A year ago, a conservative revolution was born in the throbbing heart of liberal Cambridge: a True Love Revolution (TLR), that is. Harvard couple Sarah Kinsella and Justin Murray embarked on a campus-wide campaign to promote abstinence. Through mailings, ice-cream socials, and editorials in the Crimson, they urged their classmates to wait until marriage to have sex, lest they feel cheapened, objectified, or hurt (blue balls aside). Today, for the more than 100 student members of TLR, love means never having to say, “Your dorm or mine?”
College has always been a petri dish for sexual rebirth. Let’s face it, at a dimly lit kegger, even the most timid soul can fling aside his emo glasses and get lucky. On a national level, 71 percent of college students report being sexually active. These base instincts don’t discriminate: it seems that, when it comes to loin-locking, even the brilliant minds at Harvard turn to horny mush.
According to Justin, Harvard’s sex-ed freshman orientation events cater to the majority, treating sexual activity as a forgone conclusion — on par with hangovers, say, and the freshman fifteen. TLR acknowledges an alternate reality, and its founders practice what they preach. Justin and Sarah, now in Washington, DC, are saving themselves for marriage (and yes, they do hope to marry one another).
This past Valentine’s Day, the TLR crowd made themselves known with greetings stuffed in student mailboxes. “Why wait?” the cards read. “Because you’re worth it. Yours, True Love Revolution.” The flip side to being “worth it” is, of course, being “worthless.” Students took exception to the implication. Undergraduate Rachel Singh editorialized in the Crimson: “It’s a symptom of that culture we have that values a woman on her purity. It’s a relic.” People took sides online and at overcrowded dinner debates, and eventually the couple was even accompanied on a date by the New York Times.
Leo Keliher ’10 and Janie Fredell ’09 — a purely platonic duo — took the helm this year, and, heathen that I am, I didn’t know quite what to expect as I scurried across Harvard Square to meet them at Za. Bible-thumping dwarves wielding chastity belts? I took great care to dress appropriately — sensible button-down, pressed jeans, wholesome smile — but I just knew they’d smell impurity on me, the way dogs can smell fear. I straightened my posture and stepped inside, where I came face to face with two smiling, texting undergrads.
Janie is a slight, bubbly person; Leo’s a brooding chap with a boyish face. “I looked around campus, and it seemed like people were so lonely,” Janie tells me as we sit down to tea. “And the correlation between loneliness and being instrumentalized, not knowing how to care about someone else — like, truly in a relationship — like, seeing yourself as a physical entity as opposed to an entire person, that’s really what compelled me to be active — actively abstinent.”
She’s in a long-distance relationship; her boyfriend, who is “so supportive,” goes to Georgetown. Leo is single, but he speaks with the world-weary tone of a guy who’s been around the block.