What Fun Home taught me about being gay

When I was coming out 10 plus years ago, I was pretty sure I was doing it all wrong. Not so much the coming out part, but the being gay part.

Looking for guidance, I sent letters and e-mails to a variety of “accessible” celebrity lesbians. And Barney Frank. By “accessible,” I mean the rung below the power lesbians. The writers and activists who I thought might actually write me back. I asked everyone to identify the single most important thing that a gay person can do to further empower the community.

Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel

I wrote to cartoonist Alison Bechdel, among other mildly famous lesbians. Back then, she was best known for her Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip. The magic that is Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home wouldn’t happen until 2006.

I can’t find Bechdel’s response, but I remember her sending one.

Everyone pretty much gave the same answer. Be yourself. Be out. It wasn’t the sexy revelation that I was looking for.

W and I often talk about how her experience as a gay person is different than mine. When I walk down the street with my short hair and cargo pants and baseball cap, it’s a political act. I’m out for the world to see in all of my boy/girl glory. Not so much for W. Unless I’m with her.

Flip to last Saturday and W and I are in New York City watching Fun Home the musical on Broadway.

Ring of Keys

Ring of Keys

I’ve heard the butch anthem “Ring of Keys” perhaps a hundred times.

But sitting there in the theater when the luncheonette doorbell rings and Sydney Lucas belts out “Ring of Keys,” I had an epiphany. I had been doing it right all along. With my short hair, dungarees and my lace-up boots.

Because that’s the best thing any of us can do. Be yourself. Be out.

It takes courage. And practice.

But if I can do it, anyone can.

I’ll blog some more on Fun Home, but wanted to get these thoughts down before they left me.

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18 responses to “What Fun Home taught me about being gay

  1. I love that you wrote to Barney Frank.
    Be brave!

    • I know. It was like, I know, I’ll write to a bunch of lesbians AND Barney Frank. Weird. He wrote me a very nice letter, which I still have today. I get it out every once in awhile and read it.

  2. I’ve never seen the musical, but I adore Dykes to Watch Out For and Fun Home. I’ve read my copy of The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For so many times the book is breaking and I have most of it memorized.

  3. RedHeadedBookLover

    This is such an inspirational post. And also very important! Well done for writing this amazing blog post and also an amazing blog! (Which I have been reading a lot!)

  4. Coming out in the days before the internet are radically different from coming out in the days since.

  5. Ah! Don’t do that! You start off with sweet lighthearted reminiscence and then you have me crying at my computer screen!! Love this. So much. SO MUCH.

  6. Great post. And the Ring of Keys song is awesome.

    • Thanks, MV. That means a lot coming from you. I can listen to “Ring of Keys” again and again and again. Must say I am loving “Telephone Wire ” right now. Really, all of the songs are so good.

  7. as ridiculous as it gets, “be yourself” is the most profound thing one can experience, understand and come to terms with.

  8. Life doesn’t complicate, we, ourselves, complicate life. No one can be you and we create our own complicity…whether it is to fit in or stand out like peacock plumes, our own perception of who we are comes from within..and being uniquely you is a gift to yourself as well as the world.

  9. Looking forward to your further comments on Fun Home, especially for those of us who have quite the wait until we can see the show. Great post.

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