Register Now!

Cynthia Nixon (who, let's face it, will always be thought of as Sex and the City's red-headed lawyer Miranda Hobbes, just as Bob Denver will always be remembered as Gilligan and not, say, Maynard G. Krebs), courted controversy recently with remarks she made to Alex Witchel in The New York Times Magazine. Responding to a question about those who doubt the legitimacy of her relationship with partner Christine Marinoni (who she began dating in 2004 after having two children with photographer Danny Mozes), Nixon said:

"I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line 'I've been straight and I've been gay, and gay is better.' And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it's not, but for me it's a choice, and you don't get to define my gayness for me. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it's a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn't matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not."

Whether you agree with Nixon's viewpoint or not, her candor is refreshing. Those who believe that sexuality is fluid won't take issue with what she says. But others, like AMERICAblog's John Aravosis, think she's choosing her words unwisely; that what she's trying to say is that she's bisexual, and "doesn't quite get that most people aren't able to have sexual romantic relationships with both men and women because they're just not into both genders." Aravosis also writes, "Every religious right hatemonger is now going to quote this woman every single time they want to deny us our civil rights. Thanks."

But Nixon appeared to know exactly what she was saying. She continued:

"Why can't it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate? It seems we're just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don't think that they should define the terms of the debate. I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn't realize I was gay, which I find really offensive. I find it offensive to me, but I also find it offensive to all the men I've been out with."

Commentarium (26 Comments)

Jan 23 12 - 4:59pm
Jeff @ DTM

I see both sides of this...

I think the point she's really trying to make is that, she is gay, and that's not about something you can choose, but you can choose to ignore who you are, and she does not. It's a tough concept, but a very possible one for sure. If you think about it, how many men and women are living a lie but carrying on as heterosexuals because society has forced them down that road?

John Aravosis has a very valid point in that he's not against her or her ideas, but knows what a bunch of assholes the religious right can be about stuff like this and it just opens up a wound that was starting to close.

Jan 23 12 - 7:02pm

Talk about projection. She says she chooses to be gay. Chooses, being the operative word. Why is everyone so intent on making her remarks "acceptable?" She says nothing about ignoring who she is.

Jan 23 12 - 9:05pm

Actually, she does.

She says she's been straight and she's been gay, and gay is better. Why is gay better? Because life is so much easier for gay people? I think that's demonstrably not the case.

Gay is better for Cynthia Nixon because she's happier with a woman than she would be with a man. Because she's gay. She didn't choose to be happier, she simply is. That's the point.

Jan 23 12 - 9:11pm

She's free to choose a man or a woman as a partner, but choosing the worse option is definitely a form of ignoring who she is.

Jan 23 12 - 9:18pm

"Why is gay better? Because life is so much easier for gay people?"

Some places around the country, it is. Maybe what she means is she's been sexually attracted to men, and now she's mostly sexually attracted to women. And she personally finds having relationships with women easier. Culture can be a big part of it. That's not that crazy of a concept to me. I have friends who've experienced the same thing.

Jan 23 12 - 9:52pm

Really? There are places in this country where being gay is easier? Places where you experience anti-straight bigotry? Places where straight people have fewer civil rights than gay people?

No, I think you're full of it.

Jan 23 12 - 5:11pm

I see her point, and it has been made elsewhere (I've lost the link) that religiosity is a choice and we respect, that so fuck off, bigots.

That said, SHE'S BISEXUAL, the end. And her remarks will hurt much more than they will help.

Jan 23 12 - 6:59pm

Please. Her remarks are her remarks. There's no more a monolithic position among homosexuals than there is among heteros.

Jan 23 12 - 5:12pm

Or maybe she's bi and chooses to be with a woman? Or who knows, women's sexuality is so damn befuddling and mysterious. Lesbians become straight. Straight married women leave their husbands and then identify as lesbian. Lesbians get sex changes and identify as gay men. It boggles the mind!

Jan 24 12 - 9:44pm

Why wouldn't she simply say she is bi-sexual and prefers women? I think she is just being argumentative and rebellious.

Jan 23 12 - 6:04pm

@moops: It's only complicated because we, as a society, gay and straight, LOVE to pretend that bisexuality is not a thing. The reason her language is damaging -- which she seems to not understand -- is that for homosexual (not bisexual) people, their homosexuality is NOT a choice, and they could NOT simply choose to be with someone of the opposite gender. If she doesn't realize why we need to have people understand that it is because she is too far into her social bubble, and not aware of the realities of ex-gay therapy, anti-gay bullying, and anti-gay discrimination that affect gay people across the globe.

She is, frankly, speaking for gay people when she is not gay. She is bisexual.

Jan 23 12 - 6:25pm

To all the homo-fundamentalists out there,

Let me get this straight: Nixon is a high-profile woman who is assertively working (in both her acts and her speech) in support of peoples' right to sexually-love and marry someone of the same-sex, and that's not enough for you? Worse, you think she's hurting you?!

That is ridiculous, and pathetic.

If anti-gay zealots and ignoramuses (who are merely your ideological mirror-image, apparently) try to use her words as ammunition that is THEIR fault, not Nixon's. You should be cheering this woman instead of conspiring with the bigots to invalidate her example.

If every bisexual person out there openly and actively identified themselves as gay (accurate or not), there would be far less of a problem with the "ex-gay therapy, anti-gay bullying, and anti-gay discrimination that affect gay people across the globe."

'Gay' does not mean homosexual. Gay is an attitude towards homosexuality. A positive acceptance of same-sex lust, love, and human rights whether the homosexuality is exclusive, fluid, or intermittent.

Jan 23 12 - 6:41pm

Of course it is their fault that they are anti-gay zealots and ignoramuses, but the bottom line is we exist in the same world as them, and they are quite capable of harming us in very real ways. The very last thing that anyone should want to do is provide them with ammunition.

If you honestly think your third paragraph is true you are delusional, and I don't think you've ever actually had to experience or fight against these things. There is no number of out people that will, by itself, end hate propagated by anti-gay zealots. It is a much more thorny issue than that. And actually, if bisexual people (specifically bisexuals who had, or were capable of having, happy, fulfilling opposite-sex relationships) identify as gay, it would be exactly what ex-gay therapists and practitioners have been saying is true for years.

And that last paragraph is simply horseshit, gay means homosexual, it does not mean that goofy definition you just came up with.

Jan 23 12 - 6:31pm
Enough Already!

Please stop destroying SEX AND THE CITY franchise with these god awful movies! Have some decency! Didn't you broads make enough money?

Jan 23 12 - 7:22pm
Insatiable Dragon

+10; the most fun moment on this thread.

Jan 24 12 - 9:48pm

Yes!!!!!!! Someone said it! Just invest and live off the interest at this point . . . no more!

Jan 23 12 - 7:05pm

Who are these people who "doubt the legitimacy of her relationship?" On the basis of what? What is it these ignoramuses think they know?

Jan 23 12 - 7:12pm
Dean Peters

Her basic point is correct though: "I say it doesn't matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here..." We don't support gay rights only because the majority people don't have a choice in it, though I think that happens to be true. We support gay rights because people have an important interest choosing who they love and don't hurt anyone else in exercising that interest. You can be with someone of the same gender as yourself because you were born gay, because you choose to be gay, or because you want to piss off your parents. It's not the business of the state or anyone else to interfere with that.

Jan 24 12 - 11:51pm

+1 (times a million)

Jan 23 12 - 7:30pm
Insatiable Dragon

I read this and thought Cynthia was pitch-perfect. Cynthia Nixon is speaking well for Cynthia Nixon, and it's a beautiful thing, because she is being utterly honest. Her integrity is beyond reproach. There are people for whom it's true that sexual orientation is a choice. I don't think it's true for most gay and straight people, but nonetheless true. In the long run the truth will win, even if it involves short-term pain (I know, easy for me to say). So Cynthia has done all of us a favor in my view. I do think when it comes to the bigots, people of faith need to do a lot more. The seculars weigh in, not that there's anything wrong with that. But the religious bigots need to be more directly confronted by fellow believers, who need to point out that God obviously likes and loves gay people (and bisexuals and everyone else), and we know this because he keeps making more of them.

Jan 23 12 - 7:48pm

Are her words damaging in some respect? Sure they are. If someone believes that being gay is worse than being straight, the fact that people are choosing to be gay is an argument to discriminate against them. Unfortunately, many of the people in power view gay as being inferior and only believe they should have equal rights because it is not a choice to be gay. Her words can be used by bigots to propone the idea being gay is a choice and therefore it is okay to discriminate.

