Stop saying Cynthia Nixon is running for governor of NY as an ‘openly gay’ woman

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I don’t live in the state of New York and I don’t really care about New York politics beyond reading the odd gossip piece about how much people hate Mayor de Blasio. Andrew Cuomo is currently the governor of New York, and he’s running for re-election this year (New York governors serve four-year terms and there are no term limits.) Cuomo comes from a popular – if scandalous – old Democratic dynasty. I’m sure there are valid complaints about Cuomo’s governorship but as I said, I don’t really pay attention to NY politics.

What is interesting to me is that Cynthia “Miranda” Nixon has formally thrown her hat into the ring. She’s running in the Democratic Party primary against Governor Cuomo. Here’s her first ad:

This is a really well-produced ad, right? It gave me goosebumps, the music is great and her voiceover rocks. The message is great too. I would vote for her!

Anyway, here’s what’s bugging some people: Cynthia Nixon has been with her wife, Christine Marinoni, for more than a decade. They got married in 2012. If Cynthia won the primary and then won the governorship, there would be a First Lady (as opposed to Cuomo’s First Girlfriend Sandra Lee). So that’s fine – it’s New York, people are gay and few people have a problem with that. Except that Cynthia Nixon isn’t gay! That’s not how she identifies, and people are taking issue with the idea of labeling Cynthia “the first openly gay governor candidate.” She’s always said she’s bisexual.

When Cynthia Nixon announced her candidacy for governor of New York, a narrative quickly emerged. A Sex and the City actor would be running for one of the most powerful offices in the state on the platform of fixing the damn subways — and could very well become the first female, openly gay governor in the state’s history. The New York Times said it; the Guardian said it; even Vox said it. The only problem with that narrative, though? Nixon isn’t, in fact, openly gay.

Nixon has been upfront about the fact that she identifies as being far more on the bisexual end of the spectrum — and also about how that fact often gets lost in favor of black-and-white proclamations about her sexuality. When Nixon began dating Christine Marinoni in 2004 after dating a man for 15 years, it was largely treated as the coming-out story of a woman who realized late in life that she was a lesbian. But Nixon herself was always clear that her attraction to her ex-boyfriends was as real as hers to Marinoni, who is now her wife.

“In terms of sexual orientation I don’t really feel I’ve changed,” she told the Telegraph in 2008. “I don’t feel there was a hidden part of my sexuality that I wasn’t aware of. I’d been with men all my life, and I’d never fallen in love with a woman. But when I did, it didn’t seem so strange. I’m just a woman in love with another woman.”

In 2012, Nixon stumbled into controversy when she told the New York Times that her relationship with Marinoni was “a choice,” which to many implied that she was playing into the pernicious trope that queer people can turn their queerness on and off whenever they want. “I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice,” she said, “and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.” She was, she added, “very annoyed about this issue.”

The reason why (and the context for her “choice” comment) made more sense with a little more explanation — which, as Nixon quickly learned, was constantly asked of her no matter the purported subject of the interview. Though she clarified in a statement that she believes “bisexuality isn’t a choice” and that her relationship with a woman is, she later told the Huffington Post that she was frustrated because “people were so insistent” that she must identify as gay, that she “had just simply been mistaken about myself for all these years and finally the veil was lifted and I was a lesbian.” That narrative, she maintained, was just “not true.”

[From Vox]

So, there you go. Don’t call Cynthia Nixon “gay.” She’s bisexual. She’s openly bisexual. This is an example of Bisexual Erasure. It will be interesting to see if and how Nixon addresses that in larger conversations throughout her candidacy, just as it will be interesting/horrifying to see how the media handles it.

Also: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand supports Cuomo, not Nixon. Just FYI.

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74 Responses to “Stop saying Cynthia Nixon is running for governor of NY as an ‘openly gay’ woman”

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  1. Rapunzel says:

    Love Cynthia, but do we really need more celeb politicians? I’m sorta over that now, with DT in the WH. It is an excellent ad though.

    • CrazyCatLady says:

      She’s always been very community focused, she’s advocated in many issues in an active and involved way, and she’s not a dilletente about it,

      I actually agree with you in general….I’m not fond of celebs who use their media platforms while promoting events to get mouthy on issues outside the scope of promotion as if being a celebrity makes their opinion more hefty….but that’s not her from my observation.

