The words 'straight edge' come from the title of a song penned by Ian Mackaye of the hardcore band Minor Threat. This song as well as others by Minor Threat including 'Out of Step' warned of the pitfuls of consuming alcohol, drugs and partaking in promisciuos sex. The phrase 'straight edge' was applied to people who followed this philosophy.
The key components of straight edge are:
1. No alcohol
2. No drugs
3. No promiscuous sex
If you follow these 'rules' then you will be in control of your body and mind.
Some people who're straightedge also beleive they must be vegetarian but more often than not vegan because either they are against animal cruelty or they do not want to poison their bodies with dead flesh.
Straight ege grew in popularity throughout the 1980s. There are two main off shoots of straight edge. Firstly hardline, where the values of straight edge are taken to the extreme. People who're hardline will be vegan and may be animal rights activists as well as anti-abortionists. The second main group to split off from straight edge is 'Krishnacore', where people who're straight edge extend their personal philosophy by becoming followers of Hare krishna.
The main symbol of straight edge is the 'x'. this symbol was adopted becasue at all dayer hardcore shows those to young to drink would be marked with an 'x' on their hand. Those who chose not to drink adopted this symbol
The word straight edge can be shortened to sXe, or represented by xxx.
People who're straight edge often where x's on their hands especially at gigs.
Some straightedgers choose not to show their edge, believing that to be straight edge is a personal choice and does not need to dsiplayed.
People who're straightedge often sign their name with an x in it, usily at both ends and/or in the middle. for example xnamex or xmyxnamex.
Bands who contain straightedge members often put x's in their name to show this fact. e.g thexbreakxin
Most straightedge bands play hardcore e.g. Throwdown but there is a much smaller straightedge movement within hip hop, for example the rapper xsagexfrancisx
Recently the straightedge lifestyle has seen a resergence in popularity, mostly due to the rise of straightedge bands who then inlfuence their fans E.g. Eighteen Visions, and the rise of hardcore music in general.
In some places in the world, straightedgers (people whore straightedge) are regarded as a gang, and a threat to society. For example in Utah t-shirts that say 'vegan' or 'straightedge' are banned from schools because straightedge is officially seen as a gang by the police and gang 'colours' are not allowed to be worn within schools.
However i firmly believe that o be straightedge is to be positive and in control.
Here are some lyrics from the song 'Forever' by the straightedge band Throwdown:
'..for my self, for my friends, for my family...i'll take this to the bitter end. You wanna know why i'm still here? STRAIGTH F**KING EDGE...i'll be true, forever...'
By not drinking, doing drugs or partaking in promiscous sex these bands fit follow the philosophy of straight edge: Minor Threat, Earth Crisis, Bleeding Through, The Break In, The Legacy, Bane, Comeback Kid, Throwdown.