However, the proposition that being gay is not a choice tacitly implies that being gay is worse than straight. The main argument is not "most people who are gay have no choice in the matter, but even if they did have a choice, being gay would be as valid as a choice as being straight". The main argument is "you are born gay or straight" because this is the necessary argument at this time to achieve more rights for the gay community.

The questions are whether it is a choice for Ms. Nixon to be gay and, if so, is it justifiable to go against the predominant political narrative of "born this way" given that it may be used by hate groups. I cannot argue against Ms. Nixon's belief that being gay is a choice for her. Even is she is bisexual, that does not mean she has not chosen to be a lesbian. As far as her remarks, it clearly is important for her to stick up for those who choose to be gay (and who have to deal with the bigots who do not think those who choose are legitimately gay). The "born this way" narrative may be true for most, but for those that do not fit into it, they should not have to stay silent as to their experience.

Jan 23 12 - 8:11pm

I agree with everything that you just said, I suppose I am just a bit more sour than you in regards to her phrasing and the level of thought she expressed. While I understand her point and do not think she has to silence her personal experience, using such loaded language and not making the allowance that perhaps her experience is not the universal experience, and indeed it isn't a choice for most -- combined with the fact that I doubt she will ever have to face the uglier ramifications of these words that she felt were so important -- seems more than slightly thoughtless and short-sighted to me. There is a reason we have these words -- straight, gay, bisexual -- and while some people may find them restrictive, to the majority they are explanatory, they are just tools that we use to communicate our identities better. And I think it is on all public figures who are discussing issues of such potency to choose their words a little more wisely than she has done here.

Jan 25 12 - 2:16am

"not making the allowance that perhaps her experience is not the universal experience"

She said "for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it's not, but for me it's a choice". What more do you want from her, exactly?

Like the post below says, this seems like it's an issue of political strategy more than anything. It's always seemed pretty bloody obvious to me that for some people sexuality and sexual orientation are clearly inborn, for others it's clearly a choice, and for others it's somewhere in between. It's not Nixon's job to filter her own experiences and feelings through the lens of whatever would be most politically expedient for the gay community, especially if the conventional "if you're born this way, you're gay; if it's a choice, you're bi" narrative is basically bullshit.

Jan 23 12 - 8:50pm

"It’s a compelling thought, a world where grown-ups don’t have to explain away their sexual activities by way of what amounts to an unavoidably apologetic “I can’t help it.” Still, many critics will argue that appealing to biology is the only way to protect against the attacks of the religious right—if God made me this way, surely you can’t hate me. But I have to agree with Nixon that depending on biology cedes a great deal of control to bigoted people; after all, much of Christianity is based on the idea of resisting sinful bodily desires. If homosexuality is truly genetic, why not just ignore it, like good old heterosexual lust?

The only answer is that adult human beings should be allowed to choose who and how they’d like to love, regardless of any specific religious dogma. Perhaps Nixon’s vision is a harder one to achieve politically due to the touchy debates around the separation of church and state that it evokes; but then, let’s be honest about the fact that the issue here is not the legitimacy or source of an individual’s sexuality. It’s a question of strategy. "

Jan 23 12 - 9:42pm

Maybe we should just let everyone decide their sexuality for themselves and back the fuck off.

Jan 25 12 - 3:12pm

Wow, Cynthia Nixon is very intelligent and well-spoken. To be frank, I wouldn't have expected that from a star of "Sex and the City".

There seem to be two primary arguments going on here: 1)She's being honest about her sexuality, and that is the most important thing a gay celebrity can do, and 2) at this historical moment, we need the "biology determines sexuality" argument. It's useful. In other words, the ends justify the means (the means being potential dishonesty or language tweaking that make the speaker uncomfortable).

So we assert the existence of every variation of any form of sexuality, of every fetish and kink, and yet the idea of a woman who used to be attracted to men, decided to follow up on an interest she had in women that was not yet a full-fledged sexual preference, and subsequently found she was no longer attracted to men is impossible to imagine? Would it make everyone feel better if she called herself queer, or should she come up with an brand new label for what she is?

Now you say something

Incorrect please try again
Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear: