Alison Bechdel, Photo Credit: Elena Seibert

Alison Bechdel and Mary Bonauto have won prestigious MacArthur Fellowship Awards.

The fellowship is one of the nation’s largest independent foundations, and each of the women is contributing positively to the LGBT community, which makes their accomplishments all the more notable. This marks a great advancement as women and LGBT individuals are widely suppressed members of society and not often publicly acknowledged for their work.

Over five years, each winner will receive $625,000, stipulation-free, which gives the recipients full creative control of their funds so that they can be pumped into future projects in the way that suits them best.

“Those who think creativity is dying should examine the life’s work of these extraordinary innovators who work in diverse fields and in different ways to improve our lives and better our world,” said Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows Program. “Together, they expand our view of what is possible, and they inspire us to apply our own talents and imagination.”

Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist and graphic memoirist, taking memoirs beyond the written word. Her graphic novels Fun Home and Are You My Mother? explore her coming of age as a lesbian in rural Pennsylvania and her complicated relationships with her mother and closeted gay father. Bechdel is also known for coining a tongue-in-cheek checklist for evaluating gender bias in movies, now known as ‘the Bechdel test.’


Mary Bonauto
Mary Bonauto

Mary Bonauto is a civil rights lawyer and legal strategist whose long-term legal strategies—especially those that focus on apparently small decisions in individual states—have led to historic strides in the effort to achieve marriage equality for same-sex couples. She was lead counsel in the landmark 2004 Massachusetts decision that held that prohibiting civil marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional, and her federal case Gill v. Office of Personnel Management was an important model for the Supreme Court case striking down DOMA in 2013.


Information about the 2014 MacArthur Fellows—including biographies, videos, and downloadable photographs—is available at