While historically in the UK, being LGBTQ+ often brought great personal risk, a social shift has taken place in recent years, bringing with it a greater cultural openness.
Coming out to oneself and one’s family is still, to many, a terrifying and life-altering experience, with compulsory heteronormativity, compounded by a liberal dash of internalised homophobia, acting together to instil shame. These are the parameters within which many young LGBTQ+ individuals first discover themselves, and it is through this murky haze that they must forge themselves.
LGBTQ+ people are some of the strongest people you could ever meet Whichever way you identify within this spectrum, the simple truth of the broadness of sexuality is well established and celebrated. Fluidity is common amongst many Queer individuals, and upholding the ability to love widely and deeply is one of the community’s most fundamental and sacred values.
'Bicuriosity’ could be, to many, just another development in that search to expand and normalise non-heteronormative relationships in our society and across the world; not something to be sceptical or damning of.
For those that claim the label, put simply, it is the dipping of the toe before the plunge. It is the opportunity to recognise your sexuality and take steps to understand it.
However, while the experience of ‘bicuriosity’ is not solely claimed by the straight community, it is often viewed as an extension of hetero-culture. 'Bicuriosity’ becomes a problematic term, when considered from the perspective of those of the LGBTQ+ community whose formative experiences of self-acceptance were difficult or are ongoing.
For the bisexual community, where bi-erasure is a significant current issue, ‘bicuriosity’ could be seen by some as the continued undermining of their lived experience.
Indeed, for many across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, this is what ‘bicuriosity’ has come to represent, an opportunity for straight cisgender individuals to ‘try on’ these relationships, and then discard them when the thrill has passed, avoiding all the associated social and familial repercussions. For many LGBTQ+ women, the practise of ‘bicuriosity’ by cis straight women continues to fuel the fetishization of Lesbian sexuality in heteronormative culture and patriarchal structures.
As LGBTQ+ history proves, it is to the benefit of all if people are free to live and love as they choose. Whichever way you view ‘bicuriosity’, it is important to respect that not everyone will agree with you, and if you choose to explore it, be conscious and sensitive to the views on the topic.
After all, being educated allows for constructive and openminded discourse, especially when in today's networked society, we are never unaccountable.
Featured image: Sharon McCutcheon (unsplash)