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Is Gay a Choice? The Science Behind Actress Cynthia Nixon's Controversial Remarks

Activists have long combated attacks on LGBT identities by highlighting the science showing that homosexuality is genetic, but there is other research worth considering.

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Bailey believes that “men’s differentiated sexual arousal pattern makes them sexually rigid, and women’s lack of one makes them flexible.” As for the Times Magazine piece, he says, “It does not surprise me that Cynthia Nixon can choose to express sexual feelings for women but not for men. Maybe someday we’ll understand why.”

Christan Moran, a researcher who has studied midlife changes in women’s sexuality, says the actress’s remarks are “a great step forward in advancing the discussion about sexual fluidity. Those who are heavily invested in the idea that sexuality is set for life need to step back and recognize the enormous gendered difference in this area.”

As popular as the theory of female “erotic plasticity” has become in the field of sex research, it is hardly without  its critics; and many researchers are more inclined to highlight the sexual similarities between men and women. But beyond the ongoing scientific debate, there’s a strong political argument to be made against taking an unwavering “born this way” stance. Marta Meana, a clinical psychologist at the University of Nevada Las Vegas who has researched sexual fluidity, believes “it is a devil’s bargain to argue for acceptance on the basis of biology,” she explains. “The ‘I can’t help it’ argument retains the idea that something is amiss. The truly progressive stance is that all people should be treated with respect, dignity and equality regardless of the mechanisms that led them to prefer having consensual sex with one group over another, at any point in time.”

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