“I had gay uncles, I had a gay aunt,” Franqi French says. “There was always an element of LGBT around me growing up, so I didn’t even know it was a thing you have to tell people.”
French, who identifies as bisexual, continues: “It’s not anything I ever really came out about. Even as a little kid, I always just kind of lived my truth. Sometimes I’d have a boyfriend, sometimes I’d have a girlfriend, and I never really explained that to anyone.”
Not until a year ago, that is, when the budding comedian decided “to start talking about my sexuality in my standup.” Before she could do that, however, she had to come out to one person in particular: Her daughter, who’s now 14. “That was the first time in my life [I was] nervous to say it out loud,” she says, “because I’m married to her dad, and I didn’t know how her kid brain would process that.”
Turns out, the “kid brain” processed it just fine. “What, are you bi?” her daughter inquired after French revealed her interest in women as well as men. That was all there was to it, as far as her daughter was concerned. “I know what that is, I’m good. Can I go back to playing my game?”
Coming out to her daughter helped boost not only French’s stand-up, by freeing her to talk about her sexuality, but also her career standing. Earlier this month, French won the StandUp NBC competition, an award that includes a deal with NBCUniversal, among other opportunities. After years of work in the D.C. comedy trenches, French decided to pounce on the chance to launch a national career and officially moved to L.A. just over a week ago.
“I’m part of the NBC family now, which is amazing,” she says. “They’ve been absolutely fantastic. This is the first national network to get who I am as an artist. They see something in me worthy of moving forward. One of the most important opportunities for me is to bring more visibility to bisexual people — that we are a part of the community. This is genuinely who we are and how we feel. It’s not because we’re drunk, or in college, [or] confused.”
French, who returns to the area this weekend to perform two nights of stand-up, will never forget her roots. “D.C. made me the comedian that I am. So I’ll always represent D.C. I’ll always come back. And as my platform grows, I’m always going to shine a spotlight on D.C.”
Franqi French opens for Josh Blue this Friday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 and 10 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 1, at 7 and 9:30 p.m., at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike. Tickets are $25. Call 703-486-2345 or visit www.arlingtondrafthouse.com.
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