Cynthia Nixon: I am bisexual, it is “not a choice”

Cynthia Nixon drew ire from some members of the gay community when she made a statement in an interview with the NY Times a week ago that claimed that being gay, for her, was a choice. She said “for me, it is a choice. [to be gay] 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.” Cynthia, 45, has been with her same sex partner, Christine Marinoni, for nearly eight years. Prior to that she was with a man for 15 years.

In a later interview with The Daily Beast, Cynthia clarified that she’s probably bisexual but doesn’t like to call herself bisexual due to negative stereotypes surrounding that term. She said “I just don’t like to pull out that word. 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.” It really seemed that Cynthia was going to stand her ground and not change her position on the matter, because she was adamant about it. She went on to say that “I don’t feel the need to cede the definition of what a gay person is to the bigots. They don’t get to define who I am.

Well it looks like she has given in somewhat, or at least she’s rethought her public stance on it. She made a statement to The Advocate that she’s bisexual, not gay, and that’s not a “choice” for her to be bisexual, it’s a choice for her to be in a gay relationship.

“My recent comments in The New York Times were about me and my personal story of being gay. I believe we all have different ways we came to the gay community and we can’t and shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into one cultural narrative which can be uninclusive and disempowering. However, to the extent that anyone wishes to interpret my words in a strictly legal context I would like to clarify:

“While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship.

“As I said in the Times and will say again here, I do, however, believe that most members of our community — as well as the majority of heterosexuals — cannot and do not choose the gender of the persons with whom they seek to have intimate relationships because, unlike me, they are only attracted to one sex.

“Our community is not a monolith, thank goodness, any more than America itself is. I look frward to and will continue to work toward the day when America recognizes all of us as full and equal citizens.”

[From The Advocate]

As I said in our earlier coverage on this, it’s a shame that the word “bisexual” has such negative connotations, and that it’s been vilified by both sides of the aisle to suggest that bisexual people are somehow fickle or “switch hitters” or will get with “anything that moves.” There are people who are just born being attracted to both sexes, just as there are people who are born being attracted to just one sex. It kind of makes me sad that Cynthia just didn’t come out as bisexual. I’m also disappointed that she had to work so hard to clarify her comments, which she very clearly stated only applied to herself. If she wants to call herself gay because she’s in a relationship with a woman I feel that’s her right even if it’s not technically accurate. She’s been with her partner for so long that it makes sense that she’s self identifying as gay. Are we going to take that away from her because she’s famous and was once married to a man?

Cynthia Nixon is shown on 1/26/12 at the opening night for her play Wit. She’s playing a cancer victim and went bald for that role

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49 Responses to “Cynthia Nixon: I am bisexual, it is “not a choice””

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  1. Maya says:

    First it’s a choice, then it’s not a choice…but happy to have the media attention.
    She should get into politics.

    • Jay says:

      She didn’t change her tune. I thought that she stated her position clearly the first time and the two clarifications were overkill, but apparently not. Seems some people still aren’t getting it.

  2. Bite me says:

    Cynthia has never been married… No comment on the rest

  3. T.C. says:

    They problem is if she came out first as being “bisexual” let’s face it, ALL of us would be calling it a cop-out. Because SOME hollywood actresses do use the bisexual term when they are in fact 100% gay but want to keep their male fans. In a backwards way, she will now get more credit for being bisexual after being so reluctant to use the term in the first place and just calling herself gay. No one would accuse her of using a cop-out.

    • Jayna says:

      She has always said she was attracted to and loved her longtime boyfriend and father of her children, but that she just happened to fall in love with this person who was a woman. She has never said she was in the closet all her adult life when she was with men.

  4. bigorexia says:

    This is exactly what I was telling people in the comments section last time but people lashed out angrily at me for being so narrow-minded. Well, I was right. I said she is bisexual and that her bisexuality is not a choice, and I was right. Whoever called me an idiot should really take a look at themselves. 🙂

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      If it makes you feel any better, out of 200 plus comments nobody (including me) remembers what you posted.

      • Krill says:

        Amazing how you can speak for 200 plus people who posted on this site because you know exactly what they do and don’t remember. Yes, you’re very special.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Krill-calm down. I was simply saying that out of 3 different posts about the subject and god knows how many comments, people probably don’t recall one commenter’s words. Take a Valium honey.

