One More Time: Is There Such A Thing As Gay By Choice
by Belinda Dronkers-Laureta on May 11th, 2016

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

January 27, 2012

One More Time: Is There Such A Thing As Gay By Choice?


Actress Cynthia Nixon lit a firestorm when she said she is gay by choice in a New York Times magazine interview. The context in which she said it and the caveats she appended after she said it don’t matter, everybody will only hear or read: “And for me, it [homosexuality] 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.” If only we could dismiss what she said as a careless remark made by an actress whose fame lends her utterances an undeserving importance, but we cannot. Cynthia Nixon is a bright and thoughtful person with a thoroughly grounded view of who she is.

On The One Hand Her Remark Will Cause Harm

Can you imagine a gay child coming out to his or her parents and the parents glomming on to the “gay is a choice” notion? They could demand that the child make another choice or they’ll withhold financial support for college. They could even insist on a gay cure. You don’t need much imagination to realize what politicians like Bachman or Santorum will do with Nixon’s statement. They will hold up this one remark by this one woman as vindication for their belief that homosexuality is bad behavior, not an inherent trait. In fact, Cynthia Nixon’s remark may be used as a reason for all kinds of abuse forcing LGBT people to make the right choice.

What about the struggle for equal rights? One of the considerations used to judge whether a law is unconstitutional is the determination if the minority targeted by that law shares an unchangeable trait. Even though what is or is not unchangeable is an evolving concept, Cynthia Nixon’s remark could be used to support arguments that to be gay is not unchangeable.

On The Other Hand Her Remark Will Provoke Much Needed Thought

Cynthia Nixon had a 15-year relationship with a man and together they have two children. She is in a 7-year relationship with a woman who gave birth to their son last year. Bisexual is a quick and easy label to put on her, but she rejects identifying herself as bisexual, because “everybody likes to dump on bisexuals.” She also says that she “responds to people in front of her the way she truly feels.” And so she concludes that she makes a choice.

The struggle for gay rights occurs in a thick fog of opinions and judgments. We long for an objective anchor. Although there is a scientific consensus that homosexuality has a biological basis, biology is apparently not the only factor. Science has yet to definitively identify a biological or sociological basis for sexual orientation. Perhaps science’s need for labels is in the way, because sexual orientation or sexuality or identity is far to complex and fluid a subject of study to be captured by definitions that try to make the subject stand still. Gregory Herreck, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, writes that women move easier between same sex and opposite sex partners than do men, but for a percentage of both sexes there is a fair amount of choice.

Is There A Conclusion?

When all is said and done and the dust settles does it matter whether being LGBT is the consequence of nature or nurture or a combination of both? We think not. However people choose to identify themselves, that choice is not a reason for others to force people to make a different choice (if a choice even exists), nor is it a reason to deny them any rights.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride

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