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Margaret Cho Headshot

My Ellen Visit, Deferred

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I am a big Ellen fan. I have been one for quite a long time now. I used to do the local news talk shows with her in San Francisco, when we were both still kids. I also opened for her at the Other Café when she would work special weekend shows, and she would bring the house down every night. She was miraculous to me, and continues to be. We both had sitcoms at the same time, filmed on the same lot, right next to each other. My show got canceled but hers went on, making history when she came out as a lesbian on national television. That episode completely changed my life and the lives of so many of us, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered folks and all around queers like me. Seeing someone proudly say they were gay, a star, someone we all knew and loved and respected, someone with the power to make us laugh and cry, was suddenly given another power -- she made us feel real. It was like -- "oh my God, we're real. We exist."

The power of visibility can never be underestimated. For this, she will always be my hero. She gave us the ultimate gift, herself, her true self, and with that gift, she made us all proud to be who we are. That is why when she asked me to do her show I was absolutely thrilled. I love her show! Especially the dancing!!! But with the writers on strike, I am unable to do it. This was a very difficult decision to make. I absolutely love Ellen, for a million reasons and for a very long time, but because of the way that I was raised, because my political views are they way they are, because I believe that workers should have the power and the ability to make their lives better, because many of my close friends are the ones picketing, I cannot cross the picket line. This was hard for me because I had to question what was more important to me -- my queer allegiance to Ellen, or my dedication to the writers and their families and all the people who have been sacrificing so much to the strike. The reason Ellen hasn't stopped production is because she refuses to put the 135 people who are employed on her show out of work, which is completely admirable and frankly heroic, considering all the flak she has gotten from the media. I apologize to Ellen and I hope that she understands my decision, and that when the strike is over, I will be able to do the show again. It has been a dream of mine for quite a while now, and I hope someday it will come true.