In Fun Home, Bechdel describes Alison and her father as living in separate times. In what ways do their generational and geographical situations affect their choices? What historical factors led to the repression of gay life in the mid-century or earlier?
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Bechdel and her father are illustrative of the drastic changes in the LGBTQ presence in society. Bechdel, who acknowledges and accepts, though not without some struggle, her sexuality, was part of the generation that began to more openly identify as homosexual. This was not without its challenges; in many states, sodomy remained a crime, the AIDS epidemic was initially considered a "gay" disease, religious groups all around the country had gatherings and retreats at which the sole purpose was to "pray the gay away," and the Supreme Court refused to acknowledge any restrictions or prohibitions on LGBTQ rights as an infringement on human rights.
However, preceding Bechdel's generation, even liberal and "artistic" circles in society were zealously heteronormative; the threat of being "outed" was so great that when the government used this as leverage against purported Communists, some Americans committed suicide rather than have their sexuality revealed. Aside from this harsh generational climate, Bechdel's father is never allowed to geographically escape and explore the world or his own identity. He instead lives on a street with most of his family in the town where he grew up; the societal pressures to conform to heteronormativity would have been complex and multitudinous.
Because they matured in different times and because Bechdel, unlike her father, is able to leave Pennsylvania, their adjustment and comfort with their respective identities as lesbian and gay are nearly polar opposites--as is evident in the suicide of Bechdel's father.
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