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Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Countered Dad’s Secrecy About His Sexuality By Always Being Open About Hers

Since coming out as at the age of 19, graphic novelist Alison Bechdel has made it a point to be open about her sexuality.

It was a decision she made consciously as a reaction to her father – who was gay and closeted – who sadly died four months after Bechdel came out.

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Talking Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross, Bechdel says

In many ways my life, my professional career has been a reaction to my father’s life, his life of secrecy. I threw myself into the gay community, into this life as a lesbian cartoonist, deciding I was going to be a professional lesbian. In a way, that was all my way of healing myself.”

Also read: ‘My Old Flame’ by Alison Bechdel

In 2006, Bechdel’s “healing” took the form of a graphic novel called Fun Home, in which she details her own coming out, and how she grappled with her father’s death, which she suspects may have been a suicide.

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Fun Home has since been turned into a Broadway play, which recently won five Tony Awards, including the award for best musical.

Bechdel says seeing her life story put to music was a visceral experience:

I was kind of blown away. I was not at all prepared to hear the music. … It was much more emotional than I had been anticipating.”

Listen to her interview below, where Fun Home lyricist Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori join Bechdel in a conversation about the play.

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