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Cynthia Nixon: For Me, Being Gay is a Choice

In an interview about her new Broadway show, a revival of the Margaret Edson play Wit, Cynthia Nixon tells the NYT's Alex Witchel that for her being gay is a choice, and nobody's going to take that belief from her:

Wit“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. As you can tell, I am very annoyed about this issue. 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.”

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Comments

  1. I don't agree with her comments but I certainly don't agree with the woman bashing going on here. People think differently. WE of all people should know that and furthermore, NOT judge it.

    I will however say that I fear our enemies could indeed capitilize on this though at the same time I doubt they are going to convert anyone and it will only be more fodder for their own ignorance.

    Posted by: Opinionated | Jan 23, 2012 8:10:49 PM


  2. It would help a lot if she would define what she means by the words "being gay."

    Posted by: Yeek | Jan 23, 2012 8:11:06 PM


  3. I am shocked by some of the women-bashing posts here, suggesting they have no sexuality because they just lay there -- which isn't the case at all, unless they are just a bad lay. The people who posted these comments are not members of my community. That I can choose.

    Posted by: grench | Jan 23, 2012 8:31:26 PM


  4. Don't confuse criticism of a woman with misogyny. If a woman makes a misguided or harmful statement, she ought to be criticized. In this world of equal rights, it is my equal right to criticize a woman who exercises her right to have an opinion.

    Therefore, let me elaborate on what I said earlier:

    A woman tends to confuse her ability to fake a sexual interest with her sense of true sexual self. In fact, her ability to fake is a choice permitted by biology, and not a true part of her sexuality. If you want true sexuality, you can only get it from a gay or bisexual male.

    Posted by: jason | Jan 23, 2012 8:35:44 PM


  5. Sad to see so much misogynistic sentiment in these comments. I think her verbage is a bit off, but I think the point is that it shouldn't matter. Sure, it's more than likely genetic, but why should being gay, born this way or not, be so demonized. THAT's the issue.

    Posted by: Jason | Jan 23, 2012 8:36:34 PM


  6. F-O Cynthia. I used to like you.

    Posted by: Jesse | Jan 23, 2012 8:37:12 PM


  7. If Ms. Nixon was able to choose, then she is bi-sexual. I didn't have that choice and her contention that we all do is really annoying. The supreme court of Iowa said in its decision to allow gays to marry, "It is true the marriage statute does not expressly prohibit gay and lesbian persons from marrying; it does, however, require that if they marry, it must be to someone of the opposite sex. Viewed in the complete context of marriage, including intimacy, civil marriage with a person of the opposite sex
    is as unappealing to a gay or lesbian person as civil marriage with a person
    of the same sex is to a heterosexual. Thus, the right of a gay or lesbian
    person under the marriage statute to enter into a civil marriage only with a
    person of the opposite sex is no right at all. Under such a law, gay or
    lesbian individuals cannot simultaneously fulfill their deeply felt need for a
    committed personal relationship, as influenced by their sexual orientation,
    and gain the civil status and attendant benefits granted by the statute.
    Instead, a gay or lesbian person can only gain the same rights under the
    31 statute as a heterosexual person by negating the very trait that defines gay
    and lesbian people as a class—their sexual orientation."

    Posted by: Dana Chilton | Jan 23, 2012 8:39:14 PM


  8. God, are there any ACTUAL lesbians in the world, or do they all secretly want cock on the side? Cuz that's what Cynthia's saying. Christ, just shut up.

    Posted by: Billy | Jan 23, 2012 8:45:00 PM


  9. She is not gay, she is bisexual...and THAT is not a choice for her.

    Posted by: Bryan | Jan 23, 2012 8:47:32 PM


  10. Why are we even paying attention to what a Hollywood hack has to say? Who on earth determined that Cynthia was the go-to girl for pearls on human sexuality?

    She is speaking from a completely selfish point of view. That, and the female tendency to fake.

    Posted by: jason | Jan 23, 2012 8:52:27 PM


  11. Gay as a choice does not help our cause for equality. Now, if you're a rich celebrity, does it really matter to you? Probably not as much as someone who isn't rich or a celebrity, and is just trying to keep their kids or keep their job.

    I think celebs should be mindful of things that can be hurtful, and I don't agree with Cynthia, unless she's saying she's bisexual.

    Posted by: Hollywood, CA | Jan 23, 2012 8:59:27 PM


  12. Shoot me now... I actually found myself agreeing with a little of what "original" RICK wrote.

    Sexuality is more fluid than people realize, and while many women I have known over the decades have run the gamut from curious to experimenting to having long-term relationships with other women, most have eventually "landed" and stayed on one side or the other. The men I have known have not been as open with either experimenting or admitting to it. Theories (at least in our culture) include that it is more socially acceptable for women to form deep relationships as well as to express affection physically. Heck, back in my dark ages, in junior high, the girls would dance with each other at school dances without an eye being batted or a second thought. That would never happen with guys. Yet at weddings I've recently attended, straight guys were dancing with each other (okay, not cheek-to-cheek), and just as suggestively as they were with their female dates. So who knows? Maybe there is more experimenting to come, more choosing. And in a free country, why not? My liberal, provocative side agrees with the idea of the right to make such a choice. Consenting adults, no harm done.

    Still, orientation is different from behavior. Bisexual orientation may seem suspect to some, but it does exist. I wouldn't label myself as anything but gay. Yet I've kissed a girl (and more) and I liked it. I've had long-term relationships with women. But ultimately, the drive, attraction, affiliation - "home" for me, is and always has been with a member of the same sex. Nixon stated that she was speaking for herself, and acknowledged that for some, it is not a choice. She'd probably be labeled by others as bisexual, but given that she is in a same-sex relationship right now, she is self-labeling as gay. And maybe, she has finally found her "home."

    I get why some see her statement of choosing as "ammunition" to be used against gay people. I get why some see the orientation argument as the best hope for acceptance. But seriously, some people will never understand anything other than "God said it, I believe it, that's it!" They have "made-up minds" (actual lyrics from a Jesus song my wacky Christian ex-sister-in-law used to sing. Choice, spectrum, orientation, research - these are words and concepts they will never embrace.

    Posted by: TJ | Jan 23, 2012 9:00:25 PM


  13. I'd like to know "why" she chose to be lesbian. Was it because she was turned on by another woman? If so, her orientation was already there. What other reason would you choose to be with someone sexually?

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Jan 23, 2012 9:01:57 PM


  14. You speak YOUR truth, Cynthia! Congratulations. I support you finding your happiness.

    Posted by: Chuy | Jan 23, 2012 9:02:27 PM


  15. Just like Anne Heche before her, Cynthia Nixon has set the gay movement back a few years. That is all the pseudo-christianists need to hear and they will latch on to her statement saying, "See, one of their own admits that homosexuality is a choice."

    Posted by: Jack | Jan 23, 2012 9:26:38 PM


  16. I'm not understanding the confusion. She's attracted to males and females. She's chosen not only a same-sex partner, but a gay identity.

    This is not controversial or shocking or new. She's currently in a lesbian relationship, she's chosen a female partner even though she is attracted to both sexes. She's chosen a gay life. This is not something to get up in arms about.

    I'm gay, I choose to act on my innate and exclusive attractions to males. And I choose to be happy about it :D

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 23, 2012 9:32:29 PM


  17. I agree with 90% of what Jason said
    It dangerous for her to say that. She's bi and picking, Im gay i didnt pick. Our battle has been about it being a choice, this sets us back. This doesn't win hearts this points to "change" as in us, why would people or legislators help us after all some gays decide to be gay. We fight for equal right because its who we are, not who i decide to be today. I don't want her talking for me or fighting for my rights. So f--king stupid

    Posted by: George M | Jan 23, 2012 9:42:37 PM


  18. Jeeze... I'm really shocked by the negative reaction to Nixon's comments.

    The origin of homosexuality is incredibly complex and poorly understood. There is a constellation of factors that can lead one to be attracted to men, women, or both--including biological factors (genetics and pre-natal hormone exposure), environmental factors, and epigenetic factors.

    I think it's dangerous to predicate the legitimacy of homosexuality solely on the biological. And let's say that homosexuality wasn't biologically mandated for every identifying homosexual... why should CHOOSING to be with a same-sex partner be any less legitimate?

    If homosexuality were *purely* a choice (which obviously isn't the case), would the crazies on the right still be justified in condemning it as immoral? I don't think so.

    Posted by: Michael F | Jan 23, 2012 9:48:57 PM


  19. I think it is better to view Homosexuality as a choice. Being born this way implies a lack of control over my life. As an american I should have the right to choose which path I want to follow and be treated equal under the law period. Lets make Homosexuality a religion maybe we will be treated better.

