At an early age, my inquisitive nature launched me on a never-ending journey to attempt to understand the world around me. Rather than accepting the age-old adage of “curiosity killed the cat” as law, I instead buzzed with questions about this cat and its demise, like “What was this cat curious about?" and “How did curiosity finally take this cat down?" The world is full of quirks, curiosities and novelties that, in my opinion, are the spice of life; with a healthy dose of curiosity, there is always a new lead to follow or a new trail to blaze to add to the exhaustingly complex but beautiful tapestry of living. However, there is a term related to “curious” that, from my perspective, prevents or limits people from gaining a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world around them: that is the word bicurious.
I say this because I believe linking bisexuality to curiosity is misleading; it implies that there is a lack of clarity, confidence, and validity on the part of individuals identifying as bisexual. The term bicurious intrinsically ties a valid sexual orientation to a level of uncertainty or exploration that contributes to the many misconceptions associated with bisexual individuals, like we are “in a phase” or unsure of who we are and what we want. Essentially, I think it undermines bisexuals and prevents others, whether they are part of the LGBTI community or not, from taking a true look at bisexuality.
This isn't to say that one cannot be curious about bisexuality or as a bi individual; in fact, I’d encourage the opposite. It’s fascinating to see how bisexuality is interpreted and expressed through the many individuals who identify as such and if someone is open to answering questions I’d say ask away. However, as someone who identified as bicurious for a good chunk of time, the questions I was often asked to answer had little to do with understanding bisexuality and were more centered on when I was going to “decide” if I was gay or straight. Fending off these questions added an element of pressure to my coming out process that I was unprepared for and, almost six years after coming out as a bi man, I still get asked when I will make my “decision” on my sexual orientation.
My answer is simple: the only decision I have ever made about my sexual orientation is to embrace it proudly. I cannot change who I am, nor do I want to. After much introspection, I eventually understood that I identified as bicurious simply because I was misinformed and pressured to believe that what I was feeling was wrong and invalid. I bought the bi-curious hype and pressured myself into thinking that one day I would have to make a choice that ran counter to my feelings. Eventually, I did make a choice: to trust in myself and do my best to ignore the skeptical mutterings of those who, to this day, still consider my sexuality to be invalid.
I think that continuing to use the term bicurious will only cause further strife for young individuals working to understand their sexual orientation, which is why I’m happy to see the term “Questioning” gain more traction as time progresses. From my perspective, this slight change relieves pressure from individuals to “make a choice” about their place in the LGBTI community, as questioning could refer to any number of sexual orientations. By replacing bicurious with questioning, we’re providing a safer, more inclusive space for individuals to discover their path on their own terms while also reaffirming the validity of bisexual individuals.
Some may think this is overly PC, but to me, it is about so much more. It’s about helping the queer youth of today have a smoother journey as they embrace their identities. It’s about acknowledging the truth of the bi identity. It’s about building a better future for our community overall. It’s my hope that as we move forward, curiosity about bisexuality will shift from questions about when you’re “deciding” and instead grow into questions unique to each bisexual person to gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives on love, relationships, attraction, and more.
As I continue my lifelong quest to learn more about myself and the world around me, I remain curious about many things; one of them is deepening my understanding of bisexuality as life progresses. While I am curious to see how I grow as an individual in the years to come, I am not uncertain about who I am in the present: I am a ceaselessly curious bi man, but I am not bicurious.