by Jarrod Jones. It’s a comic book that had the distinction of being a New York Times bestseller for two straight weeks. It’s a graphic memoir that was honored with two nominations and one win from the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards and a win from the Stonewall Book Award. It’s a non-fiction piece of startling humanity that’s been adapted into an Off-Broadway musical.
Now Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is the subject of the most perplexing controversy imaginable.
In a news item so achingly trite you can almost feel the eyes of a million people rolling into the back of their heads, the Duke Chronicle has published a piece on the reliably dubious antics of Duke University’s student body, only this time the moral indignation is coming from within the campus rather than all around it. (And you should definitely click that hyperlink, if only to experience one of the most laughably inappropriate ledes you’ll read all year.)
Fun Home, which has been lauded as an important piece on human sexuality by the likes of The Guardian, The A.V. Club, and Time, was a selection for Duke’s summer reading program, and members from its conservative student body reacted in precisely the manner that you’d expect.
What started as an innocuous and otherwise earnest post on Duke’s Class of 2019 Facebook page — written by an incoming freshman by the name of Brian Grasso, who stated that he wouldn’t participate in the assignment because of the book’s “graphic visual depictions of sexuality,” and that he “would have to compromise [his] personal Christian moral beliefs to read it” — quickly manifested into the hulking, destructive golem that most disagreements over religious freedom are wont to do.
“What kind of school am I going to?” Duke freshman Elizabeth Snyder-Mounts pondered, throwing far more shade on the elite private school than was probably necessary.
Grasso further explained his quandary: “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me,” almost as much as it certainly surprised the rest of us who also never thought the university to be a haven for amoral, debauched liberalism… but, hey. It is 2015.
Bechdel’s work is an unblinking chronicle of her complex relationship with her father and her issues with sexuality, two things that are presumably never discussed in graphic detail within Christianity’s preferred tome, perennial New York Times bestseller, “The Bible”.