Breaking Rank: Coming Out as “Gay By Choice”

Cynthia Nixon and her finance, Christine Marinoni

Imagine a hypothetical scenerio in which a well-known pastor from a culturally influential church suddenly came out and admitted that he did not believe the Bible to be inerrant or even inspired.  What would the reaction of the orthodox Christian community look like?  How quickly would we close ranks, talking about the importance of community and foundational beliefs?

If you can imagine this moment and if you can grasp the cultural stakes that are up for grabs, than perhaps you can begin to understand the magnitude of Cynthia Nixon’s recent decision to announce that she is “gay by choice.” Within the broader LGBTQ sub-culture, [1] this is a defection from “orthodoxy” that provides all manner of fodder for those that wish to repress the influence of homosexuality on the wider culture at large.  And as a former star of the widely acclaimed, post-feminist Sex and the City, Ms. Nixon could not be a more public figure.

My purpose here today is not to enter the fray through offering any ill-formed opinions of my own.  Rather, my purpose here today is to allow Ms. Nixon to speak for herself, thus raising questions that are worthy of open discussion.

“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.  As you can tell, 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.”[2]

As I said, it’s an enormous declaration.  And there are so many things to unpack in a statement like this that I almost hesitate to open the can of worms.  Nevertheless, this is an important issue for both those within the church and those outside of it.  And when a well-known member of a marginalized community makes a announcement of this magnitude, we absolutely should sit up and pay attention because it has the potential to reveal a great deal about who we are as a society and what we believe to be true.

So what do you think of Cynthia Nixon’s decision?  Was it the brave act of a woman committed to walking her own path, in spite of what the majority of her sub-culture believes to be true?  Or was it the selfish and/or naive act of a woman who willfully threw an oil drum of jet fuel on the bonfire of a culture war?  It’s an interesting question to be sure, particularly in a postmodern culture that idolizes the value of community, but still worships at the alter of Modern, radical, individualized autonomy.


[1] LGBTQ is the acronym for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer community.

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10 Responses to Breaking Rank: Coming Out as “Gay By Choice”

  1. This is going to be another start of more confusion. We need the real Gospel out.

    • Tacticianjenro … Help me understand what you mean by this. I agree that these sorts of conversations can be confusing. At the same time, I tend to think that the Gospel impacts all areas of human culture and life. So to ignore a particular arena because it may cause “confusion” is a dangerous move to make.

      Beyond that, I’m not sure what you mean by “the real Gospel.” And I’m not sure what you mean be us “needing” to get it “out.”

      Can you clarify?

      Thanks.

      • I actually have no idea why I said that.. just kidding.

        Maybe what I meant with the real Gospel is loving these people with the love of Christ, instead of focusing on our actions, on our service for Him. Because focusing more on what we do for God makes us critical about ourselves and even the others around us who aren’t walking in righteousness.

        Christ died for our sins, but he didn’t die to make us clean them up, but to realize that only He can make us clean…

        (I just realized what I said isn’t that related with your post at all though…)

  2. Bill Radford says:

    I know this post is long but not as long as it will be when it appears in my blog.

    In February of 1999 a Mathew Brelis article was published in the Boston Globe entitled “The Fading Gay Gene”. The following is a summary of that article.

    The research project in 1993 that indicated many gay men shared a common genetic marker in the X chromosone was hailed as a momentous scientific discovery — one that would help society to transcend bigotry, heal family wounds, and lay to rest the nagging question: Is sexual orientation genetic?
    Six years later, however, the gene still has not been found, and interest in — and enthusiasm for — the “gay gene” research has waned among activists and scientists alike. And there is a growing consensus that sexual orientation is much more complicated than a matter of genes.
    Dean Hamer, the molecular biologist at the National Cancer Institute who led the 1993 study (and its validation study in 1995), believes a gay gene does exist and will be found within five years. But he also acknowledges the limits of genetic predisposition. For example, he has been unable to find in women the same genetic marker found in some gay men. “Clearly,” Hamer says, “there is a lot more than just genes going on.”

    Many in the gay community as well as the scientists who study these things have known for a long time that gay is not necessarily genetic. So the news that Cynthia Nixon asserts that she is gay by choice shouldn’t startle anyone. Gay people have a real quandary. If it is genetic, or at least mostly genetic, then they believe it is not their choice and they should be allowed to live openly as the people they were “intended” by nature to be. But, there is also the concern (fear?) that people will try to “fix” it or them, or that parents will test for it in utero. On the other hand, if it is a choice then I am master of my own sexual identity and not the result of a biological roll of the dice. However, if being gay is a choice then it can be marginalized as immoral or deviant behavior.

