Boy meets Boy and Luna are very different novels. However, an unexpected similarity is that both novels’ have characters that are members of the LGBTQ community. Taking into account the similarities and differences allows me to make a conclusion about parenting. I think that parents do not realize how much they have an influence on the self-esteem and mental well being of their children. I think that if parents really want to help their children, sometimes they have to make necessary changes.
Boy Meets Boy is a story that mainly takes place in a Utopian town that accepts people who break gender and sexuality norms. With having main character be a LGBTQ indivdual who does not have to deal with the struggle of being gay, it can be argued that this story marginalizes the reality of pain, struggle and unacceptance that many LGBTQ community members experience. On the other hand Luna takes place in a realistic setting where Luna lives in a society that does not accept and marginalize people who break gender norms.
However, I argue that Tony, in Boy Meets Boy, and Luna have stories that play out similarly. Tony is ostracized and marginalized in his highly religious family and town because of his sexuality. Luna lives in a family with a dad that wants Luna to be the “perfect son.” However, his dad cannot even begin to have a conversation about the fact that Luna is different. I argue that these two novels present a similar theme of the need for a new kind of parenting.
While parents only want the best for their children, often times they do plenty more damage than they think. Parents like those of Luna and Tony believe that they are only protecting their children and teaching them what is “right.” However, they do not understand that the domination and suppression of someone’s true identity, leads to an unstable mental health and depression. I understand that some parents grew up a certain way and parents naturally use those similar parenting habits on their children. However, I think that good parenting involves being in tune and really listening to what the child wants. This way children of all ages, will be able to have the freedom to explore who they truly are, their identity, and self-expression–all with the support of their parents. For someone to be able to build a solid foundation and understanding of who they are, they need to learn that their individuality is important, that they have self-love, and that they have the support of their family. It is important for parents to make changes for the needs of their children because they have the power to change the cycle of self-hate and depression that many people who are LGBTQ face when they grow up in a family that does not support them or even accept who they are. Parenting that does focus on the need of their children will help reduce the number of LGBTQ individuals who end up homeless, depressed, and sadly ending their lives. While better parenting does not protect against all the dangers of society, it definitely will have a better and positive impact on LGTBQ individuals who already are facing other struggles in their lives.
The play Angels in America is very similar to Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit in that both works offer narratives of members of the LGBTQ+ community. The characters not only share how they expressed their sexuality, but also how their larger societies scrutinized and ostracized their sexual identities. For example in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, on page 88, Janette tells us about her first sexual experience with another girl. In Angels in America, the way that AIDs is mainly tied to the gay community demonstrates that the gay community is considered “deviant” and therefore, are the blame for a lot of the misfortune in the greater society (pg. 50-52).
However, one way that these two works are distinct, is in the setting of where the works take place. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit takes place in the 2000’s in a heavily Protestant community in England. Angels in America takes place in the 1980’s in New York City. Janette grows up in a small community in more of a rural area, where there is only one correct religion practices and way to live. On the other hand, the multiple characters in Angels in America all have different religion practices and views and live in an extremely developed and diverse city. For example, Roy does not really believe in in an all-fearing God, Joe is a Mormon, and Ethel Rosenberg is Jewish.
Even though these two works take place in contrasting settings, both works have the existence of a bigger society that polices, discriminates against, silences, and invalidates people who are labeled as having “deviating” identities. This is seen when Janette’s community believes that Janette is a lesbian because she has been “possessed by demons” and needs to be “saved” by religion in order to stay in the community (pg. 104). In Angels in America the gay community is very big, but they to live in secrecy by only being able to express their sexuality by picking up men in the middle of the park in the middle of the night (pg. 58). Joe’s Mormon mother, Hannah, and wife, Harper, both do not want to accept Prior as a gay man and expect him to keep living in a false and miserable heterosexual marriage. The fact that the play takes place during the AID’s epidemic, emphasizes the fact that the AIDs disease was solely tied to Haitian people gay men, hemophiliacs, and heroin users. These specific groups were denied affordable drugs and treatment. This speaks to the problematic binaries that society creates between what is “correct” and what is “bad.” Society creates norms and binaries as mechanisms for navigating spaces, people, and life. However, this results in the marginalization of everything and everyone that is labeled “other” and “wrong” that leads to the dehumanizing and silencing of identities, ideas, and people.
‘What does exist lies in the sphere of your own hands.’
I searched the story of Leviticus in the Old Testament and it’s basically the section about instruction on how to be “Holy” and how one should carry themselves and what to do to “live a holy life.” I think about how the word “Queer” means abnormal/unique and was used to shame members of the LGBTQ communities back in the day for being “different,” “wrong,” and “not normal.”
I think about the story of the prince who was in search for the “perfect woman” and the fact that the prince was the only person who could define perfection. It makes me think about our Eurocentric-heterosexual-patriarchal society and how Western and European countries were the ones to define what is “normal,” “correct,” and wildly “accepted.” This caused males, whiteness, heterosexuality, and Protestant religion to be the most praised identities that give people privileges and recognition. I think that the prince in this story represents our societies that try to define what is “perfect” and how one should live their lives “correctly.”
But the “perfect woman” in the story says ‘What does exist lies in the sphere of your own hands.’ I think that speaks to people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community. I think the woman is saying that “perfection” does not exist– in other words there is not set of rules to determine how people should live their lives. She is recognizing that everyone is different and everyone has flaws, but our flaws are what make us unique. I think she is saying that it’s better to be unique and accept yourself and your truth, than to try to constantly live up to socially constructed ideas of “right” and “wrong.” The woman is saying that if you are constantly trying to seek this perfection, you will die and never have it because it does not exist. Only who you are and your identity is perfect for you, that is your perfection. This connects to Audrey Lorde’s saying that “your silence will never protect you.” All these things are talking about accepting and loving who you truly are and to stand up for yourself and not let people out you down because you are not what society defines as “perfect.”
“She died a famous woman denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power”
Okay so these lines stuck out to me the most because it’s like they are opposite phrases to one another-one states this woman dies denying her wounds (not recognizing her pain and suffering), but she states that she got her power from this same denial. At first this made no sense to me because the way I have learned to process and live life constitutes me acknowledging my pain and suffering– that’s how I grow as a person, that’s how I recognize that the same things that give me pain, have given me power to be better, stronger, more beautiful, understanding, and accepting. So these two phrases were contradictory to me and I could just understand why she was saying this and how she struggled with this. In my group we tried to analyze this and we talked about what her power is. We talked about how she was an amazing scientists and how when women are in positions of power “they lose femininity” and they have to sacrifice so many things– for example a woman who is a doctor most likely spends less time with her child and so she suffers because she cannot be with the child as much and the woman has to hide this pain and deny her suffering in front of her colleagues or else they would scrutinize her. Then, we talked about how she did have cancer and if she wanted to continue to do research and be a scientist she had to deny she was in pain, or else she would have to stop her work because of her health. This made more sense to me. We also talked about the element itself she was purifying is so damn powerful and it did help her kill off some cancer, it was also causing her pain and suffering, so in order to keep treating her cancer, she had to ignore the pain that came with the toxin.