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How do we not run this on NSFW day? Going back to 2010, going back to gay sex. -ed.

When the powers-that-be decided that April (seems forever a go) would be declared Sex Month at Brightest Young Things, I was overjoyed. As it happens, I belong to that class of folks that, rightly or wrongly, for better or worse, is defined by sex. Or rather, who we have sex with.

But when BYT ran its fantastic documentation of the various and sundry ways  in which we lose our virginity, from the dirty to the mundane to the embarrassing, I realized that I couldn’t really define when I lost mine. It got me thinking, always a dangerous thing to do.

America is obsessed with sex: who’s having it, when, with whom, how and why.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvWWxk_uhpE&feature=related

Whether people are decrying it or celebrating it, it’s ubiquitous. But for some of us, “sex” is a little bit harder to define. I couldn’t pick out the moment I lost my virginity because sex between two girls can be pretty different from hetero sex. And even when the question was posed to my gay friends, the answer varied slightly for each.

As a form of self-indulgence and as tribute to Sex Month, I decided to delve a bit deeper and interview the people who could tell me the most about queer (and here I’m using queer as an umbrella term to describe the general LGBTQ etc. population) sex. To do that, I asked them about losing their virginity. What follows here is my musings on the subject, interspersed with some pretty fucking hilarious stories and some touching ones. Fair warning, if you’re squeamish about graphic descriptions, go ahead and read Uncle Bucket instead. But if you’re curious about the gay/queer sexual experience, or if you’re already intimately familiar and want to revel in it, read on.

(Disclaimer(s): Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. Also this is not intended to be representative of the whole community. Duh, since there is not a single person over thirty interviewed here.)

What quickly became apparent is that a) to my surprise I learned that I have a LOT of “goldstar” gay friends (homos who have never slept with someone of the opposite sex) and b) the queers are way more well-adjusted than some right wingers would have you believe.

Take C. for example. C. is a 25-year-old gay male who works for a nonprofit in DC.

BYT: Can you pinpoint the time when you lost your virginity?
C: Throughout adolescence I had been with boys and girls but I never really had sex until I was 20 and that was with my first boyfriend. And full on sex I identify as penetrative, anal sex.

BYT: Do you define for you as being penetrated or doing the deed?
C: I’m more of a pitcher than a catcher.

A little bit of context on that. Always in the back of my mind I concocted an idea that it’s an awful rite of passage, you’re going to have to be the receptive partner, you’re going to hate it, it’s what you have to do. When I found out it was much more complementary than that, my whole outlook changed. When I discovered there’s passion, it’s not a chore for someone to get off.

BYT: And you remember the exact time it happened?
C: Oh yeah, I remember it really clearly because this was the guy I had loved. I had really wanted to be with him. It was the whole thing was exciting. We were both in school together and we both liked each other but didn’t know it for a long time, all that stuff.

BYT: Cute. Now I have to say, the stereotype is that gay men go at it like crazy. How long had you dated before you did the dirty?
C: Probably six weeks. I won’t paint a picture that it was many months or a year but yeah, we waited six to eight weeks.

So this gay man was in a loving, committed relationship before doing it. And he treated losing his virginity the same way a straight dude might (mechanically speaking, anyway). He penetrated his partner. BAM. No more V-card. Seems simple enough.

But for the lesbians and genderqueers who dated women, the definition became a bit murkier. In fact, A., a 27-year-old, “genderqueer lady lover” who works for a religious nonprofit here in DC had to come up a system with their first girlfriend before they considered their sex-cherry to have been popped.

BYT: Did you ever date/have sex with bioboys?
A: No sex with bio boys. I lost my virginity my first semester of college with my first girlfriend. It was a baby dyke’s dream. I came out at the end of high school to my parents, met my girlfriend very early on in college. Both of us were virgins though we dated boys in high school, so when we started dating we had this conversation about when we would lose our virginity to each other. We were already making out and had probably already had ‘sex’. But losing one’s virginity… we needed a system

BYT: Clearly. Because of the ‘sex’ in quotes.
A: Right. So we developed a 5 point system, some of which were related to the physical acts, others of which were related to the atmosphere and what we wanted to happen in the moment. Here they are – are you ready for this?
1. We both had to come (duh) 2. We both had to be naked (not really an issue) 3. Oral sex had to be involved for both partners  – something we were just delving into as baby gays…pun intended. 4. The event had to happen at night. And finally the last point, the one truly revelatory of our baby gay status –  5. In terms of any back ground music that was to be involved, Melissa Ferrick’s song “drive” had to be on the playlist.

