Actor Billy Dee Williams is clearing up comments made in a recent interview in which he opened up about identifying with the “feminine” and “masculine” sides of himself.
Many took to mean that Williams was self-identifying as gender fluid, but the 82-year-old legendary actor told The Undefeated that his quotes were misunderstood, adding he didn’t even know what the term “gender fluid” meant.
“What I was talking about was about men getting in touch with their softer side of themselves,” he clarified. “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,” Williams continued. “That’s what I was referring to. I was talking about men getting in touch with the female side of themselves.”
“I wasn’t talking about sex. I wasn’t talking about being gay or straight. People should read [Jung]. I mean, it would be an interesting education for a lot of people,” the actor said.
In the interview with Esquire, Williams said that he uses the terms “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.”
Williams told The Undefeated that despite how people interpreted what he said, he does not identify as gay, adding, “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.”
While some often equate gender identity with sexual orientation, it must be pointed out that the two are separate terms. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) states that gender identity refers to “your own, internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or as someone outside of that gender binary),” while sexual orientation “describes a person’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person (for example: straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual).”