      She somewhat keeps her work as an actress separate from her work as an activist, and she works at both with commitment and investment.

      She’s the rare celebrity whose opinions I’d give the time of day to.

      • otaku fairy says:

        Besides the number of people who will read or hear the opinion, there’s really not much difference between a celebrity talking about an issue in an interview and non-famous people discussing it on twitter, facebook, or anywhere else on the internet. Their fame doesn’t make whatever they say more or less valid, but I don’t think celebrities need to stay silent about those subjects any more than the average citizen. I care about what they’re actually saying, not the fact that they got a little (or very) political in the first place.

    • Tiffany says:

      But….is she a celebrity. She is a award winning working actress who was part of a famous franchise. I would not put her on the same level as say, Sarah Jessica Parker.

      Her occupation is actor.

    • Anna says:

      Does she really have the experience to be
      governor?

      I didn’t know people disliked De Blasio that much, I’ve thought hes been an okay mayor. Way better than other major cities

    • Alix says:

      I don’t care whether she’s gay, straight, bi-, or whatever, but like the presidency, a governorship is NOT an entry-level position. No matter how much of an activist she’s been, she’s nowhere near qualified for the job. Yet.

      • Megan says:

        This. If she wants to make a difference she should run for local office and work her way towards higher office to gain the skills necessary to govern. Turning good ideas into policy is an acquired skill.

      • ichsi says:

        I care very much that she’s bisexual and I’m super annoyed by the conflation, but I agree. She needs more experience. Then again, Schwarzenegger was governor in CA and people didn’t care there either.

      • holly hobby says:

        Yes some career pols start out small school board, city govt state, senate. Jumping to the biggest job without any experience of how govt works (advocacy is not the same as being in the trenches and knowing how govt works. Look at the mess in the WH!). So it’s a no for me.

      • magnoliarose says:

        This is my issue. Why should she be a governor? How about running for mayor or something first in a mid size community. New York is a complicated state with issues other states don’t have.
        Ideas are great, but politics is a lot more than that.

    • TwoPac says:

      We need to get OVER the idea of NO MORE celebs in politics. Reagan? Schwartzinager? NoW what orange thing? These politicians get their feet wet in the public eye, and it’s OK to build upon that as long as they have the drive, education “chops” AND HUMANITARIAN ETHICS. “proud public school parent” gave me the CHILLS. Public education may just solve the quagmire of today, GO CYNTHIA!!!

  2. Luca76 says:

    Hmm as a NYer don’t buy the Murdoch propaganda in the NY Post that people hate DiBlasio. He’s not perfect but he’s been a decent mayor. Honestly I have more dislike for Cuomo. The two men hate eachother but apparently Cuomo has an antagonistic relationship with many mayors in the state.
    I’m curious about Cynthia’s platform but I’m kind of negative on celebrity politicians.

  3. Crowhood says:

    When Cuomo’s Dad was running there were posters that said “vote for Cuomo, Not the homo”. Welcome to NY.

  4. Crowhood says:

    When Cuomo’s Dad was running there were posters that said “vote for Cuomo, Not the homo”. Welcome to NY.

  5. Crowhood says:

    When Cuomo’s Dad was running there were posters that said “vote for Cuomo, Not the homo”. Welcome to NY.

  6. Iknowwhatboyslike says:

    As a New Yorker, I’m not happy about this. New York is such a diverse, complicated state to run. The Upstate vs. Downstate politics is so nuanced. There are parts of NY that is a kin to Alabama and that’s no lie. Her video was way too NYC centric and that’s coming from a NYer who lives in NYC. I would support Cynthia for a state senator, a council member, maybe give her a chance as mayor. She’s been a political activist for a long time, so she isn’t a complete novice and I respect her dedication. But where is her experience in running a multifaceted organization? I don’t think it’s sexist to ask that question. I would not give an inexperienced non-celebrity my vote, so I wouldn’t give an inexperienced celebrity my vote. I’m not happy with Cuomo and would’ve loved an experienced woman to primary him. He needs a swift kick in the ass.

  7. Lisa says:

    I think she would have more of a chance if DT wasn’t in the WH. People are fatigued over the celebrity-becomes-politician thing.

