Like a virgin… twice: losing your virginity to both genders
I blew my high school years in pursuit of one girl. It seems comical now, that my 13-year-old self met the girl of my dreams and spent the next five or so years pining after her. That, along with general shyness and being the only out lesbian at my high school and college meant I stayed single (and virginal) until after I’d finished school. I was ok with this, because lets face it: losing your virginity is a big deal. It’s a big deal because we’re told it’s a big deal. Every movie or TV show about teenagers seems to be accompanied with a story about losing your virginity. It’s a subject endlessly obsessed over with friends and avoided by parents.
I was lucky/unlucky enough to lose my virginity twice.
Sure, I consider myself a lesbian. But I also don’t make any secret of the fact I’ve slept with guys. When I was 18 I had sex with a guy for the first time; when I was 19, I had my first time with a girl. Two first times. Double the excitement, double the nervousness, double the awkward head clashes. Everyone’s experiences with first times are different. And boy, were those two first times different for me.
There are various reasons for this. Although I slept with a guy first, if I talk about losing my virginity I automatically talk about the first time I had sex with a woman. It means more to me than when I first had sex with a guy. It wasn’t so much the sex itself as opposed to how I felt about it – I think a lot of straight people would be surprised at how similar lesbian sex and heterosexual sex actually are. There is of course one less ‘appendage’ involved, but on the whole they are quite alike. I’m always surprised at the number of straight people that ask me how lesbians have sex. They seem to think there is some kind of secret act that only lesbians know – something exciting and exotic. I almost feel like I’m letting people down when I explain that lesbian sex and straight sex aren’t that different.
Due to the fact lesbian sex doesn’t include the act of intercourse, there’s a lot of contention as to what actually constitutes sex. We have no intercourse equivalent, so sex is in the eye of the beholder. My stance is usually ‘if you think you just had sex… then you probably just had sex.’ I think for a lot of women it comes down to the emotional side as well as the physical act. It sounds “girly” to talk about the emotions involved in sex (and there are often a lot of emotions when two women get together!) but I believe that sex with someone you don’t have feelings for seems a lot less satisfying than sex with someone you do. Both my first times were good because they were with people I was emotionally involved with (although in the case of the guy we were just friends), so the sex meant more to me. I trusted them to take care of me, which they both did.
All this talk of virginity makes me wonder why it’s such a big deal. I suppose it’s a rite of passage/coming of age thing. Sure, teenagers can party and be debaucherous, but when they start having sex, it’s as though they’ve reached adulthood. Some people hit that milestone way too early. I waited until I was ready to have sex, and I’m glad I did. I don’t regret sleeping with a guy – if I hadn’t, I’d always be wondering if I was missing out on something amazing. Though I have to admit, I’ve subsequently decided I’m happier sticking with women. As for the virginity thing, there were no bells or streamers either time I lost mine. They were moments in time – they pass, you wonder what the next milestone will be. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared both times, but who wasn’t nervous when they lost their virginity? I still feel that anxiety now when I sleep with someone for the first time. Sex is always different with each person you sleep with, whether they’re a guy or a girl. When you have sex with someone new, you’re learning about them and exploring them in the most intimate way. Isn’t that like losing your virginity all over again?
Funnily enough, the girl of my dreams from when I was 13 is still the girl of my dreams, but a lot has happened between us in those intervening years. What can I say? Maybe I really am a romantic at heart.
By Hannah McIntosh