The Bully Societies

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.