When people ask me when and how I lost my virginity, I often struggle to find an answer. Depending on how you define it, I’ve got several answers:
1. If it’s when I popped my cherry, I lost it at 18 to a carrot (well, actually, a carefully selected batch of carrots in increasing gradations – sexy, eh?)
2. If it’s when someone else who wasn’t me explored the Hobbit Hole, it’s when I was nearly 19
3. And if it’s when the P went in the V, we’re talking 21
By my calculation,
I’ve lost my virginity 3 times,
but when I broach the subject, most people only seem to think I lost my virginity at 21. Carrots aside (as sexy as those hunky vegetables were), it confuses me that apparently not all of my firsts ‘count’. It seems that, despite the world changing quite a bit over the past few decades, virginity is still stuck in the past, often following a very specific, vanilla and hetero definition. A part of me can’t help wondering that if I hadn’t happened to sleep with people of another gender for any of my firsts, the world would still consider me a virgin. Which would be just plain ridiculous.
This is an issue LGBTQ+ folks face all the time: lesbians getting the “but what do you do?” invasive questions about their sex lives, or being told they haven’t really had sex until they’ve had a penis. For bi folks, add onto that another layer entirely that these attitudes invalidate some of your partners, and not others, and it creates a bizarre hierarchy as a result.
For example, imagine having been in a loving same-sex relationship for a large part of your adult life, full of hot, passionate, delicious sexual adventures. Sounds great, huh? Now imagine 20 years later, you’re no longer together (insert dramatic story arc here), and you have the most appallingly bad rebound hook-up with a human who has different genitals to you. Guess what, folks? According to a lot of society, you only just lost your virginity – the last 20 years didn’t count, sorry about it!
As a bi person, we have a hard enough time convincing the world to take our relationships seriously, and not consider them ‘a phase’ or ‘not making our minds up’. The fact that our sex lives are also under threat of this weird judgement means there’s only one solution, in my opinion:
virginity as a concept needs to go firmly in the bin, for good.
Let’s face it, it’s outdated at the best of times. It’s often based on anatomically incorrect ideas (lots of people’s hymens break long before they ever even think about sex), it falsely sets up an idea of sex as the opposite of innocence, and it adds shame to the equation. We shouldn’t feel ashamed about something that’s perfectly natural, perfectly normal, and let’s face it, pretty damn awesome as well.
So let’s throw virginity in the bin. Does that mean I think everybody should be throwing caution to the wind and having sex left, right and centre? Absolutely not. There will be some people who don’t want to have sex yet, or even ever, and that’s perfectly great and fine and dandy (high five, ace siblings). I’m just suggesting that we don’t give those people an extra achievement badge of ‘virgin’, and rather just accept that people will explore or not explore as they’re comfortable with. The first time you try anything, you’re bound to remember it (for better or worse) and it’ll shape part of your ideas around that thing. But that doesn’t mean it deserves a special label.
So greedy as it is, I’m going to cherish all three of my ‘virginity’ memories, and probably add a few more as I get older – I’m just not going to call them that. They’re just new experiences, like any other, and no one type of sex is going to count for more or less. For me, as silly as it sounds, the carrots are as much as part of my journey into sex as the humans – I had fun, I tried something new, and it’s a fun memory about how I first explored my sexuality. Frankly, that’s all that matters to me, which is all that should matter as far as my experiences go.
Note: no carrots were harmed in the making of this article – but if you ever catch me smiling wistfully walking up the vegetable aisle in Sainsbury’s, now you know why…
Written by Maddie Jones