Straight edge (sometimes abbreviated to sXe or SxE) is a lifestyle and (counter cultural) subculture, closely associated with punk, hardcore punk, emo and more recently heavy metal music. It advocates total, life long abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drug use — especially psychoactive and stimulant drug use. Some straight edgers also abstain from promiscuous sexual behavior.
Originally inspired by the hardcore band Minor Threat, it has spread around the world, but is most popular in industrialized Western countries with a large middle-class, such as United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and much of Western Europe. Although straight edgers or "edge kids" do not necessarily identify with a particular worldview on social or political issues, many do subscribe to precepts associated with anarchism, vegetarianism–veganism, socialism, environmentalism, and the deep ecology movement. Some straight edgers are Christians or Hare Krishnas, as well as other religions, and there are even some straight edgers who hold extreme right wing views....
There are various reasons why people may choose to be straight edge, and there are various interpretations of the practive, and various applications of the precepts noted below.
Some use the lifestyle as a 'stepping stone' because they believe it will allow them to be more involved with their own mental and physical health. For some, straight edge involves refraining from casual sex. Rather than promoting strict abstinence, many straight edge persons believe in sex within caring relationships rather than one-night stands.
The appeal of straight edge has broadened beyond the initial scope of punk culture and has appeal to youth of many cultures who eschew recreational drug use. Many people who are straight edge became attracted to it as a counter culture option to what they see as a widespread drug culture....
At punk rock shows, it became common practice to mark an X on the hands of under-aged concert goers to ensure that the bouncers would recognize a minor attempting to drink alcohol. Some people interpret this as a symbol of Ian MacKaye's "don't smoke, don't drink, don't fuck" ethos. Some interpret the three Xs as representing "Body", "Mind", and "Soul" — although three Xs have also been used as an abbreviation for hardcore punk in general.
Many adopters of the "straight edge" lifestyle voluntarily marked their hands in the same way to show their commitment to refusing alcohol. Also widespread is the tattooing of the X symbol on other parts of the body, or wearing it on clothing, pins, et cetera. Three Xs (XXX) have their origin in artwork created by Minor Threat's drummer Jeff Nelson in which he replaced the three stars in the band's hometown Washington D.C. flag with Xs.
The X is considered both a mark of negation and a mark of identity. Attaching the X to one's name or band name is common practice for straight edgers. For example, 'John Smith' would become 'XjohnXsmithX', or 'xxxjohnxxx'. "Straight edge" is sometimes abbreviated sXe (S.E. plus an X) following much the same logic. Note that sXe is pronounced 'straight edge' or 'es-ex-ee....'A subset of straight edge, often called hard-line, has been involved in physical assaults in the U.S. Police in some communities, such as Salt Lake City, Utah and Reno, Nevada have classified straight edge as a gang due to violence associated with hardliners, and due to links some straight edgers have with the Animal Liberation Front.