Thursday, 24 November 2011

Historical Context of Growing up

Alison grew up in a small town called Beech Creek, one known for its population’s tendency to stay there for a long time, wedged between the thick forest of the Allegheney Plateau on one side and long ridges and cultivated valleys on the other. In Fun Home she tells of how in Beech Creek, with 800 people inhabiting it, there were 25 Bechdel families in the phone book. She also illustrates for us on one page how many of her dad’s relatives live in the same neighborhood. This reluctance to stray was oddly contrary to the movements of the decade.

Born in 1960, Alison grew up in the “Swinging Sixties”, a nickname the decade acquired due partly to the relaxation or fall of some of America’s social taboos. One of the taboos that loosened was that of sexism, a taboo that clearly relates to Alison and her dad, since both of them struggled with their sexual identities.
Alison was growing up in times which saw two revolutionary and relatable movements gain momentum: feminism and gay rights. Through the 60’s, the gay liberation was becoming more radical, and in 1969 occurred the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich, New York which are commonly thought to have been a spark for more radical gay liberations actions. The gay rights movement happening in North America held strong into 1979 when Alison finally ‘came out’ to her family. Would Alison have come out to her family about her sexuality in say the 1940’s? It’s likely the underlying buzz of the 60’s and 70’s gay rights and feminist movements seeped into her life and swayed her out of the metaphorical closet. She tells of how she became absorbed by literature about homosexuality, taking out many books on the subject from the library. In an earlier time, these books would never have been published or allowed and Alison probably would not have felt so confident in her sexuality.

Here's some info on the Stonewall riots in New York City as well as some images, czech it out! 

(Steven Twigg)

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