Teen Vogue poked a lot of ultra-conservative, backwards-facing bears when it published a guide to anal sex last week.
Whether they didn’t know or didn’t care, the response to the article by sex educator Gigi Engle was unbridled fury from Christian puritans.
It included information for those with and without prostates, and also put a strong emphasis on a need for “enthusiastic consent” and condom usage.
Nevertheless, it has been torn apart by evangelicals – literally, in at least one case.
Elizabeth Johnston, a Christian mother who has a large social media following as ‘The Activist Mommy’, ripped and burned a copy of the magazine.
It was therefore high time for someone to mount a defense of the educational guide.
Step up, the magazine’s digital editorial director Phillip Picardi.
In a 20-post-long tweetstorm, Picardi accused the article’s detractors of homophobia.
He wrote about how because of his Christian schooling, he had no idea how HIV was contracted until he was at university.
And Picardi pointed out that “EDUCATION doesn’t equal ENCOURAGEMENT”, adding that it was “IRRESPONSIBLE” to censor those trying to teach teenagers about safe sex.
“I monitor the webmaster email and have been inundated with hate mail saying we promote sodomy and want teens to get AIDS,” Picardi said.
“It’s funny, because I went to (a) Catholic high school and had 0 sex education. I also had a teacher tell me gay sex was a sin in God’s eyes,” he continued.
“Fast forward to frosh year of NYU, me crying at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, (because) I’d just slept (with) someone who I found out was HIV+.
“The kind folks at Callen-Lorde taught me about HIV/AIDS, what it is, and how it’s contracted. They also told me to get tested regularly.
“They also explained the concept of HIV stigma, and that HIV and AIDS are two different things. And that HIV is not a death sentence.”
He said that he left the appointment with “more life-saving information than I ever received in all my years of private school education.”
Picardi said his Christian education was responsible for his previous ignorance.
“You see, my Catholic school was guilty of endangering all of us by sheer omission of FACTS. EDUCATION doesn’t equal ENCOURAGEMENT.
“Multiple studies have shown abstinence-only sex-ed is linked to higher rates of STIs and teen pregnancies,” he pointed out.
“TBH, it is IRRESPONSIBLE. How can you possibly expect teenagers to practice safe sex if they don’t know what’s at risk?
How can you expect young women to not get pregnant without access to reproductive health care?”
He then accused those who have condemned the guide of giving voice to hatred, saying: “The backlash to this article is rooted in homophobia.
“It’s also laced in arcane delusion about what it means to be a young person today.
“If I had today’s @TeenVogue and @VeraPapisova when I was a teen, I would have been so much safer and better off.”
He added that not educating teens about LGBT sex and love was doing those children “a dangerous and potentially lethal disservice”.
“Gen Z will be our queerest and most fearless generation yet,” he added, finishing with his own, rainbow-tinged version of dropping the mic.