They are a generation at ease with talking about sex. They know what th ey want, they know where to get it, and they know the risks involved. But old h abits die hard... My mum doesn't have a clue what I'm doing I hate the power girls have when it comes to sex
They are a generation at ease with talking about sex. They know what they want, they know where to get it, and they know the risks involved. But old habits die hard...

THE SINGLE WOMAN Danielle, 21, lives in Leeds. She does not work because she has panic attacks. Her mother works as a waitress; her father for a hotel. She has two brothers.

If I fancy a guy I'll just go up to him and say: "All right, gorgeous?" That's how I am. Loud. If they turn out to be a prat, talking about money or themselves too much, I kick them and run off. If they are funny and make me laugh I'll just get off with them on the dance floor. I'm not shy.

I can usually tell what they're like pretty quickly, whether I can trust going home with them. If there were loads of men I wouldn't go. You know - gang rape and stuff.

Once I'm in their bedroom, it's always the full works. Most of them are wham-bam-thankyou-ma'am types. I usually give them a second chance, but if they are still dodgy then I forget it. Occasionally - perhaps one in four - they might make a bit of effort. I see those guys again. Sometimes, if I'm not too drunk, I get them to wear a condom. But I'm on the Pill anyway. I try not to think about Aids too much.

I was in love once, when I was 17. But I treated him really badly. What did we have in common? Drugs I suppose. He took a lot of whizz (amphetamines) and Ecstasy. In the end I broke it up because my friend dared me to. I thought he would phone back crying like he usually did. But this time he didn't. I wish I hadn't finished with him.

Now I'm seeing several guys. I just see them when I see them - nothing permanent. My mum doesn't have a clue what I'm doing. She thinks that because I don't have a boyfriend I'm not having sex. But I do - about once a month on average - though I wish it was every day. Different ones on the whole. I've had sex with about 40 guys since I was 16, when I lost my virginity. I'd been wanting to get rid of it for a while, but I didn't want it be quite so bad as it was. I was drunk. I didn't know him.

It was really rubbish - he didn't even realise I was a virgin.

"I would like to settle down with one person but I think I'd get bored. I find it hard to ask men what they feel about me. I'm scared they'll turn round and say, "I hate you."

Once I was fast asleep at a friend's house, when I felt someone having sex with me from behind. I woke up, turned around and there was this lad I only half knew, banging away. I punched him and told him to get out. I had to laugh or I would have cried.

I wouldn't call it rape. Although I suppose I could do. But that would get him into trouble. He's scared of me now. I wish I could do the same to him, so that he knows what it feels like. But I'll probably just show him up. Or hit him again. He's a monster.

I've never thought about marriage. I'm quite happy as I am. I do what I do when I want.

Interview by Esther Oxford.

THE SINGLE MAN Billy has just turned 18 and lives in south London. He is doing his A-levels at a comprehensive sixth-form college. He has been in a relationship for about six months with a girl at his college.

I've been going out with a girl for about four months now, but I wouldn't say that I've had lots of experience with women. Some of my friends tell amazing stories about how many women they've had, but I'd say I was about average. If any of them were virgins, none of them would admit to it - they'd get cussed too much. As for homosexuality, it's only talked about as a laugh really. If someone was gay they'd never talk about it cos they'd get crucified.

How many sexual partners have I had? I was waiting for you to ask me that. Do I have to answer? Two.

The first time was when I was 16 and had been going out with this girl for about three months. We'd talked about it and decided that we would try. It happened one night at a mate's party. His parents had gone away so we sneaked upstairs and went into their bedroom.

I'd told her that I wasn't a virgin, thoughI knew that she was. It was the worst lie of my life because when it came down to it she was looking at me to take the lead; you know, to be in control of things. I hate the power that women have when it comes to sex. The pressure is always on you to perform and for you to please her.

We were in this room with the lights on and I was sitting on the edge of the bed trying to put a condom on. She was just lying there on the bed naked, watching me. I just sat there trying to act like I knew what I was doing while trying to keep my concentration. We were both too nervous and it wasn't very passionate. We just did it and then went and joined everyone else downstairs.

I wouldn't really change anything about that night, though. You have to start somewhere - it has to be your first time at some point.

