I’ll say it: I’m bi-curious.
The idea is problematic. I have announced myself as a gay man for a few years now. But as a wise friend once told me, labels are tools, not cages.
I don’t know if I’ll announce myself any differently. I don’t know what to announce, or if bi-curiosity merits an announcement. Sexuality is fluid — most of us are bisexual on some level. Yes, I’m thinking about women lately. So what?
The label you use — “gay,” “bi,” “genderqueer” — is a dating tool, an easily-digested tag to make hookups more systematic and simple, an identifier to give people some idea who you are, what your gender identity is, and how you see yourself. As important as it may see at the time, it is not a box you have to fit in. You may find your current label ill-fitting in a few years — that’s OK. I don’t think every person has a “right” label they’re meant to discover. You use one for as long as it is useful. When it stops being useful, get rid of it. Try on a new one.
In the journey to self-understanding, queer people often try on many labels. This is healthy and normal. At some point, you may feel content with the word you are currently using. That’s where I am with “gay.” I’m not quite ready to change labels yet.
I like gay men. I have sex with gay men. I date gay and bi men. But take away the label — take away all labels — and I’m just another person seeking sex with people. That hunger, that need to combat loneliness with the company of others, is human and universal. It should ring true to everyone. That’s why I’ve never understood the hatred that fuels the anti-LGBT front. I have never and will never understand how our sexual pursuits and relationships appear that different from theirs, or why they can’t see a striking commonality between us. On some core level, we’re all searching for similar things — togetherness, connection, family. That hardly seems baffling. That seems like a very basic observation that anyone standing outside this global war between the Religious Right and LGBTQ people should see clearly and immediately.
Back to my label. I will give a healthy five percent to the possibility that I will at some point have sex with a woman. So if we’re going with percentages, I’m 95% gay.
The people you’re likely to fuck are not necessarily the people you’re likely to date. I don’t know if I’ll ever date a woman, but I’m not completely closed off to the idea. Someday, maybe, but right now it would feel dishonest, a retreat back into the closet, a time when I pretended to date women in order to keep up straight appearances.
In my freshman year of college, a lesbian couple explained to me what a clitoris was at IHOP one night. One of them drew an illustration on a white paper napkin. I had never seen a clitoris before, in porn or otherwise, and didn’t know anything about its significance until they explained.
What does one do with bi-curiosity? Do I approach women I’m interested in and tell them what I’m thinking about? Do I ask for help? How does anyone explore something different? How did I?
I explored my desire for men out of simple, aching need. I remember walking through the woods with my father in high school, and when he was trying to teach me something about the trees I was completely distracted and not paying attention. I was thinking about a guy named Johnson who I thought was about to kiss me last time we were together. It was all conjecture and desire and missed opportunities, and even with so little to go on — I still had no gay experience at the time — it was everything to me. The truth was burning in my stomach the way a terrible secret does and following me around like a ghost.
Why do you use the label you use? Do you see it as a line you cannot cross or a social tool you employ? How vital do you consider your label to your overall identity? Can you take it or leave it? I’d like to know.