Curtis Pritchard, from this year’s Love Island, has been on the receiving end of rumours about his sexuality since he first entered the villa. As a ballroom dancer, many people questioned if Curtis was straight or not – as if sexuality is something that can be determined just from someone’s mannerisms or career.
Speaking to The Sun, Curtis opened up about why he refuses to put a label on his relationships “I’ve been with women and I’m with a woman now. You can never put a label on anything. It’s a cliché to say, but love is blind. I can never ever say what will happen in the future. I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
Labels are important. They help people find communities, identify, and feel part of something bigger. Not labelling yourself, I’m aware, is a privilege I hold as an able-bodied, middle-class, white woman; my identity isn’t questioned in day-to-day life, and as straight-presenting, neither is my sexuality. Curtis holds that same privilege, if not more, as a white cis man. That being said, I choose to not put a label on my sexuality for the same reasons Curtis does – I’m open to anyone, and no label has felt 100% accurate.
For me, I find people of all genders attractive, and I fall in love with intelligence, humour, and charisma. We live in a world that’s so quick to judge or label, where bi-erasure is real and misunderstood as something binary. So, for me, it’s always been easier to not sit within a definition so that others can’t misdefine me.
If a man has dated women, and then dates a man, people are quick to label him gay – rather than ask if he is fluid, bi, pan or nonconforming. Male bisexuality is met with prejudice too often, reduced to the assumption that if a man is with a man they are automatically gay. When Maura admitted to dating women in the past, she didn’t fall victim to the same set of questioning. This biphobia was reinforced by a study from GLAMOUR US that found 63% of readers wouldn’t sleep with a man who had previously had sex with men. There’s a number of theories on why biphobia is more directed towards men, and I believe that it’s because bisexual men don’t appeal to the straight male gaze in the same way women dating women or men dating women does. It doesn’t serve them as the most privileged members of society, and therefore they can’t understand it and seek to wrap it neatly in a box that they can put far, far away.
The internet and media have been goading Curtis into coming out, and constantly challenging his feelings for Maura, when it really isn’t anyone’s business. Good on him for setting his own narrative, and owning the conversation; it’s a brave thing to do. But come on, it’s 2019, let’s stop pressurising people into coming out or label their sexuality.