    • k says:

      I said something similar to your comments. I’m sorry people called you names!

  5. Asli says:

    On another note. Damn, girl can commit. First 15 years and then 8 with her current partner. You never see that in Hollywood – I always liked Miranda the best!

  6. Agnes says:

    I think she’s made it abundantly clear that her comments applied only to her, her life and her choices.I don’t think she saw herself as speaking for the larger LGTB community. People need to chill.

  7. lola says:

    she shouldn’t have to clarify or apologize to a community whose chief complaint is about acceptance.

  8. fabgrrl says:

    I don’t like to say that being bisexual means you are attracted to both sexes, necessarily. For many, it is more like, gender isn’t all that important. It’s there, but not important. Does that make sense? I’m generalizing of course, but think about it this way, people fall into categories — age, culture, height, socio-economic group, profession, race, body type, left or right handed, religion, intelligence, political affiliation, physical attractiveness, gender, etc. These are things that you take into account when forming interpersonal relationships. And they have greater or lesser importance, depending on who you are and the type of relationship. For some, another person’s gender simply isn’t as much of a factor when it comes to romantic relationships. The term “bisexuality” is problematic because it empathizes gender and doesn’t take into account the many, many factors that go into human relationships.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      This is exactly the point I was going to make. I actually think of bisexuality (from my understanding) NOT so much as *double-dipping* or being attracted to BOTH genders but more like you fall in love with a PERSON, gender being irrelevant.

    • OMSS says:

      @fabgrrl, ITA

    • embertine says:

      True for many, not for me. I am all about the physical (wish I wasn’t) and I like my women womanly and my men manly. However, it isn’t the same for everyone and I think that is kind of Cynthia’s point.

      • chicago girl says:

        Yes, embertine. Many, many bisexuals (self included) are attracted to gendered traits or gender roles (though this is not the only point of attraction as, of course).

        My gripe with the label of bisexual is that there is no less sexualized alternative. Heterosexual gets straight, homosexual gets gay and lesbian. There is an option for those individuals to go by a description that does not place “-sexual” as the central identity.

  9. OMSS says:

    I couldn’t care less what she wanted to declare herself. If she wanted to call herself ‘gay by her own choice’ then that is her decision. She claims she never felt sexually attracted to women before so that may be the reason for why she called herself that. I find it highly frustrating that this woman is being criticized for proudly and openly dating a woman (she is clearly not ashamed and whether she declares it or not she will be seen as bisexual or possible closet homosexual by outsiders anyway) and for supposedly not pinning the right sexuality badge on her chest. I am a firm believer that sexuality is somewhat fluid if you are open-minded enough. We (I believe) are naturally born to be more attracted to one sex (same or opposite) or both, but I believe many of us have capacity to change it up a bit if we were willing to allow ourselves- or if we had the time! I think Cynthia was very open-minded at the beginning of the relationship and allowed herself to fall in love with a PERSON. Period!

  10. TheOriginalKitten says:

    I can’t believe that she had to come out and re-CLARIFY her comments. Ridiculous. In order for this country to have a free and open conversation about different types of sexual orientation, we have to allow people to define their sexuality on their own terms and stop assigning our personal agendas to people who didn’t ask for it.

    • Asli says:

      Agreed! That’s the big problem people have. They just can’t accept a persons answer for something personal as what it is because it doesn’t go with what they believe.

  11. Krill says:

    Wonder what she’ll say next week. But she’s loving the attention, so I’m sure it’ll be something inflammatory, ridiculous, or both, as usual.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      Yeah, it was really “inflammatory” to tell an interviewer how she defines HER sexuality for HERself. Really, how dare she?

  12. spinner says:

    Life is a series of choices, honey. Deal with it. This woman needs to sit down & shut up.

  13. Cathy says:

    This maybe off topic, but I like the red dress she’s wearing in those pictures. Looks good on her.

  14. TheOriginalVictoria says:

    Totally lost a bit of respect for her as she should have stood by her original statement which were perfectly clear and not supporting bigotry of any kind..

    The LBGTIQ supporters of GLADD need to stick to fighting for actual equality instead of critisising people’s personal views about their sexuality, how they came about it and what they call themselves. Also respect that everyone may not agree with homosexuality but that doesn’t make them a homophobe, because that is really just not true.

    Maybe if they spent more time calling out the members with in their own community for treating bisexuals like fake gay people who don’t really belong, then this would not be such a big issues. Maybe if they stopped trying to get everyone to think their way that homosexuality is never a choice, then we could solve the bigger issues like real hate crimes and discrimination. Because they are just as bad as those super anti-gay nuts who want to be all up in other people’s business.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my lesbian friends say to “shit or get off the pot” to our bi friends. Like really? It’s really sickening, and I just can’t support you if you’re accusing every religious person and supporter of Prop 8 of being awful and unjust when you are treating one of your own like shit because of their preferences.

    • Alexis says:

      Unfortunately, this incident has shown the intolerance that can crop up in the ranks of any rights movement.

    • Lee says:

      You’re totally right in that there are many in the LGBT community who have that attitude and it stinks of hypocrisy. But beyond that, I don’t need everyone to agree with homosexuality, but if someone actively fights against my rights by supporting prop 8 and the like, I’m going to think of them as unjust and bigoted. If that offends them, it’s not really my problem. My personal opinion of someone as homophobic isn’t preventing them from living their life.

      • TheOriginalVictoria says:

        The problem for me is again hypocrisy. Not everyone, but I know that a lot of gay activists have no problem telling people of certain faiths that they must allow gay religious folks to have a religious ceremony (when some faiths clearly) stand against it or else they are bigoted and it really doesn’t work that way. You can not tell people-whether you feel it’s right or wrong-that they must change the laws and rules of the faith that they adhere to fit in in with opposing values just as I don’t have the right to tell someone whether or not it should be legal for a tax paying citizen to get married in his state no matter whom he marries. It makes me feel like there is a hidden agenda and that makes me uncomfortable.

        I personally, if the option were given to me, would not vote for or against prop 8 because it’s strictly none of my business who you want to marry and the government shouldn’t be asking us to get involved in adult consensual relationships. I got my own problems and I need to focus on getting myself right with God. Don’t see how hating or having a say in what you do is gonna get me anywhere lol.

        I honestly feel like Prop 8 is just the government not taking the initiative to make the legislation on their own. The nation will always be divided on this issue and they just need to step in and make it fair across the board. Then only the religious folks-gay and straight- can duke it out in the name of whomever they ascribe to on their own time, because we have bigger problems right now.

      • Lee says:

        I definitely agree that there is a hypocrisy present in anyone’s attempt to force a religious institution to perform gay marriages in the name of civil rights or freedoms. But I can’t think of anything more hypocritical than religious zealots who use the bible to condemn my life while continuing to pick and choose what they want to follow. If you wear blended fibers or eat shellfish, you are also condemned according to leviticus.

        I like your attitude though. 🙂 To each their own. But the history behind prop 8 is another thing altogether. The state had taken a stance and allowed gay marriage. It was private citizens and religious groups pushing forward their own agenda. And as much as I would love for the feds to make a clear statement and pass legislation, it is sadly not that simple. Most civil rights cases have been won through the courts.

        Sorry to talk your ear off. But if you are interested in the intersection between Christianity and homosexuality, you should check out “For The Bible Tells Me So”. It’s a pretty great documentary told from a Christian perspective.

      • TheOriginalVictoria says:

        I love this discussion because it proves you can talk about controversial things without being nasty and resorting to elementary taumts. I will check that book out.

        What you speak of is things in Old Testament. A lot of those things don’t apply anymore because there was no Messiah so atonement and other things were done in accordance. I am oversimplifying.

        The way I feel about my faith is that if I sin, I sin. Like gossiping (not maliciously) and swearing and lying (which yeah, I have done to get out of a tough jam in my younger adult days). Total sins.

        I don’t like when people try to justify their wrong doing through scriptures IF you are a believer. I love swearing, I love gossiping and, yeah I really do love the gays (that’s not a sin!), in full honesty. LOL. But whatever my sins are, I acknowledge them and the fact that these are areas I’m not even struggling because I’ve given in completely and have no plans to change anytime soon though I know I should.

        Which is why you won’t catch me in the front pew or in choir trying to Hallelujah it up. My faith is best accessed in the privacy of my home and quietly listening to Rabbi and Minister teach.

