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Of the rising young stars of the late 00s, Demi Lovato stood out the least for me. At that time, Miley Cyrus was probably the standout, and Selena Gomez had plenty of success too. Both Miley and Selena had their respective Disney shows, which I didn't watch because I was certainly too old for it, but their music did register well. Miranda Cosgrove also released a few great hits that made quite an impression, even though I was really WAY too old to appreciate iCarly. Demi, on the other hand, never really hit my radar in any way.

Fast forward five years. Amongst her peers, Demi is now the one I most respect. This is especially true after Selena did Springbreakers and the 'new Miley' happened. She's the 'last one standing' of the three from Disney, really. But that's not the whole story. She's come through a tough time in life, and is now using her experience to help others. She's speaking out about the reality of drug addiction, whilst the rest of Hollywood just pretends that there isn't an issue about that. She's doing some important work out there, in other words.
Not too long ago, the message of abstinence was everywhere in mainstream media. It was very common for celebrities to claim to be virgins who were dedicated to abstinence until marriage or similar commitment. There was this idea of abstinence being cool.

And then, it seemed that it was no longer 'cool' in the same way. Celebrities hardly mention it these days, it seems.

The thing is, encouraging people to choose abstinence because it is 'cool' is pointless. Things are cool one day and 'so uncool' the next. We choose abstinence for good reasons. We believe in stable, healthy families, and that requires children only be potentially born into committed families. In turn, a committed family can only exist when two people are committed to spending the rest of their lives together, when they agree not to walk away just because they don't feel like being together anymore. It's not foolproof, and some marriages do turn sour, but it's at least something we should try for, I believe.

And if you believe in the above, it appears that the only situation where those conditions are reliably achieved is with a vow of abstinence until marriage or similar commitment. Sometimes this vow may be made to look 'cool', sometimes it may be informed by religious views and sometimes not, but the most important thing is the reasoning behind it, I believe. (Note that we don't judge others who don't believe or live the same way as we do, but it's great to openly discuss and celebrate our cultural lifestyle, right?)

However, there is still one more barrier we have to overcome. There are sadly plenty of people in the community who see those promoting abstinence as fundamentalist religious bigots or moronic ultraconservatives. And I guess you wouldn't be able to blame them, with a lot of abstinence education being carried out by homophobic right wing religious groups.

The point we should make is that we believe in abstinence until marriage or similar commitment, we live our lives according to this belief, we support each other in living this belief, and we are happy to share this belief with others. This, however, doesn't mean we think that everyone who doesn't believe and live this way are somehow less 'moral' than us. People live differently for different reasons, and whilst celebrating and promoting our own culture and lifestyle, we cannot really judge others'.

For this very reason, I believe the way abstinence only education is run is actually bringing abstinence a bad name. We need to reclaim the abstinence movement: it's a cultural belief that we share, not a judgement on the rest of the world.

p.s. What about gay people, some have asked me. This abstinence reasoning is mainly based on heterosexual relationships, but in the spirit of societal-wide equality, all abstinence movements should warmly welcome gay people too. If there should be equality in marriage, there really should be equality in abstinence too! Besides, there are many other benefits to the vow of abstinence, for both straight and gay people alike.
An article appeared recently on Salon criticising the popular movie series The Hunger Games, as well as the new movie Divergent. It basically said that both movies glorify individualism and personal liberty, and therefore are panegyrics to capitalism.

I really don't agree there. There's more to individualism and personal liberty than capitalism. One can even be a libertarian socialist, right? Our generation remains divided on the left-right economic spectrum. But one thing almost all of us can agree is that the government has no business in regulating the behaviour of individuals where it doesn't hurt others. That's why no matter where we come from, the majority of us support things like legal euthanasia, decriminalising marijuana, and the freedom to marry for everyone (I personally go further to support marriage privatization). I personally am on the traditionalist side of my generation, and yet I proudly support all the above.

The basic lesson: our generation likes the idea of individualism. Socialist and capitalist alike, we support freedom. The glorification of individualism and personal liberty is not necessarily tied to consumerism for us, and does not exist only in capitalist circles. It's not 1974 anymore.
Ellen Page's very public coming out last month provoked lots of responses. Most of it was supportive, but some of it was not.

Recently, she decided to reply to a pastor who was not supportive. "Being gay isn’t a belief," she tweeted.

I think she put it very well here. I actually can't believe that in this day and age there are still people who believe being gay can be a choice. It's a ridiculous idea, like thinking the Earth is flat. Whilst we need to be respectful of different opinions and ideologies, I don't think we need to entertain seriously the idea that the Earth is flat, when there is plenty enough evidence that this isn't the case, right?

However, I do have to say that I don't agree with the other part of the tweet, where she said "I don’t want arms of Heavenly Father around me.A girls arms? Yes." I think that was quite impolite of her. Whatever one's religious beliefs, one must be able to show they respect others' religious beliefs too.
Today, Thought Catalogue published the first article I ever wrote for them. It's titled 'In This New Day And Age, Everyone Can Be Special. It’s Our Choice'. It's something I really believe in, so I think all my friends should at least check it out. I don't think I can repost the content here because of their site's terms, but you can check out the whole article on their site.

You should check it out here.

Please share it on Facebook and Twitter too, using the handy buttons they provide.