BYT: [Cracking up] Duh!
A: The day we lost our virginity, October 31 2001 involved all of the elements.

BYT: Halloween!
A: Ohhh yes. Then we got dressed up as a frat boy and a sorostitute and made our way to the festivities.

BYT: Nicely done. So your definition did not involve penetration?
A: No. Oral sex was our defining factor. That was the exotic thing to us and what made us definitively ‘lesbians’. We didn’t have any reference points. And we hadn’t dated or kissed anyone before each other so I think that we kind of affirmed who we were through the intimacy we had with each other. I am SO glad, looking back that I got to define what it meant to lose my virginity. I feel incredibly lucky.

BYT: That sounds pretty great. I think that’s one of the more interesting parts about kids who are coming out as queer before they have hetero sex. They get to sort of define the act for themselves.
A: Exactly. And we wanted to make it an experience something to note, something that was fully ours and not oriented around a heteronormative classification of sex.

Straight readers take note: tons of queers lose their virginity in college just like you did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzg4U5FOG2I&feature=related

This was actually a common theme in about half the interview. Take F., for instance, a 24-year-old queer lesbian organizer who dated a sorority girl in college. And yes, she was the president.

F: So I know generally when it was and I think it was in my twin bed dorm room. I don’t actually remember THE first time. And everyone’s like “Yes you do!” and I’m like “No, I really don’t.” It’s all sort of a blur. I think… why is that? Maybe we had a lot of sex… Maybe twin beds weren’t made for fucking.

BYT: So what would you define as sex then?
F: Sigh. Lesbians. Um… sex for lesbians.

BYT: My question is – sex is defined differently for lesbians so how then do you know when you’ve lost your virginity?
F: Great question. I guess I would say this. Lesbian sex looks a lot like everything but intercourse for straight people. A lot like it. Usually better… but a lot like it. So I guess if that’s the definition we’re going to use then I lost it way before that. I think lesbian sex is not definable actually. It takes so many forms.

This is how my roommate tells it to me. “So I walk into the room and I see your hand coming out of your bed and then two bras on the floor. One of them is not yours. And then I walked out.”

BYT: Ha! Two bras, bad sign.
F: Great sign! What are you talking about? She was just off message.

BYT: Did you have sex with her in the sorority house?
F: Oh yes. It was like, I can’t believe I’m in a fucking sorority suite… fucking!

Although some queers get down with a girlfriend or boyfriend or personfriend in their too-tall, not-wide-enough dorm room twin bed, still others were trying to figure out exactly what they wanted in the first place. Like any savvy shopper, M., a 24 year-old gay male turned to the internet.

BYT: What do you consider losing your virginity?
M: When I had sex with a man. Mine happened my freshman year of college when I was still “straight”. I met him online. I don’t remember if it was Craigslist or Gay.com or what. He was much older – I was 18 he was 35-37? He had me pick him up from downtown. We stopped at Jack in the Box. I drove him back to my dorm and snuck him into my room. He put on porn and started moving around, got naked, started going at it. He tried to top me and I was like, that’s not gonna happen, take it out. So I topped him and he loved it. Then I drove him home. And he lives up in this really nice area and he asks if I want to come in.

Turns out he lives with two other people, including this senile old woman who had a dog or a poodle or something so we have to be all quiet. So we go inside and have sex in his room. And he’s telling me to be quiet. It’s my first time having gay sex and I’m like “aaaah! I’m in someone’s random house!” Later he walks me out and we get to the front door and I hear the woman open the door and say “Hey is that… insert whatever his name was…” And he tells me to go to my car and wait. So he comes running out in his bathroom. He is talking to me and I’m thinking I need to go home, and he’s saying “call me later” and I’m like “yeah yeah yeah” and I left and never called him again.

BYT: Why was that?
M: Because I wasn’t “gay” yet.  And we never hooked up again.

