As with heavy-metalists, skepticism toward Goths is also not unusual in western Europe, where Goth music festivals regularly take place. British sociologist Dr. Paul Hodkinson, author of the book “Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture,” maintains that, rather than being a threat, Goths are often likely to be on the receiving end of hostility.
But 28-year-old translator Nana Beruashvili, a Tbilisi Goth educated in Germany, detects a difference between western Europe and Georgia. In western European countries, curiosity and skepticism toward Goths focuses more on stereotypes about their appearance than on religion, she believes.
“People would ask questions like ‘Do you always wear black?’, ‘Do you never go out on a sunny day?’ and so on,” she says, while, in Georgia, where Orthodox Christian traditions are robustly observed, people link the Goths’ image with Satan and the underworld.
Questions and comments like “Ah, are you satanists?,” “Do you kill cats in cemeteries?,” “Why do you have this symbol on your neck?” or “It's a satanic symbol!” are common, agrees Gogoberishvili.
The handful of individuals who identify as Goths in Georgia strongly reject the label of satanists.
“Satanism is itself a religion, by the way, and some of [its followers] do not accept any divine power. Satan is a symbol of freedom for them,” comments Beruashvili. “All of this has nothing to do with being Goth.”
But one Goth has seen signs of change in how some Georgians relate to their movement.
“People pay less attention to me,” recounts Mortiss. “What attention I receive is mainly from men or young boys hanging around with nothing to do, [rather] than from conservatives or devoutly religious people.”
Thirty-two-year-old Killer Manson violinist Teona Kvrichishvili, who, like many Georgians, was baptized an Orthodox Christian, maintains that being Goth is just “a way of life.”
“This subculture is inside me; it fits my character,” explains Kvrichishvilli, who also works as a music teacher. “The style was too strange and too alien for my parents, but they got used to it.”