Everyone likes to talk about sex, and growing up, virginity always seemed to take the spotlight. Sleepovers are riddled with questions like, “When will I lose my virginity?” or, “How did you lose your virginity?” These questions always plagued me, yet at the same time, they brought immense curiosity. As a queer woman, I have a lot of confusion and frustration with the word itself. Over time I’ve come to realize that virginity doesn’t even exist; by definition, it refers to the first time someone has sex, but sex can mean different things to different people.

On the occasions that I have found myself in a circle of friends, talking about virginity or how we lost it, more than one of the stories always seem to end with some statement like, “It went in and out like three times and then we were done.” Now, there is nothing wrong with this, and if both members felt like it was sex, then it was, because sex should be defined by the individuals.

My issues with this only come in when queer women who have had sex with other women are considered virgins simply because they’ve never been penetrated. My girlfriend has been called a virgin by our friends because they don’t readily accept what we do as sex. So if my intimate experiences with my girlfriend are not sex, then neither is your “in and out three times on the fourth floor of the library.” Ultimately, sex is culturally defined by the presence of a penis, or at least some form of penetration, and this is just wrong.

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This cultural definition makes the task of navigating the world as a queer person that much more confusing, especially for cis women having sex with other cis women. We often miss out on having those stories about our “first time,” because no one ever talks about what that would even look like. One of the things I heard about while I was growing up was “scissoring,” and I thought, “So, are we just supposed to smash our labia together until we both come in one simultaneous moment of bliss?” No, young Anabel, nobody does that. The next thing you might learn is that lesbians lose their virginity when they are eaten out. This sounds great, except men can eat out girls as well, so why are straight women who have only been eaten out still considered virgins?

It’s almost as if we’re agreeing that gay women really only get half the experience that straight women get, and as someone who has had sex with both men and women, that just doesn’t feel like the truth.

So what’s next? The strap-on. If you have just been fucked with a strap-on for the first time, most people would argue you have lost your virginity. But what about the person who wore it? I doubt that many people would consider that a loss of virginity for the giver. Truth be told, I don’t know how queer women lose their virginity with the cultural definition we currently hold, and that’s why the definition must change.

If my intimate experiences with my girlfriend are not sex, then neither is your “in and out three times on the fourth floor of the library.”

I stated earlier that losing your virginity is defined by the first time a person has sex. This implies that in order to understand what that means, we must first decide what it means to have sex. My definition of sex is that it must be a consensual, intimate, vulnerable and, of course, sexual act. That’s it.

Many of my straight friends, after having sex for the first time, reported that they didn’t feel any different. I myself reported the same thing after having sex with a man. This is probably because we had already had milestone-like experiences that were consensual, intimate, vulnerable and sexual that did make us feel different or changed. At least, I know this is the case for myself.

I can pinpoint a couple times when I actually felt like I lost my virginity that don’t match the classic definition. It wasn’t the first time I had sex with a man, or the first time a girl ate me out, or even the first time I was fucked with a strap-on. I would say I lost my virginity the first time my girlfriend saw me naked and I felt my most vulnerable — but also my most beautiful. I could also say it was the first time I gave my girlfriend an orgasm, even if it was only with my hands. I could even argue that with each new partner I am losing my virginity over and over again, because I am learning to be vulnerable with someone new — just like how every kiss with a new person feels like my first.

Whatever your moment is, the point is that it doesn’t matter. Sex is whatever it feels like it should be to you and your partner. Plus, virginity is made up anyway, so who really cares?       

Anabel Costa wants Gauchos to define their own intimate experiences as they see fit.

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