Virginity loss is a funny old thing. I can’t tell you the amount of times people have looked aghast when I have told them that I have interviewed men as well as women. Almost as if virginity loss is somehow less important or insignificant to the male members of the population.

Well, we all know that a woman’s virginity has traditionally meant more to members of the male population. Since the beginning of time, or at least since man had a sense of ownership - whether it be a house, some land or a cow - a daughter’s virginity has been something to value for a man. Because a virgin daughter will ensure that when the time comes, a father’s property will be passed onto the correct heir, and not some interloping farm boy who caught the eye of his febrile daughter. I am veering off point here, virginity loss nowadays is every bit as important to a man but for a whole bunch of different reasons.

Here in the west, virginity has been grabbed and appropriated into the marker of manhood. I cannot tell you how many sad emails I get from young men who don’t feel like men because they have not gotten around to having penetrative sex. Because for better or worse, we use virginity to define how sexual we are, and therefore how grown up we are, despite the fact that any fool knows how incredibly sexual you can be without ever putting a penis anywhere near a vagina. Heck, daughters of a bygone era were expert in doing such things in order to save daddy’s embarrassment.

And so it goes. Virginity loss is the ultimate goal for most men, asides from giving into rampaging hormones of course. But hormones or not, this is a hurdle that must be jumped at any cost. And sometimes it has to be done even if you don’t feel like it. And in the case of today’s correspondent, sometimes with the gender that you don’t want to do it with. Forty two years old and from a solid working class Irish background, homosexuality was never mentioned in Dave Heart’s household. But Dave was only too aware of what direction his life was going. But at least he saves the best for last - because when he does finally get down to doing what he instinctively feels is right, it doesn’t disappoint.

Furthermore, he sees how this, much more significant experience plays out over the rest of his life. When he comes to sit and tell me this story many years later - for this story is one that I conducted in person for my book - he tells me that losing his virginity for the second time changed him and that to this day, it still defines how he has sex.

Dave Heart. Born 1967. Lost virginity aged 18 and 21.

The first sexual encounter I had with a girl was on a train station and it’s a bit crude but it was the first time I’d actually tried to use my hands and I couldn’t find it! She was like, ‘What are you doing?’ and then the train came, thank god. It was a nightmare. Bracknell Train Station at eleven o’clock on a Sunday night. Dark, raining and I’ve got my hand up this girl’s skirt and I didn’t want to do it, I just felt like I should do it.

I knew I was gay when I was fourteen years old because I used to masturbate over boys. I never told anyone, I kept it all inside. I remember the first gay character on EastEnders. My mum was like, ‘That’s disgusting’. I remember sitting there thinking, oh my god, that’s me. My parents have totally accepted me as gay now but sex didn’t rear its head at all in my family. No, it was a case of any sex on TV, any naked bodies, and my mum would be shouting, ‘Turn it over George. Turn it over!’ at my dad.

I used to have these secret fantasies in my head with blokes I was supposed to be friends with. One in particular, Chris, was gorgeous in every way. Fantastic personality, fit body, we used to go to the gym together but he never knew how I felt. I used to sit and watch him through the smoky steam room air. I’d have my girlfriend there with me but I didn’t exude any of the signs of being gay. It was such a weird situation.

No one had any idea that I was actually still a virgin either. The word was bandied about a lot, almost as an insult, ‘Oh so and so is a virgin’, especially if they were not very good looking. I never got called a virgin but I was one. I always had girlfriends and I always had the best looking girls as well. The problem was with the girls themselves. They would want to have sex with me and I was the one that was always making the excuses, so I would just have to dump the girl and move onto the next one. It was just like a cycle and I kept on doing it.

The first time I had actual sex, I was eighteen years old. I had joined the RAF and I was living off unit in a house with two other guys. Her name was Mary and it was really difficult for me. It was a case of having lots to drink first and lots of kissing. I had the smallest room in the house but it was right next to the toilet so I could run in there, get everything working and then run back into the bedroom, jump on top of her, and try to find the right place to put it. She later claimed that she was pregnant and had had an abortion. She only told me because I saw her crying at the RAF club. That really shocked me. I still went out with girls after that but only to be seen with someone on my arm, I didn’t actually physically have sex.

I didn’t have sex with a guy until I was twenty-one years old. I got sent to Norfolk RAF and as soon as I arrived I met a guy called Matthew. He was an RAF Steward and straight away I thought there was something between us. He was cute and we got on really well.

It was a new base and I’d gone from being in the same place for four years and feeling very secure to being somewhere where no one knew me. So in those first two months, we spent a lot of time hanging out together and I could feel that there was something there, some sort of electricity. It was amazing. But I didn’t speak to him about it because I had no idea if he was gay or not.

We’d made a few friends there and we used to go out together a lot. One night there was a party in the RAF mess with all the crew and I remember thinking that I might actually be in love with this guy and he had no idea. Then at the party I saw him kissing a girl.

I was absolutely gutted. I was so upset. I made my excuses and left the party. I went back to the base and sat on my own in the TV room. I wanted to cry, I was so pissed off. Suddenly, after about twenty minutes, Matthew appeared and said to me, ‘Where did you go? What’s wrong?’

‘Oh nothing’, I replied, ‘I just wanted to go, I didn’t feel very good’.

He came over and sat next to me and we were just looking at each other and that’s it, we started kissing. It was risky, this was 1986 and it was still illegal to be gay in the armed forces. And we were doing it in the TV room, with the lights on, in an RAF block with windows and no curtains. Snogging as if our lives depended on it.

Then we went to his room and just snogged and clothes started coming off and I remember feeling the heat of another man’s body next to mine for the first time and it was perfect. And that’s when I first had sex with a guy. It wasn’t just doing a deed; it wasn’t just fumbling in the dark with someone you’ve never met before and forgetting about it. It was a build up of two months of tension and it was fantastic. It was a magical feeling. To actually see someone else’s parts, aroused, and feeling them next to you, on top of you. It was just really, really good.

I was in love with him. We had a really intense relationship, partly because we had to keep it quiet. It was a big secret and no one but us could know. Eventually we decided to move off unit together. People just thought we were mates although I did start to think that they might have their suspicions. And then I got sent to the Falklands for four months, which was awful because we had only been together for a year and for the first time in my life, I was in love with someone and the feeling was being reciprocated.

I used to write to him and tell him how much I loved him and missed him and I can’t wait to, you know, get his cock in my face or whatever, and then one day, he read one of my letters, put it in his pocket and it fell out. It was picked up by an RAF policeman. He read it and because what we were doing was illegal, he went to his boss and reported it.

I had been in the Falklands for a couple of months and I got a phone call to go to the police office. In the back of my mind I just knew that they knew. I went in and sat down with an RAF policeman and he was very nice to me. He asked me how I was finding it in the Falklands and then he said, ‘I have to ask you a question now. We believe you are having a homosexual relationship with a Mr Matthew Knowles’. I remember hearing the words and the room spinning. And then I just thought what’s the point in denying it. There’s no point, so I just said, ‘Yes, I am’.

Our relationship did continue for a while after that but we broke up badly after a year and a half. I came home one day and he had gone. I did see him many years later. I was shopping in town and went into a gay bar for a drink and there he was. There was this guy, the man that I had lost my virginity to, we had changed our lives together. I went back to his hotel with him and it was so nice to see him and we had lots to talk about but I didn’t fancy him anymore, my first love as it were.

My attitude to sex now is that I don’t really like one-night stands. As a gay bloke, I don’t do saunas or get my cock out down at the park. Any important relationship that I have had, I have always liked somebody for ages before anything has ever actually happened. I think perhaps that first experience with Matthew has stayed with me because what I really yearn for is that feeling of electricity between two people. I want the build up of tension. I want to get into the package, you know, to have the box and then actually open it up and see what is inside. I think it has affected me, I hadn’t actually consciously thought that before now, but it’s changed me, it has defined how I have sex.

Virginityproject joins us from The Virginity Project

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Not entirely unexpected but deeply unfortunate news comes out of California this afternoon. The California Supreme Court announced its ruling on the challenge to Proposition 8 by Same-Sex Marriage activists, who argued that the voter referendum constituted a revisal of the Constitution rather than an amendment. A revisal would have required a full vote of the legislature in addition to a vote from the people. However, the court also ruled that those same-sex marriages performed during the time when it was legal in California will remain valid marriages.

Two steps back, one step forward. Now, the only avenues for same-sex marriage in California will be through another state-wide voter referendum, or through federal policy.

You can read the majority opinion, yourself, here.

There are several rallies and protests around the nation. Check out to find your own. Those of you in New York City can find info here. Act up and join your queer siblings in pushing for marriage rights!
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News comes out of California that a Ventura County Judge ruled that the parents of Lawrence King, the young boy who was shot twice in the head by his homophobic classmate early last year, can sue his foster home, Casa Pacifica, for negligence. His parents and the judge believe that there is just cause that the foster home counseling and allowing King to express his sexuality and gender identity via make-up and high heel shoes endangered the child and led to his death.

I am so utterly stunned that I am too shocked to be outraged. Yes... Lawrence King was shot multiple times because of something he did. That is essentially what the judge has ruled.

Bull. shit.

I find it very unfortunate that King's parents want to turn their grief over their son's death into an attack on possibly some of the few people in Lawrence's life that made his life livable. Counseling Lawrence to learn how the express his sexuality and gender identity in a safe and positive way at a young age is no more dangerous than teaching a girl to study science, or an immigrant child to be proud of and share his cultural heritage. These identities are not inherently dangerous... what is dangerous is the savage way these identities of difference are policed by the mainstream culture.

To argue that teaching Lawrence to be himself is to also bring the threat of violence to the child is to say that Lawrence's self is the one that is dangerous. It is an implicit condoning of the hate-filled murder and condemnation of all queer and gender non-conforming people, children included.

But we have heard this same argument before: "If she didn't want to get raped, why did she wear that short skirt?" "What was she doing on the corner at 3am, anyway?" "He should have known better than to walk in that part of town."

These arguments not only deflect the blame on the rightful party, but place the responsibility of ensuring their safety via non-offensive existence on non-straight, non-white, and non-male persons.

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Cross-posted from The Mongoose Chronicles

Last Wednesday, women in Kenya, led by The Women's Development Organisation coalition, imposed a week-long sex boycott aimed at pressuring the country's two power-sharing leaders Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki into resolving their conflicts. Amid fears that current rows could see a renewal of the election violence of 2007, in which 1500 people were killed and 300 000 forced from their homes, the women's groups have solicited the support of sex workers as well as Ida Odinga, wife of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), one of the organisations in the campaign, said they hoped the seven-day sex ban would force the squabbling rivals to make up.

"Great decisions are made during pillow talk, so we are asking the two ladies at that intimate moment to ask their husbands: 'Darling can you do something for Kenya?'"

It is the kind of tactic that certainly draws attention to power-sharing tensions in the country, but how valuable is it as a feminist action, and how effective can it be as a political strategy? Writing in the Guardian, Lola Adesioye declines to comment on the latter, but offers that regarding the former:
..this boycott is significant as it says a great deal about women's progress, the way in which women are reconsidering their role in Kenyan society and how they are reclaiming power where they can.


Africans can be pretty conservative on topics such as sex. For the older generation in particular, discussing sex in public is something you just don't do. In addition, unlike in the west, you tend not to hear African women sitting around talking casually and openly about it. Within that framework, taking such a politically-motivated sexually-orientated stance – actively withholding sex for a week and announcing it to the world – is, actually, a very bold and radical move.


Will this strike achieve its aims? That's debatable. However, even if the government doesn't end its feuding, this modern-day version of Lysistrata has already had a useful effect. It has put the spotlight on women's roles, power and rights and is showing how national politics affects the individual.

For women, at least, a week without sex is worth that.

But even in the context of a society where polygamy is still practiced, where sex is seen as a woman's duty to her husband and family, and where open discussion about sex is considered taboo and un-African, this strike is still a double-edged sword, with perhaps one side sharper and therefore more destructive than the other. Yes, it does represent a big "suck it" to the patriarchy that Kenyan women can declare ownership of their bodies and their sexual agency in this way. But at the same time, it says that this is their only card to play, their only value and their only contribution. And I find that problematic.

Adesioye argues that the strike " has put the spotlight on women's role, power and rights", but has it really? It seems to cast this role, power and rights strictly in terms of their usefulness as providers of sex and nothing else. It does not advance a dialogue on all the cases where even this role, even this sexual agency which is the minimum a woman should be able to exercise, is removed from her in the country's many cases of marital and community rape. It does not associate the lack of political consensus with other realities of women's lives such as insufficient access to water, food, health, education and security. And while it is encouraging to see women declare that their sexual lives are theirs to control or reveal as they decide, if the discourse stops here, then it arguably has done very little to advance women's economic security, their true political engagement, and the overall stability of fair and inclusive governance in that country.

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Governor John Baldacci has signed the same-sex marriage bill, which received final passing in the State Senate with a vote of 21-13. This marks the second instance in which a state legislature has afforded marriage rights to same-sex couples. This bill had to go back for a second round of votes after receiving several edits in the Senate proceedings. Additional clauses forbidding the practice of multiple marriages and polygamy among others were added to make it more palatable to conservative senators.

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For some of you ,today is a holiday commemorating the struggle and resilience of an entire nation, to others it is a day for margaritas and all-you-can drink corona specials. Cinco de Mayo, like most other contemporary holidays, is just another marketing gimmick rooted in the fading memory of past historical and cultural richness. As a Mexican, it is a day for me to remember the triumph of my ancestors against European invaders and the great pride that comes with being the child of a revolutionary and resilient people.

