Margaret Cho grew up in San Fransisco, coming of age at the start of the AIDS crisis. Her parents owned a gay book store; Cho worked at a lesbian BDSM collective and had a brief stint as a dominatrix. It was during this time Cho started asking the question, “In the age of AIDS, what does safe sex mean? And how do we still make it exciting and fun?”

The answer came in the form of a long leather whip. She describes BDSM as the perfect place to engage and celebrate sexuality in a way that felt dangerous, without being dangerous in a way that would transmit HIV or other infections.

All of these experiences have fed into her comedy career, the cornerstone of which has been marked by her candor. Before nonmonogamy had entered the mainstream consciousness as it has today, Cho was talking about it onstage and in interviews, just as she would speak about people’s disbelief over her bisexuality, her experience with sex work, and more recently, her newfound “polyamory-fatigue.”

Cho speaks about all this on the LGBTQ&A podcast, and opens up about why she now plans on being single for the rest of her life.

Jeffrey Masters: Do you have any grand theories to why people are still so wary of bisexuality?
Margaret Cho: I think it’s because people use bisexuality as the lie before they get to the truth. You’re acknowledging your otherness, but you’re not willing to go all the way. To say you’re bi, a lot of people when they’re coming out, they’ll stop at bi at their first utterance of who I am. I’m going to give you bisexual. I’m going to give this lie to my parents so that maybe there’s hope for them to hang on to this idea that I could be straight.

Before we had gay marriage and before we had this idea of being able to have families, bisexuality gave you a little bit of a sliver of that ticket to normalcy. Bisexuality is seen as this strange thing of dipping your toe into the pool of otherness, but not all way all in.

JM: Was there comradery between you and other famous, closeted queer women before you came out? 
MC: I remember I was sitting on Lea DeLaria‘s lap in, gosh, 1991. My manager at the time was so panicked that I was gay and he was like, “You know, you have to present yourself as straight. I don’t care what you do or who you are. As far as we’re going, you’re straight.”

I was just really scared into a feeling of Wow, this feels really scary and unsafe.

JM: I was actually under the impression that you were open about being bi, even early in your career. 
MC: I always was, but at that time, I don’t know we could even call it that. I had grown up in a very gay-positive environment — my parents owned a gay bookstore and there were so many examples of very, very exciting things happening around me with Harvey Milk and this gay pride parade that was growing and growing and growing every year — but there was a real confusion around bisexuality.

Even my parents, they’re fine with gayness, they’re fine with straightness, they have a real problem with bi.

Read the Full Article:

Margaret Cho on BDSM, ‘Polyamory-Fatigue,’ Wanting To Die Alone by Jeffrey Masters

Sept. 25, 2019