Born This Way Or Choosing To Be Gay?

Cynthia Nixon, a.k.a Miranda Hobbs, has pissed off some gays with some comments on whether she chose to be gay in a New York Times interview:

“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. 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. 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.” Her face was red and her arms were waving. “As you can tell,” she said, “I am very annoyed about this issue. 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. 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.”

As could be expected, some in the blogosphere reacted with anger, like America Blog's John Aravois, who said, "It's not a 'choice,' unless you consider my opting to date a guy with brown hair versus a guy with blonde hair a 'choice,'" he writes. "It's only a choice among flavors I already like... every religious right hatemonger is now going to quote this woman every single time they want to deny us our civil rights."

I'll have to admit, when I first read Cynthia's comments I, like Mr. Aravois, was ready to read her like a bedtime story. But then I came across J. Bryan Lowder's take on the whole controversy over at Slate and thought about Nixon's words a little bit more.

First of all, let me speak for myself: I did not choose to gay, and anyone who's read this blog for a extended period of time knows I struggled mightily to come to terms with that fact. But if I had to be precise, I'd say I'm a solid 5.5 on the Kinsey scale (0 being absolutely straight and 6 being totally gay for those who don't know). Throughout my life I have felt mild (and chile I do mean mild) attractions to women, but they are so minute that I identify as gay. My attractions/romantic desires are overwhelming directed towards men.

But what if, at another time and place in my life, I found myself attracted to the opposite sex? Would that be a choice? Would I have been living as a confused gay man in denial up until that point? Would that negate any of the relationships I had with men? Of course not. Because it would not be case of me hiding or repressing my sexuality like I did in my childhood and teen years. It would be me responding to a (very surprising) new development in my sexuality and making the choice to act upon it.

I think what's really getting everyone riled up is Nixon's shaky (at least IMO) use of the word choice. Her quote makes it seem like she's forcing herself to fall in love with and be sexually attracted to another woman, which I don't believe was her intention. I don't know about you, but I can't force myself to feel attraction, desire or love for someone when it's just not there. What's she most likely saying is that for much of her adult life she only felt attraction towards men, and pursued those attractions. But at some point, her sexuality  shifted--like it often does with women (or at least they cop to it more than men)--and she chose to act on it.  Why she phrased her words this way is beyond me, as they come off as confusing and make her sound like the bisexual she says she's not. 

Secondly, I'm of the opinion that if scientists discovered inarguable, genetic proof that people are born gay, bi or trans tomorrow it wouldn't do diddly squat to change the minds of deeply religious people who believe what their holy book says about homosexuality or bigots who'd like to see us all destroyed. If anything, they would former would probably start spouting the same "being gay is horrible, but God will tolerate your evil sodomite ways" bullshit Joel Osteen crapped out for Oprah, while the latter would probably start looking for ways to remove the gay gene from all fetuses, if not abort them altogether. Being gay would be seen/proven to be a defect or a mental handicap. If someone chooses to put faith over logic, then there's not much that can be done to sway them.

Maybe she's a bisexual whose "choosing" to be gay because her attractions are mainly towards women (or perhaps only her girlfriend) for the moment. Maybe she's a pansexual who refuses to be labeled by either the LGBT or straight community.  Hell, maybe she possesses some Mystique-like power to morph her sexual orientation at will (which if you do, gurl you betta keep that under wraps before the wingnuts kidnap you to run experiments). Obviously, I can't pinpoint Nixon's sexual orientation. But maybe that's what been the most enlightening part about this whole thing; that while for most people, including myself, sexuality is set and constant, for others it is or can be fluid over a lifetime. And that there are things that we still don't fully understand about it.

So what do you think about Cynthia Nixon's comments? Do you think she may be onto something or do Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte need to sit her down for an "inter-friendtion?" Discuss.


Wonder Man said…
I kinda see her point
K. Clark said…
@Wonder Man: Really? Elaborate.
thegayte-keeper said…
I'd like to think that I was born this way and I chose to accept who I am.
Bama Boi said…
After reading her original statement, then reading her explanation, I sort of see where she was going. All in all, her views only reflect her experiences.

My take from it: "You can't put a label on love."