BYT: How long did it take you to come out after that?
M: Probably about a year.

BYT: Did you have sex again between that time and the time you came out?
M: I met another boy online who ended coming over but we didn’t do anything because I didn’t think he was cute so I sent him on his way. So no.

The internet has increasingly become to the queer community what bars and flagging (or the handkerchief code) used to be. It’s a beautiful, possibly dangerous, but anonymous space that allows people to advertise exactly what they want, and when they want it.

W., a 25-year-old queer transguy involved in advocacy work, used it when he started to have sex with gay men. And in a sense, W. has had many “firsts” when it comes to sex. Of course, that makes it trickier to explain in mixed company. For the most part, society has dictated that you only have one virginity to lose. But for many queer folks, it’s far more nuanced than that.

Me: So let’s start with this question: can you pinpoint when you lost your virginity?
W: I can pin point the first time I had lesbian sex/ sex with a women for sure. And as for the first time I had gayish sex  – I’m not sure what to call it – sex with a man. The first time with a woman I was 15 she was a senior and I was a freshman. Her name was Annette, we had been dating for a few months.

As for boys, there had been fooling around in group sex but I think I count a Craigslist hook up as my first time with a guy. I was 24, it was 6am. He was on his way to the gym and cheating on his boyfriend.

BYT: Oh wow. Getting an EARLY start on the day
W: Yup. He went to the gym. I showered and went to work.

BYT: Nice. Ok, so if someone asked you “when did you lose your virginity” just like that, without qualifying it as gay/straight/queer, what would you say? Would it be the time when you were 15? Or do you try to explain both?
W: It’s a tricky one because I usually try to give an answer that reflects my sexual experience. Come to think of it there isn’t really an accurate way for me to answer because I also sleep with trans people. I feel like when people ask that question of a queer person they are sometime also asking, “How long have you been queer?” or “What kind of queer are you?” Sometimes people try to define sexuality by sexual history.

BYT: Right. The question is so interesting because it has a lot of implications. A lot of interviews I’ve done so far have actually been with folks who came out fairly early in life so they identify as gay now and define losing their virginity as having been with a partner of the same gender
W: That makes sense. I don’t think it used to be that way. I think it was even more common for people to have been married with families then come out. People are surprised that I didn’t stay “gold-star” or would choose later on to have sex with male bodied people.

BYT: Makes you think the term virginity is antiquated when it comes to queer folks.
W: Right, and I think the issue is really how sex is defined. It’s kind of cool that queer people have to define sex for themselves. I like to say I’m queer and when people ask what that means I like to say that I sleep with/ am attracted to hot people.

The moral here is that queer folks are often confronted by misunderstanding when they get into conversations about sex with straight people. Sometimes, even good friends can surprise queer folks when they fail to stick to the expectations built for them.

H., a 28-year-old lesbian Fed encountered this when she attempted to have sex with a guy for the first time.

BYT: So can you pipoint for me when you would say you lost your virginity?
H: I can. I was 24 so I was older than most. And I had been very newly seeing a girl after not dating for several years and she was very cute and nice and felt comfortable so things just sort of flowed naturally and I found myself going down into territory I had never really explored before.

BYT: Had you fooled around with her before that one particular instance?
H: Yes.

BYT: So your defining moment was that you went down on her?
H: That and the first orgasm I ever really had which was also her. This was after several times of hooking up without getting an orgasm. When that first real one happened I went into that high afterwards and I was sort of lying there and she curled up with me and put her head on the pillow and I said “I feel like I’m on the beach right now.” So maybe those two in combination are how I remember my first experiences.

BYT: Have you ever encountered people saying “you’ve never really lost your virginity.”
H: Ironically, 6 months ago I hooked up with a guy for the first time. And it wasn’t until then that my friends said, oh you lost your v-card, you lost your goldstar. And it was kind of odd because I didn’t feel like I lost either one of those. Because I don’t define what I did with him as losing either one.

BYT: And why is that?
H: I guess because for me we didn’t have traditional hetero intercourse… being penis-in-vagina (hand motions).  We may have tried. However… it didn’t work out as intended. Thusly, I feel, that I still have both my goldstar and my “hetero” v-card. Though not my homo v-card.

