‘What's up Celebrities’ updates readers on latest development in celebrities’ professional and personal life.

Margaret Cho got an especially early start celebrating Pride. Thanks to a childhood spent in the middle of San Francisco’s gayest neigh...

Margaret Cho: 'Nobody Has Ever Really Accepted That I’m Truly Bisexual'

Margaret Cho got an especially early start celebrating Pride.

Thanks to a childhood spent in the middle of San Francisco’s gayest neighborhood -- growing up in her parents' gay book store, no less -- the outspoken comedian was partaking in the city’s annual bash recognizing the LGBTQ community before she was even a teen. Now, nearly four decades later, she attends Prides around the world each year, often serving as grand marshal and “riding in cars driven by old, very butch diesel dyke types who want to show off their custom cars.”

In honor of Pride Month, HuffPost recently phoned Cho to chat about her earliest Pride memories, why she thinks the controversial corporate takeover of some events might not be such a bad thing and the challenges she continues to face as a bisexual.

When and how did you first realize that you were queer? Is there one particular moment or experience that stands out to you?

I think it was something that I just kind of knew — that there was something different in the sense of not belonging — and not really understanding why. It was this feeling of “I don’t get everything.” And there was this distrust of the other girls around me. They made me feel like there was something about me that was kind of off and that they didn’t trust me. There would be graffiti on the walls about me and rumors that I had tried to kiss a girl — things that had never happened but that still confirmed for me that there was something different about me. I was really almost at war with my peers — but it was a silent war. Every kid feels awkward as it is but it was magnified for me and in some ways, I knew those other kids were right about me and that was scary too.

How old were you then?

It probably started when I was about 7 and it continued through high school until I really just started to reject all that school was. At first it was very upsetting and really scary — I felt really alone. Then I realized that I could just hang out with the freaks! [Laughs] I finally just asked myself, why am I trying to belong where I’m just not welcome? After being very hurt by people calling me a “dyke” and that kind of thing, I thought, That’s fine! You can call me that because I am one! [Laughs] But it takes a little bit of time to really go, “I’m not going to be hurt by what is true.”

I love what you said earlier about knowing somewhere inside of you that the other kids were right about who you really were and that being “scary.” When did you actually come out? When did you actually say the words, “I’m queer” or “I’m bisexual” or however you phrased it?

I think I didn’t say it out loud until I was 18 or 19. And at that time, I thought I was a dyke. I thought I was a lesbian. And then I realized, “No, I’m actually attracted to men as well.” So then it became something really confusing for me. My family had a gay bookstore, they were in the gay community, they were working in and around the gay community, so they really were aware of gay people and lesbians but they didn’t understand bisexuality. It’s still a sensitive issue for many people in my life. They really don’t get bisexuality. I’ve had this suspicion with every partner that I’ve ever had [that they didn’t get it]. I’ve never been with another bisexual person. I’ve only been with either straight or gay people, so, it’s a very suspicious place. Nobody has ever really accepted that I’m truly bisexual. Nobody has ever allowed it. It’s still very much a point of argument between anybody that I’ve been with. People just don’t accept it.

Nobody has ever really accepted that I’m truly bisexual. Nobody has ever allowed it. It’s still very much a point of argument between anybody that I’ve been with. People just don’t accept it.

We’ve come a long way in terms of how people conceptualize and talk about bisexuality. Many people who may have once identified as bisexual are now using the term pansexuality instead because they feel it more fully describes who they are. What are your thoughts on the subject?

I don’t know. I don’t know using “bisexual” is right because that indicates that there’s only two genders, and I don’t believe that. I’ve been with people all across the spectrum of gender and who have all kinds of different expressions of gender, so it’s so hard to say. Maybe “pansexual” is technically the more correct term but I like “bisexual” because it’s kind of ’70s. [Laughs] There’s something very chic about that word and I guess that’s probably the right one for me.

When and where did you attend your very first Pride celebration?

It must have been in San Francisco in 1977 or 1978. It was not what it is today — it was much smaller but it was still very exciting. My memories of my first Pride aren’t that clear. I have clearer memories of later on in the ’80s and of course early ’90s when people were outraged about the government’s treatment of people with HIV and AIDS and Pride was hugely political. I was an adult by then so my participation was obviously at a much more advanced stage.

Because your family owned a gay bookstore in The Castro, was Pride something that you all celebrated together every year?

It was very practical. It was like, “Oh, we’re going to need to get a lot of shifts covered.” [Laughs] That was mostly my family’s attitude. It was celebrated within the structure of the bookstore but it was more that people were going to be gone and doing other things and so we had to prepare for that. The biggest thing I remember was the vigil for Harvey Milk after he was killed and my family didn’t want me to go. They thought it would be too sad. They were like, “You’re not going to be able to go because we think it’s too sad and it’s a terrible, terrible thing and we don’t want you to be scared about what happened or thinking about what happened to him.” I was probably about nine when he was killed and so I think my family was very conscious of it being too much ― too overwhelming ― to be a part of my life. I think that’s sad — I wish I could have been there. But even though I wasn’t, I still remember realizing that we’re living in this incredibly violent world and that someone could be killed because they were gay — that was just an awful, awful thing.

What’s your relationship with Pride like now?

I love it. I’m active in Pride in a number of ways, whether I’m performing or just going and hanging out or riding in cars driven by old, very butch diesel dyke types who want to show off their custom cars. [Laughs]. That’s the ideal for me — you want to be in one of those convertibles and have a lovely chauffeur. I’ve done Pride in so many different countries. I think the big queer Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia, is the biggest Pride I’ve ever been to. I’ve been grand marshal at San Francisco’s Pride several times. That’s a huge one because there’s the Take Back The Night March and the Trans March and so there are quite a few events that go along with Pride that are really exciting. 

0 comments: