Breanna, 23 What does losing your virginity mean to you? Plus, my first sexual experience was with a woman, so it almost felt like I was bypassing that rule, which made it seem less legitimate, which of course now I realize is completely false. Not having intercourse with a penis doesn't mean that sexual intimacy is invalid.
Did the dialogue change once you came out to them? Sex was not something we ever talked about. I had sex education in my public school and was taught in church that sex before marriage was wrong. This still stands within their values, so the dialogue regarding sex and virginity has stayed the same: I was taught that sex before marriage is wrong, but I was also taught that I would marry a man.
Thus, my institutionalized idea of what sex was and what it means to be a virgin was that having intercourse with a man would be how I lost my virginity. However, as I've felt more validated in my sexuality, my sexual experiences have been validated. It was also part of the beginning of my journey of coming into my own sexuality, which is undeniably part of my identity. I feel like it's used to shame people for having sex, and to put undue pressure on the first time you have sex.
It makes it seem like the first time you have sex you 'lose' something that you can never get back, which I don't believe. It's also a concept that is constantly used in purity culture to slut-shame people, and I really, really disagree with that.
With that said, if you believe in losing your virginity, I think that you should define what that means for yourself. I think that it should be a personal thing.
My parents are very religious, and the idea of saving sex for marriage is really important to them. They definitely had conversations with me about it, about how important they believed waiting was. My mom especially is very serious about it. They also bought me a purity ring and expected me to wear it when I was in high school. I thought it was BS, but I wore it anyway. My mom was really bummed when she noticed that I had stopped wearing it. I think my parents' messages about sex and dating changed after I came out.
My dad used to talk to me about dating sometimes; he hasn't mentioned it at all since I came out. My mom used to be really open and want to talk about sex; after I came out, her messages totally changed. Every time she had the chance, she told me that she was so glad that I wasn't dating anyone in college, and that I probably shouldn't date anyone at all for all four years. It kind of sucks, because, essentially, she's just happy I'm not dating girls, but won't say that out loud.
We don't really talk about virginity and sex anymore. I think they realize I'm kind of a lost cause. You rarely see queer women on TV at all — seeing them talking about virginity would honestly be a miracle. It would be so cool to see that, though. I just want more queer women on TV talking about everything. I think before I knew I was queer, I just thought of it as penetrative, heterosexual sex.
That was what 'sex' was, according to my religious community and my family, and that was all I knew. Now, I know that sex is a lot more than that. And I also know that virginity is pretty irrelevant. When I was younger, the idea of 'losing my virginity' was pretty important to me, because in my community, it was something huge. But I've realized now that it isn't a big thing, and I honestly believe that seeing it as a big thing is kind of toxic. It's used by 'purity culture' to slut-shame people and to make people ashamed of their sexuality, and I'm over it.
But now, I realize that it really isn't, and that realization takes off so much pressure. I don't have to define what I experience or make it a big thing — and I love that. For straight women, it seems more straightforward, but sex for lesbians can mean a lot of things.
There was never a time when I was engaged in a sexual act with another woman and thought, This is it! She's swiping my V-card! At the time, I didn't realize that I was gay, but I did know that I had zero interest in having sex with a man.
I remember talking to my mom about it and saying, 'I don't get why they make it sound like it's so hard to save yourself for marriage. That sounds really easy,' and my mom was like 'It's not. And the older you get, the harder it will be to stay a virgin. There's a Canadian show called Bomb Girls that alludes to one of the closeted lesbians losing her virginity they kiss before, and then there's a cut to them giving each other foot massages after something obviously went down.
I think it's rarely overtly discussed, even on shows with prominent gay characters, and that's probably because virginity is a gray area for lesbians.
Did losing your virginity feel momentous at the time? The more momentous thing for me was the first time I kissed a woman, because that was more of the thing that you're 'not supposed to do,' even though you want to and know it'll be awesome. Everything else after that was just different ways to give and receive pleasure, with no one way being THE milestone.
It's a made-up concept. It's a completely arbitrary set of values imposed on women by a patriarchy in order to place value on their sexual worth. Think about it — what is virginity, really? Is it the first time someone touched your genitals with their bare skin?
Is it the first time you came? If so, some mothers are virgins. Does it count if you were raped? Does it count if it was oral? Such concepts have no place in my life or community as a queer woman. At eight, I was convinced I was no longer a virgin, because a male classmate had touched my waist a little too low by accident, in passing. At 12, I was convinced that I had already lost my immortal soul simply by fantasizing about kissing my crushes — sinning in the mind is the same as sinning in the flesh, as they say.
At 14, I began having panic attacks because I had dreams of sleeping with my best friend. There has been no talk of virginity or otherwise, and attempts at joking are quickly hushed. Especially with lesbian content, because lesbians and queer women are so fetishized by men, the content is made specifically with a male audience in mind.
The lens through which queer female stories are told in this context is inherently flawed. As such, the stories very rarely feel authentic. As a child and teen, virginity was very much a part of how I identified my self-worth. As I began to realize that virginity is extremely vague, within and especially outside of a straight relationship, I began to question the concept itself.
Twelve years after coming out, much of which was spent in absolute torment, I know better than to place that kind of value on my sexual experiences.
The idea of my virginity was owned by my church and my family, placed upon me unwillingly, and I have since left it behind with them and never looked back. My parents were very conservative, and sex that was not between two heterosexual people was not even presented as an option.
So I still relate the idea of 'losing your virginity' with penetration of some sort. Our conversations about virginity have been few and far between. However, even after the first time I told my mother that I was in love with a girl, there was always an unspoken assumption that I was and would remain a virgin.
I'm still in the process of understanding my sexuality, and I find it extremely important to have role models and representation that I can look to for some guidance. Although I've never really found many role models in traditional media, I've had much better luck with creators like Hannah Hart on YouTube.
People like her make the whole experience much more relatable. Because of the way I was raised, I still intend to wait until marriage. However, I used to associate the idea of 'losing your virginity' with the inverse — a male taking it from you. I now view sex for the first time as less of giving up something from yourself and more of a consensual act between two people.