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Cynthia Nixon did not choose to be gay

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cynthia Nixon, who played the role of Miranda Hobbes on HBO’s Sex in the City, told the New York Times that she chose to be gay.

Her statement was clumsy, irresponsible, inaccurate, and lent itself to exploitation by anti-gay activists. While Nixon’s coy semantic games and flippant proclamations may play well in certain circles, they will surely be used as a brutal club against LGBT youth in Red State America.

Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni

In the coming years, Nixon’s “choice” statement will be spewed from pulpits, scrawled in homophobic fundraising letters, and regurgitated on talk radio as proof that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can “pray away the gay.” As a result, there will well-meaning parents who place their LGBT teenagers in “ex-gay” programs believing that since Nixon chose to be gay their child’s homosexuality might just be a phase.

The American Psychiatric Association says that attempts to change sexual orientation can sometimes lead to “anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior” which includes suicide. As the founder of Truth Wins Out, an organization that monitors such programs and assists its victims, it will be us, not Nixon, who picks up the pieces of lives shattered by the myth that sexual orientation is a casual choice.

Given the potential for dire consequences, Nixon was reckless, indulgent, and smacked of someone too privileged to understand the real world ramifications of her careless words.

Anti-gay organizations, such as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, already try to portray homosexuality as a transitory condition by telling potential clients that their discredited therapy will help people explore their “heterosexual potential.”

Some people have foolishly said that no one will pay attention to her statement because she is just an actress. However, they conveniently forget that we elected an actor, Ronald Reagan, to serve as president, Arnold Schwarzenegger was chosen as California’s governor, and Minnesota elected professional wrestler Jesse Ventura as that state’s governor. For better or worse, what celebrities say in America matters – and even politicians must become photogenic media stars – such as Sarah Palin or Barack Obama — before anybody cares about their policies.

Most importantly, Nixon never chose to be gay, but is clearly bisexual. In an interview with The Daily Beast she said, “I don’t pull out the ‘bisexual’ word because nobody likes the bisexuals….everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals… But I do completely feel that when I was in relationships with men, I was in love and in lust with those men. And then I met Christine and I fell in love and lust with her.”

No one would have a problem if Nixon had simply said that she is a bisexual who is not enamored with that particular label. Few would care if Nixon said that sexuality exists on a continuum with some people having a more fluid sexuality. No smart person would argue that civil rights for LGBT people should rest strictly on a biological argument – even though there is a growing body of evidence pointing out that biology plays a major role in determining sexual orientation.

But the fact remains that one does not choose whom they are attracted to and fall in love with – it chooses you. Sure, people then have a choice on whether they act on these natural feelings – just as one who is ambidextrous can elect to operate with either hand. The underlying desires, however, are not something that can be changed like the latest fashion in Paris.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, consider what the leaders of “ex-gay” organizations say about the topic. Earlier this month, Exodus International President Alan Chambers told a crowd of LGBT Christians: “The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.”

John Smid, the former longtime director of the “ex-gay” ministry Love in Action said last year: “Actually I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.”

One must remember that people like Chambers and Smid are the most motivated in the world to find evidence of sexual conversion. Both made their livings from this idea, (Chambers continues to) and feared going to Hell. Chambers once said that, “One of the many evils this world has to offer is the sin of homosexuality. Satan, the enemy is using people to further his agenda to destroy the Kingdom of God and as many souls as he can.”

When the public hears Nixon say that her homosexuality is a capricious choice, they think that she once found sleeping with women repulsive, but then woke up one day and decided she would do it anyway for social or political reasons. It makes it sound as if she quit men like one quits smoking cigarettes – which plays into the right wing’s false addiction analogy.

No one is questioning Nixon’s right to say whatever she wants. However, with celebrity comes great responsibility and it might be wise if Nixon articulated her feelings in a more thoughtful way that would not lead to LGBT youth stuck in Bible Belt communities ending up in “ex-gay” boot camps.

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58 more reader comments:

  1. Here here Cynthia!

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:16pm
  2. It may be a choice for some…I just wish they would explain when they made the choice and why, rather just saying “it was a choice”

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:16pm
  3. People are freaking out about this all over the place, and I think it’s being completely blown out of proportion. She’s being misquoted, or at least misinterpreted.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:16pm
  4. It’s funny how quickly people retract when they find themselves in deep shit. Cynthia, what are you- you as a public figure have responsibilities when you carelessly say shit like that. It sets the gay community back. Simply, it doesn’t help our cause.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:17pm
  5. I think everyone needs to read her fulle xplanation before they jump to conclusions. She says that her attarction women is NOT a choice, but that she can choose her LABEL as gay, because it’s up to her, not society. She said that no one can define her gayness for her. THAT is what she said. Please look it up.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:17pm
  6. Hey maybe that is HER truth Stop being so strident-expand the debate Don’t let the kooks frame the debate For some it is a choice , a good healthy choice For most of us not You owe her an apology

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:19pm
  7. I CHOOSE to be gay!

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:19pm
  8. Wait a minute here….as a lesbian who was originally married to a man, I think I chose too. I chose to be who I was, and not stay in a marriage that was unhealthy. My being gay wasn’t even the catalyst of my divorce. It was an unhappy marriage anyway. All I can say is that there is nothing wrong with being in a same-sex relationship, and frankly I made a choice to be happy and in love, rather than be miserable, and mistreated. If being gay was a choice, I would make it over and over again….who wouldn’t??? There in NO reason as human beings we shouldn’t be able to choose who our partner is….gay or straight. Its no one’s business, and hate-mongers who hide under the veil of Christianity shouldn’t have a leg to stand on with any intelligent human being!

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:20pm
  9. I’m raising my little girl to believe people can be with whomever they want. I told her she could like boys or girls. I guess people will have to get over it. The closed-mindedness doesn’t just apply to straight people I guess. Sad. Why does it matter either way. Just do what makes you happy.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:21pm
  10. Who says she didn’t? If she feels it was a conscious decision in her example, who are we to tell her that’s not valid?

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:21pm
  11. being a gay women, I think people can fall in love with the person, not the sex, I had a wonderful relationship for 7 1/2 yrs with such a women..I think we should concentrate on our youth that are killing themselves over their sexual indentity…I do believe you are born gay, or straight, some people like to experiment, and get stung bythe elove bug…yam know??

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:22pm
  12. To put it another way, if it’s a choice, how does that make it in any way wronger than if it’s not?

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:22pm
  13. I interpreted this to mean that she was Bi or Pansexual and that she chose to be with her partner because of the emotional AND physical attraction she felt towards her. At no point did she say that homosexuality was a choice, she seems to have only been talking about herself.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:24pm
  14. As some one who publicly accepts honors by LGBT organizations, she needs to get her shit together. She is a disgrace personally and politically to LGBT people across the globe. I am ashamed that anyone would think, as a lesbian, I am anything like her.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:25pm
  15. She had no reason to apologize. Stop misconstruing her words and blaming her for giving opponents ammunition. That’s like asking someone to apologize for saying their favorite color is red in an anti-Communist society.

    We’re supposed to be formulating arguments targeted at ignorance and bigotry anyway, not minorities within our own community…

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:27pm
  16. In many ways, being gay or trans is a choice because you choose to do what comes naturally to you. There are people, like Ted Haggard and every other closeted politician or person, who know they’re gay but choose not to act on their impulses and remain closeted their whole lives. Why is that less of a source of outrage than a queer woman saying she’s choosing to be queer? All of these opinion pieces shredding Cynthia Nixon apart really upset me. You cannot define another person’s sexuality, that’s when the real issues start and that’s when divisiveness gets the best of us. By saying she was wrong to say what she did, it’s like telling her that she and other people like her who feel they’ve chosen, do not exist and that’s what’s really irresponsible. Plus, she wasn’t speaking for the whole LGBTQ community or for anyone who’s ever come out as gay ever, she was speaking for herself and that’s fair because we all get to define our own sexuality and when it comes down to it, it’s no one’s fucking business how we do that.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:27pm
  17. Maybe she did choose. Who are you to say she didn’t? I think this article is really a double standard. Why do you care if someone chose to be gay or not? It doesn’t really change anything. Being gay is just a label, as long as your happy, who gives a fuck? You can’t force that all LGBT people MUST be born that way.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:30pm
  18. I don’t even know who Cynthia Nixon is (I googled) and not sure why I should care about her opinions.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:31pm
  19. Who is anyone to say what she should or shouldn’t say? That’s craziness. I support Ms. Nixon 100%!

