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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. ERNIE,GEORGE M, GREGV, CALIBAN (et.al.): Thanks for posting as you do. You provide the voice of complexity versus black/white.

    Posted by: TJ | Jan 24, 2012 1:45:28 AM


  2. I self-servingly agree with her logic. I am therefore justified in demanding my doctor give me a pregnancy test (I had a reeeealy good weekend).And I will have the VA (aka: you people) pay for it (am a Vet).Hell, if she can get publicity for this, and Octo-mom can get publicity for her BS,then I'M GETTIN MINE. Keep your antennae up peoples! I'm gonna be on Fox News! ( I just KNOW they'll run with it).

    !

    Posted by: Steven | Jan 24, 2012 2:41:43 AM


  3. If it's a choice for her, then she's bi.

    You can no more choose your attractions than you can choose the colors you like.

    They may change over time. But nobody knows how to force a change. If it changes at all, it does so by itself.

    You can only choose within the range of attractions your brain and body provide you.

    If you can choose to be straight or gay (i.e. choose to act on straight or gay attraction) then you're bi.

    Nothing wrong with that. Just be honest.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 24, 2012 4:32:06 AM


  4. Someone needs to explain to Cynthia just how offensive and inflammatory the phrase: "gay is better" is. It is exactly the sentiment that homophobes have been trying to push onto us, that one sexual orientation is inherently better than another. Like many people, Cynthia apparently has difficulty thinking about abstract concepts like attraction vs. behavior. Although she reached a different end point, it's unfortunate that her mindset is exactly like the homophobes we are fighting against.

    Posted by: Mark | Jan 24, 2012 4:46:51 AM


  5. Um. Love you CN, but its called bisexual. Anyone who honestly thinks being gay is a choice is simply bisexual. No big revelation. It is what it is.

    Posted by: Tigger | Jan 24, 2012 6:05:02 AM


  6. The best illustration of the notion that female sexuality is fake is in the women who perform lesbian acts for the benefit of a male. This should immediately tell you that women use their sexuality not for the reason it was intended but to titillate a third party. It is a fake sexuality motivated by the need for attention and ultimately reward from the male.

    This need for a reward is a fundamental aspect of females. As sellers, they need rewards. Their behavior is motivated by rewards. Their self-perceptions are shaped by rewards. They tailor their self-perceptions and behavior to align with the person who is rewarding them.

    Posted by: jason | Jan 24, 2012 7:13:17 AM


  7. Once again, a loud-mouth self-appointed celebrity who thinks she has the right to be spokesperson for the community. Shut up Cynthia!

    Posted by: Brokebackvol | Jan 24, 2012 7:59:50 AM


  8. What an incredibly idiotic woman. The only choice she had was to enter into a homosexual vs. heterosexual relationship. Her sexuality, which she obviously fails to acknowledge, has not changed.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 24, 2012 8:21:54 AM


  9. While she might have expressed it better, I have no issues with what she said. AND the idiots of the world are going to use EVERYTHING as ammunition, so let's not start censoring the truth in order to think we're keeping that ammunition away from them. Everything we say can and WILL be held against us.

    In reality, far, far more people who say they're gay or straight are actually bi. Many of them don't even know it themselves.

    I'm bi, but choose to be with the love of my life who is a guy.

    Yes, it would have been great had she acknowledged that she's bi - but it's also important to acknowledge that we aren't just victims of our sexuality - we CAN be champions of it as well. I see that as her real point.

    Posted by: Tonic | Jan 24, 2012 8:44:25 AM


  10. She is Bisexual... not gay. What she describes are characteristics of a bisexual person, not a gay person. And even that dynamic is not a choice.

    Posted by: Jim | Jan 24, 2012 8:53:30 AM


  11. I think they call that Bi darling. I was married to woman - I enjoy a female for sex. But I also like Penis. And now I am married to man. While I could still have sex with females and enjoy it - I love gay sex and the gay life much better. So did I choose? I guess. But if I had to rate both homo and hetero, I would say I am 75% homo and 25% hetero.

    HOWEVER - she says "Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate?"

