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What Virginity Means To Queer Women

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    Photographed by Natalia Mantini.


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    According to recent estimates, about 20% of Americans don't identify as "completely heterosexual," and it seems that number only gets higher when you look at today's teens. Yet, when people talk about "losing your virginity" as a sexual right of passage, it's almost always discussed in heteronormative terms: A woman gets her cherry "popped" via male penetration, and suddenly, neither of them are virgins anymore. But outside of male-female relationships, what does it mean to "lose your virginity"?

    Queer women, in particular, seem to face a murky definition of virginity (in pop culture references, at the very least), since male penetration isn't always part of the equation. Should they set their own parameters for when their virginity is "lost"? Or should they dismiss the concept of virginity completely?

    To help bring their voices to the forefront of the virginity conversation, we spoke with lesbian, bisexual, and otherwise queer women about what the term means to them, and how that definition has evolved throughout their lives. As one woman put it: "I don't have to define what I experience or make it a big thing — and I love that."

    Ahead, seven women explain how the concept of virginity has (or hasn't) shaped their sexual lives.

    The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more here.

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  2. Illustrated by Abbie Winters.


  3. Illustrated by Abbie Winters.


  4. Illustrated by Abbie Winters.


  5. Illustrated by Abbie Winters.