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:31pm
  20. I think I get what she mean, but her wording was badly thought out. If someone is bisexual and they’ve chosen to live within the confines of a heterosexual life I think that should be respected. No one has the right to judge how someone else deals with the bigotry of the anti-gay world. But if a bisexual begins to feel repressed in the time she’s living that life she could eventually choose to switch to just women to escape those conventions. Also if someone is bisexual, but doesn’t really understand the language used to explain what she’s doing, I’m sure she feels as though she’s choosing to be gay. Her publicly stating it to the world doesn’t help up any, but if she has that little of an understanding than you can’t really blame her. It’s like yelling at a child for saying a sware word before they get that it is one.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:32pm
  21. I have to agree with Ian. And so Ms Nixon’s choice of word were unfortunate. Clumsy is giving here too much credit. Actress’s jeez.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:34pm
  22. I think to a degree it is “choice” people could choose to do what society wants n be in hetro relationships (tho unhappily) or gay and be happy.. We all pretend at some point in our lives it’s just a matter of how far you’ll take it to make others happy. Or yourself….

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:36pm
  23. So she should lie in order to conform to the gay message? That’s ridiculous. Who cares if a person chose it or had no choice – it’s still nobody’s business who they choose to love or sleep with. Frankly, forcing the “it’s not a choice” message makes it seem like choosing to be gay would be crazy. How offensive s THAT?

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:36pm
  24. u dont chose. u are or u not .is not in our power to chose is the way we are this is a bad message only gonna hurt more people.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:38pm
  25. That’s good to know that you can choose it Cynthia Nixon… the rest of us can’t. Trust me. I like having choices and this wasn’t an option. It came as a standard feature on this model.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:38pm
  26. I dislike this take on what Cynthia Nixon said. She feels that she chose to be gay. She clearly stated when she said this that she knows and accepts that it is NOT a choice for everyone (at least, I read another article that quoted her as saying this.) Some people can choose to be gay. Some people have no say in the matter. To say that either you are or you aren’t and you can’t choose is just as biased and disgusting as saying it’s only a choice and not something out of your control. Things aren’t black and white, EVERYONE needs to realize that and accept it. To me, this article is screaming, “You can’t say that because it’ll make things harder for us!” And that’s not fair to her. She needs to be true to herself just as the rest of us do. And if she feels it was her choice, then everyone needs to respect that.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:38pm
  27. I think the article sums this statements perfectly, she was clearly not being malicious, simply clumsy and without true self actualization. A person like her needs to understand, a question about yourself is not simply an idea of your intimate philosophies, but representative of the culture you keep. People need to be more careful and realize the weight they have over others.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:39pm
  28. Well I was born gay, but I’m fabulous by choice!

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:40pm
  29. People who are in the eye of the public need to chose their wording carefully. Wether its meant or not, some people can and will use their statements against others. However, if that’s how she chooses to identify who are we to judge? Let her live and be happy and equal with the rest of the world since that is what we are fighting for. Shredding her to bits is like taking away her right to express herself and her identity, is just like taking away the same rights we are fighting for. From a gay man’s perspective, she she have worded it alittle better for such interviews? Probably. But all this hate that is directed towards her for a simple mistake makes me ashamed of my own community

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:40pm
  30. Maybe just because someone identifies as gay and is a celebrity doesn’t give everyone the right to demand they act as a “gay role model” and agree with everything the gay community wants. Why should gay celebrities be held to this high standard just because they’re gay? Isn’t that a sort of discrimination in and of itself?

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:42pm
  31. Well then I guess we should blame the media for twisting her words. The media is REAL good at doing that.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:43pm
  32. Is gay if you dont like it kiss my ass haters!

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:45pm
  33. I agree with Laura Coy… in addition to that I’d like to say that I’m a bit repulsed by the fact that an LGBTQ person would come down so hard on Dixon. We get crap all of the time and to do it to a fellow lesbian makes you a hypocrite, kind of like spitting in your teammate’s eye. How about we show support for Dixon and DON’T give the “Christian” extremists support on their moronic ideas. No matter what words she decided to use SHE’S GAY RIGHT NOW, shouldn’t we be proud of her? She’s living the life she wants and not giving a hoot about what title make the other party happy.

