I. The Gothic personality.
Generally speaking, true Goths are intelligent, artistic individuals with an almost fanatic reverence for the arts and all types of beauty. Many Goths possess certain qualities prior to their initial identification with the subculture or even their knowledge that it exists; some of these qualities include thoughtfulness, creativity, intelligence, shyness, and an introspective nature.
II. The Gothic philosophy.
I will strive to sum this up in as few words as possible. The Gothic subculture is based on the idea of finding beauty and light in all those things dark, grotesque, tragic, and sorrowful. The seeming fixation with Death is an example of this; Goths embrace things that cause fear and revulsion in mainstream society, because in truth they are no less beautiful than their daylight counterparts.
If any among you wishes to further enlighten him or herself, I suggest the study of old Gothic literature, the very best of which is exemplified in the works of Dante, Shelley, Byron, Lovecraft, and Poe.
III. Gothic music.
The term "Gothic" was, to my knowledge, first used to describe the emerging subculture by the band Joy Division in the late 70's. Along with Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, and The Cure, this band helped establish Gothic as a musical genre. The Gothic sound is characterized by dark, brooding, strange music that can sound cacophonous to the uninitiated. Some other notable Goth bands include Switchblade Symphony, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, and Christian Death. By the way, bands that are widely mislabeled as being Gothic, yet are NOT, include (to name a few): Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative, Evanescence.
IV. Gothic attire.
Most people know that Goths favor black if they know anything at all. There are so many different styles of dress among Goths that I dare not attempt a complete list; here are some of the most commonly worn materials and articles of clothing among Goths: velvet, silk, fishnet stockings, PVC, brocade, lace, LOTS of boots, things with buckles, dark jewel tones such as purple and wine colored garments, gloves, very high heels, band T-shirts, chokers, corsets. Many Goths, especially the "old-school" Goths, will tease their hair mercilessly with crimpers and hairspray to achieve an "Edward Scissorhands" type of effect. Hair dye is, of course, widely used. Traditional Gothic makeup consists of stark-white powder, and black or dark eyeliner and lipstick. Men and women both have a tendency to pluck their eyebrows nearly out of existence, and then draw them back in. It goes without saying that a person who looks like this is not necessarily a Goth. This aesthetic, however, is an intrinsic part of the subculture and cannot be disregarded for its superficiality; Goths tend to thrive on artifice anyway.
V. Miscellaneous Information.
Goths are commonly found passing their free time in small coffee houses, book shops, art galleries, Gothic clubs, and, of course, cemeteries. Many Goths smoke; clove cigarettes are very popular with our crowd. Drugs of choice for those Goths who wish to indulge in the vice may include Speed, LSD, Alcohol, Ecstasy, and the like...I applaud those who abstain from drug use, for they have greater strength than my own. Goths frequently enjoy movies and television shows such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Hunger, Nosferatu, and The Addams Family. Goths do NOT eat bugs and drink blood; we eat Cheerios just like everyone else.
I myself have been a part of the subculture for a mere two years-- I am by no means a veteran of the Scene, but my passion for it is great and grows continuously. I hope that this definition has been useful. To know more, I suggest The Autumn Cemetery Text (available online... google it).
Famous goths, despite their denials of affiliation with the scene, include Peter Murphy, Andrew Eldritch, and Siouxsie Sioux.