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Fun Home, or: the Genealogy of Queer Stories

Autobiography has, in fact, come to a close. We just have to turn in some assignments such as reader responses to finish off the course. In this vein, I had my first complete experience with Fun Home on Sunday.

I had, of course, been watching the Tony’s when “Ring of Keys” was performed.

And I was, of course, captivated instantly.

Since then, I’ve yearned to see the show. But I didn’t let myself listen to it beyond the performance I’d seen. I wanted to see it. I wanted to be able to witness all that it was, in person, for the first time.

But, it has been over two years, the tour has come and gone in Boston, and I still have not seen the show.

And so, on Sunday, I sat down in Caffe Nero, script in hand and earbuds in, to read along while I listened. And I loved it even more than I thought I would. I have been listening to it non-stop since then. Every time I set out to walk anywhere, as soon as my earbuds are in, Fun Home is the soundtrack I gravitate to. In fact, I’m listening to it as I write this.

It’s had me thinking.

This is the kind of theatre that is important to me. Powerful to me. I want to be a part of the history of queer-centered theatre in this world. I want to be a part of the production of art that will be there to help guide and give hope to the generations of queer people to come.

Because I know that in my quest of self-discovery, I did not have formal education to help me along.

Nor did I have help from my family.

As someone who identifies as transgender, I am often infuriated to say that I hadn’t even heard the word “transgender” until I was in about eighth grade.

I didn’t come to terms with that part of my identity until I was a junior in high school.

I was very, very sheltered as a child. I had virtually no exposure to the queer community until I was in middle school, when I sought out information on my own, after hearing things that I didn’t understand from people at school. I mean, I didn’t even know my own cousin, who I spent so much time with when I was young, is gay until I was in eighth grade.

He’d been out for at least a few years at that point.

I had to find my own, very complicated, route to the discovery of my complex identity.

And it drove a wedge between myself and my family. One that is still a struggle to this very day.

And my gay cousin? He lives near here, in Malden, now.

He hasn’t been home in eight years.

So you see, I know how immensely difficult it is growing up queer.

When it’s written off as a joke.

And parents treat it as a taboo.

I know how that feels and how it affects lives deeply.

Art like Fun Home, art that is honest and truthful about queer people is the type of art that I want to create. I want to create something that will help people in the same situation that I was in. Because lost queer youth, whose parents avoid the topic like the plague and whose peers treat queerness as a joke, only have art, media, and internet culture to help them along in the journey to discovery and acceptance.

And that is something that I can passionately say is important to me.

I want to be a part of that genealogy of queer art.

That genealogy that is, to be blunt, absurdly small.

Sarah, Dillon, and Lucy’s exercise on the diversity of the SOT’s past seasons (which can be found here) finds that there has never been a play done that was written by a non-cisgender playwright. This revelation did not surprise me in the slightest. But, in conjunction with my participation in Autobiography (in which a piece I wrote was part of the final performance), with my experience with Fun Home, and with the season I built for my program notes project (which included a play written by a trans playwright), a fire has been lit under my ass.

It has been a long time since I considered myself a writer.

But, honestly? I have got shit to say. 

I’ve got experiences to write on, support to give, and hope to provide to the generations of queer kids after me.

I want to give them something inspiring.

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