It’s hard to live in the world today without reminders of what a “man” is supposed to be. If we’re not being depicted as scary, uneducated, fatherless deadbeat thugs— bound for jail or the grave—then we’re being shown that being a man means being a hypersexual creature with exceptional sexual prowess that must be shared with every woman we encounter. Well, neither of these could be farther from the truth for me.
Growing up around my father and uncles, I heard many tales of sexual conquests, even though nearly all were married—including my father. When I first started dating, none of them asked what I liked about the girl. Instead, I got “What base you get to boy?” and “You get that thing yet?” Meanwhile, I listened to my mother talk to my sisters about how valuable their bodies were and that they shouldn’t give "it" away to just anyone. I wondered my father wasn’t having these same conversations with me. Why was my body and what I had to offer was less valuable than my sisters? I also wanted to know how I was supposed to “get that thing” if all the girls were being told to keep that “thing” locked up? Talk about confusing!
I spent most of my adolescence talking to my father, but listening to my mother. Don’t get me wrong, I had the normal teenage urges, but I wanted to actually feel something about the girl I was going to have sex with. My father may not have thought so, but I thought I was valuable, too valuable to just lay down with any girl who had a Coke bottle frame just because I could. Even though I have to admit it did sound fun to sleep around, it also sounded empty and unfulfilling. No matter how many women they had sex with, the men in my life never seemed to fill whatever void they were trying to fill.
When I started college I decided I would not graduate without losing my virginity. Surely I'd find someone special enough, right? Not hardly. Most of the girls I encountered acted worse than the guys! If I didn’t try to have sex with them after a few dates, they told me that I treated them like I wasn’t attracted to them, questioned my sexuality and some even cheated on me because they had “needs.” I wasn’t about to have sex just so some loose woman wouldn't tell people I was gay. Alas, after four years of searching and coming up empty, I graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and an 'F' in Sex Ed.
Finally, I decided to stop looking for someone special enough to lose my virginity to and started focusing on finding a woman special enough to be my wife. I wanted my first time to be with the woman I would spend forever with.
Dating over the last decade has been challenging, to say the least. Not only do I still run into the same issues I did in college on occasion, but now I have the added pressure of my male friends who, like my father and uncles, feel the need to ask about and share sexual experiences. When I decline to swap bedroom tales or they don’t see me with a woman on my arm for a certain amount of time, the hazing is relentless. My bedroom game must be “weak,” or I must be getting “sensitive” because as a single man in the city I should be getting some every night of the week, apparently. When I told one of my close guy friends that I was a virgin saving myself for marriage, he immediately asked me if I was gay or bi. Then he proceeded to crack jokes for almost an hour until I finally had enough and walked out of the bar. Since then, he’s kept my “secret” and has been respectful of my decision, but I couldn’t imagine telling the rest of my crew. Dealing with my father is just as bad because every time I’m alone with him he wants to know how I’ve managed not to “slip one past the goalie” in all these years—him being the same guy who "accidentally" got my mother pregnant when she was far younger than I am, of course.
Despite the headaches I just continue to stick to my beliefs. I may be a man, but my body is just as precious as any woman’s. I’m not some hypersexual Mandingo out here conquering faceless women all over the city. I’m a man searching for meaning in life and in love. My woman, my wife, is out there and when I find her it won’t be strange that I’ve waited so long. She won’t see me as less of a man or question my sexuality. In fact, she’ll understand exactly where I’m coming from because she will share my values and understand that we're so much more than what we have between our legs.
~As told to Danielle Pointdujour