Choice and the Sissy

Miranda always was the troublemaker.

Let’s face it: Carrie had all the emotional complexity, Charlotte had all the sweetness, and Samantha had all the fun. Miranda just had a briefcase full of neuroses.

So maybe it’s fitting that Cynthia Nixon put her foot in it in the New York Times by stating that she’s “gay by choice.” Ironically, as the lawyer in the group, I think Miranda would have been a little more careful in choosing her words.

In the Teabagger era, when estate taxes become “death taxes” and people who kill abortion doctors are called “pro-life,” words are pretty much a life-or-death issue. Now, Nixon made it clear that she was speaking only for herself—but the language, I’m afraid, belongs to all of us. She isn’t “gay by choice”: she may be in a relationship with a woman by choice, but that’s a different thing. The truth is that if you have a choice of which sex to sleep with, you aren’t gay at all: you’re bisexual. And would Nixon tell us that she’s “bisexual by choice”? I think not.

One would have hoped this issue was put to bed long ago by the Kinsey scale. (Ring a bell, Cynthia?) Sure, if you’re somewhere in the middle, you have lots of choices. (As Woody Allen famously said, bisexuality doubles your chances of a date on Saturday night.) But for those of us who are a little closer to 1 or 6, there’s not a whole lot of budging. I suppose anyone is physically capable of having sex with anyone else, but sexual orientation is about desire, not aptitude.

The truth is that no one gets to choose whom they fall in love with, or whom they’re attracted to. But bisexuals do have more options when it comes to sexual and romantic partners. And, to Nixon’s point, whether it’s a choice or a biological fact isn’t really germane to the question of civil rights. Unfortunately, the courts don’t seem to see it that way. Nor does public opinion. So it’s a little dangerous to put language like hers at their disposal.

In contemporary parlance, the LGBT community is a rainbow—not a monolith. And while they are all my brothers and sisters, my colleagues in the struggle, I would not presume to speak for lesbians, bisexuals, or transgenders. And I reject the notion that a bisexual woman can speak to my experience. In the interview, Nixon says, “you don’t get to define my gayness for me.” Well guess what, Cynthia? You don’t get to define mine, either.


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