  8. manda says:

    Wow, I agree, that ad was VERY well put together. I would strongly consider voting for her if I was a NYer! I think, because I too don’t really know their politics

  9. PoliteTeaSipper says:

    I’ve fallen in love with a bi man (I’m a woman) and I am shocked to hear how many of my gay friends are assuring me that he is either asexual or gay and “coming to terms with it” and if I get involved with him my heart will absolutely get broken. “If he wanted to be in an initimate relationship he would be by now, so he’s asexual or gay”. He’s in his early 40s. I’m amazed at how fast they define his orientation for him and have the perfect answer for how he needs to “fix” himself.

    • TheOtherMaria says:

      That’s what life is like for bisexuals.

      Lesbians have accused me of sexually fetishizing women ( let’s just ignore that I’ve had long relationships with my own gender just because I’ve had a dick in my day), men are relegated as gay with confusion 😒

      It’s irritating and annoying as hell; I no longer tell my potential partners I’m bi UNLESS they’re a woman and that’s simply because I don’t want to be accused of double dipping (most of the backlash I’ve experienced is always from women).

      /sigh

      • otaku fairy says:

        The ‘long, public relationships or it didn’t happen’ approach that sometimes comes up in discussing other people’s bisexuality is so bizarre to me. If a straight woman has only had casual sex/ fwb situations with men so far, that’s not seen as a reason to say that she isn’t really heterosexual. That doesn’t seem to get done with straight men either.
        As for the ‘fetishizing’ complaint- I think women of all sexual orientations need to just do better about being secure about which sexual things just aren’t for them without turning another woman’s sexuality into some kind of attack.

  10. Rapunzel says:

    Rojo Caliente would make a great first lady though.

  11. Killjoy says:

    I’m over Cuomo, and the old, corrupt Democratic party here. It needs to go. New York is suffering from neoliberal capitalist politics that is essentially a patronage from the wealthiest and most connected. It’s sickening. While I generally don’t support celebrities-as-politicians, given the history of the Democratic party in NYS, it might be worth reaching out beyond your usual political candidates. Also, loved Nixon’s ad. I’m not sure how I feel about her candidacy, but Cuomo will NOT be getting my vote.

    Also – is the name “Killjoy” already taken? I feel like I’ve seen it before…

    • magnoliarose says:

      I have seen it before. You can add something to it if you want people to get an idea that it is you posting and not someone else.
      Some names are used so often I don’t know who is who or if someone is hiding behind someone else’s name. I don’t respond as often to them because I like getting a bit of a feel for the people here. That is just me though.

  12. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I also think the term “open” or “openly……” should be abolished. It’s so dated and personifies antiquated thinking imo.

    • Killjoy says:

      Yep! That’s what I thought this post would be about from the headline. (I didn’t realize Nixon was bi).

    • magnoliarose says:

      Like the opposite is hidden. We don’t say openly heterosexual so let it die already.

      • JRS says:

        Are either of you in the queer community? I’m a lesbian and the reason no one says “openly heterosexual” is because heterosexuality IS the most prevalent sexual orientation and it gets put in as a default status. Me, personally, I don’t really take issue with that because we queer folk really are just that outnumbered and I don’t think it speaks to any kind of prejudice to assume someone is straight until told otherwise.

        “Openly gay” might sound odd to some but to me it makes sense. Even if it’s 2018, being out as a gay person in the public sphere is still “rare” enough that it generally gets its fair share of attention. Maybe if someone says they don’t want that particular adjective, we can respect their wishes, but otherwise, I think “openly gay” gives a message of affirmation.

        After all, some people are out but not open, others aren’t out at all, and yes, it might seem silly to qualify her as openly gay when we’re talking about a celebrity grabbing headlines (like, it might seem redundant), but those words and labels still exist for a reason.

      • magnoliarose says:

        No, I am not part of the queer community.
        Thank you for the explanation and taking the time to spell it out.

        To explain where I am coming from: In my life, it isn’t assumed someone is hetero. My career has a much higher than average LGBTQ+ people, and I grew up in a very liberal household. I have always lived in very diverse communities with people across the spectrum of the LGBTQ+ identifier. Gay people have always been known to me and open without it being a thing. I do recognize the issues and the work to be done, but I hadn’t considered why this is important too.
        So when someone announces they are open, it is like a positive affirmation and declaration.

        I thought Cynthia’s sexuality was well known at this point but what you are saying it needs to be said clearly and proudly. Am I right?
        I bristled at someone else saying it and getting wrong though, but that is a separate issue I think.

