Singer Elton John has spoken about losing his virginity at the age of 23, saying he wished he had slept with a man sooner.

The gay star, who got hitched to civil partner David Furnish in 2005, said that he didn’t know who he was until having sex for the first time.

He made the confession in a letter to his 16-year-old self, which read: “I made the mistake of not having sex until I was 23! I loved being with another man and felt relieved that I finally knew who I was. I made the mistake of falling in love too soon because I was naive and romantic.

“My advice to you is to never chase love. It will find you when you least expect it. Have fun, have lots of safe sex and enjoy your sexuality. Be proud of who you are.”

He continued: “I made a lot of mistakes. Stay away from drugs, they’re a waste of time. Stand up for every human being’s rights. Be loving, kind and strong. Set an example. You’re going to have one hell of a life!”

The letter appears in Joseph Galliano’s new book Dear me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self.