        I feel the Torah and the Bible are essential to my life and what is in it is fact not fiction, and it’s believe in it or go home, but everyone is not me so it does not apply to everyone. And the good book even says that. i also admit i struggle a lot of times with wanting to be worldly in my view on things. But at least I’m honest about it.

        As for Prop 8 I know there was hoopla about it which is why it was overturned and all, but I just feel like, especially in Cali, this is the one time where the government should not have given in. Just be done with it already.

      • Lee says:

        ha, I’m enjoying the conversation too. It’s true that we can have civil and intelligent conversations about controversial issues, and I’m very glad that celebitchy is a pretty safe space on the internet for us to have these conversations even if the reason we’re all here is to gossip about celebrities. 🙂

        I’m definitely not an expert on the bible nor do I consider myself religious (although I definitely did when I was younger), but I appreciate that religion is a very integral part of life for many people and I think that’s wonderful. It just saddens me when people use something that is intended to unite us as a way of further dividing us.

        To be honest, I’ve never thought about the implication that the old testament comes from a time before the messiah. That’s a very interesting point actually. Something that I found the most fascinating about the film I mentioned is that since the bible has been translated and re-translated over so many centuries, a lot of the original semantic meaning has been altered or lost. Which is why it’s so scary to think of people demanding that I live my life according to their own literal reading of it.

        If I was going to label myself, I would probably say I was agnostic. But within my own loose belief system, I can’t conceive of a God who actually cares who I love instead of how I love.

        As for prop 8, as crappy as the whole scenario is, I have high hopes that it will reach the supreme court and result in a federal repeal of marriage discrimination laws. Ideally, it would happen faster than that and the people of California wouldn’t be stuck in limbo for years while the case works it’s way up through the court system, but as they say, an injustice to one is an injustice to all, and it will be nice to have equality everywhere.

      • TheOriginalVictoria says:

        I agree with you on these things about civility and that’s why I love CB though I have gotten heated a few times (Halle Berry’s current situation really gets me going!) but these open and honest dialouges help us to gain perspective and learn from one another instead of tearing each other down.

        I think it’s great that you respect other people’s beliefs even though they are not what you believe in particularly. I wish more people were like that.

        As far as translation, having studied extensively the history of the Bible and it’s transliterations over the course of the centuries, I honestly believe that it one of the most accurate books translated, with the KJV version being the closest in text. But I also am willing to admit that my faith also helps me in this matter. I honestly do not believe that God would do us dirty, as we say in Philly, like that. I believe his guidance is always with those who work hard to translate and it goes through a very serious process. At least the English versions do.

  15. sister says:

    Why can’t the woman express her own opinion about her life? Why does everybody have to be in lockstep?

  16. Kim says:

    I disagree.
    Sex isnt necessary for survival. Sure its fun but outside of procreation purposes we wouldnt die without it. Who people choose to sleep with, be they gay, straight or bi, IS A CHOICE. I dont understand why people get their feathers in such a ruffle over this issue? If one day I am attracted to a female and then another day a male that is my choice. Its no one elses choice to make or judge. Just own it Cynthia and say its YOUR CHOICE.

    • Zoe says:

      What she’s saying is that it isn’t her CHOICE to be attracted to men and women. What she chooses to do with it from there is a choice. Not that complicated.

  17. anonymoose says:

    Hey, I’m heterosexual, do you care? It’s personal, and is not open for discussion. Thanks.
    *rolls eyes*

    • Zoe says:

      I’ve never understood comments like this. These are the same people who get upset on Black History month, complaining about why there isn’t a White History month, as if that hasn’t been every month for the past centuries. No one cares if you are heterosexual because you are the vast majority. That said, I agree that sexuality isn’t a big deal, and am happy to find someone of any orientation who doesn’t make an issue where there isn’t one.

      • anonymoose says:

        My point is it’s the “content of one’s character,” not the color of one’s skin, nor one’s sexual orientation, that matters. I don’t think of homosexuals as a minority any more than I think of women as a minority. Sexuality is a big deal, but it’s personal, not a public badge of entitlement, for any orientation.

        And, welcome to Black History Month.

  18. Amanda G says:

    I thought her original comments made perfect sense! It’s too bad there was a need for her to clarify. Anyone with a brain could see that she’s bisexual who chooses to be with a woman. In the past she chose to be with a man. Big deal! What I do find strange is that she’s afraid to use the term “bisexual.”

