‘I work in a very competitive field and a field where I am a double minority – as a woman and a queer person’ – we interviewed comedian Cameron Esposito
DtL: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Cameron: I’m a standup comic, actor, writer, wife, lesbian and woman.
DtL: If you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell your younger self?
Cameron: I wouldn’t. I had a pretty terrible time coming out – things were hard at school, in my family, even in my own heart and mind. And it sounds trite, but I wouldn’t change it. It was the most difficult time of my life but it helped me to feel what it’s like to be truly alone and to live on the fringes. It made me a more compassionate person. Well, I guess if I had to go back in time, maybe I’d go back to Florence, Italy in 2003 and not eat that one particular scoop of strawberry gelato. That stuff gave me food poisoning.
“I had a pretty terrible time coming out”
DtL: What are your most prominent challenges, and how do you overcome them?
Cameron: I work in a very competitive field and a field where I am a double minority – as a woman and a queer person. It can be isolating and demoralising, though most often I love my work. I overcome this challenge by never forgetting who I am doing this for – other queer folks, my wife, myself. I don’t have to please everyone, succeed all the time, get every job. I just have to stay true to my mission to create safer spaces and better representation for queer folks.
DtL: What is it like to be gay in 2016 and what needs to change?
Cameron: Awesome. I am in love with being queer, with queer culture and with self-exploration and openness. We are such a strong community and working together we can disrupt this horrible trend towards anti-trans bathroom laws, end conversion therapy once and for all and prove to those still coming out that life can and will be good to them.
DtL: Did you ever experience bullying? If so can you tell us what happened and how you overcame the experience.
Cameron: Yes. I went to a college that did not include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy – essentially, students could be kicked out of school for being gay and being out. That policy menaced and bullied queer students to stay in the closet, to hate and distrust our own feelings and hearts. I got through with the support and love of my then-girlfriend, also a student at that school, who chanced coming out to her friends and was well-received. She pushed me to love myself.
“I am in love with being queer, with queer culture and with self-exploration and openness”
DtL: What advice would you give to those who may be experiencing bullying or feel like they don’t fit in because of attitudes towards their sexuality?
Cameron: First: I’m sorry. You are not alone. Second: this will not last. That doesn’t solve the problem, of course, but I’m asking you – as a stranger who cares – to try to outlast this moment and prepare for a better future. Finish school. Get yourself into as stable a position as you can. Seek out friends who truly know you. It can and will get better.
DtL: What has been your proudest moment so far?
Cameron: The moment I said my wedding vows. I fought hard to change hearts and minds about marriage equality and more importantly: I love my wife. She is the light of my life.
DtL: Our research revealed that 35% of teenage girls believe that their gender will have a negative effect on their career. What are your thoughts on this, based on your experiences in the entertainment industry?
Cameron: This is our moment. Yes, sexism is real. In my field, in almost every field. It’s a tenet of our culture. But it doesn’t have to be! You are the generation that can change it. Beyoncé. Simone Biles. Hillary Clinton. Find a woman you look up too and emulate her success.
DtL: What does the future hold for Cameron?
Cameron: A book. More tv and film work. Hopefully someday, kids.