Director Nick Cassavetes Thinks Incest and Gay Marriage are Comparable

In a discussion about his new film Yellow, about a woman's incestuous love affair with her own brother, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Fest, writer-director Nick Cassavetes compared incest to gay marriage, The Wrap reports.

CassavetesSaid Cassavetes:

“I have no experience with incest. We started thinking about that. We had heard a few stories where brothers and sisters were completely, absolutely in love with one another. You know what? This whole movie is about judgment, and lack of it, and doing what you want….Who gives a sh*t if people judge you? I’m not saying this is an absolute but in a way, if you’re not having kids – who gives a damn? Love who you want. Isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want? If it’s your brother or sister it’s super-weird, but if you look at it, you’re not hurting anybody except every single person who freaks out because you’re in love with one another.”


  1. Jack M says

    This is a very misleading and damaging headline. He’s not saying they’re comparable. He’s saying love who you want to love. Most people are against incest because of the cultural taboo; some people are against same-sex love. He is being liberal in the extreme, but he’s not equating the two.

  2. BenR says

    Can one of you elaborate a bit instead of making unsubstantiated arguments and calling for violence against him?

    He specifically said he’s not talking about situations in which there would be child-bearing, and it didn’t sound like he was advocating for any sort of legal recognition.

    So once again, how he is so stupid? Looking at what he actually said, I don’t think he’s wrong.

  3. rumla1978 says

    I agree that he is being liberal in the extreme but I dont see him equating gay marriage with incest. He’s just saying no one should stop you from loving who you want. I am not a supporter of incest, but I don’t think he was trying to equest the two.

  4. Alex Parrish says

    I think this comparison is made to say “So what; it’s not hurting anybody — get over it” and I don’t think he was being judgmental about it. Quite the opposite — I think he was saying that as long as it isn’t hurting anybody but the haters, who gives a s%*t.

    I think some of us are too quick to jump on the offensive and not consider what he is really trying to say, but I suspect he will be pilloried for this. Probably so will I. Who gives a s%*t?

  5. AJ says

    I agree with Jack M. He’s not saying they’re the same thing. Saying he’s comparing the two is a little misleading. The headline of this article could also say “Director Nick Cassavetes thinks incest and not having children are the same thing.”

  6. ratbastard says

    I agree the headline is misleading. He really didn’t say gay relationships were the same as incest, although what he did say was convoluted and IMO disgusting. Contrary to what he said, some things deserved to be judged, harshly if necessary.

  7. jason says

    Nick Cassavetes is a moron. Of course he’s equating gay marriage to incest. Anyone with half a brain can see it. Conservatives will take his comments as a ringing endorsement of their position – ie that gay marriage is a slippery slope to incestuous marriages.

    Let me make it clear for this moron Nick: gay marriage and incest are NOT the same thing. Gay marriage is about sexual orientation, incest is about fetish.

    Besides, if you’re talking about incestuous offspring, there’s a good chance it will be retarded due to genetic closeness of the gametes.

  8. says

    Yes, incest is another issue altogether and lumping it with gay marriage doesn’t make much sense, but I don’t think he was being a bigot. Quite the opposite, really.

    And the liberal in me couldn’t help but agree: I see no problem with an adult, consensual, incestuous relationship. The only valid issue seems to be that of increased risk for genetic diseases, but we don’t ban other couples based on their genetic compatibility, so why should we in this case?

  9. Jack says

    The good thing about him saying this is it makes you question the rightness of something you had automatically determined to be taboo — just as gay marriage was, until very recently. That’s where his comparison is apt.

  10. jason says

    Let’s not fall for this false equivalence between gay rights and the right to do whatever you want to do. Gay rights is NOT about the right to do whatever you want to do.

    Gay rights is about having the same rights as those with a heterosexual orientation. It is NOT about creating special rights or slippery slope scenarios to justify everything under the sun, including incest. I can only stress that you do NOT fall for the poisonous notion that gay rights is based on the “anything goes” way of thinking. Our anti-gay opponents would LOVE it if we fell for this notion.

    Keep in mind that there are those who would exploit us in order to further the acceptance of their fetishes. Our sexual orientation rights are NOT about fetish. If they want to further their fetishes, let them do it on their own terms without invoking our hard-earned orientation rights.

  11. fred says

    very misleading headline. i’ve met nick and he’s super gay friendly.
    he’s not comparing the two. in fact, he’s basically saying how stupid mainstream america is for not jumping on the gay marriage bandwagon.

  12. Steve says

    And if both are sterile, there is nothing wrong with incest between a brother and sister. The main risk is the high likelihood of genetic defects. Otherwise it’s just weird. Parent/child is something else due to obvious power and age difference.

    It’s rare anyways and usually only happens when the siblings were separated at birth and meet again later. Otherwise it’s hypothesized that the Westermarck effect – a reverse sexual imprinting – prevents sexual attraction between children who are raised together.

