I’m a virgin and I’m glad about that’

The Telegraph 19 May 2014
Phin Lyman, 18, is my new hero. The schoolboy has just written about his virginity in his school’s magazine, explaining that he doesn’t want ‘casual sex’ and would rather wait to find someone he loves.

Lyman wrote in The Wellingtonian: “One of the reasons I decided to go public is I am at the top of the school now and I can look down and see there is so much pressure on younger pupils to have sex. It’s slightly depressing to see it.”

I couldn’t agree more. I think the pressure on young people (and by that I mean pretty much anyone aged 13-30) to have sex is so huge that I’ve written an entire book on it: Virgin. It tells the story of Ellie Kolstakis, a 21 year-old female student who still hasn’t lost her virginity. It isn’t for want of trying, and so she struggles with feelings of rejection and stigmatisation.

The novel is fiction but it’s based on real stories from students who were virgins at university. In fact, a recent Student Beans study shows that only eight per cent of 6,129 UK students have never had sexual intercourse and out of the 92 per cent who have had sex, only one per cent lost their virginities over the age of 21.

It’s why my character Ellie has to lie during sex confession drinking games like Never Have I Ever to try and fit in, feels humiliated by the fact that she doesn’t even need to take a chlamydia test, and has to deal with the fact that everyone around her is having sex. Repeatedly.