I am straight edge, and have been since I discovered what the lifestyle was all about roughly 18 years ago. For those that don’t know, living a straight edge life, in simplest terms, means you don’t drink, smoke or do drugs. That’s the easiest way to put it, and really requires no further explanation.
However, that doesn’t take away the fact that I constantly have to explain things to the uninformed. And I know my fellow clean-living people can back me up on this. These questions come up all the time, especially if you have tattoos advocating the lifestyle like I do.
Here are the four most common questions I receive on a semi-regular basis.
1. “That means you’re a vegan too, right?”
Admittedly, this one comes up more often when you’re dealing with someone who has some semblance of knowledge of the lifestyle. As a result, this one probably comes up the least. Still, it does come up, and there’s a reason for it. A sub-group of those who are straight-edge refer to themselves as “Hard Line,” which basically means they have chosen to live a vegan lifestyle at the same time. Current WWE superstars Daniel Bryan and CM Punk could both be classified as hard line, for example. In reality, not all of us are vegan, and those of us who are generally do it for either health reasons or because we advocate animal rights.
I am as much in favor of animal rights as anyone, but I’m not a vegan. I can’t do it. I’ve tried, and quite frankly, it sucks. Meat tastes good, and it’s easier to get protein from a combination of meat and green foods than just greens alone. Not everyone agrees with me, but this aspect of straight edge is definitely optional, and it’s up to each individual whether they want to go that route or not.
2. “Is that some kind of gang thing?”
You could probably see this one coming, but really, there’s no reason for it. I’m not sure why anyone would think living cleanly is gang-related. I just don’t understand the correlation, especially when you consider that gang life often involves heavy drug use, both using and selling.
My guess is this one stems from the fact that the lifestyle has its own name. It’s also possible because there is a negative connotation with straight edge, sometimes referred to as “hate edge.” Those who subscribe to this idea use their clean living as an excuse to spread messages of hate or acts of violence to those with a differnt lifestyle or viewpoint. Much like any group of people, however, those that believe in this are the minority, not the majority. Speaking of this…
3. “Does that mean you hate everyone who drinks/smokes?”
No, it doesn’t. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know quite a few straight edge folks, and most of them agree with me. The truth is, the average “edger” (I hate that term, BTW) doesn’t give a $#!+ if you drink or smoke. I have quite a few friends who do both. I don’t agree with it, but it’s none of my business, nor is it my place to tell them what to do. I draw the line at recreational drug use, and even pot-smoking is pushing it, but for the most part, I tolerate everyone. So do most of the rest of us.
Honestly, the only time this is true is when someone starts judging me for being clean living, which happens way more often than you might think. It doesn’t bother me if someone drinks or smokes, but for some reason, there are a lot of smokers and drinkers who are bothered by this, as if clean living is some social statement about how we are better than other people. The fact is most people are quite a bit better than I am, as I’m nothing special. All I’ve done is chosen to live a clean life. I don’t get why that’s such a crime in the eyes of some.
4. “Do you do it for religious reasons?”
This is quite possibly the strangest question you can get, and I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten it over just the last few years alone. I really don’t understand why people jump to this one so often, or why clean living automatically raises the religion flag. I understand some religions don’t allow things like alcohol or tobacco, but that doesn’t automatically mean I believe in them. What makes it even weirder is generally the person asking you can’t narrow it down to something more specific, such as, “Are you Mormon?” No, they just generalize it with “religious reasons” and leave it at that. Then, if you tell them that’s not the case, they are quite surprised by it.
Even if you are religious, the answer is always no. Straight edge and religion can be combined, but are not required to go hand-in-hand. They are both lifestyle choices, yes, but do not necessarily have anything to do with each other.
I hope this clears a few things up, although I’m sure the barrage of these questions (as well as others) will continue from now until forever. All I can do is grit my teeth and hope I don’t have to make a call to my posse of religious, plant-eating, hate-mongering street criminals to stop them.
Dustin Nichols is a freelance writer, most notably seen on Camel Clutch Blog, where he has reviewed nearly every single episode of WWE Smackdown since mid-2011. He also reviews TNA Impact every week, because he is a complete masochist and wants to save you the pain. When not busy writing new dialogue for the show Castle in his head, he can also be seen on The Geek Link where he discusses games and his obsession with Firefly. You can follow him on Twitter, look at his Facebook page, or even hire him as your personal trainer. Yep, he’s fit, too.
We know the Straight Edger’s pain. We, too, were misunderstood in our satirical but honest look at Why Veganism Sucks (but Also Kind of Rocks).