuality. For some members, straight edge includes following a vegetarian or vegan diet and not using caffeine or prescription drugs. According to Wikipedia, straight edge grew out of hardcore punk in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Characterized by an “X”, the straight edge symbol derives from the X’s that are marked on the hands of someone who’s underage attending a show.
Below, six members of the straight edge community speak out about why they’ve chosen to make the lifelong commitment, and what that commitment means to them.
“I’ve been edge for 14 years, and it’s been a very important part of my life. I never needed a substance to have fun, mellow out, or forget my problems temporarily. I feel like I’ve had a pretty amazing life and I did it all sober, and with the glorification of getting “fucked up” nowadays, that feels pretty important to me. The ‘X’ has replaced religion for me.”
Chris X Bayless, guitarist and backup vocalist of Ghost Key
“Straight edge to me is courage and pride. Living every day knowing you don’t need to take a drink of alcohol or hit of a cig or joint to have a good time or even get over something. It’s confidence and even though we can be few and far between, we are a brotherhood. It’s living without being dependent on anything but yourself. It’s the most positive way anyone could live.”
Jacob Demaree, guitarist of Inheritors
“I’ve always been substance free, but claimed straight edge for personal reasons and, after watching drugs and alcohol destroy a lot of great personal relationships and lives, it seemed like a clear choice to me. Straight edge to me means living your life without relying on substance for fun or a false sense of happiness. I like being in full control of my mind and body, and using that to build myself as a better person.”
Errick X Easterday, owner at Easterdaily
“For me, straight edge kind of replaces religion. I have something I stand for at my back when I don’t have something else. That might not make sense to everyone, but it’s always made sense to me.”
Trae X Roberts, vocalist of Oceans Grey & bassist of Archives
“To me, it’s been something that I claimed because I really valued thinking with a sober mind constantly. And finding something like straight edge where everyone values that as I do was really cool. It helped me make some awesome friends and has helped me come up with a true identity for my values in life.”
Joel X Kanoly, local supporter of the music scene
“I take pride in being able to resist things that would cause me harm, and the ability to make sober decisions. I also strongly encourage people not to let drugs, alcohol, or even promiscuous sex control their lives. I believe people openly give themselves up as slaves to these vices, and I’m proud to say I don’t. I hate the acceptance and promotion of high school and college students drinking and smoking their thoughts, motives, and individuality away. Alcohol in particular disgusts me, as many women have been taken advantage if while drunk. I’ve been proclaiming Straight Edge for few years, and I have no plans on stopping.“
Dalton Miller, local supporter of the music scene
Written by Chelsea Renee Scofield
Photos by Errick X Easterday & Andrew Garland