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‘Gay by choice’ claim aggravates activists

Cynthia Nixon learned the hard way this week that when it comes to gay civil rights, the personal is always political.

The actress best known for portraying Miranda Hobbes on “Sex and the City” waded into a controversy when New York Times Magazine quoted her as saying that for her, being gay was a conscious choice.

Nixon is engaged to another woman with whom she has been in a relationship for eight years. Before that, she spent 15 years and had two children with a man.

“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,” Nixon said while recounting some of the flak activists previously had given her for treading in similar territory.

Among the gay rights activists angered by the remarks is Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen, whose organization monitors and tries to debunk programs that claim to cure people of same-sex attractions.

Besen said Nixon’s comments could be used to force people into such programs.

Jackson weighs in on Grammy cuts

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is entering the fray over the Recording Academy’s cuts to its Grammy categories: He’s asking to meet with the president of the organization and has raised the possibility of protests with the Feb. 12 awards less than two weeks away.

The civil rights activist sent a letter to Neil Portnow, the president and CEO of the Academy, and expressed his dismay over the Academy’s decision last April to cut its categories from 109 to 78, the biggest overhaul in its history. In the letter, Jackson asked that his organization, the Rainbow Push Coalition, “meet with you urgently to express our concerns and to see if we might help resolve this conflict …”

In a statement on Friday, Portnow said he was willing to talk with Jackson.

Some categories the Academy eliminated are traditional gospel, children’s spoken-word album, and Zydeco or Cajun music album.

The Academy contends the changes make the awards more competitive but don’t prevent people from entering into competition. But Jackson said he’s concerned that they limit participation of those who have been disenfranchised.

The birthday bunch

Actor-singer Noel Harrison is 78. Actress Katharine Ross is 72. Actor Tom Selleck is 67. Singer Bettye LaVette is 66. Drummer Tommy Ramone is 60. Singer Charlie Wilson (The Gap Band) is 59. Oprah Winfrey is 58. Director-actor Ed Burns is 44. Actress Heather Graham is 42. Actor Sharif Atkins is 37. Actor Sam Jaeger (TV: “Parenthood”) is 35. Singer Adam Lambert is 30.

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