    Whether anyone understands her or not, it’s none of your business! Sorry she didn’t use the right term or expressed herself the way you would have… I thought this was part of our 1st amendment.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:46pm
  34. K+J=4ever 8-28-11 <3 #soon bbygirl

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:46pm
  35. I’m a bit repulsed by the fact that an LGBTQ person would come down so hard on Dixon. We get crap all of the time and to do it to a fellow lesbian makes you a hypocrite, kind of like spitting in your teammate’s eye. How about we show support for Dixon and DON’T give the “Christian” extremists support on their moronic ideas. No matter what words she decided to use SHE’S GAY RIGHT NOW, shouldn’t we be proud of her? She’s living the life she wants and not giving a hoot about what title make the other party happy.

    Whether anyone understands her or not, it’s none of your business! Sorry she didn’t use the right term or expressed herself the way you would have… I thought this was part of our 1st amendment.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:47pm
  36. This whole thing is soooo moot…. she has tried both sexes and she settled on her own sex. That’s it! Why all the commotion?!

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:49pm
  37. Shes not gay she had a commited sexual relationship with a man.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:55pm
  38. The guy who commented above me can kindly SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 3:02pm
  39. Seriously, everyone who is not Cynthia Nixon, shut up now. She gets to identify however she wants. The majority of the queer community is making me want to vomit over this.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 3:02pm
  40. She chose to act on her feelings. She didn’t choose to feel those feelings. She chose her label. And in choosing to label herself gay, she chose to be gay.

    Sure, her wording, or at least in the context of this article, leaves a lot to be desired but perhaps she just made a mistake. Perhaps she doesn’t know about the consequences of this poor wording choice, though that seems unlikely given that she’s conscious, but the fact remains that she’s brave enough to stand up and say she’s gay in a time when it’s not all that easy to say those things to the public.

    It was a mistake. Think of the message we’re sending to all the kids that are coming out and confused and don’t know the right words. By attacking someone for coming out “wrong” we’re telling all those kids that they’d better be careful what they say when coming out or they’ll be criticized and attacked by the gay community. Coming out is a confusing time for a lot of people and we should focus more on supporting people brave enough to stand up and tell the world who they are rather than attacking someone for a poor wording choice while declaring who she is to the world.

    Just some food for thought.

    Peace and respect.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 3:06pm
  41. You don’t choose to be gay, but you can choose to act on it or not, hence living your life the way it was meant to be or not.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 3:11pm
  42. It hurts when people say things like this. That you can choose to be gay or not even if they don’t relies at the time. That the words they say can really make it even harder for people to truly be happy in there own skin.
    Even around the people that they love because of what may happen if they found out. I say when you choose to be straight is when I choose to be gay!! I am really sad that one of the actresses that I looked up to sed this. So Nixon please think before you speak for what you say next can cause more damage then you can imagine.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 3:26pm
  43. So here we have Wayne Besen, doing exactly what he would admonish anyone else for doing — telling Ms. Nixon whether or not she is gay, based on her behavior, regardless of what she has to say about herself.

    That’s really rich.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 4:02pm
  44. We really need to stop bashing each other! There are plenty of bigots out there doing that for us! I know many lesbian women that were married because it was the status quo at the time! They are no less lesbians than Ellen or Rosie! If we dont support each other, nobody else will!

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 4:09pm
  45. Wow…labeling and putting up with the judgements of others…so hard to just BE…if it aint the straights, its the community, and the pressure for each of us to be correct and without fault of speech. I have loved men and love and have beautiful sex with women. I truly believe that ALL people should love and marry whom they choose. I believe that children should all have safe and loving homes with CARING parents who put them before all others. Ms. Nixon speaks for herself and I love the fact she can start a dialogue, but for me ,I choose Love without having to worry whom I Love, it shall not define me. Ms. Nixon bless you and your Love.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 4:27pm
  46. whos to say that because this one person “chose to be gay” that that person stands up or speaks for all gay people anyway?

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 4:40pm
  47. I am an individual and just because one person “chose” it does not mean that person is speaking for me because I surely didnt choose it it chose me.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 4:42pm
  48. I disagree with this article and I think what Cynthia said was great. She can believe what she wants to. The only reason the LGBT community argues biology over choice is in defense against anti-gay individuals and groups. At what point will the LGBT community just say, “Who cares!” to this stale, ridiculous argument. Who cares if it’s a choice?! Who cares if it’s biology?!

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 4:52pm
  49. People are so blind it’s disturbing.

    Do you not understand that we have all of these rights afforded to us due to one tiny belief, that being gay is immutable.

    Take that away and we might as well be sexual deviants.

    I for one do not want her as a spokesperson for gay rights. She should just go back to the closet and keep her mouth shut.