  13. Dee says:

    Why why why why why why why do high-level women continually get referred to by their first names?
    It’s like an unspoken (maybe even subconscious), continual reminder that women are supposed to be pally, friendly, non-threatening friend/mothers while men are serious, authoritative, established, and professional.
    Hillary vs Obama. Hillary vs Trump. “Did you hear the new Springsteen album?” vs “Did you hear the new Beyonce album?”
    I recognize that “Nixon” is a loaded political name, but why not “Cynthia Nixon”?

    • Killjoy says:

      Let’s reclaim Nixon! I think it was a decision made by Clinton’s campaign to: 1) distance her from Bill; 2) make her seem less threatening. I think Clinton embraced that (at least for her second campaign?), but it’s a trend that needs to die out ASAP.

    • tealily says:

      I generally agree, but it’s her own campaign that’s going for Cynthia. I think it probably IS to avoid using “Nixon” on all the sign, or maybe to drive home the New Yorker/neighbor-y vibe she’s going for in this ad.

    • Iknowwhatboyslike says:

      You make a great point. I’m also guilty of it. No more! Nixon vs. Cuomo

    • jwoolman says:

      Hillary Clinton was referred to as Hillary rather than Clinton to avoid the very real confusion with her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Saying the full name all the time gets awkward. Everybody understood which Hillary it meant with no trouble.

      The New York Times insists on titles Mr., Mrs. and I don’t know what they do with non-Mrs. women. Ms. is supposed to mean both married and unmarried women so there would be no need for Mrs. unless the woman said she preferred that. If they use Miss, they are really in the wrong century. Anyway, they seemed to at least sometimes refer to her as Mrs. Clinton, which I found annoying but maybe she doesn’t and that’s what counts.

      In phrases like “Secretary Clinton” (the title apparently stays with you), there was no confusion because Hillary was Secretary of State but Bill never was. If she were referred to as Senator Clinton, again no confusion.

      Trump gets called Donald a lot when there can be confusion with all the other Trumps running around getting into trouble and embarrassing us.

      So I don’t think this means anything except a problem with too many people having the same last name.

  14. Mee says:

    Cuomo has to go! He has consistently misappropriated funds AWAY from struggling schools. To the point where the Parents had to sue him to get the money allocated for their children’s schools!!!!

  15. Aang says:

    I voted for Teachout in the last gubernatorial primary. I’ll most likely vote for Nixon in the next. Cuomo says all the right things on social issues but Albany is just so corrupt. She needs to target upstate Democrats to stand a chance. But I’m not hopeful. She’ll need the unions to win the primary and that’s a long shot. The union leaders are in bed with the establishment Democrats. And I can’t see her appealing to blue collar democrats anyway. And I agree with an above comment, outside the cities and college towns NY can be as redneck as the south.

    • Iknowwhatboyslike says:

      My mother is in the 1199 Union and they are ride or die for Cuomo. She went to a rally for him and came back ready go to bat for him. She is ready for Cuomo 2020 and was not here for my 2 cents. It’s so surprising how much the Unions love him.

      • lissanne says:

        1199 SEIU (health care workers union for you non-New Yorkers) works closely with the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), the trade organization for hospitals. Together, the two organizations have a lot of clout, so Cuomo listens when they speak! I expect neither organization wants to risk supporting an unknown and possibly ending up with a Republican governor, who might seek to privatize New York’s hospitals, which by current law, are all non-profits.

  16. Jay says:

    I didn’t know she identified as Bi instead of Gay – now I know and won’t repeat that mistake!

  17. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    I agree that it is totally glossy production, and therein is the rub… most of it, without the voice over (even while *that* is very Carrie Bradshaw-esque), could be a scene from SATC. As such, I think it is a big mistake- it comes off as weakening the gravitas of her message.

  18. Ally says:

    Here’s a New Republic article from last year. It asks the question: “There is plenty of room to mount a progressive challenge against the Democratic governor. Why hasn’t anyone stepped up?” Well, Cynthia Nixon did.
    https://newrepublic.com/article/143869/andrew-cuomo-keeps-left-check

    Cuomo has brokered a deal to have enough state senate Democrats effectively caucus with Republicans in order to keep progressive policies in check. He is the kind of nightmare useless centrist only interested in his own career advancement and keeping the donor class happy that needs to be voted out.

