I wanted to ask you a delicate question about Sherlock. It's common belief that he's virgin but Sherlock is a man of almost 40 and I believe it to be quite sad? to not have even tried sex once at that age. I'm taking for granted that he's gay, not asexual, because that would make sense. It would still work for him to reject it after having tried it and I know it's left to interpretation but it quite bothers me that many believe him not to have even kissed. What do you think of it?
It’s a bit beyond common belief. It is just the truth as the story tells us, quite forcefully and repeatedly.
It is sad, I’d say, not because of the lack of sex, but because Sherlock desperately wants and needs to share some kind of intimacy but refuses to become intimate in any way with anyone. In fact he insists that not only does he not need or want love and affection, he is also completely unloveable and proceeds to behave that way to make sure it’s true. So the sad part, to me, is that Sherlock creates a situation where he cannot get what it is he actually wants, and keeps making sure of it.
For most of this story, Sherlock doesn’t want to become too attached to anyone, and he doesn’t know why. It seems he invents a reason somewhere along the way: he’s just like that, he’s a sociopath. Now, after series 4, we all know the truth. Early on he associated a deep attachment to another person with terrible horror, grief, and guilt. Much more of each than a small boy can make sense of or manage. Because of this, he knows he can’t love or be loved by another person; the consequences are too horrific. it would be a terrible, painful, destructive thing that would destroy the person he loves and tear him to shreds. Sherlock had no idea why this was true, but he knew with certainty that it was.
This revelation makes most of Sherlock’s most inconceivable actions make a lot more sense. In series 2, Sherlock and John are so close that John finally accepts that they’re a couple, albeit a very untraditional, unusual one. And that’s the point where Sherlock thinks the best thing he can do is pretend to die and not tell John. It’s a terrible thing to do; but that’s how Sherlock’s built at that point. People can’t love him, and he can’t love other people. He absolutely takes that for granted as fact, no matter how much the evidence suggests otherwise.
It’s no surprise to me that he wouldn’t have any sexual experience at all, because what good would it have done him to experiment, under those conditions? That’s like “experimenting” with bee stings when you know you’re deathly allergic to bees. It was far too dangerous, and pointless when you already know the outcome. Sherlock knew sex, intimacy, even friendship, was wrong for him, impossible for him, really. He has been avoiding any kind of intimacy since the death of his friend when he was small.
This didn’t have to be about sexuality. He could have divorced the emotional from the physical and experimented all he wanted, but this Sherlock did not do that. The references to Sherlock’s virginity underscore this repeatedly.
Is it sad? Yes, it is, it’s very sad. Not because all people should be having lots of sex, but as a marker of intimacy that he is desperately avoiding, yes, it’s sad. It’s the final problem: fortunately, with series 4, it’s solved, and Sherlock is free. Battered, bruised, and damaged for life, but free to love and be loved.