    How much harder is it for us to convince the bible belt if being gay is a simple choice?

    We do not live in a world were her words can be taken lightly.

    This is coming from a bisexual man who is proud of my bisexuality.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 5:47pm
  50. I think Cynthia Nixon, like me, is one of the happy people who has chosen to be gay. I was happily married to a woman for over ten years. Had you asked me during that time, I would have said I was straight. When my marriage ended I dated many women but I also decided to try dating men as well. Turns out I found a man I truly love. I know that for some people they cannot chose which gender they love but for me love knows no gender. I say I am Gay now not bisexual because at this time in my life I am not interested in women.

    I also think there are also dangers in saying homosexuality is hard wired. I wonder if they found the “gay” gene, if all these right wing christians will suddenly become pro-choice on the abortion issue.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 6:50pm
  51. I switched over from 365gay when it closed down, and had high hopes for this website. But this article is complete smut. It’s uncalled for and offensive.

    How Cynthia Nixon chooses to define herself is her business. Her words probably will be misused, but this is the ever-classic issue of things being easier to accuse in retrospect rather than in the time.

    My boyfriend is “technically” bisexual but defines himself as gay. I don’t understand it, but he holds much the same view as Nixon, and that’s his business. As a community, should we force our views of sexuality on everyone else? No.

    Another thing, well-meaning social researchers, professors, celebrities, experts and Holy Texts are all taken out of context all the time. Does that mean that any one of them are “clumsy, irresponsible, inaccurate”, and are “reckless [and] indulgent?”

    Another thing… this born this way business. We don’t even know that. Actually, CURRENT evidence points to it being a combination of genetic and environmental factors. I keep up with the research… and none of it has been deemed conclusive, and again, scientists seem to think it’s a complex combination of factors. Which is frankly why I disown Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” as my anthem.

    This article was completely uncalled for. I’m hoping future articles will be of better quality and more thoughtful.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7:05pm
  52. If it’s biology, then why doesn’t our anatomy support homosexual sex? The body is designed in a way that only supports hetero sex -the anus doesn’t lubricate for a penis like a vagina does; gays can’t procreate between them, lesbians still have their menstrual cycle but can’t make a baby between them. I don’t think the article highlighting “evidence” of biology helps when it’s noting differences that are used to identify the biology of alcoholics… anatomy and biology loses the argument, I think.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7:35pm
  53. It shouldn’t matter whether you are born gay, or it’s a choice, but it does. I agree with Jake above.

    It’s great to theorize about this issue when you’re living in an urban blue state, somewhere that is a bit more enlightened. It’s easier to think that gay rights are an inevitability and take them for granted.

    In South Dakota, where I grew up, and places like it, the only way you are going to get people to acknowledge you as a human being and that you have rights at all is to embrace the idea that being gay is inherent to your nature; which I personally think it is.

    Whether or not you believe being gay is a choice, it would be nice to consider a larger view of things and act strategically in the gay community’s interests.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7:39pm
  54. I can’t remember a time when I EVER forced myself to fall in love with someone. It happens or it doesn’t. Now you can choose to make yourself do something, but the basis of the choice comes from the way you feel. If she CHOSE to be with this girl, fine. But she didn’t choose to fall in love with her. Choices are made consciously. How you feel about yourself and what you want is not your choice. She made the choice to act, not to feel how she felt when she met her. That’s the difference. So, yes, she misquoted herself. What she should have said was, “I met this girl and felt this way about her. I could have chosen to act or not. I chose to act on it.” No matter how you try to word it, how someone makes you feel is not your choice.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7:53pm
  55. She doesn’t know what she is. I think she’s in love with love and whom ever shows it to her is her conquest of the month or year. Why can’t she say she’s bi-sexual and tell the truth for once.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 9:46pm
  56. you are just as bigoted as those whom you argue against, which is rather unfortunate because the goals which you seek are, in my opinion, of much greater import.

    Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 10:11pm
  57. It is actually amusing that when straight people comment “don’t put a label” on these “gay by choice” issue they never have sex with a same gender–they stay straight all the time. It is easy for them to say so. Yet many gays and lesbians support the “don’t put a label” thing like crazy. REAL PATHETIC.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 7:12am
  58. In The Advocate, Nixon clarified her remarks to mirror EXACTLY what I said in this column.

    It seems that my assessment was dead on…

    Posted on Friday, February 3, 2012 at 10:28am