Margaret Cho: Empowering Community With Comedy
Margaret Cho has been a household comedy name since the 90s. She has been using her comedy as a tool for healing and activism, and in the process has become a popular figure in the LGBTQ movement.
This July, George Washington University (GW) is hosting the legendary comedian at an intimate one-time performance benefiting the LGBT Health Policy & Practice Program at GW.
On her website, she says, “It’s a wonderful thing to be known as a ‘safe haven’ for people. People come to see me, or buy my records and/or DVDs because my point of view satisfies a lot of what needs to be said out there. More than anything, that makes me really proud.”
Tagg’s Sophia Wu spoke with Cho about her comedy and passion for equality.
What drew you to comedy and how does comedy empower you?
MC: I wanted to do comedy ever since I was a little kid. It was always something that was a big passion. I guess if you can call it that, but I really always knew I wanted to do this ever since I was really little. So this is a childhood dream that became an adult dream. I think that when you have a way to reach the world with a message whatever that is, and it can be very direct, so you can talk to the world in a very direct way from just doing jokes and letting out that hope that’s great.
For you, what was the most challenging or rewarding part of coming out?
MC: I think that just knowing that you’re being yourself and truthful and loving that and it’s a joy that’s really great and makes you feel like you’re really doing something true to you and important to you.
Why is GW’s LGBT health policy and practice program important to you?
MC: Anything that has to do with coming to a place of learning about our likes and ourselves and our history and our present, [there is] an educational purpose. I think that these are really interesting because when I was growing up there was nothing like that for LGBT youth and nothing to sort of look to in education for that it’s great.
What LGBTQ related issue are you really passionate?
MC: Well so many things whether it is looking to get rid of all homophobic and strange laws like around bathrooms and transgendered people or things like gay adoption and gay marriage; all these things that are really about equality are really important.
Do you feel like that homophobia is still a prevalent issue?
MC: Homophobia exists in a very big way all over the world and certainly in the United States and especially right now. It’s difficult times that we now have to deal with. When it comes to gay rights, we don’t want to go backwards in time so it’s very important.
So, why is there still sort of a stigma around sexuality?
MC: I think because there’s these ideas about family, that family has a definition and it’s one kind of family and you can’t perceive different types of familial connections. I think that’s where the paranoia and strange homophobia exists.
What do you think is something in the LGBTQ community that can be improved?
MC: I think maybe what I see would be a sense of unity, a sense of working as a community as a whole as opposed to being fractured. I think we really need to come together.
Have you have you faced or witnessed any homophobia?
MC: I think it’s just subtle, but it’s growing up in a time where there was no gay marriage or there was no thoughts about gay rights and that doing that thing like being involved in gay pride and growing up around AIDS completely devastated the community and we received no help from the government and no sense that anyone would really do anything to turn that epidemic around, that was unbelievable, devastating for our numbers and our lives, so growing up around that you can really sense and see how culture affected our community.
What’s the challenge in coming out publicly?
MC: I think that there is this idea that we come out happy and live the life of an actress, that being part of the idea of being out had so much to do with how we can advance our community and when in truth you don’t really have to, being out is enough.
Margaret Cho will be performing on July 13 at George Washington University Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St NW, Washington, D.C. at 7p.m. Tickets are limited.