    Posted by: justin | Jan 23, 2012 9:55:43 PM


  20. @Alex (and to Cynthia Nixon): You are not gay. You are not heterosexual.
    If you personally have the choice of having an equally fulfilling romantic and sexual relationship with a partner without a gender criteria (as easily as most people might be capable of doing the same with a blond or a brunette) then you are bisexual.

    Cynthia is choosing to be in a gay RELATIONSHIP but she is still a bisexual PERSON.

    The reason I object to her statement is that there is already far too much confusion out there.
    I think Anne Heche eventually realized that she is not gay and she is also not actually an alien from the planet Celestia. But the homophobes latched onto the former claim and made her a poster child (without concerning themselves with the fact that both that claim AND the "alien" claim were evidence that she did not understand human sexuality or her own genetic origins from a sanely well-informed viewpoint).

    Homophobes who have bisexual desires often mistakenly make claims about orientation being a choice. They fail to understand that most people fall on one side or the other and the entire human race is not bisexual. They generally try to fit themselves into the "straight" box without even understanding the meaning of the terms.

    It took Chaz Bono decades to realize that he was trans, but first he had to meet enough gay women to figure out that it isn't normal for a gay woman to feel that she IS a man.
    Maybe someday, Cynthia will have talked to enough gay people to relize the difference between her orientation and theirs, and then she'll come out and state that she isn't gay and never was straight either.

    Meanwhile, her statements are just adding to the public's confusion and to the idea that gay people can just pick an opposite-sex partner and do just as well.

    Posted by: GregV | Jan 23, 2012 9:58:44 PM


  21. I think the point she brings up are accurate and valid. But obviously in relation to bisexuality. Bisexuals can get married on one hand and not on the other, and so for them it is a choice and they obviously are more split in our society by feeling a choice, while the gay side feels its not and wants the rights regardless. Same if it is nature or nature, doesnt' matter if we swam or flew, we are here now.
    But a couple people have said that because women are always a bit bisexual you can't judge true sexuality on that. Hello, there are men and women. not many other options. So if half the human race is ALWAYS bisexual or changing, or using sensory or emotions for their sexuality, then it sounds like that should be taken into the definition of sexuality. Saying only men should define sexuality. Thats the most narrow minded thing i've ever heard. its like only white people are smart or something.

    Posted by: juan | Jan 23, 2012 10:06:27 PM


  22. Michael, I know this was not what you asked but..

    If it was 100% a choice yes it would end the marriage fight because we have the right to get married now but I choose to want to marry a man. It would be creating a special right to a group of people who want something different just because, not because it's who I am.
    One guy they interviewed in CA before the prop 8 vote said we all have the right to marry, gays are choosing to marry someone of the same sex. it's always been the battle. It's about special rights or what people think are special right because being gay is not "real". I think it hurts us and I think the anti gay right is drooling. I hope she's ready to fight

    Posted by: George M | Jan 23, 2012 10:10:49 PM


  23. I don't know if she's a liar or simply delusional. I do know that she's given ammunition to every hateful anti-gay group out there.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 23, 2012 10:32:53 PM


  24. She is Bisexual. She is NOT Gay!

    She did NOT choose to be bisexual. She just is.

    She confuses the whole issue by saying it is a choice...because it is NOT.

    And she is really, really pissing me off by "suggesting" that sexual preference can be "chosen".

    As a gay man, I do NOT want her speaking for me!

    Posted by: bruce | Jan 23, 2012 10:33:27 PM


  25. I'm all over the place on this one.

    1. She's absolutely right that it shouldn't matter if it IS a choice or not. Religion is a combination of brainwashing and choice since no one is born Christian, Muslim, Jewish etc. but no one is allowed to question faith.

    2. If she was attracted to and in a committed relationship with a man, and now she is attracted to and in a committed relationship with a woman she's BISEXUAL, not straight then but gay now. If she were not already attracted to women then the 2nd relationship would never have begun.

    3. She framed her comments as speaking only about herself and her experience, which is her right.

    4. Unfortunately, in the current political climate "choice" is a heavily freighted word and her use of it is at least slightly irresponsible. Is actress Cynthia Nixon's personal experience and take on sexuality REALLY so important that it's worth playing into Religious Right/Conservative rhetoric?

    5. It doesn't really matter if you give the Religious Right ammo because they're more than willing to make it up anyway. But I bet they do use her words against us.

    Average it all together and I come up with: I get where she's coming from but wish she'd kept her pie-hole shut.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 23, 2012 10:44:05 PM


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