As a child I was taught to be proud of my Mexican identity; I was also taught to look up to and admire certain cultural and behavioral values that prevail within Mexican culture, which included a considerable degree of Machismo. My family never truly promoted machismo, but the general ether of the culture in which I was raised was riddled with messages of male supremacy embodied by Ranchero culture. Mexican icons like Pedro Infante and Vicente Fernandez set the standard for males by creating glorified masculine archetpyes of the noble Vaquero male.

Few know, however, that this stereotypical macho imagery associated with Mexican culture is the relatively young and spoiled child of imported western values and Pan-American frontier culture; indigenous cultures had different ways of perceiving gender roles as is the case of the Zapotecas of Oaxaca.

Oaxaca, a state largely populated the indigenous Zapotecas, is a cultural oasis offering relief and tolerance for third gender individuals. In the last century this third-gender culture has birthed the modern incarnation known as muxeidad, the essence of the Muxe. The Zapotecas see the Muxe as third-gender individuals who are gifted and important fixtures of their community. Much of Muxe culture today is the hybrid product of contemporary Mexican LGBT culture and the native third gender cultural legacy of the region.

The Muxe play major roles in their society without encountering many of the restrictions that would be imposed on them in other parts of the world such as: holding public office, being community leaders, etc… Ironically in a nation like the United States, which is praised for its cutting edge modernity and progress, is far more medieval in its treatment of third-gender individuals.

The repressive political atmosphere of our time forces people to de-humanize themselves into American typecasts in order to be eligible for political office; there’s no room for individuals whose human nature deviates from convention and is often the source of undue scandal and prejudice. At some point in my life, when I was confronted by the choice of pursuing a political career at the expense of my freedom of expression or the choice of owning my gender and jeopardizing my viability for political office, I chose the latter. Maybe some day people will not be forced to decide between living fruitful human lives and being able to hold political office. Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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So we've all heard about Miss California's view on gay marriages. (Although she starts by saying she thinks we live in a land where you can choose same sex marriage or opposite sex marriage .... uh I live in Illinois and last I checked I couldn't.) In "her country" she believes marriage "should be between a man and a woman." "No offense." Um, no, none taken ... I think it's great that you think you can define other people's relationships. Fantastic. Not offensive at all.

But are we surprised? This was the Miss USA pageant, after all. A beauty pageant, for young women to parade their beauty on stage for a crown and a title. One of the most heteronormative displays in our popular culture. Why wouldn't we expect one of the contestants to have a heternormative view on what marriage should be?

Unfortunately, it is the Miss "USA" pageant, and Miss USA should unite the country, not divide. And if Miss California had a better speech coach, she would have said it should be up to the individual states to decide what laws govern it's people. There you go. You get an A in civics. But instead she gave an answer that divided the country, and as much as I think beauty pageants are ridiculous, I'm glad she was penalized for her polarizing, non-BS answer. Come on! It's a pageant. This is no time to have the "courage" to share your real "values"!

But she's not done yet.

Miss California is going to appear in a commercial funded by the National Organization for Marriage. Ironically, an organization that says it is "for marriage" is not really. When I hear that you are "for marriage" I would like to think that you want to give the right to any couple in love ready to make a commitment the right to marry, but sadly, this is America, and I am wrong. National organizations purposely use deceiving names. (I'm looking at you, "Pro-Lifers" ... when are you going to march against the death penalty and war?) Believe it or not, the National Organization FOR Marriage is against gay marriage. The irony is hilarious. And sad.

Miss California seems confused: "Marriage is good," Prejean said at the news conference. So, if marriage is good .... why restrict it? She goes on, "There is something special about unions of husband and wife. Unless we bring men and women together, children will not have mothers and fathers." Hmm. Interesting. The holes in this logic are canyon-sized. Men and women have been "coming together" ("having sex") for years ... that doesn't mean every child has a mother and father present. So straight people ain't so good at always adhering to the 1 mom + 1 dad rule.

Moving on, According to the group, the ad will call "gay marriage advocates to account for their unwillingness to debate the real issue: gay marriage has consequences." This just blows my mind. So you're saying straight marriage (excuse me, the term is now "opposite marriage") has no consequences? Because before crazy Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont legalized gay marriage, divorce didn't exist in this country? Domestic violence never happened among "opposite married" couples. "Opposite" couples never got married for the wrong reasons, never lied, never cheated. The gay couples must have done that!

As much as I hate on Miss California, at least she didn't win Miss USA. At least that shows some sign of hope in this country.

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