Let's talk about sex: Is hip safe-sex discussion making a comeback through memes?
Since the only frame of reference I have is my own, I talk a lot about growing up in the '90s. Of course, I would also argue that that the '90s was the best decade ever: Daytime talk shows ruled everything, Courtney Love was queen, and MTV didn't suck yet. But not only did MTV not suck, it was home to some of the best conversations and art that focused on safe sex.
From BeforePlay.org's latest meme campaign.
I've noticed that since the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy launched their BeforePlay.org campaign in 2012, the same kind of hip accessibility could be making a comeback in the visual conversation about safer sex. And I am all about it.
Catch P.M. Dawn, MC Lyte and so many other rad cameos in this still relevant video on safe sex.
Though I went to Catholic school for the first nine years of my educational existence, sex was not a taboo topic in the house where I grew up. In parochial school, sex education was called "family life" and didn't actually involve any conversations about sex and sexuality. But when I was in preschool, my hippie parents gave me a very hippie-looking book of watercolor paintings describing heterosexual sex between a man and a woman: Both characters were naked the entire book, with the woman accompanied by a cat and the man accompanied by a dog, for what reason I don't know. I didn't get why two people lying down next to each other naked on one page led to a watercolor of a bloody, screaming baby on the next page, but, hey, at least my parents were trying.
Later on, when I was in Girl Scouts, we had a woman visit our troop and show us how to put a condom on a banana. Which was also cool, I guess, but as a sixth-grader, I had never seen an erect penis, so the banana's metaphorical/stand-in presence didn't mean much to me. When I was sixteen, my parents put me on birth control. I didn't ask nor was I given a choice, which sounds harsh as I type it, but I understand where they were coming from. Being a parent and thinking about your kids having sex must be terrifying.
I also grew up with a best friend whose mom was a nurse and educator active in the world of AIDS as a social issue. By middle school, she had inadvertently introduced me to figures like Keith Haring and Freddie Mercury -- artists who I would go on to idolize well into adulthood. This is also when I learned that I had to stand up for what I believed in -- and do my best to get others on board with causes I felt were important. In my 33 years, I have been lucky to be able to be a voice and platform for others as a writer, and even luckier to have only a handful of friends who must personally deal with HIV and AIDS.
By sixteen, I was a staunch safe-sex advocate; it was cool to be knowledgeable about choice. I was becoming a teenager in the semi-post-hysterical world of AIDS: By the mid-'90s, people like Pedro Zamora had given AIDS a human face and voice, and it was empowering. His presence on The Real World was probably one of the most powerful and informing instances in pop culture that shaped the way I thought about sex, sexuality, gender and choice.