Who Is Roy in Fun Home? Alison’s Father’s Double Life

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Who is Roy in Fun Home? How did Alison find out about the truth about her father and Roy, and what did it mean?

Roy in Fun Home was a boy who helped Alison’s father with housework and spent a lot of time with the family. Later, Alison learned that her father had a sexual relationship with Roy.

Read more about Roy in Fun Home and how Alison discovered the truth about her father.

Roy in Fun Home: A Double Life

Alison’s father tried to live a double life: one in which he was the perfect family man, and another in which he followed his sexual predilections. He would often take trips without Alison’s mother. He would bring his children and whatever boy was helping him with housework at the time.

For a while, this boy was Roy in Fun Home. He babysat the kids and helped Alison’s father with a variety of tasks. He accompanied them to the beach one year. After her father’s death, Alison found a photo of Roy taken during this trip by her father. In the photo, Roy is lying in bed wearing only his underwear. At the time, Roy was 17.

She doesn’t blame her father for his behavior. In fact, she wonders if she would have had the guts to be openly gay in the 1950s, or if she would have done exactly as her father had and made a life for herself pretending to be straight. Though discrimination against homosexuals still existed in the 80s, it was nothing compared to that of the 50s. For example, while she and her lesbian friends were once denied entrance to a bar because of their sexuality, the lesbians of the 50s had to deal with bar raids and cross-dressing rules.

Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust was a critically-acclaimed French novelist active at the turn of the 20th century. Also, he was reported gay. Like Alison’s father, Proust was obsessed with the beauty of flowers. 

In his book, Remembrance of Things Past (aka In Search of Lost Time), Proust describes a garden filled with beautiful flowers. When his narrator looks through the garden and sees a girl sitting within, he immediately falls in love with her. Alison suggests that his love wasn’t necessarily for the girl, but for her surroundings. Alison saw a similar trait in her father. She believed that part of her father’s initial attraction to her mother developed because she lived on Christopher Street in New York City—an area known for its open LGBT community.

Who Is Roy in Fun Home? Alison’s Father’s Double Life

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Fun Home summary :

  • What it's like to grow up in a funeral home
  • Why Alison Bechdel suspected her dad was a closeted homosexual
  • Why Alison believes that her father's death may have been a suicide

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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