How I survived being a pagan goth girl in a small town
Pagan goth girl in a small town? Nothing to do? Maintain your gothic style & outlook in the face of convention. Celebrate Dead Dolly picnics & Heluvet Week!
Not only am I in the USA, but I’m from Kokomo, Indiana. Everyone knows the Beach Boys’ song Kokomo. Don’t get confused. This is not that Kokomo. This place is landlocked. The closest large body of water is Lake Michigan, and that’s a three hour drive north.
This place has the highest number of churches and restaurants per capita in the world. Seriously… we have 170+ places to go and stuff your face, as well as 106 places to go pray away the gluttony. So, what’s a 26 year old pagan goth girl like me to do? Learn to cope without sacrificing who I am – that’s what. Now, I know that not all of you reading this article are from Kokomo, IN. I appreciate that. However, some of you are from small towns or cities with a conservative population. Luckily, my ‘city’ has a few places that cater to people like me.
So, this is what I’m going to do: I’m going to tell you how I cope with the bigotry and narrow-mindedness here as a goth and a pagan, and then I’ll tell you ways you can tackle the problem in your own home town. Deal? Good. Let’s get started.
Reading books, comics and graphic novels keeps me sane
Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ is a prime example of a comic that’ll keep you sane.
First of all, I read lots of books; mostly vampire novels (Yes, even the Twilight Saga, with its indestructible sparkle fairies.) Books are a fantastic escape from the everyday tedium of living in a conservative small town. I usually stick to fantasy and fiction, such as some good ol’ Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire, Taltos, Memnoch the Devil), Clive Barker (Hellbound Heart, The Abarat series), Gregory McGuire (Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West), or Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Lullaby, Choke). If you want to try something a little different, check out this guide to lesbian vampire books and films. Not only is reading a mini-vacation, it’s also a proven form of stress relief. Just fifteen minutes of reading lowers your heart rate a great deal and lets you relax. By the way; comics and graphic novels count as books, in my opinion.
I know when to compromise my alternative style and outlook
Okay, there is a time and place for everything. Yes, black is typical funeral attire in Christian society. However, you probably shouldn’t show up at great uncle Laramie’s funeral dressed to the nines in renaissance goth garb. Be tactful, because grieving is a time for sensitivity all round. If you know you’re going to be dealing with some family members who might be offended, you can make it a little easier on yourself by simply toning it down a bit. Go in a classic-looking 1950’s inspired dress instead. Go for a vintage-style red lipstick instead of black. If you wear a pentagram and have family members that don’t agree with your religious views, you could leave it at home or ensure it’s tucked away inside your blouse, dress, or shirt.
Family reunions are a different story. Reunions are for creating waves and knowing who stands where. Funerals are a time of grieving. Remember: Reunions = Goth it up. Funerals = Keep your essence, but tone it down.
Mainstream activities can be fun and worthwhile, too
It’s okay to try something mainstream and see if you like it, too. There’s a reason it’s popular. Give it a shot. Put your own twist on it. Don’t worry about what other people think too much. Maybe no-one’s ever heard of a goth in a bowling alley until you came along, but so what? They have now.
Hear yourself screaming in frustration ‘THERE’S NOTHING TO DOOOOOO’? You’ve heard yourself doing that? Then go out and find something to do. It’s that simple. Go to the park and read a book (bring sunscreen, a home-made gothic parasol, and/or your panama hat). Goth yourself up for a walk. Go to the bar and mess with the jukebox. Find a local hula hoop group. Don’t have one? Make your own hula hoop and start your own. Go to the comic book/game store.
Or make something up! Like my friends and I did…
Celebrate Helovet Week
My friends and I have a weeklong made-up holiday that we call Helovet (pronounced hell-of-it) week. We’ve been doing this since high school.
Day one of Helovet is simply going around to the parks, the mall, and other public places all decked out in and clad in black just to revel in each other’s company.
Day two is movie night. If there isn’t a decent-looking horror movie in theatres, then we have a movie night at the friend’s house with the best home theatre system. It’s nothing big, but it’s fun.
Day three of Helovet is our annual ‘Dead Dolly Picnic’, and Mookychick has about a million picnic and tea party ideas – just try the searchbox on the website. For our Dead Dolly Picnic, we spend night one making a menu. We decide who’s making/bringing what. Then, on day three we go out and have a picnic.
Day four of Helovet is ‘go to your local museums day’. Here in Kokomo we have two local museums that are more goth-friendly than anyone wants to give them credit for. We have the Siberling Mansion and the Elwood Haynes Museum. Both are converted Victorian/Edwardian era houses, and they are simply beautiful.
Day five is karaoke night! Now, the best thing to do here is to go out to the local karaoke bar and start singing Tool and Nine Inch Nails. It’s fun and bursts some security bubbles. Try it once. Trust me.
Day six is the night we take it out of town. The closest metropolitan area to Kokomo is Indianapolis. We go down to Indy and hit up Broad Ripple Village. In Broad Ripple are quite a few kindred spirits, so we can go out and make new friends.
Day seven: on the last day of Helovet week we pick our favourite thing that we did and do it again or we go out somewhere public and have a table-top gaming session of either Vampire: the Masquerade or D&D.
We typically celebrate Helovet the second or third week of June. Try it out sometime.
Now, go have fun!