I love people watching, especially people from the diverse LGBT community living in London.
I don't know why my eyes are so curious; perhaps I just love looking at people I identify with. For example, the other week, I saw the cutest gay couple in front of me as I walked towards my local corner store. As I stole random glances at them, I felt fuzzy inside seeing them holding hands and kissing.
After witnessing all this wonderful canoodling, thoughts shifted to my love life, or more specifically, my sex life. It suddenly hit me that I was heading right on track to be a 30-year-old virgin! Forget sex, I'd never been on a proper date, or even squeezed another man's hand with flirty intentions.
I'm pretty up and down about being a virgin. There are moments where I simply don't care and would happily die a virgin. Other times, I'm howling like a pantomime dame in self pity.
This kind of emotional rollercoaster has led me to ask myself: Why are you still a virgin? I quickly came up with possible causes: lack of self-esteem, STI fears, and delusionary-high expectations.
My lack of self-esteem probably stemmed from my conservative Indian background, where sexuality and relationships were seldom discussed. As a child, I would remember while watching TV that whenever moments of intimacy (especially involving gay people) popped up, the channel would change swiftly with breathy tones of parental disgust.
These subtle family dynamics led me to conclude that sex was restricted to marriage, and just for heterosexuals. This was an unhealthy environment to be in, and my pride took a few hits.
As an adult, having moved away from British suburbia to embrace the exuberance of London, I felt liberated diving into the city's gay scene. However this high died down a few years in, I became jaded by the superficiality of it all. Today, this shallowness seems more concentrated within "dating" apps or social media sites.
For whatever reason, the men I attract like my south asian and geeky image, and they tend to be much older, white, and rather "rough" looking. That's all very well, but things get worse when I start receiving address coordinates for hook-up sessions while "the boyfriend is out". This frankly leaves me feeling cold, and my chastity belt remains locked. I hear some of you say,'Well that's what apps are for, it's about instant gratification!' But I can't help but feel demoralized by these experiences.
This leads me onto my second issue - the fear of catching STIs. Syphillis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and HIV are a few, and they all freak me out. I have an embarrassing story where a few years back I was covered in an itchy rash. Possessing a state of panic, I hurried to a sexual health clinic, worried I had HIV. It just turned out to be hives, and the nurse (who must've thought I was crazy) reassured me, saying that sexually-inactive people were very unlikely to contract any kind of STIs. I left the clinic feeling stupid and shamefully ignorant!
Sex is easily assessable. Through technology, gay men don't need to leave their homes to find intercourse. Especially if you're considered "gorgeous", the hook-up opportunity pings must be messaging in right, left and centre. I don't wish to sex shame people, I mean if I were in their shoes, I'd love the attention. However, I wonder if random hookups are desensitizing gay men to the sexual health risks they may involve? I think it does, and so my over-cautious mind has held me back from experimenting with casual encounters in fear that my health would be compromised.
The truth is I've been longing for "Mr Perfect" to lose my virginity to, for a long time. This leads to my third and final point: my delusionary-high expectations. I blame my childhood obsession with Disney movies. The stories depicted kind, handsome, usually white princes who promised romance and security. I've now realized that "Mr Perfect" doesn't exist, and that Mr Make Do is the way forward.
After dissecting and laying bare the major reasons for remaining a virgin, I feel a sense of clarity. You may ask, how does a virgin navigate through what at times feels like a hyper-sexualised society? The truth is, my need for sexual connection has become tinged with melancholy, but it's not something I try to dwell on. After all, I'm an awesome grown adult who just happens to be a virgin. I have no interest in self-pity or feeling unfulfilled. Yes, it can be challenging sometimes, but it is what it is.
I mentioned culturally issues, health fears, and being picky as barriers to my sexual liberation. But I've come to understand that the antidote to my predicament is one word - permission. Meaning permission is needed to cross barriers to reach a space for a mind-blowing sex life. This permission can only from one person, and that's me. I'm working on this and, who knows, this time next year my virginity may well be a distant memory.
Vish Gaikwad is a London based gaysian, interested in all things LGBT, pop culture, and Britney. He tweets at @vishdelishuk