Alison Bechdel profile picture
Cartoonist Alison Bechdel shared images and stories of creating her graphic novels as part of UNL's 50 Years of LGBTQ Studies celebration. Photo courtesy of Elena Seibert.

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel visited the Rococo Theatre as part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s 50 Years of LGBTQ Studies celebration. 

Bechdel’s reading is the fourth event to take place this fall as part of UNL’s 50 years of LGBTQ Studies celebration. 

Bechdel first gained popularity with her comic, “Dykes to Watch Out For.” She later rose to prominence with her graphic memoirs, “Fun Home” and “Are You My Mother?” Her memoir “Fun Home” was developed into a musical, which won three Tony Awards. 

“‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ was my way of making a safe space for me in the world,” Bechdel said. 

Bechdel described her background in cartooning, showing drawings she created in her childhood, and the drawings from her more recent works. 

Around the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Bechdel began to paint a page in her calendar each day. After a period of time of not drawing, she was trying to get back into the practice. 

“The brush keeps me from getting detailed,” Bechdel said. “These drawings helped me get into a childhood state of flow.”

These drawings led to her latest graphic novel, “The Secret to Superhuman Strength,” published on May 4, 2021. 

Mary Lutz of Lincoln saw the musical version of Bechdel’s “FunHome” at the Omaha Community Playhouse in 2018. 

“I’m a PFLAG parent,” Lutz said. “My firstborn child is transgender.” 

PFLAG, formerly known as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, is one of the nation’s largest organizations for the LGBTQA+ community and their family, friends, and allies. 

This isn’t the first time Bechdel has visited UNL. In 1988, Bechdel presented a slideshow at the Union, and described her work and experience as a lesbian cartoonist to an audience of 24 people.

“I’m so glad there are more than two dozen people here tonight,” Bechdel commented. 

Some students at UNL are happy to attend a university supporting an LGBTQ studies program. 

“I’m surprised and proud that I go to a school that supports this program,” said Emily Cheramie, an undergraduate representative for the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Gender and Sexual Identity.

The next event for the 50 Years of LGBTQ Studies celebration is a lecture by Columbia University professor Jack Halberstam on Oct. 21 at the Sheldon Museum of Art.

Kaitlynn is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is majoring in both psychology and journalism.