Alison Bechdel was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania on September 10th, 1960. Both her parents were teachers as well as Roman Catholic.
But that’s just the dry, unimportant information Wikipedia will tell you. The real story lies in Fun Home: A Family Tragicomedy, the illustrated memoir of Alison Bechdel. Though it sounds like it’s going to be a typically sappy closeted-lesbian-learns-to-accept-self-and-comes-out-to-family story, it’s more than that.
Alison grew up in an environment full of façades, cover-ups. Her father obsessively decorated the house in overly-ornate furnishings and made sure everything looked beautiful, that it presented itself as the ideal image of what it should be.
Her father’s desire to construct an image of his life in such materialistic ways was a direct reflection of his undesirable chore of concealing his sexuality. Alison resented this way of doing things, developing a contempt for useless-ornament at an early age. She didn’t want to dress up in the pearl necklaces or fancy outfits her father wanted her in, she didn’t want to plant flowers or dust his gaudy chairs. In contrast to her mother, who was an actress, Alison did not want to ‘play the part’ her dad had scripted for her.
Alison felt like she was part of a museum her dad assembled, stating “Sometimes when things were going well, I think my father actually enjoyed having a family. Or at least the air of authenticity we lent to his exhibit. A sort of still life with children.”. From an early age, she rejected his idealistic image, rebelling against his wishes and pleading for a crew-cut, hiking boots, and other various butch things. When her older cousins nicknamed her “butch”, she welcomed it.
In short, her early life was mainly an oppression of her sexual and emotional desires by her dad.