While I already knew of Alison Bechdel and had some idea of the what her first graphic novel is about, I genuinely wasn’t prepared for how much Fun Home would affect me emotionally. It was a roller coaster of feelings, beautifully told and illustrated.
Bechdel is only slightly older than I am, so her memoir of growing up in the 70s and 80s had some very familiar echoes. Though our families were dysfunctional in completely different ways, the family dynamics, cultural and social norms which she describes in Fun Home very much reflect what growing up and coming of age was like for anyone who felt at odds with American norms during the Reagan era.
I fully embraced the honesty with which Bechdel relates how she was never explicitly told that her father was gay, but how they both found ways to acknowledge their shared secret of homosexuality. There was only a non-confession confession that both bound them together, and kept them apart. As a young adult, I found moving away from home to go to art school served to confirm that I would never be who and what my parents expected me to be, and they would never be the parents I wanted either. Fun Home brought this all back, especially in the way that Bechdel describes her relationship with her parents, whom she struggles to understand, because so much truth is missing about their lives. You can’t ask questions you don’t know to ask.
Instead of cutting the funds, the legislature proposed a budget provision that doesn’t cut funding but—in a an act of irony so classic that it should be included in the dictionary—the provision reallocated the funds to books that teach about the Constitution.
Bechdel ably tells her story from a very personal place and reading Fun Home while watching the Kavanaugh hearings just reinforced for me how meaningless and slow progress has been for anyone who’s not an elderly straight, white male. Blergh!