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Billy Dee Williams clarifies he is not gender fluid

Jordan Freiman

Billy Dee Williams has clarified remarks he made in a recent interview with Esquire, stating definitely that he is not gender fluid. The iconic actor famous for playing Lando Calrissian in multiple "Star Wars" films told The Undefeated he hadn't even heard of the term before the recent coverage of his original interview.

"Well, first of all, I asked last night. I said, 'What the hell is gender fluid?' That's a whole new term," Williams said. 

Williams made headlines last week for telling Esquire, "I say 'himself' and 'herself,' because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine. I'm a very soft person. I'm not afraid to show that side of myself." 

Some took this to mean Williams considers himself gender fluid, but the 82-year-old told The Undefeated in no uncertain terms that despite the occasional use of female pronouns, he considers himself a man.

"But what I was talking about was about men getting in touch with their softer side of themselves," Williams said. "There's a phrase that was coined by Carl G. Jung, who was a psychiatrist, who was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, and they had a splitting of the ways because they had different ideas about the … what do you call it? Consciousness. Unconscious. It's collective unconsciousness. But he coined a phrase that's, 'Anima animus.' And anima means that is the female counterpart of the male self, and the animus is the male counterpart of the female."

"So, that's what I was referring to," he continued. "I was talking about men getting in touch with the female side of themselves."

Williams then goes on to also clarify that he is heterosexual, apparently conflating gender identity with sexuality.

"I wasn't talking about sex, I wasn't talking about being gay or straight. People should read [Jung]," he explained. "I mean, it would be an interesting education for a lot of people." 

A little later, he continued, "No, no, no, I'm not gay — by any stretch of the imagination. Not that I have anything against gay people. But personally? Not gay."

The Undefeated interview is seemingly the second time with Williams that sexual orientation has been conflated with gender identity. In the original Esquire profile, after Williams mentioned using the pronoun "herself," the writer referred to Donald Glover — who played Lando Calrissian in the 2018 movie "Solo: A Star Wars Story" — discussing the character's gender fluidity. Both Glover and screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan had previously talked about the character being pansexual, but never mentioned Lando being anything other than a cis man.

"There's a fluidity to Donald and Billy Dee's [portrayal of Lando's] sexuality," Kasdan told HuffPost in 2018. "I mean, I would have loved to have gotten a more explicitly LGBT character into this movie. I think it's time, certainly, for that, and I love the fluidity ― sort of the spectrum of sexuality that Donald appeals to and that droids are a part of."

"How can you not be pansexual in space?" Glover wondered, reacting to Kasdan's comments.

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