  13. mike128 says

    I also agree that the headline is misleading. Incest does happen. Much (if not most) of it is extremely damaging. But if there are consenting adults out there who feel this works for them – then I don’t really care one way or the other. I think overall the interview is questioning the idea of taboo. The taboos are there for a reason. People are drawn to doing certain things and society believes those things are (or were) a danger. So are they really a danger? I think that’s what he’s asking that we examine more critically.

  14. RandyOwen says

    He specifically called out Brother Sister incest as opposed to father daughter or mother son, those i can see a power differential that would make consent impossible. Not that i agree with any form of incest, and i admit i still get the heebee jeebees thinking about it. He seems to be saying that people get the heebee jeebees about gay marrige too and before we judge based on heebee jeebees we should look a little closer and judge based on fact, not feelings.

  15. Zlick says

    Yeah, once again this site stoops to a completely misleading headline totally negated by the brief article underneath. This is a disturbing trend which I urge be halted.

  16. Mike says

    I have to agree that this headline is just link-bait. If you seriously need the clicks so badly, post more actual LGBT news instead of all of the celebrity garbage that take up most of Towleroad these days- there’s a lot less competition for LGBT blog clicks when compared with general celebrity news.

  17. Sean says

    Well done on completely misconstruing his comments to create a scandalous headline. I was somehow under the impression that this site was a little above that. Clearly I was wrong.

  18. Sean says

    Well done on completely misconstruing his comments to create a scandalous headline. I was somehow under the impression that this site was a little above that. Clearly I was wrong.

  19. Andy says

    Who are gay people to judge incestuous couples? It’s not for me, but I don’t disdain incest.
    On a different note, it would have been helpful for Cassavettes to actually meet some incestuous couples to understand it before making his movie.

  20. Polyboy says

    “Who are gay people to judge…”

    Seriously, some of the pearl clutching over the headline seems like trolling to create the impression that gay people are “okely dokely” with incest.

  21. Kev says

    JASON is the ONLY one who is making ANY sense here.

    Cassavetes may not have explicitly said that gay marriage is the same as incest, but he doesn’t need to. The implication is subtle yet alarmingly clear…not to mention really dangerous to our struggle as gay folks.

    Taboos aside, an incestuous couple can choose to get married, and as such, will have access to all the rights and privileges that gay couples do NOT currently have!!!!!

    Let’s not lose sight of what we’re fighting for, folks…..EQUAL RIGHTS.

    The stupid “Love who you love” rhetoric means nothing if we don’t ALL have the same rights!

    I don’t ever comment here, but I’m getting really tired of the lack of critical thinking of SOME of those in our community. It’ll be great if we step outside of our sometimes bandwagonist tendencies, and THINK!

  22. jamal49 says

    This is one of those times that I appreciate very much the thoughtful and intelligent commentary from the Towleroad community.

    I agree emphatically that Andy has done a great disservice by posting this article with such an incredibly misleading headline.

    My own take is that Mr. Cassavettes could have made the case for an open-minded acceptance of his film just a little bit more elegantly than he did. No, I don’t think he was comparing same-sex marriage or same-sex attraction to incest, but he came awfully close–damnably close.

    I have to agree with Jason. In the fight for civil equality, my same-sex orientation (not a big fan of that word) is the essence of my humanity. It is essentially my natural being. It is immutable and unchanging. It is not chosen. It is the same as for a heterosexual person.

    In the highly-charged politics of today and the vehemence with which same-sex marriage is opposed (as well as opposition to the existence of gay people in general), one must be cautious in giving our legion of enemies any opportunity to equate one’s natural same-sex desire with incest, which is a chosen, fetishistic behavior unrelated to one’s inherent sexuality.

    Liberally speaking, I might agree with the sentiment “love who you want”. But, where incest is concerned, such “love” has very harmful consequences, particularly if the result is procreation. Look no further than the European dynasties of the 16th to 20th centuries, where marriage between first cousins was quite common, to see the empirical and genetic evidence of the tragic consequences of in-breeding.

  23. Shelly says

    I agree the headline is very misleading, and though I understand the political sensitivity of this in light of attacks against us using “slippery slope” type arguments, so long as no one is being co-erced or harmed I don’t see any problem with any loving relationship and think in this day and age most of the arguments against such things are easily circumvented with family planning. (shrug)

  24. Beau says

    He’s not equating gay marriage with incest. He’s saying love who you want to love. He made his point in a rather absent-minded way, but it’s not boldly stating this is the same as that. He screwed up his syntax. It happens.

    Let’s not all start becoming vicious cattle following the herd. Calm down.

  25. says

    So all you people who believe that incest should be outlawed based on genetics agree that a couple that has been shown to have a higher risk for genetic abnormality in their offspring shouldn’t be allowed to marry? Because that’s exactly what you are saying, no matter how many words you use to say it, or how nice you try to make it sound.

    And who are you to say that consent can’t be present in an incestuous relationship? There are many cases of siblings being separated and meeting, then falling in love, as well as other relatives not knowing their shared descent meeting and falling in love. Incest? Check. Consent? Check. Love? Check. The power dynamics in a family are not always present in incestuous relationships.

