Y’All Need Help #5: Being a Virgin Doesn’t Make You Straight

I’ve never been really ashamed of my orientation, and I’m fairly open about being gay as well as my stance on gay politics on Facebook. My cousin has been dating a preacher for about three years, and they are engaged and getting married in a few months. Recently, I made a post about the shooting at Pulse Nightclub, with a link to my city’s LGBT center offering mental health and grief counseling services. Within minutes, my cousin sent me an extremely homophobic private message, filled with liberal use of homophobic slurs and claims that I and every other gay person are going to hell. I blocked her and that’s been the end of that.

My family received an invitation to her wedding a few days ago. I was planning on attending at first, but now I’m not so sure if I want to. However, my parents are insisting that I go for my aunt’s sake. I didn’t tell them about the homophobic message because I didn’t want to cause any conflict between my dad and his sister. Technically I don’t *have* to go, but I’m in that weird transitional stage in my life where I’m still living with my parents and am still involved with my extended family. What do I do? Should I tell my parents about the message, stand my ground and refuse to go and risk upsetting my family, or should I go and potentially open myself up to more homophobia from my cousin?

You’re under no real obligation to attend any event that puts you in a position of possibly defending your personhood! Sometimes you make sacrifices for your family, but that should be your decision based on your own feelings and ideas, not someone else’s. It doesn’t have to be you taking a stand by not going — you could become “very sick” on the day of the wedding and be unable to go. Or maybe you couldn’t get out of working that day?

Another angle is that the couple at center stage on this day might have a better time if you aren’t there. You save them from having anyone to talk shit about or glare at, and you save yourself from having to pretend to like or forgive a person for being a real shithead to you. This is very win/win.

If it were me, I’d calmly and matter of factly tell my parents what my cousin had said to me on Facebook. I’d show them the message and let them know that I’d feel more comfortable passing on this event because these people clearly have a problem with you. Then I’d make a pan of nachos to share. Any conflict that might arise between your dad and his sister won’t have been caused by you exposing your cousin’s homophobic bullshit, it will have been caused by your cousin being a homophobe. Period.


I thought I was going to be friends with someone, but turns out we’re headed towards more than friends. I haven’t told her that I’ve slept with her ex (someone significant to her, but not significant to me), even though I had plenty of chances to, but I want to tell her before we have sex. Can I be super casual about it?

If you think she will not be super casual about receiving this news, no, you shouldn’t be casual when you deliver it. That’s just setting up a situation where it either seems like you don’t know her well enough to guess her emotions and reactions to this subject, or that you do know her well but don’t care enough to deliver it in a sensitive way. Both of these are terrible and also not true of you, so let’s check out the honest route.

You should choose a time and place to tell her — a time that’s considerate and allows for her to have a negative reaction without ruining her workday or other plans, and a place that’s private — and then stick to that plan. Be honest and let her know that you couldn’t figure out a casual way to tell her, or a time that wouldn’t be awkward or forced, but that you never intended to keep it from her forever or even for this long. And then let her have her reaction! Wheeee! You could also make a pan of nachos to share. Wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Or you could give her this:


Do I need to prove that I’m gay? During an alcohol-fueled game of ’Truth or Dare’ with my softball team, I admitted to them that I’ve never done anything with a women before. I feel like they judged me hard. They are pretty much the only ones that I was out to. What they don’t know, however, is that I’ve never even kissed a guy either (mostly because I spent many years uninterested in guys, but not yet into girls). Now I just feel stupid and that my inexperience=not actually gay. I’m 22, shouldn’t I have my shit more together by this point? I’m tired of being alone and disbelieved.

Ugggghhhhhh people who judge other people based on sexual experience one way or another make me want to scream and throw cake at birds! It’s so juvenile and basic as fuck, and tired. I had to take a break from typing this so I could groan out loud for several seconds. UGH.

The very simple answer to your question is, nope! You’re doing just fine! Not having any sexual experience with women doesn’t make you straight. It doesn’t even make you slightly-less-gay. You’re gay! You’re as gay as you’ll ever be! Some people would argue that being on a softball team is gayer than gay sex, so keep that in mind.


And another thing! Sexual experience ≠ having your shit together. If you’re tired of being alone, that’s a separate thing worth exploring, for sure, but just being alone doesn’t mean your shit is inherently less together. I think most people have their shit more together when they’re alone, actually? You get your ducks in a row, you prioritize yourself and your goals, you save money and make your own decisions, you get to know yourself — things that are generally easier to do when you’re not coupled up. But if you’re ready to date and press some body parts together, then go for it! And no, you don’t have to tell potential partners that you’ve never done X or Y (unless you want to, which is totally your call).

We’re all just people trying our best! If someone sees you as less gay because you’ve never kissed a woman, that someone is a trash rabbit and they should grow the entire fuck up real quick and get on everyone else’s level, up here with the adults. You should make a pan of nachos and keep them all to yourself! Maybe pair them with a seasonal beer.

Y’All Need Help is a monthly advice column in which I pluck out a handful of questions from the You Need Help inbox and answer them right here, round-up style, quick and dirty! You can chime in with your own advice in the comments and send your quick and dirty questions to [email protected].

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lnj has written 310 articles for us.


  1. I hope someone makes you a large pan of nachos!

    I love your advice! Always feels so applicable to my life somehow even though I’m not in any of those specific situations.

  2. When will you be adding the Heather Hogan “you don’t have to prove anything to anybody” poster to the Autostraddle store?

    Also I’m having nachos for dinner and calling all the morons in my life trash rabbits from now on.

    This has been the most useful Autostraddle article I’ve ever read. All the awards to Laneia for this.

  3. Take two:

    If you’re throwing cake at birds, may I suggest in crumb size pieces only?

    Unless you’re being pursued by an angry emu, in which case anything goes.

    • I love that you totally abandoned that comment after typing “your” and decided to start a fresh one with “you’re.” There’s a lesson in that for all of us.

      • But really Heather, it’s you turning all of our mistakes into our best moments that is the lesson.

        Vote for Laneia and Heather, and there will be advice stands/trucks with free cake and nachos on every corner.

  4. I’m living for those macros right now, especially the Heather Hogan one. Thanks for brightnening my day !

    Also, A+ advice.

  5. That’s for this Laneia! The last one hit particularly close to home. While I have no judging friends, I often judge myself for my lack of experience. I need one of the posters (with a “including myself” note) in my room.

  6. 1. These posters are amazing.

    2. Nachos are great for any occasion/meal. Try eating them with a spoon, it is life changing.

  7. I don’t understand why some people are so rude, judgmental, and weird about other people’s sex lives and/or personal identities, but I very much like solving this and other problems with nachos.

  8. RE: Nachos –

    I have a secret fantasy

    Where I order the chicken nachos from the place down the street where they are amazing

    But I get the chips on the side

    So it’s a dip

    If I did that, do you think they would look at me like I was crazy, or do you think they would do it for me?

    Because those chips always get soggy, and I hate soggy chips

    * This has been a nacho comment break * Now back to your regularly scheduled advice and such

    • Do it! And even if they look at you crazy and then make it anyway, so what? I have zero qualms about weirdo food ordering, especially when it requires little to no extra effort on the part of the people preparing it. You’re paying for it! Get it the way you want!


      I bet they’d be more than happy to just pile some nacho toppings into a container and give you some chips on the side. Leave an enormous tip.

    • I think that’s a great idea! I’m on a super-low carb regime for my diabetes, and if I could get the melty goodness with crispy chips on the side, I could give you my chips and still eat the other stuff without spiking my glucose.

  9. Also if you guys all make nachos you can make nacho puns

    “Hi family! Here are some nachos. I am nacho sister’s daughter’s punching bag. Byeeee”

  10. I am for sure saving that first image. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to see a lot of use!

    Now if I could address Dear Reader #3: If you’re in the Philadelphia area, and you can pitch, how about ditching your judgey softball team for mine??

  11. Reader #3, solidarity, sista! Literally the same story (minus the softball, because I’m not one with the sports). Feel free to message if you want to commiserate! I believe in us!

  12. Reader #3, solidarity, sista! Literally the same story (minus the softball, because I’m not one with the sports, and I’m 23). It’s the worst, mostly because it seems so hard to fathom that no one else knows or cares, because at least to me, it is this REALLY BIG THING that I think about ALL THE TIME so HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT EVERYONE ELSE DOESN’T KNOW? But just know there are at least two of us! (I certainly feel better knowing you exist.) Feel free to message if you want to commiserate!

  13. I had this really great mental picture of Laneia standing outside on a deck throwing a slice of cake up at a bird flying by and it made me actually laugh out loud.

  14. #3 really hits home for me! I’m 19 and at uni, and while all my straight (and queer!) friends seem to be making out in clubs and hooking up with people and getting boyfriends/girlfriends, I am persistently and quite happily single. I haven’t done anything at all with anyone of any gender, but I still consider myself super gay and into ladies! It feels like everyone else is moving on and growing up and I’m still just here by myself – even some of my straight friends have made out with more girls than me (but that isn’t hard)! But I don’t feel like I’m ready for any of that at the moment, and I’m okay with that, most of the time. There’s just this niggling feeling that I’m missing out – which isn’t helped by my father asking “have you met anyone yet?” every time I come home for the holidays!

    All that to say, you’re not alone, Question Asker #3, and it’s good to know I’m not alone either! <3

    • People are just not the same.
      Some are superphysical make-out with anything that moves kinds of people, others are not.
      Others like their me-time and quiet headspaces.
      It’s more of a personality issue and newsflash: Sexuality does not a character make.
      It’s just a feature, like hair color.