I'm a coward when it comes to chatting up girls. I've never asked a girl I didn't know out for a drink. If I like a girl she's usually a friend or in my group of friends. I just try to get to know her and then hope she will like me and ask me out. It worked with my current girlfriend.

I don't really know if I love her. I care about her more than any other girl I've been out with but love is a serious word. Love is for older people who want to get married; I can't see it happening to me until I'm about 30. Too many people believe that they're in love, get married and then divorce. I'm not going to be like that.

What qualities do I look for in a girlfriend? She's got to have a sense of humour and can't be rough-looking. She can't be too short cos I'm quite tall and she can't be spotty or fat.

Interview by Alister Morgan.

I came out to my mum when I was 13

THE GAY SCHOOLGIRL Perry, 16, is a schoolgirl. She lives in east London.

I came out to myself when I was about 10 but I didn't tell anyone for ages. I used to get hold of books about lesbians and lock myself in the bathroom to read them because I was so embarrassed.

I didn't snog another girl until I was 12. I used to go canoeing and I went to Ireland with the group one holiday. There was this girl who I was really flirty with but I couldn't do anything about it because I didn't know what to say.

We had a snog one night and it was really scary. We were standing outside and she just leaned over. I freaked out, saying, "Right, I better go now, yeah, better go in," trying to block her out and get away. After that I couldn't stop thinking about her. We pretended that it hadn't happened even though we sort of went out together for the rest of the holiday.

I came out to my mum when I was 13. She was really cool about it. She just told me to be careful. My parents are divorced and I don't talk to my dad about being a dyke. He knows, but he's straighter than straight and I couldn't imagine having a conversation with him about it. I know he's really homophobic, which doesn't make it easy.

I first slept with another girl when I just turned 15. It was the Easter holidays and my girlfriend and I had planned to have sex. I'm quite shy about my body - I'd walked round in my bra or a T-shirt in front or her but it was the first time anyone had seen me with no clothes on since I was about seven. It shook me up a bit.

You think you'll be really nervous when you sleep with someone for the first time but it's weird, I wasn't at all. The morning after I was fine. We were watching Neighbours when one of the characters said she really regretted sleeping with her boyfriend for the first time. My girlfriend, who was 18, was worried and said, "You did want to, didn't you?" And I said, "Of course, let's go and do it again."

I was a bit worried that I hadn't done it right the first time because I just lay there like a wet cabbage. After I got more experienced, it got more embarrassing: I knew what lesbians did in bed, but I kept thinking should I be doing this now, would shelike that?

I really wanted to come out at school because I thought it was important to be honest. Some of my friends were really wary of me at first. Like, before, it used to be, "Yo, Perry, how are you today?" and big hugs, but even now my friends aren't as physical with me as they used to be because they're scared I'm going to pounce on them. That's so big-headed. I say to them, look you don't fancy every boy you meet, do you? Well I don't fancy every girl I know, either.

When I came out, the straight girls at my school were always asking me, "How do lesbians have sex?" I'm usually very honest with them but sometimes I make up stories just to shock them. Most of the time I say, "Think of something that would really reallyturn you on." They close their eyes and think of something, then I say, "Well, that's it, that's what lesbians do in bed."

And they're really shocked but it shuts them up. I know some of them think I can't really be having sex because I'm a dyke, which is bloody annoying - almost as annoying as the fact they're so fascinated by lesbian sex - but they're so wrong.

Interview by Sophia Chauchard- Stuart.

My dad can't stand gays - and I'm one

THE GAY SCHOOLBOY Mark is 16 and comes from Manchester.

It feels funny talking about it, saying out loud that I'm gay - I've spent so long scared stiff that someone would guess, that some boy would think I was looking at him too much, in the wrong way. Since puberty I've had this fear, in the background but growing all the time. I didn't analyse it until it got so bad that I just had to.

When I look back, I think I've always fancied boys. When I was about 10, this boy moved in next door. He was about 16, tall, really good-looking, and I couldn't take my eyes off him. I was always hanging around outside the house looking out for him. I remember feeling this really intense need to be his friend, for him to think I was OK.

I used to think maybe I'd start to fancy girls. When all of my friends started going out with them I went out with a few. My mates would say things like "Man, she's really sexy, ask her out," and I really wanted it to work. But when I should have been thinking "I'm in with a chance here", I was breaking into a cold sweat thinking she might realise something was wrong and tell everyone. It's that fear, that people are going to find out. You can't imagine it if you're straight.

