The V-Word is an honest and poignant collection of essays from seventeen women about losing their virginity in their teens. Five of the contributing authors had a little more to say beyond what they’ve included in the book and we’ll be sharing their guest posts every Thursday throughout March. Today’s post is the second of five and comes to us from author Chelsey Clammer.
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When I sat down to write about the first time I lost my virginity (yes, I do feel like I have lost my virginity twice—more on that in a bit), I knew what was important about that story was the thoughts I remember going through my mind as my body tried to figure out how to have sex with a woman. I wanted to write something that showed how our bodies and physical actions help to create and confirm our identities. From a young age, I always felt attracted to women in a vague and undefinable way, but even when I had the specific realization at age fifteen that I was a lesbian, I didn’t feel like it was true or real because I had never had a girlfriend or even kissed a girl. It was like I knew my identity, but didn’t have any proof of it.
This is where I think sexual identity is really interesting for youth. No one is expected to prove or confirm that they’re straight by having sex. You say you’re attracted to a boy, and the questions you get in response to that are centered on why that specific boy, not why a boy to begin with.
But when you’re a young virgin lesbian, your friends and family (if you choose to even talk to your family about your sexuality and desires) might question why you’re attracted to a girl, why you’re a lesbian, and how you even know that you ARE a lesbian if you’ve never dated or kissed a girl. How do you know you’re gay?
How do you know you’re straight?
For me, it was that moment when I had sex for the first time that I could finally say: See! Proof, bitches! I’M GAY.
I wanted to write about that moment, because the act of losing my virginity helped to confirm who I felt like I was in the world.
This isn’t just true for youth, or stops being true after our first sexual experience.
PLOT TWIST: At twenty-nine years old, I had sex with a man for the first time. I had known Spence since college—we were actually best friends and roommates—and had felt a mad attraction for him since 2002, but never validated those feelings because I was a lesbian. After we graduated college and didn’t even talk for nine years because that whole life thing just kept getting in the way, we re-connected and eventually, somehow, admitted our mutual crushes on one another.
This is where I state that I feel like I lost my virginity twice. Once to a woman, and thirteen years later to a man. Each time felt like a relief, because I felt like I was taking an active part in claiming my identity. Lesbian! Attracted to this awesome guy! That said, even when my now-husband was inside me during that first time, I still felt—and still feel—like a lesbian. Just a lesbian with an interesting attraction to one specific man.
I don’t have a term for my sexual identity anymore. (Though I joke that it’s Spensexual.) It’s like my body and its desires have surpassed and defied language. And that’s okay. What I do have, though, is a collection of sexual experiences—starting with those ear muffs during my first muff-diving, identity-forming experience—that have made me into the woman I am today.
That first sexual experience with a woman was all about confirmation, exploration, and, most importantly, celebration. And shouldn’t that be what losing your virginity is all about? Or hell, shouldn’t that be what sex is, every time—a celebration of you, your body, and your desires? I think so. Although I know from my own sexual history and that of my friends’ (both male and female) that this is not the case for every sexual experience, perhaps what we can do is share our stories and laugh with each other about the ones that were, and celebrate what felt excellent and exciting in order to continue to confirm the amazing women we were, have become, and will continue to be.
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In addition to The V-Word, Chelsey Clammer’s work has appeared in The Rumpus, Essay Daily, and The Water~Stone Review. She has published two collections of essays: BodyHome and There Is Nothing Else to See Here. More at www.chelseyclammer.com.
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Read an Excerpt from The V-Word: