The graphic novel, “Fun Home,” by Alison Bechdel is a brilliant depiction of what queer theory represents. Over the course of her retellings, there are countless mysterious experiences that are connected in a nonlinear fashion. The initial image of Bruce Bechdel is an uptight abusive father. It would not be unreasonable for the reader to assume that he follows the model patriarch of the family. He is very critical of his children and sometimes uses physical force to correct their behavior. However, there is so much more to this facade, which Alison takes great care to illustrate as she recalls her childhood and early adulthood. Sarah Richardson comments on the usage of comics, stating that they emphasize the “subjectivity of perception and memory.” Alison seems to be conscious of this subjectivity. The playfulness of the comics not only make the narration more approachable, they seem to add to the conception that the story is compiled of memories (some of which may be more fresh than others). Richardson also observes that the graphic novel “does not seek to preserve the past as it was, as its archival obsession might suggest, but rather to circulate ideas about the past with gaps fully intact” (Richardson, 4). This use of the “gap,” frankly seems more reliable than the more traditional detailed memoir. Bechdel admits that remembering painful or distant experiences in her childhood can be difficult.
I was surprised, and I suppose it is a little refreshing that a daughter came to realize her father was born out of his own unique pain, and that she does not completely victimize herself. She feels a connection to him and his queerness. She humanizes him through this comic, even though sometimes she seems to be acting against her better judgement. For example, she begins studying an author that Bruce is very passionate about. Here, I am wondering if she was consciously trying to connect with him or if she really was reluctant to complete the required readings. She also sees the similarities between her father and Jay Gatsby, a character whom Bruce is proven to have idolized through the discovered letters to Alison’s mother. I love the opening quotation to “Queer Alternatives,” by Mimi Marinucci. Even the wizard, a virtually all-knowing creature, is taken aback when he crosses paths with the unfamiliar. I suppose the word “especially” is more appropriate than “even.” If one claims to be the great and powerful being of a land, he or she would be extremely offset when faced with a queer beast. The presence of the “beast” upsets the norm, or what is expected and familiar. It causes a crisis, or upheaval of the identification system. The more “queer” encounters we experience, the more pressing the crisis becomes. Eventually, the system ceases to function and we begin to categorize identities less accurately. For example, we have organized and reorganized the “rainbow” community (as I like to call it) as GLB, LGB, LGBT, LGBTQA, LGBTQAS, LGBT+ and so on. All of these acronyms are attempting inclusiveness, but don’t quite get the job done. Someone(s) will always be left out through this classification. Objectively speaking, this would make the most sense, because each marginal identity “challenge[s] the widespread expectation that biological females and biological males should exhibit the specific collection of attitudes and behaviors assigned to each sex category, and that they should partner sexually only with biological members of the opposite sex and corresponding gender categories” (Marinucci, 31). In other words, such individuals go against the grain. They oppose the dominant and familiar “straight culture” and are therefore part of a “queer culture.” However, many people like being identified as one of the letters in the alphabet soup of sexuality and gender and would be offended if grouped into a grand category labeled “queer.” I suppose this all depends if this individual is dependant on the classification for clarity.