Why “Born This Way” Has Had Its Day and other reasons why Cynthia Nixon is Right

English: Cynthia Nixon at the 2009 Tribeca Fil...

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Cynthia Nixon has some gays activists up in arms, worried that her remarks will be used by conservatives to affirm that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are selecting a life of perversion. In a New York Times article, she claimed that for her, being gay is a choice (and a better choice than being straight, at that.). After serious backlash for the gay community, she later went on to amend her statement in the Huffington Post, stating that her bisexuality is not a choice but she chooses to be in a relationship with a woman.

Since the beginning of the gay rights movement, activists have made the argument that sexuality is an innate biological trait and therefore we ought not be discriminated against because of it.  The argument was sound and simple, and certainly helped us make headway, even among religious folks who pitied us for being born with a perceived defect of sorts.  However, this argument no longer reflects the variation in human sexuality that we see in 2012.

Nixon has it right. Politically, it’s time to let go of the argument that we are “born this way.” Nixon symbolizes what has become much more prevalent within the queer community. Sexuality is not immutable, but in fact is often fluid and changeable over the course of a lifetime.   The argument over nature vs. nurture is as old as human behavior itself.  Whether sexual orientation is innate or perhaps some combination of genetics, environment and socialization is ultimately irrelevant, and as a basis for equal rights is anachronistic and not legally necessary (as Christopher Stoll writes in the Huffington Post).

We ought to be able to choose who we  love and with whom we create family and be subject to the same protection and privileges under the law that heterosexuals are regardless of the basis of our sexual orientation.  For argument’s sake, what if I have chosen to be gay? Isn’t this choice just as legitimate a choice as anything else? We should not be discriminated against because of the sex of the person with whom we choose to partner.  Period. How or why that affinity came to be is inconsequential.

4 thoughts on “Why “Born This Way” Has Had Its Day and other reasons why Cynthia Nixon is Right

  1. question: how do you feel about the phrase, “living a gay lifestyle”? a friend’s mom said it today &, as always, I kind of hate it – what does that mean? Am I living a heterosexual lifestyle?…makes it sound like it’s a diet fad or something

  2. It’s generally considered an indication of not really understanding what being gay is. Most gay people find it offensive and outdated. It’s also often used by Christians to indicate that they disapprove of same sex sexual practices (hence “the lifestyle”) I could see it being said in a tongue and cheek kind of way, but sounds like that’s not the case. Really I was making an argument that we shouldn’t have to rely on the born-this way argument, even though there is a lot of evidence to suggest that there is a genetic component. The word “lifestyle” suggests it is a choice, like how you decorate your living room, which makes a lot of gay people angry, and it’s typically been used in a negative context that asserts gay people choose an immoral life style and immoral sexual practices. It would make more sense for a bisexual person to say something like that since it is a choice to be in a relationship with a same sex person (and be therefore perceived as gay) rather than an opposite sex person.

  3. Oh my…why have I only JUST come across your blog. Nixon makes a valid and highly needed point. Too long bisexuality has been labelled “greedy” or “indecisive” and for that reason I felt the need to hide in the lesbian corner and identify as a lesbian. Admittedly I didn’t “need” to identify as anything but that was the choice I made…it was safer that way.

    But in “real life” I’m a woman who is attracted to both sexes and for different reasons. Only now, 10 years after coming out, am I able to say with far less hesitation that I am bisexual and not a lesbian. I have just come out a 4 year (plus a bit) relationship with a woman and to be honest, I don’t know if my next relationship is going to be with a guy or a girl and frankly I don’t care. However, my point (and I do have one) is that it will be a choice. I do not choose to be bisexual, I do choose who I decide to have sex/a relationship with. And that choice is no less valid than if I was straight or a lesbian. Maybe I can be straight when I’m with a guy and lesbian with a woman…or maybe it doesn’t actually matter?

    Ultimately though, the person is what does it for me, the gender is a secondary thought and the icing on the cake. And who doesn’t like cake? ;-)

  4. I agree with this completely! I’ve always thought “I was born this way!!” really just translates to, “I can’t help it! Don’t hate me!” which isn’t very prideful at all. I didn’t choose to be bi or trans, but it doesn’t matter. We should move on from WHY we are this way, to actually getting basic human rights.

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