When the United States repealed the 18th Amendment in 1933, alcohol was finally legal. People were swarming the newly-opened bars and rolling barrels of beer through the streets. In the Summer of Love 1967, youth cultures gathered in San Francisco to cast off conservative values and experiment with sex and drugs.
Though our 2021 context is entirely different, we are poised to share similar collective experiences of jubilation.
After more than a year of virtual concerts, conferences and classes, glimpses of “normal” life continue to dance around our yearning minds. Tinder bios now read “fully vaccinated,” like an adoptable puppy. I can finally hug my friends without worries in a flash of optimism. Our hopes for herd immunity grow as COVID-19 cases on college campuses dwindle. It feels like we are edging a turning point to this pandemic. A post-COVID world seems in sight but I assure you, it will not be normal.
Like the counterculture movements of the 1960s, something has been brewing, forced underground by pandemic. It will be a seuxal revolution. We are likely to make up for lost time and shed our inhibitions when we can safely let loose again. Central Park strangers will put flowers in each other’s hair, lighting up a newly legalized joint and making out to the first shows of live music. The kinksters in quarantine will emerge from their bedrooms to dance in the streets. The risk-adverse nature of the past will turn upside down as we now have an excuse to fuck. Staying in to watch Netflix seems less and less appealing when we can relentlessly seek out social interaction, and with social interaction comes sex.
People may be humping like rabbits this summer, but there isn’t going to be a baby boom. Couples are wary of bringing new life into this world given the economic stressors caused by the virus. Instead of babies, I predict that a surge of STDs will come from the Summer of Love 2021 as the Sexual Health Hub warns that increasingly potent strains of gonorrhoea will erupt.
The thought of locking lips with strangers might still make me aire on the side of caution. We are not out of the storm despite our new visions of utopia. Even if our populations become 100% vaccinated, we can’t throw all caution to the wind with our sexual health. COVID risks may decrease, but chlamydia risks will not. Besides Pfizer, the Hepatitis B vaccine should also be the rage this Summer of STDs. Get tested for COVID, but also for HIV.
Even the 1967 Summer of Love had to turn into Autumn, and many were left disillusioned with the hippie movement when drug addiction and sexual assault lingered past the idyllic promise of paradise. We can escape the same fate if we practice safe sex, but we cannot deny the feeling of shared catharsis might lie just over the horizon. It will be a Summer of Love and Reconnection, but hopefully not STDs.
Anya Neeze is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to [email protected]. Boink! runs during alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester.