Cynthia Nixon Clarifies: “Bisexuality Is Not A Choice, It Is A Fact”

In a statement to The Advocate, actress Cynthia Nixon has clarified her controversial statements about homosexuality being “a choice.”

In an interview in the New York Times magazine last week, Nixon stated:

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. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.

In her new statement, Nixon doesn’t go so far as to recant her earlier position but she says she wasn’t trying to speak for everyone in the community:

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 forward to and will continue to work toward the day when America recognizes all of us as full and equal citizens.”

It kind of sounds like Cynthia is backpedaling from her statement—not so surprising since she’s basically carrying a new Broadway show and is part of a still-viable film/TV franchise with particular gay appeal.

We didn’t agree with her “choice” argument but it did raise an interesting side topic—should it matter if it’s a choice or not? The LGBT community has been working so hard to get people to believe we have no say in our sexuality, as if it’s a handicap we can’t be blamed for. What if it was chosen? Would that mean we’re any less deserving of equality?

Source: Nick Step

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  • JayKay

    Why is she still talking…

  • Mike UK

    if she digs that hole any deeper she’ll be through to china!!

  • Isaac C

    “The LGBT community has been working so hard to get people to believe we have no say in our sexuality, as if its a handicap we can’t be blamed for. What if it was chosen? Would that mean we’re any less deserving of equality?”

    YES! That’s the whole point. This shouldn’t even be a topic of conversation or debate.


    @Cynthia Nixon- Chile boo. Go somewhere and sit down.

  • Michael Bedwell


    What YOU or I think is NOT the issue. If it were, we still wouldn’t legally be second class citizens, LGBT kids wouldn’t be getting kicked out of their homes, killing themselves, or any of us put to death by foreign government. The ship on this argument [regardless of what the scientific facts turn out to be] sailed long ago, and one need look no farther than Gallup polls to find out why it IS important: Americans who believe that it IS a choice are TWICE as likely to be against gay rights. You don’t have to like it, but you damn better care about it if you want to be first class citizens some day. Thank you.

  • perdeep

    She is articulate and has obviously thought this matter through both personally and politically. Instead of knee-jerk reactions to the word “choice”, you should read what she’s actually saying. Agree or disagree, she’s obviously an asset to the LGBT equality movement.

  • Charlie

    @Isaac C: Definitely agree with you!

    If it was down to a choice I WOULD choose to be gay. I understand why we make the point “We are born this way we didn’t choose it” but:

    1. People who believe gayness is a choice aren’t swayed by our claims
    2. It does feel a bit too much like we are just playing the hand we were dealt with as much grace as we can muster when in fact being gay is a pretty marvy thing.

  • Kamuriie

    In a free society, a secular government has no rational purpose in trying to keep consenting adults from “choosing” who they sleep with. However, in terms of actual, real-life gays defeating evangelical christians’ backwards arguments, yes–it matters whether or not it’s a “choice”–and her words gave credence to those people’s (stupid) arguments.

  • Jakey

    Ooooooohhh. I don’t know about you all, but this has got to be the first celebrity-statement clarification that actually clarifies things for me. I didn’t realize she was bisexual before, but thought she was a lesbian. In that mistaken context, what she said sounds borderline insane, but now I feel dumb for not realizing what she was getting at.

  • Jakey

    @Kamuriie: No, Queerty’s words do. She’s not asking that question about whether it matters to society at large whether it’s a choice or not. Those remarks were aimed at gay people, not bigoted straights. She’s telling Ls and Gs that it’s annoying when Bs aren’t considered “really” gay because they can be in honest hetero relationships and could, theoretically, choose to be “straight” for life. Who cares if she can or not, she can be in honest same-sex relationships too, and that’s enough for her to be part of the community. We gays need to get over our hangups about bi people, and I’m not going to blame a bi person for saying as much.

  • The Realist

    A handicap? Really? Is that what you meant?

  • R.A.

    Thank you, Cynthia.

    Now all the star-suckers who would say a circle is a square if some celebrity said it can now go home with their tails between their legs.

  • CJ

    “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.”

    I certainly do wish that the gay community was more inclusive and understanding. Yikes. The moment I read any article about Log Cabin Republicans (or about some gay republican) a truckload of gays start screaming about “self-hate” and the like. For some reason it’s morally wrong to be a pro-life democrat, a pro-LGBT republican, etc.

    I agree with her in that we need to stop pigeon-holing everyone into little boxes. I classify myself as an independent because there are many democratic ideals that I loathe… and many that I support. Same thing with republican ideals. But, to most people in the gay community that is treason. You MUST be a hardcore democrat or else. Talk about intolerance and bigotry. Let people define themselves and be themselves. If she is a bisexual person who “chooses” to be in a gay relationship – great. Let her live her life the way she wants to. I think that her clarifying was good… although it’s unfortunate she was attacked by so many gays at the beginning. Even now it continues.

  • Phantom

    To be honest, I don’t really give a shit what she said. I’m happy with who I am. I’m not going to let her words affect because in the end, nothing changes and I am who I am. So I think some people in lgbt communityis overreacting.

  • Isaac C

    @Michael Bedwell: You misunderstand. I was DISAGREEING with the Queerty post by answering the questions that I quoted. So, I am actually agreeing with what you’re saying.

    @Charlie: No, we do not agree. I think any person who claims to be GLBT and says it’s a choice, is doing dangerous harm to the movement.

  • Isaac C

    @Isaac C: Even beyond that, I don’t care what anti-gay people think about our claims. But using their dismissal of our “born this way” truth (because that’s what it is) as a justification for allowing any kind of argument on sexual identity formation (like what Cynthia Nixon is doing) is offensive and inaccurate.

  • christopher di spirito

    Please Cynthia. Just go away. Aren’t you on Broadway? Don’t you have to rehearse? You have a kid or kids, right? Play with them. Doesn’t your home need to be vacuumed? The dog walked? No one cares what you say.

    You are now officially the new Anne Heche.

  • Michael Bedwell

    Asserting it doesn’t matter what anyone says, that no one will listen to rationality, that the Antigay Industry will do whatever they will regardless is like saying that there’s no harm in bringing a can of gasoline to an already burning forest fire.

    Before she released her “clarification,” this appeared in a mainstream media news story about it all:

    “Among the activists most horrified by Nixon’s comments was Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen, whose organization monitors and tries to debunk programs that claim to cure people of same-sex attractions with therapy. Besen said he found the actress’ analysis irresponsible and flippant, despite her ample caveats. ‘Cynthia did not put adequate thought into the ramifications of her words, and it is going to be used when some kid comes out and their parents force them into some ex-gay camp while she’s off drinking cocktails at fancy parties’, Besen said. ‘When people say it’s a choice, they are green-lighting an enormous amount of abuse because if it’s a choice, people will try to influence and guide young people to what they perceive as the right choice’.”

    IF you care about those kids, if you care about the “well, they could change” argument being used to keep laws in place which ban marriage equality, adoption, and allow people to be fired for being LGBT—then you damn well better CARE about this discussion.

  • Mattheq

    Good for her. I mean the way the community hangs on every word and goes into an uproar when someone classifies their orientation differently is getting ridiculous. All this PC crap=lame

  • Interesting

    It sounds like she just did not think through what she was saying.

  • R.A.

    You need to read #18.

    This has nothing to do with PC – most of us are happy to live and deal with whatever REAL SCIENCE uncovers.

    There is enough research to be sure that sexual orientation is an immutable trait. The only questions are about the causes.

  • Cam

    “”We didn’t agree with her “choice” argument but it did raise an interesting side topic—should it matter if it’s a choice or not?””

    It shouldn’t matter, but it is also wrong.

    Religion is a choice and yet we legislate against discrimination. HOWEVER, if somebody said “No, you are BORN religious” Would that make any difference as to whether or not they should be discriminated against?

    Again, no, but saying you are born religious is wrong.

    I”m glad that McKinny realized that the rest of the world isn’t like all of her assistants who just sit around nodding their heads pretending everything she says is brilliant. She figured that out and corrected her statement.

    Good for her, and I’m sure the bisexual community is smiling today as well.

  • Tony


  • Max the Communist

    Wheeeeeee! Another fun day of throwing Cynthia Nixon under a bus! And Anne Heche, for old time’s sake! And the bisexual community for making the gays look bad again! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

  • Mark Snyder

    I support Cynthia Nixon totally. I don’t see anything wrong with anything she said. She’s bisexual, and she chooses to be in a lesbian/gay relationship right now. It’s not complicated. Whatever. Who cares!? Let her be her, and you be you.

  • Bonju Patten

    cynthia nixon needs a job so she can get off of that soap box she is on and oh by the way – she’s straight. Have you seen her partner? IF that is a woman I’ll eat my shorts – I know that thing is a man – I can’t tell the difference between her ex boyfriend of 16 years and this girlfriend she has now. They look like brothers.

    Check out what I’ve written about crazy Cynthia Nixon at bonjupatten.com – you can leave me a message – whether you agree with me or not BUT be prepared to get your ass kick if you are going to be nasty – cause I am twice as nasty as you think you can be!!!

  • Trent Abroad

    I read these statements of Cynthia’s as truthful, valid, and logical. She’s right in that not everyone in our “club” gained their membership in the same way. I personally didn’t have a choice in the matter, and that’s okay, but that’s not to say that anyone else is less LGBT than me because they don’t feel the same.

    As a group that preaches equality, acceptance, and openness, I think it’s a bit hypocritical for us to criticize and demonize this woman’s opinion. Moral of the story: She’s clearly on our side. Why are we fighting her when we clearly have much bigger and more important battles to worry about?

  • iDavid

    She’s an honest American bisexual woman doing her best. Kudos for her.

  • Geri

    There’s nothing wrong with being gay so it doesn’t matter if it’s a choice or not.

    Cynthia basically has the right attitude to it. It really doesn’t matter.

  • Lefty

    I’m shocked that some here think that if a person chooses to be gay they’re undeserving of equality.
    However, the debate seems to rest not on what she said but the fact she said it.
    That’s a little dangerous, I think.
    Claiming that she shouldn’t say something we may disagree with is a weak position.
    I’d rather live in a world or amongst a community that is strong enough in their own beliefs to debate the issue, rather than simply shutting anyone down who says something we disagree with.
    If what she said is so obviously stupid then say exactly why that’s so obvious and move on – only, few seem to do this; they just get themselves all worked up because SHE SAID WHAT SHE SAID OMG.
    The irony is, the “issue” is Cynthia Nixon’s personal definition of herself and her personal beliefs or bias about her own sexuality, no one else’s.
    Yet, some still become hysterical and demand she shut up and not say any of that.
    I have no stake in what Cynthia Nixon thinks or says, but I do have a stake in a community that seems so fucking weak that they become hysterical because some woman from some crappy old US TV show said something they disagree with.
    What the fuck are you people even trying to debate? Do you even know???

  • Tackle

    @Lefty: Well said!

  • Cyndi

    Cynthia Nixon choose to live in a lesbian relationship. Get over it. Bisexuals should no longer be tied to a narative that does not speak to our experiance.
    If we are born this way or we do it to make baby Jesus cry is not anyones buisness!

    We should be screaming for protection from religious laws we do not believe in because that is what is the real issue here. Bigots think they have a right to legislate their beliefs into law.

    I am bisexual and I can choose to be with a man or a woman. It is not your buisness to say anything about that. It is not your life and my words are not your property.

  • Isaac C

    @Lefty: “The irony is, the “issue” is Cynthia Nixon’s personal definition of herself and her personal beliefs or bias about her own sexuality, no one else’s.”

    No. There is an implication to what she’s saying for every other GLBT person. Her comments – or anyone else’s comments on sexual orientation – do not and absolutely cannot exist in a vacuum. They carry a lot of weight precisely because there is so much misunderstanding, hatred, and inequality aimed at those who aren’t heterosexual.

    If a black person said being black (i.e., skin color) is a choice, they’d understandably be criticized by the black community. Why on earth should Nixon be allowed to make ridiculous claims about sexuality when so much suffering, confusion, and discrimination is based off of untruths and misunderstandings that people like her keep alive? People have a right to be upset about this. And she has the right to keep her mouth shut if she’s not going to be sensitive and careful with what she says and how she says it.