And then there’s the issue that is emerging in the queer community of how exactly “queer sex” is defined. When I first asked my friend V., a 24-year-old queer working for a DC think tank, about losing his “queer virginity,” he took it in a direction I hadn’t even considered.

V: So you’re asking what is losing queer virginity? Like having sex queerly?

BYT: First of all, did you ever have sex with a girl?
V: No.

BYT: So when did you consider it losing your virginity? Was it when you gave a guy a blow job? Got a hand job? Had butt sex?
V: Well if we break down queer theory in its three core tenants:  thinking about identity or ways or being or living that doesn’t rely on essentialist identity politics; Anything that’s non-normative, so on the fringe of contemporary culture; And thinking about pleasure in non-normative ways or unessentialist ways. So queer sex – could be sex in public or S&M or any and all of those variations that aren’t merely missionary position. But you can have non-queer sex with two dudes or two women.

BYT: Oh, so like “vanilla” sex. But that’s still pretty queer to a lot of people.
V: Yes, but to a lot of people in the LGBT community, that’s sort of standard.

BYT: That’s pretty interesting that gay sex can become so normative within the queer community that it’s not considered “queer” anymore.  Well so you define losing your virginity as bottoming?
V: Yes. But I don’t know if I’ve had a “queer” sexual experience.

BYT: But you identify as queer…
V: Yes

BYT: and you’ve had sex
V: Yes.

BYT: But you don’t define that as queer sex?
V: I identify as queer because of the political consciousness associated with a queer body. That’s not something you can tell about someone offhand who you’re having sex with. It’s not like the guy that’s giving you a blowjob magically knows about queer liberation now.

BYT: Maybe he does and you just never asked because your dick was in his mouth. “Hey guy, what do you think?” [muffled answer]

J., a 24-year-old genderqueer activist who has had sex with just about every gender variation under the sun, explained queer sex through the lens of BDSM.

J: So I first lost my virginity to Russell. And he was a gay boy. He knew he was gay and I knew I was kind of interested in women but we were also interested in each other. It was kind of an exploring each other kind of a thing. That was when I lost my virginity which I consider to be pretty queer since I was with a gay man. And then for queer sex…

BYT: OK, and here’s the thing I’m interested in, which maybe you can speak to, which is that for people who identify as lesbians, or dykes or female-bodied queers, it’s a tougher one, right? Because there’s this whole idea of penetration that maybe doesn’t happen in those relationships but maybe you’ve had sex.
J: Oh yeah! So I was having tons of sex. So I guess you’re really looking for the definition of sex.

BYT: Yeah.
J: So when I manually stimulate someone, when I finger somebody’s clitoris that’s sex. Or when I suck on it, that’s sex. I actually really was having sex for years before I was actually penetrated by fingers. I had a string of boyfriends who I had sex with… “sex,” whatever… they were using me as a hole basically. But I wasn’t getting off and I wasn’t enjoying it so it wasn’t really sex.

BYT: Was it sex if you weren’t orgasming?
J: Well queer theory would say it could be. Because queer sex is about doing whatever is pleasurable. Sometimes that’s the journey and not the orgasm. Like all the BDSM sex I have… when I’m the top I’m not having an orgasm and I don’t like to stimulate people when I’m engaging in BDSM with them. The whole thing for me is beating them up or giving them pain and then bringing them to a place where they don’t recognize themselves anymore and that’s the climax. And then you take care of them afterwards.

You don’t even know the places you can go when your endorphins and the adrenaline and the pain…

BYT: That’s called rugby.
J: No, this is different. It’s concentrated pain. I want to control the pain… but I guess that’s really mindsex.

So there you have it. Sex, in the queer world, is less of an anatomical dance and more that which gives the people involved pleasure. And it’s how they decide to define it. In this respect, the definition of “being a virgin” is a pretty loose one. Ironic, huh?

And finally, there’s S., a 27-year-old lesbian active in DC nightlife who, despite having had lots of sex, preferred to tell me about her theory of re-virgination. We created an equation to explain the amount of time that must past before it’s been so long since you’ve had sex that you are considered, yet again, a virgin [V(t)]. It is laid out below in all its glory. Enjoy.

VEquation

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