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Alison Bechdel responds to ‘Fun Home’ uproar in South Carolina

alison bechdelFun Home creator Alison Bechdel calls a vote by South Carolina to cut funding for a university that recommended her acclaimed 2006 memoir as part of a summer reading program “sad and absurd.”

The South Carolina House Ways and Means committee voted 13-10 last week to cut the College of Charleston’s budget by $52,000, the amount the school spent last summer on The College Reads!, an annual campus-wide initiative designed to promote discussion of “challenging” books among faculty, staff and students. The choice of the gay-themed Fun Home drew fire in July from a conservative Christian group that labeled the graphic novel as “pornographic,” a charge that spilled over into last week’s House debate.

Fun Home details Bechdel’s childhood with her closeted gay father, his apparent suicide and her own coming out as a lesbian.

“I’m very grateful to the people who taught my book at the College of Charleston. It was brave of them to do that given the conservative pressures they’re apparently under,” the cartoonist said in a statement provided by her publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to Publishers Weekly. “I made a visit to the school last fall for which they also took some flak, but to their great credit they didn’t back down. It’s sad and absurd that the College of Charleston is facing a funding cut for teaching my book — a book which is after all about the toll that this sort of small-mindedness takes on people’s lives.”

Although the funding could be restored March 10 when the full House considers the budget, the pressure from legislators and other sources already may have created a chilling effect.

In a statement posted on The College Reads! website, the program’s committee reveals that while it selected David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers on Dec. 9 for this summer’s edition, informed the provost, signed a contract for the author to appear on campus and ordered the books, “Unlike in previous years, the book has not been announced — presumably at the direction of the Board of Trustees — and a stop payment was issued leaving in limbo the 4,000 books in our possession. The committee has received no explanation for this action.”

Legislators also targeted the University of South Carolina Upstate, which saw $17,142 trimmed from its budget for selecting Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, about South Carolina’s first gay and lesbian radio show.

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Comments

9 Comments

i don’t have words to express how i feel about this.

nope, no words.

It seems that I am to be forever cursed to be embarrassed by the state that I live in.

Not all of us that live in SC are idiots, just the people that tend to get elected.

Cynthia b/ Gilliam

February 27, 2014 at 9:23 am

The Lord God Almighty made us everyone! Who are you & who are we to question? We are assigned a purpose in this spectacular universe & I, for one, am eager to take my chances with Almighty God!

Heh, “god”…

With closeted gay men throughout it’s Republican political leadership, any discussion of this type of sexuality is very threatening to people here in SC. I’ve never understood why this matters the way it does when everyone seems to know who is in the closet down here.

You know every time a conservative Christian group declares something is pornographic I get the urge to actually read so it is good that Fun House is available in my local library in Johnstone Scotland, on the same shelves as everyone from Armistead Maupin to Anne Rice and Alan Moore, just imagine a little old lady looking at in next to a new mills and boon and thinking this is a comic wonder if my granddaughter would like it she reads mickey mouse clubhouse magazine, ok probably not that but i’m glad I live in such a free thinking town where I can pick this up alongside a book on mi6 killing Diana without being weird, although given I know a witch with a Chihuahua and had a childhood friend killed by a serial killer the being a bit weird boat has probably sailed.

Good thing we have separation of church and state in this country, otherwise…..

You know, whenever I read or hear stories that center on Conservative Christian groups making statements like this one or making decisions like the one they’re doing here, it only proves one thing to me. This group of Christians must be the WEAKEST of any faith in the world.

Just how weak are their beliefs and faith that a graphic novel (a very good graphic novel BTW, I own it and recommend it to anyone who wishes to read an excellent book) should shake their convictions? This entire situation tells me more and more how weak the Christian faith is.

IF they TRUELY believed, if nothing could shake their faith, they wouldn’t give Alison or her book a second thought.

How about a fund raiser to help College of Charleston recoup what the bigots in Columbia cut from their funding. What better way to support courage then to give back to those that had that courage. I have a feeling that there would be those that would be willing to give, than just in Charleston or the state. I live in Austin, TX and I suspect that there are people here that would jump at the chance to take action.

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