  26. says

    Oh, and it has also been shown that the risk for genetic abnormalities increases with the age of the parent. You people also think we should outlaw older people who can still reproduce from getting married because of this, if the risk is the same as those in an incestuous relationship?

  27. throwslikeagirl says

    What’s damaging here is the headline. Shame on you, Towleroad! This sort of banner is something I would expect from the sensationalist tabloid press, not you.

  28. DanSwon says

    I don’t agree with him about incest (as it clearly would affect other people, ie. your family) but it’s obvious that he’s not trying to belittle or equate it to being gay.

  29. Bob says

    You can tell when a person is being crazy, they start equating things as equal when they are not. Saying incest and gay marriage are the same is like saying a dog is a cat and that is crazy talk people.

  30. MichaelJ says

    Ditto to the previous comments pointing out that the headline is misleading, though I wish Cassavetes had made his point more carefully due to the potential harm of slippery-slope arguments.

  31. Rowan says

    Can’t believe you guys are standing up for this faux liberal!! And supporting incest! No wonder people think gays are sexual freaks! And please, bros and sis who meet up later and “fall in love” KNOW that they already look like each other and feel a weird connection.

    It’s a kink and a really bizarre one at that which happens from sexual abuse.

    Nice one commenters!

  32. Kev says

    I promise you…had a conservative politician dared to utter incest and gay marriage in the same sentence (which has been done COUNTLESS times), MOST of the commentators here would be spitting bile about the audacity of the source, and would have had absolutely no problem with picking up on the implied connection of what was being said.

    I promise you…we would not have been talking about Andy’s “misleading” headline, had such been the case.

    I’m reminded of some of my white acquaintances who, with smiles on their faces, announce “Omg, I have tonnes of black friends”, or “Wow, you black people can play sports SO well…”

    They’re not racists…not at all! But, just because a message is delivered under the umbrella of “inclusiveness” and “liberalism”, as the “love who you love” one is, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be vigilant about pointing out the harmful associations that can hurt our cause, which in this case is equality.

    Anything less will be hypocritical of us…and unfortunately, I’m seeing a lot of that in these comments.

  33. dan cobbb says

    Talk about illogical. Yep, and oranges are like beef tenderloin, because, well, they’re both something you eat. And mushrooms and people are the same because both are living beings. . . If you draw the category wide enough you can equate any two things on earth.
    Incest is incest and gay sex is gay sex. Not sure that incest should be outlawed, but I find it a bit creepy, but I wouldn’t make A LAW against it. That would be idiotic.

  34. MATT says

    Surprise, surprise! Jason thinks HE IS equating the two when any rational human can see the headline is incorrect. If you actually read the quote you would see that. Then he gets his panties in a bunch and farts out one of his sermons. Ugh

  35. Andy says

    To Polyboy:

    “Seriously, some of the pearl clutching over the headline…”

    I’m not a troll. What does that even mean?

    Have gay people taken a unanimous stance on incest? Some gay people ARE ok with it. I don’t know anyone who is attracted to their kin, but I know they’re out there. And they’re not hurting anyone.

  36. DeeVee says

    I didn’t get that at all from what he said. It’s very easy to read something one way, and apply an editorial point of view to it. I think we have enough of that with things being taken out of context and reframed. This was a bad editorial decision.

  37. Tom says

    I think the next headline will read “Director Nick Cassavetes Backpedals Furiously on Gay Marriage Remark In Order To Find Distributor For His New Incest Movie”.
    (Hollywood) Director Nick Cassavetes distanced himself from his previous remarks today after his mother, famed actress Gena Rowlands called him a nincompoop late last night. The ghosts of his father John and the late Ben Gazzara also chimed in, telling him they were disappointed that he was “such a putz.”

    In an attempt to regain credibility after insulting a large minority population already under continuous assault by hate groups, Cassavetes said he will now have an incestuous menage a trois with his sisters Zoe and Alexandra who will penetrate him repeatedly with strap-ons until he regains his senses.

    People Magazine has acquired exclusive rights to the photos and will feature an exclusive interview with the three siblings in their October 24th issue.

  38. says


    Nick Cassavette might think gay marriage is bad, but I think all marriage is bad; gay marraige and straight marriage. I don’t understand why some would like to call Marriage a holy union; trust me fellas, there is nothing holy about it.

    But I DO believe in love, which is why we want you to love H&W. An homage to 1950’s sitcoms about a dysfunctional married couple that deals with typical marital problems (leaving the toilet seat up, getting caught masturbating, having relations with the Milk Man…), in an EXTREMELY hilarious and often violent manner.

    Enjoy and share

  39. Halo says

    Jason, referring to your comment. “Gay rights is about having the same rights as those with a heterosexual orientation”. So I pose this question to you, Why can’t people who are interested in what you deem as ‘fetishes’ have the same rights as homosexual/heterosexual couples (such as the right to marry or even be in a defacto relationship). If it’s good for one group of people (such as homosexuals), it’s good for another group as well.

    I guess Nick isn’t such a moron afterall, isn’t he? lol.

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