More optimistic than Miranda ever was, Nixon anticipated the possibility of a sustained relationship with Marinoni and pushed the publicist for a long-term plan, beyond flat-out lies and hiding. “He just kept saying, ‘It’s your life, and it’s private, and that’s it.’ And we kept asking, ‘That’s the whole thing? We never move past that? We’re at the playground with the kids, and pictures are taken of us, and we say, ‘No, she’s my friend?’ ”
Nixon’s relationship with that publicist wasn’t long for the world, but her romance with Marinoni continued. Media scrutiny subsided a bit when the two women left the city with Nixon’s kids for vacation over the summer of 2004. But it returned as soon as they were back in Manhattan. “My manager [Emily Saines], who is so wonderful, thought about this a little better,” Nixon says. Saines introduced Nixon to Kelly Bush, herself openly gay and a publicist to Tobey Maguire, Dustin Hoffman, and Javier Bardem. Bush suggested that Nixon simply confirm the rumors. “And I was like, ‘Really, we can just confirm?’ So that’s what we did. It was so fantastic.”
Still, Nixon didn’t want to go beyond confirming; she didn’t want people to know Marinoni’s name. “It was a little crazy for a while because there were people stationed outside my house,” she says. But that only stoked speculation. “There was a mad scramble to figure out who she was. So many people I knew got calls.” Most surprisingly, New York City council speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian whom Nixon didn’t know at the time, was asked if she was the actress’s new squeeze. “I’m always meeting people in my life who say, ‘You know, they thought it was me; I got a call,’ ” Nixon says.
Since the initial acknowledgment, Nixon has opened up about Marinoni’s identity and their life together, but she maintains that coming out wasn’t the result of an earth-shattering personal revelation. There was no knock-you-down sense of shock, no Sturm und Drang about tiptoeing into queer territory. Nor does she think she was hardwired from birth to one day emerge from a sexual chrysalis as a lesbian. “I identify as gay as a political stance,” she says. “If anybody, prior to my meeting and falling in love with Christine, had asked me about what I think about sexuality, I would have said I think we’re all bisexual. But I had that point of view without ever having felt attracted to a woman. I had never met a woman I was attracted to [before Christine]. And maybe if I’d met her when I was 20, I would have fallen in love and only dated women. But maybe if I’d met her at 20, I wouldn’t have responded at all. Who knows?
In fact, when she started to consider Marinoni as a possible partner, Nixon says she paid more attention to her girlfriend’s capacity to care for Samantha and Charlie than she did any questions about her own sexual orientation. “Maybe I’m just lucky, but I feel like Christine is so amazing with our kids—because they’re our kids,” she says. “I feel like falling in love with her is part of being amazed at how she makes our family so much better.”
If there was any surprise among Nixon’s fans upon seeing her with Marinoni, it was that she’s clearly different than the women we’re used to seeing Nixon with. Marinoni dresses in men’s clothes. She looks butch. She’d clearly be the odd woman out at brunch with Miranda, Samantha, Charlotte, and Carrie.