I think bisexuality and bicuriousity get a bad reputation. There are so many different ideas of what it means to be bisexual, myths surrounding it, and the constant idea that everyone is a little bit bi. I often think about the stigma and struggles about not knowing one’s sexuality. Just like questioning is a valid identity, so is bicurious. In this piece I talk about the definition of bicurious, different views and ideas, and its relation with sex and different gender identities.
My go-to resource for definitions (see here) defines bicurious as:
An individual who identifies as gay or straight while showing some curiosity for a relationship or sexual activity with a person of the sex they do not favor (related terms: heteroflexible, homoflexible).
In my experience and conversations, it’s basically a word for someone who doesn’t know if they are bisexual or not. I think the more interesting part of all this is how folks in different communities feel about it.
Views and Ideas On Bicuriosity
I’ll start with my own! I think I remember my mom using the term when I was first questioning my identity as a way to conflate questioning with bicuriousity. I don’t think this is true for everyone, as not everyone questions they might be bisexual.
In my experience, I’ve found that some folks find it annoying to be an “experiment” to others. I’ve talked with a few folks about this and I’ve found folks have mixed views about being in a relationship or having sex with someone who is bicurious or doesn’t know their sexuality. Check out the comments here to get a few opinions.
I was doing some reading here about different bicurious experiences of women and many of them seem to have a common theme of being in college, a time where I think many folks are finding their identities.
I think there’s also a level of fantasy around this, where things like porn, the male gaze, and partners’ desires come into folks thinking about their identity as seen here. This also goes into the difference between bisexuality and being biromantic.
Experimenting and Sex
When I was first trying to figure out my sexuality, I often got the the idea of experimenting, which I think is often talked about when talking about bicurious folks. There are even articles of advice for it that you can read here, here, and here. I think it often comes down to communication, as someone who isn’t sure about their identity may not want a relationship. In my experience, this is where the stigma of lesbians not wanting to date bicurious folks.
This topic makes me think of the folks (often straight women) who kiss in public places for the gaze of men. As I mention below, bisexuality is often sexualized in women. Additionally, I think often times folks use three-somes with a man and another women to figure out their identity if they’re bicurious. As a sex positive person, if clear communication is had, I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. I think it’s a big part of the label and conversations around bicuriousity. You can read about it here and here.
Bicuriousness and Trans and Nonbinary Identities
I think sexuality in relation to trans and nonbinary communities are always complex, in a fun way, that really makes folks think about gender identity. For example, when I identified as cisgender and a lesbian, I found myself attracted to someone who is nonbinary. I bring this up because when a cisgender person is attracted to someone of a different gender they are often seen as straight. It can make folks question the words they use for their identity. In my experience, I define what the labels mean. I think that bicuriousity could also show up here too. The word skoliosexual is someone who is attracted to non-binary folks.
Bicuriousity also goes two ways here. A binary trans person (someone who identifies as a binary identity of man or woman) may identify as straight and be curious about attraction to someone of the same gender. Or the opposite, a straight person may have an attraction to a trans person of the same gender. If we detach biological sex from the conversation and look at the person, it’s bicuriosity because the person may identify as bisexual.
Just so we don’t leave anyone out, let’s talk about how men play a role here. As explained here, bisexuality is sexualized in women. So while biphobia and bierasure exists regardless of gender identity and expression, men tend to have a hard time. This may also relate to masculinity around how being gay (or attracted to men in any way) in our society crushes a man’s fragile masculinity. Check out more about this topic here, here, and here.
Some of you might be asking, what about heteroflexibility? In my understanding, heteroflexibility is someone who is mostly straight but not exclusively. This opinion piece explains that they are one in the same. The author writes that heteroflexible folks just don’t want to commit to the label. I don’t agree there, but as I mentioned, I think it’s all an individual basis.
If you’re thinking you might be bicurious, I wouldn’t get caught up in the label. I would also consider identifying as questioning, as it is a bit more broad. Then again, maybe I’m biased because I identified as questioning myself. Feel free to check out the sources and additional resources below and my inbox is always open if you want to talk more about it!
Sources (in order of appearance)
Green, L. and MTV Braless. Is Everyone a Little Bit Bi? Who You’re Hurting By Saying Yes. Everyday Feminism. https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/12/is-everyone-a-little-bit-bi/
Terminology. Montclair State University. https://www.montclair.edu/lgbtq-center/lgbtq-resources/terminology/
Word of the Gay: Bi-Curious. Queers United. Blogspot. http://queersunited.blogspot.com/2008/08/word-of-gay-bi-curious.html
Tarkoff, N. 7 Women Who Currently Identify At Straight Share Their ‘Bicurious’ Experience. Thought Catalog. https://thoughtcatalog.com/nicole-tarkoff/2015/08/7-women-who-currently-identify-as-straight-share-their-bi-curious-experiences/
Am I Bisexual or Bicurious? Go Ask Alice. Columbia University. http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/am-i-bisexual-or-bicurious
Emery, L.R. Bi-Curiousity: How to Start Experimenting (And Why You Should). Collective. https://www.bellesa.co/collective/article?id=189/bi-curiosity-how-to-start-experimenting-and-why-you-should-
Marin, V. How To Experiment With Another Girl: Tips For Exploring Bi-Curiousity For The First Time. Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/articles/29704-how-to-experiment-with-another-girl-tips-for-exploring-bi-curiosity-for-the-first-time
Barrie, Z. When To Do When You’re A Bi-Curious Girl. Elite Daily. https://www.elitedaily.com/dating/sex/dos-and-donts-bi-curious-girl-experiment/1772480
Escandon, R. Straight Girls Can Kiss Women For Fun, Just Make Sure No One is Getting Hurt. Elite Daily. https://www.elitedaily.com/life/straight-girls-can-kiss-girls/1433200
Marin, V. What To Do If Your Boyfriend Wants to Experiment With Men. Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/articles/159940-what-to-do-if-your-boyfriend-wants-to-experiment-with-men
Smith, S.E. Stop Sexualizing Bi Women By Assuming Their More Interested in Threesomes. Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/articles/112602-stop-sexualizing-bi-women-by-assuming-theyre-more-interested-in-threesomes
Leavell, J. When Toxic Masculinity Infects Our Queer Spaces, We All Lose. Vice. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ev55y4/when-toxic-masculinity-infects-our-queer-spaces-we-all-lose
Cain, M. What gay men’s attitudes to manhood taught me about womanhood. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/09/gay-men-attitude-masculinity-sexuality-women
Dr. Nerdlove. The Danger of What Happens When Toxic Masculinity Fails Men. Everyday Feminism. https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/05/when-masculinity-fails-men/
Zane, Z. Heteroflexible, Bi-curious, But Mostly Straight. Pride. https://www.pride.com/bisexual/2016/1/20/heteroflexible-bi-curious-mostly-straight
At What Point Does A Person Stop Being ‘Bicurious’ And Just Become Bisexual. Queerty. https://www.queerty.com/point-person-stop-bi-curious-just-become-bisexual-20160731
Friedrichs, E. What it Means to Be ‘Bi-Curious,’ LiveAbout. https://www.liveabout.com/what-does-bi-curious-mean-1415628
Karin, S. Watch Lesbians Attempt to Explain Bi-Curious Women. Buzzfeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/skarlan/watch-lesbians-attempt-to-explain-bi-curious-women?utm_term=.jqBmQKLqY#.gwy2AxpQN
Zara, B. What to Ask Yourself If You’re Questioning Your Sexuality. Elite Daily. https://www.elitedaily.com/dating/questioning-your-sexuality/1759249
Come Curious. YouTube. I Think I like Girls too?