At 52, Margaret Cho is participating in her 42nd Pride season this June. But just because she’s been celebrating her identity for decades, doesn’t mean she has it all figured out.
“Being an Asian-American, being a feminist, being queer, these things are the way that I defined myself,” Cho explains during Yahoo’s Pride Evolution event. “But also, I have been caused so much pain by all these separate identities for different reasons.”
In regards to her sexuality, Cho says she often feels like she doesn’t fit into the traditional parameters of the LGBTQ community.
“I definitely still feel like an outsider in a lot of ways within the queer community. But at the same time, I understand,” explains Cho.
Initially, Cho came out as a lesbian, and wore “long, denim shorts and a messenger bag and a bike chain and big boots.”
“And I wouldn’t stop coming out,” said Cho. “People were like, could you please stop coming out?” But as time went on, she realized she wanted to have diverse experiences. “So then I kind of came out as straight, and then I came out as bi. So now I’m a fruit.”
It’s also Cho’s Asian-American identity that has made her feel “other” throughout her life. That feeling has only been exacerbated with the horrific increase in cases of discrimination the Asian-American community has been subjected to recently. A March study published in the American Journal of Public Health found a 145 percent increase in “racist attitudes” compared to the previous year, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, Bakersfield. Hate crimes, such as the March 16 shootings at Atlanta spas that left eight dead, have only exacerbated this trauma.
To deal with these experiences, Cho derives great strength from her sense of humor. And through sharing her experiences with others, she hopes people will feel a little less “other” too.
“I want people to be able to feel like they’re being seen, they’re being heard and reflected back in the work that I do. And so it’s very important for me to talk about all of my experiences with a sense of humor, with a sense of truth and honesty,” says Cho. ”This candid quality that doesn’t veil any of these things means that all of these aspects of my identity don’t have to be ‘othered.’ They’re not othered within me, they are me.”
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