I still remember the feeling of the first time I put on black lipstick. A mix of excitement, the minor thrill of doing something I knew my parents would hate, and fascination. It was for a Halloween party, and even then I knew that my “costume” was really just an excuse to put on something I’d felt drawn to, but wasn't normally allowed to even consider. (Growing up in a strictly religious home meant that my only exposure to alternative subcultures was as warning stories about what happens when you allow “demonic possession” to take you over.) It was decades later before I’d allow myself to wear the shade again, and now I know that it was never just the black lipstick that drew me to goth fashions, even though it’s still my favorite shade.
Ask every goth you ever meet what it means to be goth, and you’ll get a different answer every time. Goth is a music scene. Goth is a fashion statement. Goth is all black everything all the time. Goth is memories that smell like clove cigarettes and hairspray, and the feeling of absolute power that comes with the three inch boost of platform boots. But at the root of it all, when you boil it all down past the superficial and scenes, there is one universal meaning that every goth understands.
Nothing is permanent and all things end.
Sorrow and mourning are essential to the human experience, and it is in the darkest moments, not the brightest, that we learn to question the meaning of existence. In a society that is obsessed with following only the positive, with editing their existence down to bright, happy moments and refusing to examine the shadows, goth is a rejection of the norm not because we seek to be sad and miserable, but because we understand that there is still beauty in the dark places.