    And why has the word “choice” become such a dirty word? Life is about choices.

  19. Zoe says:

    That said, I’m glad Cynthia Nixon did clarify, because this is the statement she should have said to begin with. Yes, she was talking solely about herself and her own experience, but she has to know that as a public figure, her words carry a great weight and whether or not she wants to be a representative of any idea or minority community, she is. Everyone knows people that use the “choice” argument and use it to oppress the rights and freedoms of many in the LGBT community. She is obviously bisexual, and claims her issue with this label is negative connotations. The solution isn’t to sweep it under the rug and not call yourself that because people might dislike you or hold it against you. The fact that gay rights have progressed to the point they have is because many people stopped living in silence, started rallying and parading and raising awareness of their presence, and dialogue and discussion has come out of that, much of which has led to an increase in acceptance. If bisexuality is suddenly the underdog, and no one wants to talk about it or address it out of fear and people stay quiet and become dishonest about who they are or don’t stand up and discuss it to open dialogue and understanding and build that bridge, bisexuals can expect to continue to be bullied by all orientations and mythologized. Part of removing stigma is discussing it and explaining the way it is, not cowering out of fear because people won’t get it and not identifying as who you are, that’s dishonest and its a cop out. And, those comments did lead to a large setback for many people as some will use her comments to exploit and twist the issue. From the very beginning, she should have established “Hey, this is who I am, and while I can’t help being attracted to X and Y, I can choose who I want to be with.” Or, she could just not talk about her private business at all if she doesn’t want to be in the public spotlight on this. Her word choice was poor, as a public figure of course it was going to be blown into an issue and yes, she absolutely need to get that situation under control for the sake of PR.

  20. mainstream says:

    Who cares if it’s a choice or not? As long you’re not shagging kids, animals or corpses who cares? People who think they have the authority to tell consesnting adults who they can and can’t have sex with need to STFU! End of story.

  21. Jordan says:

    I find it discouraging that the LGBT community is so intolerant as to not allow Cynthia to define her own sexuality and want to do that for her. I also find it sad that she is being bullied into clarifying over and over what she said in the first place. At least she is not taking back or backtracking on what she said.

  22. Jolene says:

    I wish she would have owned her bisexuality. Hell, if I ever get famous, I’ll make sure to own it.

  23. Alicia says:

    In 2007, for instance, the University of Illinois at Chicago neurobiologist David Featherstone and several colleagues, while searching for new drug treatments for Lou Gehrig’s disease, happened upon a discovery: a specific protein mutation in the brain of male fruit flies made the flies try to have sex with other males. What the mutation did, more specifically, was tweak the fruit flies’ sense of smell, making them attracted to male pheromones — mounting other males was the end result.

    To Featherstone, how fruit flies smell doesn’t seem to have anything to do with human sexuality. “We didn’t think about the societal implications — we’re just a bunch of dorky biologists,” he told me recently. Still, after publishing a paper describing this mutation, he received a flood of phone calls and e-mail messages presuming that he could, and would, translate this new knowledge into a way of changing people’s sexual orientations. One e-mail message compared him with Dr. Josef Mengele, noting “the direct line that leads from studies like this to compulsory eradication of gay sexuality . . . whether [by] burnings at the stake or injections with chemical suppressants. You,” the writer added, “just placed a log on the pyre.” (Earlier that year, PETA and the former tennis star Martina Navratilova, among others, were waging similar attacks on a scientific study of gay sheep, presuming it was a precursor to developing a “treatment” for shutting off homosexuality in human fetuses.)

    Still, many people who contacted Featherstone were actually grateful — for the same, baseless prospect. Some confessed struggling with feelings for members of the same sex and explained to him, very disarmingly, the anguish they’d been living with and the hope his fruit-fly study finally offered them. There were poignant phone calls from parents, concerned about their gay children. “I felt bad in a way,” Featherstone told me. It was hard not to be moved, and he would try to explain the implications of his research, or lack thereof, politely. “But there’s also this liberal, modern side of me that’s like: ‘Take it easy, lady. Let your son be your son.’ ”

    From the NYT and interesting, I wonder between this and Cynthia’s comments how people would reply to either side? Or what this debate brings up for society at large.