You may not have known this, but comedian Margaret Cho’s family actually owned a gay bookstore in San Francisco’s ultra-gay Castro district when she was growing up. But while she experienced the LGBTQ community and Pride parades growing up, nether her parents, the gay community nor the authors of the predominantly gay and lesbian books in her parents’ store really understood Margaret Cho’s bisexuality.
To this day, Cho says that her romantic partners and friends still don’t “get” her bisexuality. In a recent interview, she says:
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.
Cho says she knew she was queer from early on and felt at war with her peers about it. They wrote graffiti on school walls about Cho and started rumors that she kissed girls. The fact that they had correctly clocked Margaret Cho’s bisexuality magnified her awkward feelings as a teen and made them all the more painful.
After a while, Cho says, she stopped trying to fit in with her tormentors and just started hanging out with the other student “freaks.”
She says, “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! But it takes a little bit of time to really go, ‘I’m not going to be hurt by what is true.’”
As a child spending time in her parents’ store, she didn’t really experience Pride as an active participant until it took on a more political tone during the ‘80s and ’90s as a pointed protest against the U.S. government’s lack of action against HIV. She has since served as a grand marshal at San Francisco’s Pride parade several times and has attended and performed at Pride events around the world.
She says, “We’ve traditionally looked at Pride as being a very white male movement and of course there’s now so much more involved in thinking about Pride… We still don’t really acknowledge the bisexual community. But now there’s more of looking towards a sense of unity and diversity and I think that’s really important.”