Frequently Asked Questions - General
This is one of the questions that gets asked the most. In the shortest definition it is a subculture that evolved from a musical scene to encompass art, literature, fashion and a shared 'dark aesthetic'. For further information about it, please read the "What is Goth?" page on the GOTH.NET site. Also, please refer to the section on the Gothic subculture at <a href="http://www.religioustolerance.org/goth.htm">religioustolerance.org<a>.
There are also historical references to Gothic, including a germanic tribe dating back to the roman era, an architectural style and also a style in literature. These generally have little to do directly with the subculture, though many Goths enjoy the architectural and literary styles bearing the same name and the aesthetic similarities lended the name of the previous styles to the current subculture.
Just a final comment... you will probably find as many different explanations of what Goth is to the many participants within the scene. The scene generally is the sum of these various definitions, and there is no one true definition that will cover what it means to all those who are involved.
Generally if you wear and/or the exterior trappings that go with the subculture, and your musical interests reflect bands that are recognised within the scene and you feel at home within the scene and with it's members and their views and outlooks on life, you might possibly be Gothic.
Please don't get obsessed by fitting the label, truth be told that many people who are Goth or who associate themselves with the scene don't call themselves Goths because they find it too limiting or find that others stereotype them based on that one label, rather than seeing the sum of the parts. Too often there are people that try too hard to fit the label and completely pass by the fact that being Goth is as much about being yourself and finding your own path rather than rigidly trying to fit the stereotypes.
Also, remember that "in the scene" generally means goths who are usually over 18, go gothic clubbing, and have several years experience within the subculture.
This is a question I've fielded from some very young Goths from time to time. The general answer to all of them is NO. As with many things in the scene, or life in general, participation in such behaviour is something you need to decide for yourself as a personal choice... it is NOT a requirement to the scene. If people are pressuring you into doing any of these things when you'd rather not, I suggest you find some other friends/people to hang out with.
There are no real gothic drugs. A popular gothic stereotype is smoking clove cigarettes, but then again, many don't smoke at all. People think that absinthe could be considered a gothic drink, but only in the romantic, poetic, "Walter Mitty" sense. I don't know too many goths who are willing to imbibe absinthe (mostly because the taste is disgusting). As for sex, I don't think there are too many people who have sex because they're gothic. If people have sex it's because they have sex. Gothic people just tend to be more tolerant of certain sexual practices like homosexuality and BDSM. It doesn't mean that all goths are gay or bi or whip eachother, it's just they understand if someone wants to do that with another person and that it's none of their business. Society has taken this out of context and stereotyped goths as all being into 'kinky' sex, a stereotype that has played well recently for the MTV audience. And if someone tells you "all goths do (fill in the blank)" then you should pretty much ignore them, because everyone is different in their own way and groups of people can't be pigeon-holed into stereotypes.