Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon caused an uproar in the LGBT community earlier this month for saying that for her, being gay was a choice — and that choice or not, no one should be discriminated against for their sexual orientation. Reactions varied: some cheered her words (I'm in that camp), others wondered why she didn't just say she was bisexual, and some said she was just giving fuel to bigots who work to undo all the progress made in the past decades on behalf of LGBT people in the U.S.
Well congratulations, people in the latter camp! You've successfully told someone who is not you how she should feel about her own sexuality. After the major browbeating she received, she clarified her statements to The Advocate:
My recent comments in The New York Times were about me and my personal story of being gay… 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.
Frankly, I think it's embarrassing for the LGBT community that Nixon had to do this. For one thing, interpreting her words to mean that being gay is a choice for everyone is a flagrant and intentional misreading of the text. (I mean, she literally says she is only talking about herself.) And for another: she's right! "Don't discriminate against gays because homosexuality is not a choice" is a shitty argument; it implies that we'd, you know, be straight and normal if we could but, oops! Looks like we're stuck this way, so please don't gay-bash us. No one says, "Don't discriminate against black people because being black isn't a choice;" you don't discriminate against black people because they're people and the color of your skin says nothing about your character or worth as a human being.
If homosexuality is a choice for some people — some — why should that change anything? You still don't get to dictate the consensual sexual activities or identities of anyone other than yourself. (And you certainly don't get to deny them rights because of it.) Nixon wasn't wrong, and the fact that people have harangued her into saying something about her own life and identity they find more palatable is a shame.