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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