Tag Archives: Alison Bechdel

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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On Wookies and books and other stuff

Guys, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

Chewbacca and me. Abducted by a Wookie in Target of all places.

Chewbacca and me. Abducted by a Wookie in Target of all places.

This explains why I haven’t posted in so long.  It’s a complicated Butch in Spaaaace tale.

While I was away, my book got a really great review on the lesbian website Autostraddle.  You can check it out here.  Perhaps the best compliment any butch writer can get: “A smart and eloquent memoir about becoming butch, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender will resonate if you have a proud copy of Stone Butch Blues on your shelf, or listen to “Ring of Keys” from the Fun Home musical on repeat.”  That’s pretty great company, folks.

Speaking of Fun Home, just 15 days until W and I become official Fun Homies!

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I wanted to be this guy.

I just wrote a new memoir piece about my obsession with my brother’s Big Josh action figure.  Does anyone remember Big Jim and Big Josh?  Geez, Barbie was so lame in comparison.

If you like free stuff, I’m giving away two signed copies of my book on Goodreads.  You can enter here.  But don’t wait too long.  The giveaway ends Sept. 30.

That’s all the news for now.  What’s new with you?

Why I love Alison Bechdel and Courtney Love

So, I’ve had a rough week.  Didn’t feel up to doing much of anything and just squeaked by with what absolutely had to be done.  Read: I won’t get fired from my job.  W won’t leave me even though I made the world’s worst possible meals for dinner several nights in a row.

My heart hasn’t been into much of anything.

I did read and finish the brilliant Alison Bechdel‘s new graphic memoir, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama.  Not as terrific as her first, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, but great nonetheless.

If you’re not familiar with Bechdel’s work, she started out penning the lesbian comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.

In Are You My Mother?, Bechdel takes to writing and drawing to make sense of her less-than-perfect relationship with her mother.  She says in the book that it’s something that she has to do.

I just finished up the book this afternoon and thought that I would scratch out at least a few sentences.  Writing has always been a redemptive release of sorts for me, which is part of why I started this blog.

After reading Are You My Mother?, I came away with a head filled with questions, thoughts, ideas and a list of books and authors to Google.  I’ve decided that I need a psychoanalyst and must re-read the works of Virginia Woolf, especially To The Lighthouse.

Bechdel is not for the faint of heart.  She’s a majorly screwed up lesbian with both mommy and daddy issues, which might be why I like her stuff so much.

I call it the Courtney Love effect.  I typically have a strong affinity for out-of-control rock-star types like Love (bloody tampon-throwing Love, of course), because at the end of the day they make me feel better about myself.  Sad but true.  It’s the same reason people watch Hoarders.  It makes them feel better about their housekeeping and organizational skills.

So, reading Bechdel cheered me up in a perverse kind of way.  And gave me hope that I might be able to manufacture my own tragic-comic-drama novel someday.

But for now it’s back to bed and a new book: Helping Me Help Myself by Beth Lisick.  Thank the good lord for books.  And beds.