Mattia Pelizarri

Why Losing My Gay Club Virginity Meant So Much To Me

We all remember the first gay club we ever went to. It's a surreal, and out of body experience, where you find yourself enclosed in a hot and noisy room surrounded by other gay men. It's the first time ever laying eyes on two men kissing, the first time being in such close proximity of living and breathing real life homosexuals.

I can clearly remember mine.

It was a jam packed Friday night, in the summer of 2003, with the sound of "Kiss Kiss" by Holly Valance blaring through the speakers at Liquid Lounge in Kings Cross, London. You could literally feel the sweat dripping off the young and carefree partygoers: broke students, corporate workers and middle aged beer drinking ravers.

Things were so very different back in 2003; I was a young, naïve and extremely eager 18-year-old teenager ready to discover and explore a scene that, for so long, was kept a secret and hidden under the cotton wool I was wrapped up in.

Coming out to my family and friends was the equivalent of me exploding out of the imaginary closet in a burst of rainbows and fairy dust. I was ready to see the world, well, at least a world outside of North London.

Society then was so different compared to the modern luxuries of today. There was no social media, no dating apps and finding out where homosexual men gathered was as difficult as desperately trying to lose my virginity. Which was, by the way, a seemly impossible task.

So upon coming across a dingy and seedy looking nightclub in the dim lit, back, concrete streets of Kings Cross, I was left open mouthed and curious.

What kind of strange creatures inhabited this establishment? Standing outside with my friends, Vicky and Craig (who himself had only recently come out as gay), we pondered the thought, "do we step foot into the unknown or regress back into normality?"

The sound of faded music coming from inside the building sparked my curiosity more. We anxiously decided to step foot into the shadows. Dressed in turtle neck jumpers and jeans, we looked very different than the sight we were greeted by.

There were grungy, long haired guys that could pass as Kurt Cobain moshing to the heavy rock bass vibrating the room, butch girls snogging femme girls and gay boys -- lots of gay boys -- drinking, dancing and generally looking to have a fabulous time.

My eyes were astonished and amazed. ''Vicky, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore'' I proclaimed to my equally stunned friends as the three of us awkwardly pushed through the crowd.

That first night in Liquid Lounge was truly an eye opener. We spent the reminder of the night dancing, getting intoxicated for the first time and giggling in the corner as we looked on at all the drunken revelers.

Friday night soon became a ritual. It became a drunken haze of regrettable one-night stands, kisses, fondling in bathroom stalls with nameless strangers and acquiring an excessive taste of alcohol.

My late teen years were a blur dotted with the occasional memory that could be trigged with a particular name or song. (Liberty X's "Got to Have Your Love" always takes me back.)

That was almost 15 years ago now. Liquid Lounge, the place that told the tales of many sordid affairs and encounters, became Sahara Nights and then disbanded completely and became an eating establishment called the Big Chill House.

Sometimes, I think back to life before Liquid Lounge. Life was so much more unassuming and carefree as three socially awkward teenagers, outcast and shunned by the life of the school social system because they were not considered "cool" enough.

Liquid Lounge became a safe haven, a place where I could express my newly found gayness. Within its four walls I felt safe, I felt like I could be myself. It was a place where three unsure teenagers became sure of themselves -- identities were crafted and boundaries were shifted.

I have embraced my oddities like a badge of pride, a badge of being different, strange, unusual and gay. I say thank you for the music, and thank you to Liquid Lounge, for giving it to me.