Cynthia Nixon on Bisexuality: 'I Just Don't Like to Pull Out That Word'

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Cynthia Nixon
Why is Cynthia Nixon reluctant to call herself bisexual?

Cynthia Nixon made some waves this week, after The New York Times published a controversial interview exposing her views on sexual orientation -- which upend the conventional (progressive) wisdom on the nature vs. nurture debate.

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.' And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice, Nixon told the Times. 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.

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, she continued.

Though Nixon's comments sparked an outcry from some members of the LGBT community who felt that she may have threatened hard-won advances in the fight against discrimination, the tide appears to be shifting in her favor.

In a column for the Huffington Post, Tracey Baim -- who describes herself as a Kinsey 6 -- argues that intolerance, too, doesn't care whether gays flew or swam.

The bottom line is that those who hate us, want to cure us, or even kill us don't really take the time to understand these nuances [of the nature vs. nurture question]. Yes, if we were 'born this way,' that might make some people think it was an immutable characteristic and that therefore there might be no 'cure.'

But honestly, this does not make anyone love us any more, Baim continued. In fact, there are many inherited characteristics upon which people discriminate (physical abilities, for example), or, at the very least, cause people to feel sorry -- or want to cure. That doesn't make these people think they are worthy of civil-rights protections.

Since the controversy opened, blogger John Aravosis has been a heavily cited Nixon critic -- calling her NYTimes interview irresponsible.

[Nixon] needs to choose her words better, because she just fell into a right-wing trap, willingly.  When the religious right says it's a choice, they mean you quite literally choose your sexual orientation, you can change it at will, and that's bull, Aravosis wrote on AMERICAblog.

What she 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, he said.

Indeed, there appears to be another question simmering under the Nixon debate: Is the bisexual label (or category) harmful to the advancement of gay and lesbian civil rights?

In a response piece measuredly supportive of Nixon, J. Bryan Lowder of Slate claims the actress has never called herself a bisexual. But that's not entirely true.

In an interview with the Daily Beast, Nixon explains why she avoids using the label, but doesn't exactly deny that she is indeed bisexual.

I don't pull out the 'bisexual' word because nobody likes the bisexuals, Nixon told the Beast's Kevin Sessums. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals.

But it is the 'B' in LGBT, Sessums reminded her.

I know, Nixon said. But we get no respect.

You just said 'we,' so you must self-identify as one, Sessums probed.

I just don't like to pull out that word, Nixon replied. 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. I am completely the same person and I was not walking around in some kind of fog. I just responded to the people in front of me the way I truly felt.

However Nixon chooses to define her sexual preference, all the curiosity surrounding it will probably not hurt ticket sales for Wit, which opens in previews on Broadway Wednesday evening.

Nixon will be playing Professor Vivian Bearing in the Broadway debut of Wit -- the Off-Broadway staging won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Nixon won the 2006 Tony Award for her lead role in Rabbit Hole. The same role went to Nicole Kidman in the film adaptation of the same name -- a casting choice Nixon addressed in the Daily Beast interview.

When asked if there were any hard feelings about not being offered the movie role, Nixon said, I wasn't hurt, no. And it didn't surprise me either. I feel like I was the totally appropriate person to play that role onstage, but I am not the appropriate person to play that in a movie.

To get a movie made about a woman who loses a son tragically at the age of 5 is hard enough to get made, so you need not only a great actress but a great movie star.

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