    What I am perplexed by is the number of Christians that are so eager to denounce even the possibility of a genetic factor in sexual identity. They don’t realize that they have accepted the logic that genetics equals righteousness. One pro-gay blog (wouldjesusdiscriminate.org) even says so, stating that “Some Christians confidently assert that God did not create homosexual people “that way.” This is important because they realize if God did create gays “that way,” rejecting them would be tantamount to rejecting God’s work in creation.” So what is the problem? How will Christians respond if a genetic component (a gay gene) to sexual identity is discovered? If Christians have accepted the logic of genetics equals righteousness, how will they argue against it? And how far will the gay community or the society at large be willing to go with this logic? What if there is a pedophilia gene? Will child rape be acceptable? What if there is a rape gene? Some scientists have asserted as much. Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer have written a book making the case for such a genetic component – A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion.

    So where will people who have accepted the argument that genetics equals righteousness be willing to stop? Will they stop at pedophilia? Most will, a few will not. Will they stop at rape? And where ever the line is drawn, what logic is there to do so? If genetics equals righteousness then whatever is genetic must be right, right? Fortunately for Christians, and for everyone else as well, we do not have to accept that logic. Genetics does not equal righteousness. Most people understand that Christianity teaches that people are sinful, meaning that we do bad (sinful) things. So we equate sin or unrighteousness with bad behavior. And that is true, as far as it goes. What most people (including Christians) don’t understand or want to believe is that we are genetically predisposed to sin (see the references at the end of this post). We sin because we are sinful. If our genetics determine our righteousness, none of us have any hope, no matter what our sexual identity may be. That is why we need a Savior – straight or gay – to save us not only from our sins, but also from ourselves and our choices.

    The Belgic Confession states:
    We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race. It is a corruption of all nature – an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother’s womb, and the root which produces in man every sort of sin

    King David wrote:
    “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5)

    The Apostle Paul said:
    6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8)

    And

    1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2)

    This is the good news

    4 But[ God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2)

  3. Ryan M. Mahoney says:

    Interesting statement, but it does not truly undercut the “orthodoxy.” She is merely saying “I” am choosing, but many are not choosing. It’s a bit like saying I don’t believe in inerrancy, but you do and are right to believe it.

    Bill’s point is well taken, so what if it is genetic. Tornados are natural. Earthquakes are natural. Volcanos are natural. The desire of most men to run from monogamy is natural. All sorts of distortions are in creation; there existence only points toward the need for creational redemption.

  4. Rich Bennema says:

    “Imagine a hypothetical scenerio in which a well-known pastor from a culturally influential church suddenly came out and admitted that he did not believe the Bible to be inerrant or even inspired. What would the reaction of the orthodox Christian community look like? How quickly would we close ranks, talking about the importance of community and foundational beliefs?”

    Isn’t that essentially what happened with Love Wins?

  5. Carrot says:

    Never ceases to amaze me how fast people make the leap on “making homosexuality acceptable you will then make pedophilia/rape acceptable”. As if the notion of mutual adult consent is totally absent in a same sex union.

    Mutual Adult Consent.

    Once you deny the possibility that “The Other” is human, its easy to vilify.

    Sexuality is fluid. Attraction is based on so many things. Ms. Nixon might never have questioned her sexuality or considered herself gay because she never had found herself attracted to a woman before meeting her new fiancee. Usually, that first same sex attraction is what causes the question/self-doubt to begin with. I’m impressed with her casual acceptance of who she is. I don’t think many people have that sort of fortitude.

    I found a responding article that I thought you might enjoy – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/bruni-gay-wont-go-away-genetic-or-not.html?_r=2&ref=frankbruni

    • Bill says:

      Carrot,
      I don’t think anybody made the jump you suggest. I certainly didn’t. My point is that genetics doesn’t make something right or wrong just because it is genetic. The argument that if homosexuality is genetic, then it must be accepted, is an argument that pro-gay people have made (which I demonstrated). Those who oppose homosexuality have agreed with the logic and have strenuously argued against a genetic component. My point in bringing up pedophilia and rape is not in any way to suggest that homosexuality leads to those things, and I did not suggest that. I was, however, questioning why, if the logic is accepted in one area, would it be rejected in another. Your point about consenting adults has nothing to do with the genetic argument.
      Blessings,
      Bill

      • Carrot says:

        Mutual Adult Consent is the difference between a same sex relationship and the violence of rape and pedophilia.

  6. Bill says:

    Carrot – I think everyone understands that. And nobody said otherwise.

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