Somehow I feel all right about myself now - I don't know exactly why, although talking to other gay people helps. There's nothing wrong with gay people, I know that, although the limp-wristed ones turn me right off. A few months ago I was really down about it. I looked normal, I sounded normal but I knew I was gay, and it was making me ill thinking about it. It's like I was standing outside myself, looking in, and thinking, he's a queer.

I thought to myself ... if any of these people knew what was going through my head ... If my Dad knew he'd go mad. You should hear him talking about gays - he can't stand them - and the big joke is his own son's one of them.

My mates are the same, although with one or two of them I've thought, "Maybe he is too." One guy has acted a bit funny sometimes, like he's interested. I fancy him, and I think he knows it. I nearly made a move a couple of times but thank God I didn't. If I'd been wrong about him I'd be finished here - I'd have to move out of town.

I'm not a virgin. Last year, I met this dead sexy gay guy in a club. We just started talking. Then I got separated from the crowd I was out with, and this guy asked me if I wanted to go back to his place for some smoke. I was terrified. I knew what was going to happen, and I knew that I was going to go through with it. I needed to, and he was dead sexy. We got a bit stoned - and then suddenly we were all over each other.

I thought for a moment, this is wrong. Then it felt amazing and disgusting at the same time. But I thought to myself, you've been thinking about this for years, now it's happening. Just enjoy it. And being in his arms just felt so right - I was so happy.

I thought I was in love for a week. I wanted to be. But he's a good laugh, and it's great having someone to talk to. No one else knows anything about me and him, which is safer. I'm only just getting used to the idea myself. Besides, sometimes it's nice to have a secret.

Interview by James Collard.

All names have been changed The gods: Keanu Reeves, the part-Chinese-Hawaiian, part-English 30-year-old movie star, is the biggest lust object in the world for girls (and gay men). Tall and muscly with a beautiful face, Keanu is a Nineties hunk: multi-ethnic (his name means "cool breeze over a mountain"); attracted to integrity-laden subjects (homeless rent boys, the life of Buddha); and the on- and off-screen personification of the New Age: soulful, spacey, and sweet. In the words of a 15-year-old fan,"Keanu is 100 per cent babe."

Cindy Crawford, 28, the curvy supermodel with mole and come-hither glance is the female icon for the Nineties, say the lads.

During the grungey late-Eighties and flat-chested Nineties, Cindy retained her appeal - not by joining in, but by standing out. Boys fell willy over heels in lust with the swimwear calendar poses and demure Penthouse spread. Her "wholesome", "knowing" appeal is a "winner", says Carl, 17, an A-level student.

Carl has a poster of Cindy on his bedroom wall. "She is standing there with her back to you," he says, breathlessly. "Wherever you walk in the room her eyes follow."

Sex: the facts The 1994 Sexual Behaviour in Britain study found that 10 per cent of women aged between 25 and 34 had had more than 10 sexual partners, compared with 4 per cent for their mothers' generation.

16-year-old girls are only 4 per cent less likely to have had sex than boys.

The average age at which most 16- to 24-year-olds first have intercourse is 17, Family Planning Clinic Service figures show.

9 percent of teenagers think it is wrong for unmarried couples to have sex, according to a 1994 MORI/Reader's Digest poll.

Attitudes towards homosexuality are taking much longer to change. A 1993 survey by Mintel, the market research group, found that 61 per cent of 15-24 year olds feel homosexuality was acceptable, compared with 48 per cent in 1989.

A study of 30,000 young people by Exeter University in 1994 found that roughly half felt parents should be their main source of information about sex, but they actually found out most from their friends.

A Mizz magazine/Brook Advisory Centres survey of 831 teenagers in 1994 showed that 70 per cent of young women received their sexual information from magazines, but 65 per cent said they still thought their parents should be the main source.

Most young people are aware that condoms help protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. But there is still a significant degree of ignorance as to how the disease is actually caught - more than a third of the Exeter University sample believed, wrongly, that it could be caught by giving blood.

Condom use is patchy. Nine out of 10 young people think it important to wear one, but just under half actually use them, according to the Mintel survey.

About 19 per cent of HIV infections in the UK are among young people aged between 15 and 24. (Aids Quarterly Surveillance Table, December 1993).

Jojo Moyes