Photo by M. Sharkey for Out
With the adaptation of her autobiographical graphic novel Fun Home into a popular Broadway musical, Alison Bechdel is now being clocked on the street. The butch lesbian was recently interviewed for the New York Times Magazine, and she remained candid about her feelings about how things have changed. When asked about whether something was lost as "queer culture" becomes "more mainstream," she responded: "I feel wistful for the sense of being special. When gay people were rejected, there was this camaraderie and this sense of community that I don't feel anymore. I miss that. But I wouldn't want to go back politically." But it's her comments on the surge in transgender visibility and acceptance that is most enlightening.
In Fun Home, you wrote about becoming a connoisseur of masculinity at a young age. Today a young person like you would be more likely to identify as transgender than gay. Is the butch lesbian endangered?
I think the way I first understood my lesbianism, before I had more of a political awareness of it, was like: Oh, I'm a man trapped in a female body. I would've just gone down that road if it had been there. But I'm so glad it wasn't, because I really like being this kind of unusual woman. I like making this new space in the world.
Among lesbians of a certain generation, there's an ambivalence about the emergence of the transgender identity.
I'm not totally tapped into that world, but I feel like people are more open to the genderqueer identity -- they're trans, but they're not necessarily having surgery. There's less of this binary pull, I think.
Read the full interview here.