To quoth the Spice Girls, Billy Dee Williams would like everyone to stop right now, thank you very much.
After the Star Wars actor made headlines over the weekend when he used both masculine and feminine pronouns to describe himself in an interview with Esquire magazine, Williams dispelled speculation that he had come out as “genderfluid.” In response to headlines in publications like the New York Times and CNN, he told The Undefeated that he doesn’t know what that word means.
“Well, first of all, I asked last night,” Williams claimed. “I said, ‘What the hell is gender fluid?’ That’s a whole new term.”
In the original interview, the 83-year-old — who played Lando Calrissian in the iconic sci-fi series — claimed that he uses the words “himself” and “herself” because he views himself “as feminine as well as masculine.” He added, “I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”
While some read those remarks as an indication he has embraced a genderqueer identity, Williams clarified that the comments were merely philisophical.
“[W]hat I was talking about was about men getting in touch with their softer side of themselves,” he 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,’” Williams continued. “And anima means that is the female counterpart of the male self, and the animus is the male counterpart of the female.”
The thespian further illustrated his unfamiliarity with wider conversations around nonbinary identities by conflating gender fluidity with queerness. One is about whether or not an individual identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth, while the other is about the gender of the person you’re attracted to.
“I wasn’t talking about sex,” he said. “I wasn’t talking about being gay or straight.”
This isn’t the first time in recent months that a famous celebrity has had to clarify their sexual orientation or gender following remarks that were misinterpreted. Earlier this year, producer Mark Ronson accidentally led viewers of the U.K.’s Good Morning Britain to believe he was coming out as “sapiosexual” — a controversial term referring to someone who is attracted to intelligence — before walking it back just days later.