In the midst of his long-winded ramble to Belize, Louis voices a revelation central to the AIDS Crisis in America. He states, “That’s just liberalism, the worst kind of liberalism, really, bourgeois tolerance, and what I think is what I think is that what AIDS shows us is the limits of tolerance, that it’s not enough to be tolerated, because when the shit hits the fan you find out how much tolerance is worth. Nothing. And underneath all the tolerance is intense, passionate hatred” (Kushner 94). Louis’s speech underscores the fragility of the tolerant façade those in power claim to have in regard to marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ community. When there is the opportunity to exploit or neglect these groups to make them less powerful, this opportunity will most likely be taken. The Reagan Administration’s ambivalence toward the AIDS Crisis exposes this.
True political impact is made when minority groups band together in a refusal to wait for tolerance and instead assert and demand their own rights. This is something that Larry Kramer emphasizes in the article “1,112 and Counting.” Kramer argues that there is only one solution to getting the attention and assistance of those in power, and this is “numbers and pressure and our being perceived as united and a threat” (Kramer 585). While Kramer is correct that dramatic measures such as this need to happen to bring about change, he goes on to scorn gay men who are unable to come out. Kramer states, “I am sick of closeted gays… Every gay man who is unable to come forward now and fight to save his own life is truly helping to kill the rest of us… I have less and less sympathy for men who are afraid their mommies will find out or afraid their bosses will find out” (585). Kramer is absolutely right that there needs to be mass amounts of pressure put on political figures by the LGBTQ community, but he does not acknowledge that there are men who are simply unable to come out due to lack of economic stability or their own safety. Many of these closeted men are also dying from AIDS, but do not have the means to take action against injustice. The conversations about tolerance and taking action that take place in Angels in America and Kramer’s article continue to be relevant in today’s political climate.