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Educating Cynthia

Cynthia Nixon in Little Darlings, bottom row, third from left.  

When I steer conversation toward the subject, she stutters a bit finding her way in. “I felt like, I feel like, here’s what I feel: I feel like there was an enormous temperature spike, where I was on the front page of two daily papers, there was paparazzi outside my house. My girlfriend had English press on her parents’ lawn. Every person she went to high school with got a phone call. They bought her yearbook. They almost put me on the cover of People magazine. And then it died. Because there wasn’t really anything to say. I can’t remember in what context they tell people this, but if someone is chasing you, stop running. And then they’ll stop chasing you.”

She’s done something perversely radical: She’s made her own coming-out story boring.

That’s because it isn’t a coming-out story at all, she insists. “I never felt like there was an unconscious part of me around that woke up or that came out of the closet; there wasn’t a struggle, there wasn’t an attempt to suppress. I met this woman, I fell in love with her, and I’m a public figure.”

The truth is, Cynthia Nixon has managed to do something perversely radical with her gossip emergency: She’s made her own coming-out story boring. She mentions her girlfriend in conversation, but in a way that makes it at once not a big deal and nobody’s business. She is both evasive and open, the way anyone sane would be with a stranger asking nosy questions. (And she’s very skilled at making me feel like a jerk for asking the more prying ones, with another facial expression: No, no, no, no.)

Another celebrity could’ve done this and it might feel standoffish and aloof, a bit disingenuous. But while Cynthia Nixon may not be much like Miranda, she does possess her most famous character’s ability to make a defensive stance a likable, admirable one. Someday, she says, she needs to sit down with Christine and watch a marathon of Sex and the City, which her girlfriend has barely seen. Nixon loves the TV series that she must also be very sick of. But even more so, she says, she’s a fan of the original book by Candace Bushnell. “It’s very depressing, very dark, very grim,” she says admiringly. “It was so grotesque. It was, like, who are these people? I believe these people exist, and either I’ve never met them or I’ve never met them well enough to know them. And I’m just so glad there’s Plexiglas between them and me.”