For a person who has only taken part in heterosexual sexual experiences, the answer to the question, “How many people have you slept with?” often results in a reference to the number of situations where vaginal or anal penetration occurred. Is penetration the only legitimate way to have sex? Of course not.
Somewhere along the way, we constructed a black and white definition of sex: penis in a hole. You’ve probably heard a friend say, “I gave him a blow job, but we didn’t have sex,” – a sentence that implies sucking and licking a penis doesn’t constitute intercourse.
Your first penetrative sexual experience is commonly referred to as “losing your virginity.” But doesn’t one’s first sexual experience—no matter what sexual acts occurred—constitute a loss of that virginal state?
There’s nothing wrong with heterosexual penetration—which is of course sex—but we need to ensure our definitions are inclusive of our own experiences and the experiences of others.
Your personal interpretation may be different from another’s, but the point here is to expand the traditional definition. Just because female-female sex does not include penis-vagina penetration does not make that sex any less legitimate.
Oral-genital sex, sex toy play, BDSM, mutual masturbation, group sex, dirty talk, phone sex, cybersex, breast or nipple stimulation, manual-genital stimulation (fingering, hand jobs), sexual massage, kissing, and more, ought to all be recognized as fun parts of legitimate sexual experience – with or without penis-vagina penetration.
A large part of breaking down LGBTTQ* stigma falls on the shoulders of heterosexual individuals, and breaking away from the traditional definition of intercourse is a simple step forward.