Christian Andzel is a mocked man. The sophomore political science major has heard almost every insult in the book – loser, boring, old-fashioned. He is laughed at, teased, and taunted every day. Why?
He's a virgin. And he's damn proud of it.
In 2009, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was asked in a press conference if he was a virgin. He didn't bat an eye, answering in the affirmative. Andzel is the same way – he's unashamed of his virginity, and while he may never go on TLC's Virgin Diaries, he wants to spread his message across UB.
"We make trends; we don't follow them," Andzel said. "We don't have to go in the way this university goes with the pop culture. I want people to pick up this article and say: ‘you know what, there are other people like me out there who are willing to stand up to the culture, who are willing to say no.'"
Notice he says "we make trends" – Andzel is far from alone. According to a 2011 report by the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of men and women between 18 and 24 who say they are virgins is increasing.
He's committed, but it hasn't been an effortless road.
"It's tough; it's very, very hard," Andzel said. "If [virgins] tell you it's easy, they're lying."
Andzel admitted there have been some hiccups along the way; he's come close to having sex twice and has struggled all throughout college to maintain his virginity, but there are a few things he remembers that keep him focused.
While virgins are often stereotyped as religious, Andzel's primary motivation has nothing to do with reaching heaven.
"My decision is 100 percent romantic, and when [marital intercourse] comes, my feelings will be bursting out of the roof," Andzel said. "That's what I cherish so much – that prolonged passion. People are so caught up in that ‘I want it now' self-pleasure, they don't even think about the consequences. I'm always thinking about the future."
Andzel is tremendously cautious when it comes to his future – he said he's staying as far away from pregnancy and STIs as he possibly can. According to NursingSchools.net, one in four college students has an STI, and 80 percent have no noticeable symptoms. Those statistics could be enough on their own for a student to choose abstinence.
It's simply a decision he's hell-bent on sticking to. He also believes his self-restraint will help his future marriage, and according to Chastity.com – a Catholic website dedicated to keeping young people away from sex until marriage – he might be right.
The website says: "when a man is married as a virgin, his divorce rate is 63 percent lower than a non-virgin. For women, it's 76 percent lower…among those who have already lost their virginity, two-thirds of them wished they had waited longer to have sex (77 percent of girls and 60 percent of guys)."
He admits that his trek is all the more wearisome because he attends a public university where sex is everywhere. It's on posters and flyers, it's in the music that plays in the Student Union, and today it saturates this newspaper from top to bottom. Indeed, sex surrounds virgins at UB.
That's why he feels that most virgins at this school specifically are afraid to be bold in their virginity. That's why he is willing to be their spokesperson.
"Most people are just silent, but I'll always put my neck out there," Andzel said.
"In the future, [abstinence] will all be worth it."
Andzel hopes his future wife will wait for marriage, too, but he doesn't expect it and he knows that it is highly unlikely. He also said he just laughs when people say he must masturbate all the time.
As for his relationship status? Andzel is single this Valentine's Day. But he's still on the lookout for Ms. Right, and when he finds her, he thinks she'll be thankful.
"The number one thing is I want to wait for that person, so she will know out of the self-sacrifice, I have done this out of love," Andzel said. "[She will know] he waited because he cared enough for me."
Students may not hold onto their virginity for love or health, but one thing is for certain – more of them are holding onto it.
To those students still grasping their elusive V-cards this V-day, Andzel has one final, bold plea:
"Keep it. Keep it because it's so sacred – not just in a religious sense, but in an individual way," Andzel said. "Once you do it, you can never take it back. There are so many consequences – emotionally and physically. Preserve it with all you have."