How "Fun Home" Could Fix Broadway's Lesbian Problem

Chris Peterson

 I have high hopes for Fun Home. The Jeanine Tesori musical based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, received a ton of praise during its Public Theater run and could be a Tony Award darling. But much more importantly, Fun Home could also be the long-awaited solution to one of Broadway's more preposterous issues, an absence of lesbian themed productions.

I say it's preposterous because the Broadway community has been so progressive and proud when it comes to addressing LGBTQ issues. However when it comes to representing the issues that the Lesbian community faces, Broadway falls way short. I can't think of the last time there was a lesbian themed Broadway production. I also can't think of any time where someone has won a Tony for playing a lesbian character. Can you? You might say that LaChanze did for The Color Purple but Celia is actually bisexual, and if you don't think there is a difference, please say that to a lesbian.

Instead, in most cases, you'll find lesbian characters as supporting roles(If/Then, RENT, Falsettos) or they're the butt of unsavory stereotypes or jokes(Legally Blonde, The Producers). 

However Fun Home has the chance to bring a compelling story to 42nd Street with a lesbian character front and center. It's a coming of age piece, with particular emphasis on Alison's relationship to her father, Bruce Bechdel. Alison's coming out as a lesbian is complicated by the revelation that Bruce had also had homosexual relationships with younger men. The piece also traces Alison's progression as she discovers her sexuality, never more so than in the song "Changing My Major." If this feels like unmarked territory for Broadway, it is.

And while I'm disappointed that the Broadway community hasn't been more supportive in bringing lesbian centered stories to the forefront, I'm not surprised. If this blog has taught me anything, is that while Broadway has been progressive in some areas, they are still way behind in others.

So here's hoping that Fun Home can break through that proverbial wall. It's an incredible piece of work that I hope will not only get the recognition it deserves but also win Jeanine Tesori her long overdue Tony. But if it doesn't, then you'll know why.

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