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Ask Athena: I'm a Gay Male, 24, and Still a Virgin

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Dear Athena,

I'm a gay male in Burlington, and I'm a virgin. I feel so behind in life, and I'm starting to become concerned that it will never happen. I've never had a relationship and have barely kissed anyone.

Signed,

24 and Alone

Dear 24,

It will happen ... if you want it to. Getting laid is sorta easy, if you don't care how it happens. If you're just looking for a hookup to get the first time over with, there are dating websites specifically designed for getting some booty. That said, I don't really recommend it at this time. Call me old-fashioned, but I think you ought to lose your virginity with someone with whom you've cultivated a connection. He doesn't have to be the love of your life — just a good, trustworthy guy.

What's more important than anything else, however, is your pride — and, right now, it sounds pretty beaten up.

You haven't had a relationship yet? Why is that? Examine what's been standing in the way of getting to know someone more intimately than a friend. Are you afraid of getting rejected? Join the club. Seriously, everyone feels vulnerable at one point or another. You just have to take a deep breath and accept that rejection sometimes comes your way, but that it's part of life and won't kill you.

Pick yourself up and go out and meet some like-minded people. Go to a gay club; attend LGBTQ events; volunteer for organizations, marches, celebrations. Join a gym (it can't hurt to buff up your bod along with your self-confidence). Strike up conversations with men you find attractive. I-Spy someone. Bottom line: Put yourself out there as a single guy looking for companionship. Nothing is going to happen without some effort on your part.

Also, it's time to dispel the myth you've created. Who says you should have had more experience by now? Who says it's never gonna happen for you? No one started that rumor except you, and you're doing yourself a disservice by believing it. No more pressure. No more sitting around hoping and moping.

Remember, too, that life is about more than sex or dating; it's about doing the best you can in the moment. It's about surrounding yourself with people who make you think and who believe in you. It's about minding your health and doing work you can be proud of. And it's about enjoying friends and family and contributing to the world with empathy and grace.

Buddy, embrace your life — and let the world know you are ready to be embraced.

Yours,

Athena