    For most gay people, they are 100% gay - and it is not a choice! Sure, they could "choose" to be straight. And try to live that life. But they are 100% gay. Remember the Kinsey Scale??


    Posted by: michael | Jan 24, 2012 9:04:05 AM


  12. If she feels she has a choice, that's okay but she is Bi not Gay. I never in my life considered anyone but a man, there was and is no choice for me.

    Posted by: RobWest | Jan 24, 2012 9:26:51 AM


  13. Dear Cynthia,
    It's obvious that it's a choice for you to be gay but that's as mentally simplified as it gets. The reaility is: It is not a choice to be Bi-sexual, which you are, you moron.

    Posted by: Al | Jan 24, 2012 9:43:32 AM


  14. The commenters on this site get stupider and more bigoted the more popular it becomes. The ugly misogyny of "women's sexuality consists of them just sitting there" just says it all. Wow.

    Posted by: bigots | Jan 24, 2012 10:04:36 AM


  15. And the outrage continues!

    Many here are defining her as bisexual, which is fine, but it's your definition of her sexuality, not hers. I'm still not sure what there is to argue with. When a person defines their own sexuality, it is what it is. It's kind of like a person saying, I feel happy, and someone else insisting, No you don't!

    We can criticize her for somehow harming gay equality by saying that her sexuality is a choice--an atypical view, perhaps, particularly among gay men--and because she is a celebrity her personal truth carries more weight that most people's, but I don't think we want our fight for marriage equality to hinge solely on a choice vs. not-a-choice dichotomy. Those of us who know we did not choose our sexuality have our own truths, and there is every indication that men and women experience sexuality differently. It's ok! Personally, I think pinning labels on people against their will is more harmful to our progress than anything Cynthia Nixon has to say about her personal experience. Can't we just speak for ourselves and not everyone else?

    The only thing that IS objectively clear is that she is discriminated against because our government views her relationship as a gay relationship. Our government doesn't care if she was with a man yesterday or, possibly, tomorrow; it only cares that she is with a woman TODAY, and as long as she is with a woman she is unable to choose to have that relationship federally recognized. Fighting that discrimination is probably more useful than trying to force Cynthia Nixon to be a bisexual.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jan 24, 2012 10:08:23 AM


  16. Sorry, but not understanding the outrage. She's speaking for herself, and in her eyes, she chose to be gay. Do I believe she is bisexual by clinical definition? Obviously yes, but she has made the choice to be exclusive with women in that bisexuality. It doesn't set us back that she said this. One individuals' experience doesn't speak for the experiences of others. And, ultimately, it DOES NOT matter if it's a choice for some or not, and we need to stop allowing the conservatives dictate the argument here. In fact, we should stop caring entirely what homophobes think. Ultimately, Cynthia is able to define her own sexuality the way she sees fit. We shouldn't be running away from the "choice" label, yes, it's incorrect overall. But being so incredibly defense about it doesn't help our cause and in the eyes of some, makes us look embarrassed or ashamed to be gay.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 24, 2012 10:25:21 AM


  17. BTW, slurring Cynthia and calling her names doesn't make any of you (and us) any better. We can do our part to explain her words, and our own experiences, in a mature way, instead of going on the attack the way many of you are. Like I said, the extreme defensiveness surrounding the choice issue that many of you show really looks bad on your parts. As Ernie said, you're fighting the wrong individual here. What we SHOULD be fighting is the mentality that being gay is somehow wrong if it were a choice, that being gay is wrong at all in any circumstance. It isn't wrong to be gay and that is ultimately the message we as a community need to send.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 24, 2012 10:31:41 AM


  18. Has the woman never heard of bi-sexuality? She's, by that description, BI-SEXUAL, NOT gay. She simply prefers women to men. Many bi-sexual women do. That doesn't make them lesbians. It means that they are in a lesbian relationship. There is a WORLD of difference.

    Straight = Man+Woman
    Gay = Man+Man or Woman+Woman

    Bi-sexual = Any freakin' combination you want!