    • The fact that you’re happy means for sure you’re fine– a lot of people are not happy doing what they’re doing, and being happy is the point, not what your “stats” are.

  15. Every kind of yes to the first answer and image. It is terrible to feel obligated to enter homophobic situations in order to appease others or maintain a surface level of calm. As Laneia said, if your aunt creates a stink about you not attending the wedding, it’s NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Your aunt can be upset if she wants to be, but maybe she should be upset with her daughter first for using homophobic slurs against you and then expecting you to expend time and resources celebrating their life.

  16. YES to all of this! Also for Human #3: I came out in high school and didn’t date or kiss anybody until well into college. My queerness is a part of me; it’s my identity. It’s not determined by what I do or have done, because it is just a part of who I am in the world!

  17. I am emotionally invested in all nacho-related content.

    Autostraddle continues to produce award-winning graphics. Award yourselves with nachos.

    Now I want nachos.

    • I think I need a best-of post prominently featuring the best graphics from this site. My votes are:

      Somebody is at the door
      Krisily Kennedy is bisexual
      Whiskey Kitten
      This post

      Pls and thx

  18. I was legit going to print out that last image and hang it in my office. Then I remembered I’m a lawyer…

  19. Laneia, spot on with your advice. Hey person #3, you forget about those apparently-not-very-friendly teammates of yours. You know what’s in your heart and mind, and that’s all that matters. Don’t feel pressured into doing something you don’t want to or rushing something you do want. Your story reminded me of something that happened to me once in college that will always stay with me. I was at an “XX” party, a party for women only that was pretty much a designated lady make-out zone. These happened fairly regularly, and I was always invited, because I was on the rugby team (and college rugby is right up there with softball on the list of “very gay things”). I’m not much of a partier, but I enjoyed going to these because they were chill and I could sort of wallflower it and everything was fine.

    So at this particular party, my friends had gone, and I was about to leave too, when these two women sitting at the table playing poker with rainbow cards (heh) were like, “Aw, don’t leave, there’s lots of dancing and pretty girls to make out with,” or something along those lines. And, just making casual conversation I said, “Well, that doesn’t do me any good.” They looked at me like I had three heads, and instead of saying “I’m in a relationship” (which was my reason for not making out with anybody, anyhow), I blurted, “I’m straight” (not true, but at the time I genuinely identified that way).

    Jesus, you’d think I killed their puppy or something, the way they looked at me, and the one woman said “Well why are you here then?” I was there because I was invited, and because my friends had been there, and because I wanted to have a low-key good time with other women. But they stared daggers at me all the way out the door. I just shook my head and probably resolved to spend less time dealing with people in any context. I don’t know why that story has stayed with me all these years, but I’ll never forget it.

    So yeah, I’ve never slept with/messed around with a woman, and maybe I never will, but that doesn’t make me not bi. You know who you are. They’re the ones with the problem, not you.

  20. I think most people have their shit more together when they’re alone, actually? You get your ducks in a row, you prioritize yourself and your goals, you save money and make your own decisions, you get to know yourself — things that are generally easier to do when you’re not coupled up.

    A million billion times this.

  21. I could have written #3 years ago, except replace softball team with rugby team. I will never forget how embarrassed I was during that game of “never have I ever”. But Laneia gave spot-on advice, and I wish I had been smart enough to realize it at the time. You are enough!

    Also nachos are great!

    • I hate never have I ever! Cause I could so easily say things just to get people to lose, but what is the fun in that? So I have to come up with things that aren’t so obvious, its hard enough thinking of things in the first place.

  22. i tell you that i love you all the time but i thought maybe i would just do it again I LOVE YOU

    “Some people would argue that being on a softball team is gayer than gay sex, so keep that in mind.”

    that too i love that also

  23. I love you Laneia. Making avocado toast and reading this was a perfect moment in my day. I love yr way with words and graphics–lets get ur heather poster in the store nowww! ✨

  24. As someone in their 20s who is sexually inexperienced and now considering dating (or making an effort to), I’m happy that you wrote that you don’t have to say anything to your potential partners. I think a lot of people strongly believe “virgins” are obligated to say something up front about their lack of sexual history, but that comes from a very heteronormative perspective where virginity is seen as both real and important.

    For a while I was more intimidated about the idea of having to explain to my potential first partner that I’m a 25 year old virgin, than I was about the idea of getting physical. Now it just seems silly that I wasted energy worrying about either of these things. I think this shows that I am a lot more mature and self-confident now, and probably make a better partner! Like the author said, your sexual history has nothing to do with your value as a person or how “real” of a lesbian you are (bi in my case), and thinking otherwise is just stupid and immature.

    Also, nachos and beer, yes gawd!

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