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Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Transcript of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
born September 10, 1960, in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to Roman Catholic parents who were teachers
Originally best known for the long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For
success in 2006 with her graphic memoir Fun Home
attended Simon’s Rock College and then Oberlin College, graduating in 1981
History during time of book
References to the Stonewall Riots - June 1969 - Violent gay rights protests at the Stonewall Inn, known as a gay tavern, in Greenwich Village
-Bechdel would have been about nine when the Stonewall Riots started.
Bechdel tells her parents she’s lesbian in 1980 when she’s 20.
LGBT in the 1980 U.S.
-The Democratic Party became the first major party to endorse a gay rights platform
-David Reynolds becomes the first openly gay LGBT person to run for President
-The Human Rights Campaign Fund was founded by Steve Endean and becomes America’s biggest civil rights organization working for LGBT rights
LGBT in the World
-1979 - Sweden - People call in sick with a case of being homosexual in protest because homosexuality was considered an illness. Within months,
Sweden became first country to remove homosexuality as an illness.
-1980 - Scotland decriminalizes homosexuality
Proust was secretly gay and was one of the first European novelists to feature homosexuality openly
Mentioned Oscar Wilde several times
Bechdel mentions the horror of getting her period often
“Book of the Year” by Time magazine
“#1 Non-Fiction book” by Entertainment Weekly
One of the top 10 books by the London Times and New York Times Magazine
“100 Notable Books for 2006” by the New York Times
"A comic book for lovers of words! Bechdel's rich language and precise images combine to create a lush piece of work -- a memoir where concision and detail are melded for maximum, obsessive density. She has obviously spent years getting this memoir right, and it shows. You can read Fun Home in a sitting, or get lost in the pictures within the pictures on its pages. The artist's work is so absorbing you feel you are living in her world." --
The New York Times
"A masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each." --
Promotes Promiscuity and Depicts Lesbian Sexual Activity!
"How are graphic PORNOGRAPHIC pictures of two lesbians 'eating each other out' considered to be of any legitimate literary value to College of Charleston students! This book is vulgar and disgusting!" --JKH
"One of the best memoirs of the decade...at once hypercontrolled and utterly intimate." --
"A revelation...Feels like a true literary achievement, something with characters who baffle and disappoint and break hearts the way people do in life and in the best of prose." --
must be the msot ingeniously compact, hyper-verbose example of autobiography to have been produced...a pioneering work." --
New York Times
"The first time I read
I felt like Bechdel was over-reaching, that she was just plain trying too hard. The literary allusions, while inventive, seemed forced. Her inclusion of such a wide variety of authors and themes too pat, too cute. I felt she was trying to impress with the gravitas of prior works, fearful that her family's story wasn't strong enough to stand on its own. --Houghton Mifflin
Fun Home was made into a musical on October 29, 2013. It is shown at the Public Theater in New York and was directed by Sam Gold
Kate Millet - Early influential person in the Women’s Liberation Movement
-Flying was her autobiography that told of her struggles as a lesbian and her views
Earthly Paradise by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
-Novelist and performer
-A play she performed in was banned after an onstage kiss she had with another women almost caused a riot
Bechdel’s father reads A La Recherche du Temps Perdu
Marcel Proust, author, published in 1913
History during book release
-Banning same-sex marriages and civil unions in Tennessee, Alabama, Idaho, Colorado, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin
-Anti-discrimination legislation: Illinois , New Jersey, Washington and Washington, D.C
-Voiding of Anti-discrimination legislation: Kentucky
-State Rep. Patricia Todd, Alabama’s first openly lesbian public official
-Banning same-sex marriage and civil unions: Kansas and Texas
-Anti-discrimination legislation: Illinois and Maine
-The Roman Catholic Church prohibits people who "present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture'" from joining the priesthood
-The Simpsons became the first cartoon series to dedicate an
entire episode to the topic of same-sex marriage.
Marshall, Missouri resident attempts to have Fun Home removed from public library, claiming children would read the “pornography”. It was removed from the library October 11, 2006, and returned to the shelves on March 14, 2007.
University of Utah English student refuses to read Fun Home and contacts an organization titled “No More Pornography”. Despite a petition to remove the book from the syllabus, the chair of the university’s English department defended Fun Home.
Palmetto Family of South Carolina challenged the text’s inclusion as a College of Charleston course’s required reading, again labeling the book as “pornographic”. The college provost defended the book.
“Understanding what we were just talking about, these layers and layers of motivations behind people’s behaviors. Also, I think I even learned a psychoanalytic way of thinking: interpreting my life as if it were a dream. Even to the extent that dreams are a kind of visual language, and I don’t think I could have told this story without images. That was part of my syntax.” -Bechdel
Honored to be Banned
“Oh, I think it had everything to do with the fact that it was illustrated. I’m sure that library’s got all kinds of gay material in it. But if they’re just regular books with no cartoon illustrations, there’s not the same kind of concern about it.” -Bechdel
Bechdel moved to New York City and applied to many art schools but was rejected and worked in a number of office jobs in the publishing industry.
She began Dykes to Watch Out For as a single drawing labeled "Marianne, dissatisfied with the morning brew: Dykes to Watch Out For, plate no. 27". An acquaintance recommended she send her work to Womannews, a feminist newspaper, which published her first work in its June 1983 issue. February 2004, Bechdel married her girlfriend since 1992, Amy Rubin, in a civil ceremony in San Francisco. However, all same sex marriage licenses given by the state at that time were subsequently voided by the California supreme court Bechdel and Rubin separated in 2006. According to her mother's obituary, as of 2013, Bechdel lives in Vermont with her partner, Holly Rae Taylor.
Bechdel Test History
Originated in Bechdel's
Dykes to Watch Out For
Also called the Mo Movie Measure, with the added stipulation that the women must be named.
Concept actually created by Bechdel's friend Liz Wallace
1. There are at least two female characters, who
2. Talk to eachother,
3. about something other than a man
Things have definitely gotten better, but not as much as one would’ve hoped.
It was this radical lesbian idea a generation ago, but now it’s crept into the mainstream. I’m proud to have my name associated with it. It’s about trying to create women who are full-fledged subjects in a way that men have always gotten to be. And there are people now who are doing that.
AB: You know, I have such double-edged feelings about that whole Bechdel Test thing. It’s so not my idea, but people keep wanting me to claim it. I just stole it from a friend of mine one day when I desperately needed an idea for my comic strip, and it was a brilliant idea. It’s really funny to me that the idea hadn’t got much traction in the popular culture until now. Like, finally, 30 years later, the world is ready for basic lesbian, feminist principles.
AVC: Was there a particular movie that sparked that idea?
AB: I think what sparked it was the movie Alien, because it was the first movie in a long time that had any kind of remotely autonomous female character. But in the comic strip I did about this, one of the women says Alien passes this test because the two women in the movie talk to each other about the monster, and I’m not a big movie person, but Alien was sort of a watershed.