  • iDavid

    People go “hysterical” over lies like “you can choose to be gay”. War is hysterical, just the way it is. We have LGBTs kids killing themselves and depression is at its max. Hysterical is just an indicator of how intense things really are. The gloves are off, people scream.
    Bis are a reality. The gay screetch that it’s not real is as much horseshit as a Pastor Minister saying you can change your sexual orientation.
    Gays are more touchy about sexuality due to discrimination, at least gays who discriminate against bis could crack a book about all sexual orientations instead of appearing on the new daytime soap The Dumb and the Senseless.
    I’m gay but most people are not dumb enough to believe bisexuality is not an actual sexual orientation. Since when are there no colors between black and white….ummmmmmm…..rainbow people?

  • Elloreigh

    @perdeep: No, she hasn’t thought this through. If she had, she’d have understood how her remarks would be seized on by our opponents as a weapon to wield against us.

  • Elloreigh

    Let’s get something VERY clear: LGBT is not a community. It is not one big, happy family. It’s a coalition of groups who have come together to fight the legal inequalities experienced by “sexual” minorities. Lesbian is not Gay Male is not Bisexual is not Trans. What business does someone who is bisexual have making public statements about “gayness”? She’s not gay, she’s bi. Using “gay” to describe her same-sex relationship is misleading.

    Frankly, this part is more offensive to me than, the “choice” crap:

    “I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.”

    No, Ms. Nixon – we are NOT one group. THAT is where your chief error lies. You are not in a position to tell those of us who are gay what we have to accept as qualifying for the label of “gay”.

    As for why it matters, I’m on board with the idea that it shouldn’t. Shouldn’t, but nonetheless does. This is related to persuading the courts to consider us a suspect class and therefore examining our legal challenges with a higher level of scrutiny. Even at that, there is no requirement that something be an immutable characteristic to merit hightened or strict scrutiny, the claims of opponents to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Not to mention all the heterosexist quasi-religious dialogue surrounding homosexuality that asserts if we can change, we ought.

    Nixon’s ill-considered remarks play right into the hands of our worst enemies. So I think she has earned our ire for her carelessness.

  • R.A.

    I can understand how easily this can happen.

    Out of concern for her partner’s feelings, no bisexual is going to constantly refer to their actual orientation. It always sounds like you have one foot out the door.

    She slipped, she clarified, she’s apologized – now move on. We have serious villains to defeat like the gay-bashers fighting each other for the Republican presidential nomination and all their allies in Congress, the Senate and the state houses salivating at the thought of rolling back our still inadequate hard won rights.

  • Shannon1981

    @R.A.: That’s actually a good point. I was pretty furious when this shit first started, but as a lesbian, I know about the rift, if you will, between lesbians and bisexuals. It even goes beyond dating- there is real hate and disgust. Lots don’t want bisexuals in dyke bars, friend circles, things like that. I was even in a lesbian book group in college that had a vote as to whether we should allow “them” in. The end vote- NO!! 11-1. I was still a baby dyke then and couldn’t understand what the big deal was.

  • ptboat

    @Isaac C: It’s a complex issue and her statements are kind of controversial during a time when gay people are fighting for rights and the opposition is hell bent on proving change. With that, the majority of Americans still hold to their religious ideals about homosexuality, even if they are tolerant.

    I do believe the science that orientation is set probably in utero, or before the age of 2; however, I agree with you that the profession of the lack of choice can backfire just as the embracing of homosexuality as a mental disorder did for those who were seeking solace in the pity of a diagnosis. I also agree with you, and with Cynthia in the NYT article, that the discussion of whether or not this is a behavioral choice is moot to the reality of the civil rights argument. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it is playing out.

  • Nick

    @Elloreigh: Your whole comment undercut by the fact that you did not read a single god-damned word of hers, or if you did, you refused to understand any of it. What she said was that nobody could define gayness for HER. At no point did Cynthia claim to define gayness for anybody else. That’s a really important distinction. One that you, reading intentionally stupidly (along with many, MANY others here), fail to realize.

