Thats a really interesting question, ill answer it the best I can in my own opinion.
I think being Goth is something someone feels in the inside and wish to express it on the outside through fashion, music, photography, literature etc. Although this isn’t ALWAYS the case as some people don’t wish to express it for one reason or another.
I really cant say what exactly Goth is as so many people have so many different opinions on the matter. And quite honestly as it ranges to so many different things, i cant sum it up as a whole. I only know what’s Gothic to me personally and I have my own opinions on it I suppose.
I think its great that there are many Gothic subcultures (fashion-wise) I love exploring and learning about them. I think if someone feels passionate about being Steampunk or Pastel Goth, then people shouldn’t tell them that they’re not Goth. Just because they dress differently or listen to slightly different music doesn’t mean that they’re not part of the overall culture.
I think being Goth is defiantly feeling Goth, not just looking the part because its just an “in phase” and it should be a big part of your lifestyle, it should be an opportunity to explore and learn about the Culture. And have the freedom to express yourself. Which is why it annoys me when i see people within the Culture who put other Goths down because they dont meet their “Goth-enough” expectations. Its not a competition, its a way of life.
I did actually write a piece on it a while back, I’ll post it again if I find it =)
I hope that makes sense!