Photo Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for City Harvest
As far as Cynthia Nixon is concerned, there's no wrong way to be gay. The Sex and the City actress began dating her girlfriend Christine Marinoni in 2004, following a 14-year relationship with English professor Danny Mozes, the father of her two oldest children. Though Nixon, 45, is an impassioned advocate for gay rights, she has caused some controversy in the gay community for believing that her sexual orientation is a choice.
"I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line 'I've been straight and I've been gay, and gay is better,'" Nixon tells The New York Times. "And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it 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."
The actress, now starring on Broadway in the one-woman cancer drama Wit, says she understands why members of the gay community have a problem with her statement. After all, the idea that homosexuality is a choice -- that heterosexuality is the norm, and same-sex attraction can be "cured" -- is a belief that gay activists have fought against for years. However, Nixon says that she's just speaking her own truth, and her fellow gay Americans should "stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not."
"Why can’'t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate? It seems we're just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don't think that they should define the terms of the debate," says Nixon. "I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn't realize I was gay, which I find really offensive. I find it offensive to me, but I also find it offensive to all the men I've been out with."
The new interview is drawing plenty of fire across the Internet from writers like CNN AMERICAblog's John Aravosis, who worries that Nixon's words will be twisted to serve an anti-gay agenda.
"What (Nixon) means is that she's bisexual, and doesn't quite get that most people aren't able to have sexual romantic relationships with both men and women because they're just not into both genders," writes Aravosis. "She is into both genders. And that's fine. But she needs to learn how to choose her words better, because she just fell into a right-wing trap, willingly."
Most of the criticism boils down to the idea that Nixon should be calling herself bisexual, not gay. For a person who's attracted to both men and women, like Nixon, there is indeed a choice. But for many people, there's only one gender they're interested in dating -- and that leaves no room for choice at all.