    One thing I can agree with you on though is that we’re not a community. Male sexism often prevents gay men and lesbians from having much in common, and many queer folks are very dismissive of trans and bi folks. But I’ll tell you another cleavage we have: the yawning chasm between people who have the theoretical clarity to understand that personal experience and the ability to defining oneself matters, and those who don’t have that clarity. No matter how strategic you think it is to champion the immutability theory of gayness, it is not–I repeat: NOT– going to get you any closer to winning over the minds of the people who hate you.

    And if you think anybody on the “fence” has to think homosexuality is not a choice to think it’s okay is already in the category of hating you.

    I think all of you who think this way are demonstrating reprehensible internalized homophobia and shame.

  • AxelDC

    Her problem was she wasn’t being honest and that is obvious by her backtrack.

    She didn’t choose to be gay. She is bisexual and finally made the choice to date a woman. She said she doesn’t want to talk about being bisexual, but never hesitated to say she is gay. This is just an obvious and fairly pathetic attempt at damage control.

    Perhaps if she had thought before she spoke she wouldn’t need to do this ridiculous backtrack.

  • csw

    interesting. after looking at the comment sections following all the cynthia nixon articles as of late, the VAST majority of all the hateful and controlling comments are coming from men. our society hates women. even gay men hate a woman’s ability to control her own body and life if it doesn’t do something to serve them.

    also, can you people READ? she is NOT backtracking. she explicitly said she was talking about herself (regarding gay as a choice). she never all gay people choose to be gay. anyone that continues to make the argument that she said gay is a choice for everyone is hereby declared an illiterate idiot who is intentionally disregarding her original and current statements.

    /end rant

  • MikeE

    @csw: speaking of idiots….

    she also never said being gay was a choice “for her”.

    what she ended up saying, through all the double-speak, retractions, re-retractions, corrections and awkward soundbites was: “I am bisexual, but I have chosen to be in a relationship with a woman now”.

    Which does not, for all of us non-idiots, equal saying that her “lesbianism” was a “choice FOR HER”.

    It means she simply chose one of the two options open to her as a BISEXUAL.

    She never “chose” to be gay. She always had the attraction for same-sex partners AS WELL AS an attraction to opposite sex partners. She chose to “act on it”. That’s all.

    And the “hate” has nothing to do with “gay men hating on women”.

    It has to do with little to no tolerance for idiocy.

  • csw


    Actually, if you read the first quoted sentence above it says, “I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice.”

    you somehow interpret this as, “she also never said being gay was a choice “for her”.”

    so, she actually did say it was a choice for her and that she was not speaking for any other gay person… and you are clearly disregarding her verbatim quote.

    why are you so mad about her personal identity? it has zero impact on you. none. personal identity is complex and *personal*. You can’t force identity on other people. your outrage supports my women hating society comment from earlier.

    and what double speak are you talking about? It seams like her second statement adds some clarity to her first statement. It is not a flip flop on her identity as a gay women.

    i like and support her statements.

  • R.A.

    “i like and support her statements.”

    Which she doesn’t and has retracted, so why keep this up?

  • csw


    no, she never retracted her statements. she clarified them.

    in fact, she goes on to say that her comments are about her “personal story of being gay.” and that queer people “shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into one cultural narrative which can be uninclusive and disempowering.” (this is one of her statements that i like and support and this was supported by things she stated in her first interview, btw).

  • Geri

    @Elloreigh: Would you say that father or two Oscar Wilde had a gay relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas or a same-sex relationship with him?

    And did Lord Alfred Douglas subsequently have a straight relationship with his bisexual wife Olive Custance or an opposite-sex relationship with her?

    And what about Sir Elton John? He had a sexual relationship with his ex-wife Renate, so does that mean he can be considered to now be in gay relationship with his civil partner David Furnish – or is it a same-sex relationship? Does it depend on whether David is gay or bi?

    NB: I’ve no idea if David Furnish is gay or bi. Wikipedia is no bloody help – it just says he’s an LGBT from Canada.

    I haven’t a clue if Christine Marinoni is actually gay or bi either. I do know it’s wrong to just assume she’s a homosexual woman just because she has a wife and looks rather butch.

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