Cynthia Nixon brushed off a comment from a politician who referred to her as an “unqualified lesbian” while dismissing her campaign for governor of New York.
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is a lesbian herself, was juxtaposing Nixon’s qualifications with her own when she made the widely criticized remark.
At the launch party for her campaign, held Wednesday night at LGBT rights landmark the Stonewall Inn, Nixon joked that she really is unqualified.
“When I announced yesterday that I’m running for guv, one of Cuomo’s top surrogates dismissed me as an ‘unqualified lesbian,'” Nixon said in her speech, part of which was posted to Twitter. “It’s true that I never received my certificate from the Department of Lesbian Affairs, though in my defense there’s a lot of paperwork required.”
Quinn, a close ally of current New York governor Andrew Cuomo, ran for New York mayor in 2013. At the time, Nixon endorsed her opponent, Bill de Blasio, something that appeared to be very much on Quinn’s mind when the actress announced her candidacy.
“Cynthia Nixon was opposed to having a qualified lesbian become mayor of New York City,” Quinn said Tuesday in an interview with the New York Post. “Now she wants to be an unqualified lesbian to be the governor of New York. You have to be qualified and have experience. She isn’t qualified to be the governor.”
While Quinn may have been juxtaposing her sexuality alongside Nixon’s as a rhetorical flourish, the barb didn’t go over well. Reactions ranged from anger to mockery. In a statement to TheWrap, Quinn said she didn’t intend to criticize Nixon for her sexual identity — especially since she is a lesbian herself.
“Cynthia Nixon’s identity has no bearing on her gubernatorial candidacy and it was not my intention to suggest it did. I want to be clear about that. I would never, ever, criticize someone because of their identity. I’ve experienced that kind of criticism time and time again and I would never support it or condone it,” she told TheWrap. “As a lesbian who ran one of the most high-profile races in the country, I know what that’s like. And I know it’s imperative that we encourage more members of our community to run for office. Cynthia Nixon aggressively opposed my candidacy in New York, despite my qualifications for the office and despite my strong progressive credentials. I was attempting to make a comparison between the two of us. The real point I am trying to make is that qualifications matter and records matter. I do not believe she has the qualifications or the record.”
“I love New York. I’ve never lived anywhere else,” said Nixon in a promotional video this week. “But something has to change. We want our government to work again, on healthcare, ending mass incarceration, fixing our broken subway. We are sick of politicians who care more about headlines and power than they do about us. It can’t just be business as usual anymore.”