    Posted by: Ama Draco | Jan 24, 2012 11:01:11 AM


  19. Nothing she said, in and of itself, really bothers me since she's talking about her own experience. I do wish she'd framed it differently, and acknowledged how her bisexuality affected that experience.

    What DOES bother me is her irresponsible use of the word "choice" in the current political/social climate. She just HAS to get it out there, to "clear the air" about her personal circumstances, her past and present relationships. Really? WHY? Is it REALLY so important that an actress of no particular importance "share" her personal experience no matter what the consequences? Who does it serve other than Cynthia Nixon?

    All that aside, Cynthia Nixon has been very active in charitable and community events ranging from fund raisers for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to getting arrested in a demo protesting cuts in the public schools budget.

    I just wish she'd chosen her words more carefully.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 24, 2012 11:53:54 AM


  20. Healthy debate over something that someone in the public eye says is fine, but I'm truly horrified by some the misogyny in regard to women's sexuality. Have your opinion about what she said pro or con, but a woman's libido is equal to a man's and their "performance" in the bedroom is equally as difficult, both physically and emotionally, to "fake." Which makes me think, why in this discussion do we, who profess to be enlightened about our own issues, turn immediately to what goes on in the bedroom. I love my partner because I know that I can only find fulfillment in love with a man. The bedroom is an expression of that, not the central issue. At least not for me, that is my truth, and I allow Ms. Nixon hers.

    Posted by: Jon Mitchell | Jan 24, 2012 12:02:10 PM


  21. Thank you, Ernie, and all the others reacting thoughtfully and respectfully to someone speaking for themselves about their own experience.

    It seems to me as if we as a community are putting all of our eggs into the basket of hoping a biological discovery like the elusive "gay gene" will set us free, but though people like Cynthia Nixon and myself are clearly the minorities among minorities, there undoubtedly exist people whose honest experiences of the fluidity of their own sexuality does not conveniently fall into one of the three officially sanctioned pigeonholes of the dominant paradigm, and I think strategically denying that things aren't always as cut-and-dried as pure biological factors would account for could well hurt us in the long run. Instead, I agree wholeheartedly with what she says here -- that rather than arguing from a corner the right wants to force us into where we only deserve equality if we "can't help it", we ought to take the more empowered position that it doesn't MATTER if it's a choice or not, just as it doesn't matter that religion is a choice and yet we don't legally discriminate against others on that basis. The point should be that all committed, long-term relationships deserve equal respect, benefits, protections, regardless of the genitals involved. Period

    And Jason, if I were to guess I'd suppose your love of men is more driven by your apparently psychopathological loathing of women (given that you seemingly can't go a single post without glaring, hyperbolic displays of overt misogyny) than anything you were "born with."

    Posted by: Shelly | Jan 24, 2012 12:07:29 PM


  22. some of you are having an insecure-emotional response to her statement, instead of an intellectual one.

    lemme break it down; she's bisexual, but is currently in a gay relationship. she's chosen a gay partner, a gay love, a gay identity.

    yes. she's bi. but she's not in a "bisexual relationship" - she's in a gay one. that she loves.

    this isn't giving ammo to anyone or anything. it just making some of you look like terribly insecure little ninnies.

    buck up.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 24, 2012 12:26:47 PM


  23. If you can choose to be gay then please do us all a favour and revert your choice into being straight again Cynthia so we don’t have to listen to your stupid opinions.

    Posted by: Philippe Landman | Jan 24, 2012 12:58:15 PM


  24. Shes bi in love with a woman, that's what she should have said.

    Posted by: George M | Jan 24, 2012 1:32:32 PM


  25. The unfortunate fact about this entire article is that just because Cyntia is a celebrity she seems to think she can voice her uneducated views.

    It is not for Cynthia to pronounce whether sexual orientation is a choice or not: the American Psychiatric Association has stated clearly since 1976 that "IT IS NOT A CHOICE".

    Cynthia is confusing sexual orientation with sexual preference!

    As a bisexual she has the "choice" to pick the gender of her sexual partners!

    Posted by: Brains | Jan 24, 2012 1:40:00 PM


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