The Virginity project collective experience of 12 individuals.

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The Virginity Project explores virginity through the collective experience of twelve individuals. Subjects were photographed at the actual location where they lost their virginity, or a place very similar to where this first experience occurred. During the photo sessions, individuals spoke of their loss of virginity experience and reflected on how they felt afterwards. The Virginity Project examines the myths and deeply rooted ideals that society has around the “perfect” loss of virginity experience. What is the perfect age to become sexually active? Did expectations live up to the real event? Did the experience change the person once it was over? The Virginity Project captures twelve unique stories, feelings and experiences. By delving into this delicate and sensitive topic, it is my hope to bring to light the stigma of perfection, and of a perfect experience. And by sharing these stories through conversation and photographs, a fundamental element of growing up is documented.

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“I was 20 when I lost my virginity.  I got Tinder one night, like the very first night I got Tinder.....his name was Sam and I was like, ‘Yo, come over’ and all my friends were over and we were just hanging out and having a laugh and I didn’t think I was going to have sex that night.  It wasn’t like a plan.  We only hung out for a weekend and then, I was like, ‘K, that’s enough, bye’.  He was really nice…..but we don’t really talk anymore.”


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“I lost my virginity with my girlfriend when I was 16.  We were trying to stay quiet since we were in my bedroom and my family was home.  It was quick and awkward, but also felt special and exciting.”


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“I was seeing this guy. It was going great. The day it happened,  I was like, ‘Let’s just go to High Park’.   We walked around in the park in the dark, and then we get back to his car and we’re just chillin’ in the car, in the back seat.  I was so delusional and clueless of what was going on and then one thing led to the next and then, yeah, we hooked up.  But what was weirder was the fact that, near the end, some guy pulled into the parking lot and the car was parked in the corner of the parking lot… the lights were facing into the car, and that was the end of that.”


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“I lost my virginity when I was 17.  I had been dating a guy for about a year, and we had decided that we just wanted to have sex.  I was in high school, as was he, and one day he drove us back to my house in his MINI Cooper, which I thought was very cool at the time, and we ended up having sex in the only room with a lock, which was my bathroom.  I don’t regret it because I thought it was funny back then, and I still think it’s funny.  I was in love with him, so it felt perfect to me.”


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“I was a bit of a late bloomer, didn’t have so much of a kiss throughout all of high school….that is until a party near the end of Grade 12.  After drunkenly feeling sorry for myself….a girl [came that] I had never met.  After my first kiss on a hammock in the backyard, we messily and uncomfortably had sex in the back of her car (using the condoms I had bought that very night).  I haven’t seen her since, and the whole night is a damn blur, but I don’t have a single regret.”

- MJ

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“I was 16, when I lost my virginity.  I guess the biggest thing, or like the most interesting part of it was that I didn’t realize that I was losing my virginity because I lost my virginity to a girl.   I’m bisexual, so I just didn’t think about it like that when it was happening.  But now looking back on it, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what that was!’  I would say that it was a good experience.  I had never done anything with girls before.  In high school, virginity kinda’ had one definition and one idea, especially in the school I went to….where there was not a single LGBTQ person.  We kept the whole thing a secret between the two of us -- the idea of virginity was very much guy/girl heterosexual sex.  I have sex with both men and women and…….they mean the same to me, but I don’t think one is better or worse, but they are different.  In terms of the feeling…..and the connotation of the romanticized version of losing your virginity, it was definitely when I was 16, with my best friend.“


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“I was 19…..the very first time that I felt a very deep, intense connection, both physically and emotionally.  We were in a relationship.  We were both still living with our parents and with her culture and background and with her family, we had to be a bit secretive – not even her friends could know.  I feel like -- especially with queer sex -- but especially with girl with girl, it’s very hard to define losing your virginity, because it’s not defined by penetration.  It can be defined by so many other things and at the same time, is defined by the person themselves.  As a queer woman, I can redefine my own definition of what is sex.”


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“I lost my virginity when I was 16, to a boy I had been working with that summer.  He was 20……I think that I thought that I was in love with him, but he was definitely just using me….I think that while it was a really bad experience at the time, I definitely learned the most,  I think, from him.  I lost my virginity on a single mattress on the floor and there was literally dirty laundry everywhere and it was really gross, but at the time I thought it was really romantic.”


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“I was 18 at the time it happened.  In high school, the guys were all fixated on the fact that I hadn’t lost my virginity yet.  [In university], Frosh Week came along and there was a rave.  There was this girl in front of me and….then, she started dancing on me.  I said, ‘Oh, do you want to get out of here?’  I didn’t think she was going to say yes.  Then, we end up here and we get behind this wall.  We ended up hopping over a fence, on a patch of grass, beside an apartment building, a parking lot and a sidewalk.  I didn’t even enjoy it.  I thought it was going to be like the movies where there’s fucking fireworks and stuff.  Not at all.  I don’t even remember what her last name is, which makes me sound like a terrible person, but I doubt she even remembers who I am.  Haven’t seen her since --- it’s like a big mystery.  I told a guy who I was hanging out with…..and he was like, ‘How was it?’ and I was like, ‘Mediocre’.”


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“I was 18 then.  My experience was sorta’ weird because I don’t really remember it too vividly.  I obviously remember it being super awkward, like anyone losing their virginity.  You don’t really know what’s going on, or like how to do anything.  But, I remember it being really intense in a way.  You sort of fall into this thing where you feel like you should be in love with the person you lose your virginity to.  But, in hindsight, it feels like that wasn’t entirely the case….it’s all very hard to know what love is.  At the time, I felt it was what needed to happen, what was right.  It was just a really awkward experience……this is one thing you’ve been brought up your whole life [to believe] this is going to happen one day and it’s totally going to change your life, but I don’t feel like it truly did.  I don’t think that losing your virginity is as big a thing as people make it out to be.“


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“I lost my virginity a few months after I turned 20, I think.  It was to my boyfriend at the time.  We broke up about a year and a half later, but we’re still friends now, with benefits, kind of.”


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“I was 15 years old and I was on a trip to Europe.  There was a house party….one of my older friends rented an older Volkswagen GTI for the weekend.  I ran into this girl that I remember meeting when I was younger.  We started catching up, chilling, laughing and drinking and suddenly, we were trying to find somewhere to “go”.  I asked my friend for his car key.  We went into the backseat and you know the rest.  The memory that stuck with me the most was the fact that ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ started blasting from the house and we could hear the dulled sound of it in the car.  The song, combined with the fact that we were in the back of a car got me thinking, ‘Damn, this is pretty cool’.”


By Heather Rattrey

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VoiceMisa Yamaoka