Duke University Fun Home

Duke University Students Refuse to Read Book About Author’s Gay Father and Struggle with Sexual Identity

Duke University Fun Home

Duke Students refused to read Graphic Novel Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, that tells the story of her secretly gay father and her struggles with her own sexual identity.

The graphic novel Fun Home is in the middle of a summer-reading-assignment controversy as Duke University’s class of 2019 gets ready to leave home for campus this fall, reports The Duke Chronicle.

Alison Bechdel’s novel tells the story of her relationship with her secretly gay father and her struggles with her own sexual identity

Incoming Duke Students, such as Brian Grasso, decided not to read the novel because the contents go against their belief system.  “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” Grasso said in a Facebook post about his decision. 

While some supported Grasso’s viewpoint, others disagreed.  Marivi Howell-Arza thought that reading the book might “open [one’s] mind to a new perspective and examine a way of life and thinking with which you are unfamiliar.”

The Duke Common Experience Selection committee picked the novel because it create open dialogue about “mental health, interpersonal relationships and human rights,” reports the USAToday.  

Fun Home won out over the other finalists including All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Red by John Logan and It Happened on the Way to War by Rye Barcott.

Grasso later clarified his viewpoint in an email stating that he might have read the content in a traditional text format, but the style of the graphic novel turned the story into something he considered offensive and “pornographic.”

Duke senior Sherry Zhang, who was on the committee that chose the book, knew that it would create controversy among the newbies on campus, and did say that the Facebook discussion Grasso initiated was “very respectful and considerate.”

Zhang also said that the decision to either read or not read the book would be another conversation ice-breaker.