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But the party isn't nearly as fun. The culture of repression is so obsessive today that most young people I know have to be blotto before taking off their clothes. Anti-queer abstinence indoctrination is still taught in schools. LGBT activists, having won the Golden Globe of their Supreme Court victory, might turn their attention to that atrocity.
Becoming a pickup artist is now trained like karate, the better to hack the code of our frigid social environment (i.e., so you can get a date). Kids are still made to sign the abstinence pledge and wear purity rings.
Rape is a serious problem, but rape cultists, whose practical definition of sex is rape, present a much more insidious situation, leading young people to wonder if merely having sexual desire makes them a perpetrator or pervert. Today many young men and boys are afraid to make any overture to girls or young women, afraid that they will be misunderstood and classified as rapists.
Many of what are today called helicopter parents—the late Baby Boomers who tripped, boogied, and fucked to many of David Bowie's songs—are appalled at the notion of their young sons and daughters having sex. Many are too terrified to even have an honest conversation with their kids, much less to stand up against puritanical school administrators who still teach abstinence, and whose balls are in the vise of a few fundamentalist Christian parents.
It is my observation that the canonization of homosexual marriage has arrived in a parallel delivery with much else being deemed abnormal, immoral, and dangerous. Queer is now considered okay because you can seal the deal with monogamous marriage.
Today, we need David Bowie more than ever, to remind us that it's okay to be different, and to feel good. It's okay to be horny and frisky and creative all in the same gesture. It's okay to play and to experiment just because you want to, just for fun. It's just fine to be sexy and have that be about sex and not about power. Most of all, it's okay to offend your parents and their version of God or secular morality if that's what it takes for you to be who you are.
It was Bowie who arrived like his fictional Starman and indeed blew our minds—though for most of us that was long ago and far away. He helped open that sacred window to the unknown. Have you left yours open, even just a little, or was it long ago painted over and sealed shut, so you might never smell the fresh air from that garden again?
Here's the thing: sex actually does need advocates. The moral guilt trip today is so thick many people still feel ashamed by the least desire. As a writer, I do my best, but I think my polemics on the subject (while vaguely informative) are not nearly as useful as Bowie's get-it-on rock and roll.
Most of what people—younger and older—now need is permission to feel as weird as they think they are, which is unlikely to be so weird after all. It's just that one can feel strange when exposed to heat and sunshine when you've been locked into a cold, dark room for decades. Maybe it took guts for Bowie to say what he did, and to be who he was, but really, I think for him it was the obvious and only thing to do.
In a sense he took the revolution and made it personal. There was plenty of dancing, so it was a revolution that Emma Goldman would have been down with for sure. I don't know what it will take to get past the calcified hip and smug we are confronted with nearly everywhere today, but there must be something. I think it would help if people relaxed a little about having to convince everyone how supposedly pure they are.
That's going to require taking a risk. It's easier for young people to take that risk, because they have less to lose. Yes, you're being told that that one thing you post to Instagram could end up preventing you from being chairman of the board of some corporation in 30 years. But is that really true, and do you really care?
Well, you still may. You might think you have to protect your priceless image at all costs. But I can tell you that the moment when you decide you don't care is a beautiful one. The moment when you decide that you are who you are whatever anyone might think is bold and astonishing, coming from the inside out. It's as good as your first orgasm, because the two are directly related—they are about giving up self-control long enough to have some fun, to experience yourself as alive in the moment, and to plant the seeds for the next phase of who you're becoming.