Recently Cynthia Nixon, one of the stars on Sex in the City, has been under fire among the lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities for saying that she had chosen to be gay, as she noted in an New York Times interview:
“And for me, [homosexuality] is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.”
Cynthia Nixon has been touted as an advocate for gay rights since her coming out in 2004 and her recent work with petitioning for nationally legalized gay marriage. Currently partnered with fiancé, Christine Marinoni, Cynthia lives her life openly and has become a role model for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community. Thus her outwardly statement has incensed so many whom look up to her.
One angered activist, John Aravois, writing on AmericaBlog,
“When the religious right, and other gay-haters, say that being gay is a choice…what they really mean is that gay men are into women, but we somehow ‘choose’ to be into guys instead, and we can unchoose any time we want and start being into women again, which is ridiculous. That’s what Cynthia Nixon ‘confirmed’ when she told the Times that being gay is a choice.”
The vitriol tossed at Cynthia is like a hot potato that is messy and unsettling. Cynthia speaks solely for herself. She mentions only her “gayness,” and her “gayness” only. Nowhere in her interview did she state that gay men can “unchoose” to be gay to start being with women (she’s not a gay man!). The argument that Cynthia makes for herself is very different from the arguments that the “gay-haters” make. Gay-haters use the idea of choice to de-legitimize homosexuality. Cynthia uses the idea of choice to legitimize her own making of preference in partners. Indeed her choice of words made her sound politically incorrect, but she speaks merely for herself, and not for the community.
Talking about issues of homosexuality or bisexuality is touchy. Sometimes so much so that gay activists are whistleblowing on those who are saying nothing wrong. These activists strive to be the most politically correct (I should know, I was an activist myself). In a gayer-than-thou spirit, the Gladiators of the Gays like Aravois tell everyone around them that gay men are men who like men only; lesbians are women who like women only; and bisexuals are those who like both. But it is not that simple: human sexuality encapsulates a colorful spectrum.
No one should be pigeonholed into one category, especially when it does not represent them fully. For Cynthia, she did not want to simply be stamped “bisexual.”
“While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual,” she said, “I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship.”
Cynthia Nixon is due to marry Marinoni this May in a wedding officiated by Gene Robinson, the first openly gay priest. Cynthia continues to stand by the gay community, and is asking for them to stand by her.
I write this column not because I think that MIT students could become more sensitive to Cynthia Nixon’s feelings, but to each other’s. Often MIT students pigeonhole each other. It’s easy to do when your major is course “blank” and you are living in east or west campus. You get stereotyped. But we are more than that. We each came to MIT from different backgrounds; we should respect each other and each wear our own colors proudly. That is what makes MIT such the wonderful place to live, learn, and thrive in.
So as a reminder for the start of spring semester: Don’t forget your sensitivity trainings during Orientation, and have a great first week of classes!