In the graphic memoir titled Fun Home, by Allison Bechdel, sexual self-discovery is one of the criteria for the development of the main character. Furthermore, Bechdel depicts the plethora of factors that are pivotal in the shaping of who she is before, during and after her sexual self-development. Bechdel’s anguish and pain begins with all of her accounts that she encountered at home, with her respective family member – most importantly her father – at school, and the community she grew up within. Bechdel’s arduous process of her queer sexual self-development is throughout the novel as complex as her subjectivity itself. Main points highlight the difficulties behind which are all mostly focused on the dynamics between her and her father. Throughout the novel, she spotlights many accounts where she felt lost and ashamed of her coming out and having the proper courage to express this to her parents. Many events and factors contributed to this development that many seem to fear.
In her novel, Bechdel’s complex sexual self-development is a power struggle for her to figure out and acknowledge her sexual orientation. One can simply observe the pain and struggle Bechdel encountered in her process of self-development, especially in one of her monologues when she discusses the impact of finding out about her father’s homosexual ways in his past. She states, “Only four months earlier [to her father’s suicide], I had made an announcement to my parents, ‘I am a lesbian’ but it was a hypothesis so thorough and convincing that I saw no reason not to share it immediately… My homosexuality remained at that point purely theoretical, untested hypothesis” (Bechdel 58). After receiving the news that her father was a closeted homosexual, Allison’s sexual self-discovery completely turned on her in a way that just caused confusion in her journey. This greatly exhibits the complexity that was continuingly lingering in her queer sexual self-development.
Another factor that was critical in shaping who Allison Bechdel were the dynamics and ideals present in her household. As she depicts it, her household was a very tumultuous one that was most highlighted by her relationship with her father, Bruce Bechdel. Throughout most of the novel, Allison exhibits her father’s volatile temper, which contributed to his violent sprees of anger, but what proved to play one of the biggest impacts on Allison was the distance Bruce appeared to create. At one point Bechel states, “It was a vicious circle, though. The more gratification we found in our own geniuses, the more isolated we grew. Our home was like an artists’ colony. We ate together, but otherwise were absorbed in our separate pursuits. And in this isolation our creativity took on an aspect of compulsion” (Bechel 134). Allison here depicts of the dysfunctional culture that was constantly present in her household, but most importantly the impact this had on her. With all of the turmoil constantly occurring in her household, it did not allow for a comfortable and delightful environment especially in the development of Bechdel’s identity. To continue on the dynamics between Alison and her father, one of the biggest factors to her development and the complexity of her subjectivity can be attributed to her father’s insecurity in his own sexuality.
As aluded to before, Bruce and Alison’s relationship experienced great hardship as a result of Bruce’s insecurity about his own sexual identity. An example of when Alison believed that Bruce would express his own insecurity on the time when they went to a wedding and the apparel Bruce selected for Alison to wear, stating, “Not only were we inverts, we were inversions of one another. While I was trying to compensate for something unmanly in him… He was attempting to express something feminine through me. It was a war of cross-purposes, and so doomed to perpetual escalation” (Bechdel 98). Alison is elaborating on a perception that perhaps her father wanted to use her as a way of achieving something he could not or was afraid to through himself. Alison here is expressing how her father would select and present her clothes and accessories that would appear he wished or wanted to wear. Immediately following this encounter, Alison highlights a time when he wanted her to a necklace and the dialogue between the two were sole Bruce saying, “What’re you afraid of? Being beautiful? PUT IT ON, goddamn it!” and Alison retorted by yelling, “Leave me ALONE!” (Bechdel 99). Here Bruce is antagonizing Alison to just put on the following necklace and Alison is showing to be very hesitant to the following. One can sense the anguish that she is experiencing through the impact of her retort. Alison depicts another time when she found pictures of her father that all appeared opposite to the sexuality he appeared to have. Photos for example of him in a women’s bathing suite highlight this idea. The opposition that arose between the two and difference in appearance seemed to play a pivotal role in her self-discovery. Alison even discuses the impact this has on her subjectivity as a whole.
Alison makes it quite apparent throughout the novel that the relationship between her and her father was on that played a critical role in not only her queer self-development but subjectivity as whole by itself. She displays he input on the following idea by stating, “Between us lay a slender demilitarized zone – o