    Shame on Kristin Gillibrand, but thanks for confirming who she is and what she doesn’t stand for.

    It’s amazing how that “openly” phrasing basically stands in for “you’d think she’d be ashamed of this but nah”. Anything normie doesn’t merit an “openly”… “openly straight”, “openly conservative”… Why mention her sexuality at all? Because it’s always open season on ladyparts. Denying her own self-defintion is heinous, too.

    • magnoliarose says:

      I got slammed during the Franken debacle about Gillibrand, but I knew this is who she was. She is self serving and only there for women if she benefits. I have met her several times, and she leaves me meh every time. She isn’t the kind of woman I want as a Senator.
      So where is her followup to leading the charge to kick Franken out without an investigation? Where is her diligent work to back up her hard stance and to see changes made to the system? Where is her activism for victims of sexual harassment? She should be front and center and yet…nothing. From what I was told she only wanted him out of the way to begin to run for president since he was being considered. She is an opportunist. Plain and simple. It wasn’t out of justice or solidarity or believing the women. It was for self.

      KG stabbed HRC in the back feeding into 45′s twisted obsession and giving fodder for the Deplorables. Everyone kept giving her passes because they didn’t understand she wasn’t doing it out of strongly held beliefs. She was doing it for attention because she wants to run for higher office and to distance herself from HRC even though she never minded using HRC as a mentor. She used Clinton’s gravitas and connections to get her way in and then when HRC was down she put the boot in. In the most disgusting hurtful way and I don’t forgive that nonsense. That shows who she is and her character.

      So here she is supporting Cuomo because she is betting on the stronger horse and wants his endorsement.
      I don’t need or want women like her representing anyone and taking space for dynamic women, possibly of color, minority, LGBTQ+, who would go to DC and kick some ass. She’s a traitor to women’s causes.
      I will be working overtime hoping to kick her sorry self to the curb.

      Rant complete.

  19. Dorothy#1 says:

    I don’t like Cuomo and I don’t like the idea of Cynthia Nixon. As a person living 6 hours from NYC I need a governor who will think of what the WHOLE state needs. I can’t think of a moment in my life time where upstate NY has been a priority.

    • Andrea says:

      As a born downstater from the hudson valley who has also lived in Buffalo, I am not sure you can get a politician to get upstate except to pump money into it. Downstate is very wealthy and very liberal whereas a lot of upstate are pro gun, racists, and have drug and low income issues. There are also major drug issues downstate as well..so maybe drug reform and treating it as a mental illness will help. The move to make Buffalo more artsy is bringing more money in and helping the community whereas Rochester, Utica, Syracuse are still suffering.

  20. perplexed says:

    So that SATC 3 movie is definitely not happening, then?

  21. Zoe says:

    Govenor of NY is a big job why would anyone vote for a celebrity? However well intentioned she is you guys should have learned from the current out of his depth inhabitant in the WH.

  22. SuzyQ says:

    She has ZERO qualifications. I, certainly, won’t vote for her. I’m not thrilled with Cuomo, but, if it were to come down to the two of them, I would and will vote for him.
    These people with absolutely no government experience are so arrogant and ignorant thinking they can start at the top.

    • Patty says:

      Everyone gets their start somewhere. All politicians have zero experience at some point. Sometimes it turns out good: President Obama had minimal experience before becoming a Senator.

      And sometimes it’s a disaster: Trump! But er’body saw that coming.

      Some politicians have a ton of experience and are still disasters. Truthfully it’s similar to just about anything else.

  23. Lahdidahbaby says:

    What I have a problem with is more the “openly” than the gay vs bisexual. To say someone is *openly* anything implies that they are not ashamed of it…which in itself implies that maybe they ought to be ashamed of it, or at least that by our accepted standards most people would be.

    We’ll know that we have started to grow up as a society when we can just say someone is gay or bisexual and leave out the “openly”. But we won’t have grown up entirely until we don’t have to refer to someone’s sexuality at all.

  24. Lori says:

    Shes bisexual but she is in a gay relationship. I assumed thats why she says gay?

  25. Dee says:

    I want to like her but I can’t get behind someone who is so anti semetic and supports a culture that would kill her for her sexuality. We need actual brains, not actors.