Community Solidarity – Belize and Roy

Belize’s decision to help Roy Cohn in the hospital with the double blind mirrors the community unification and division occurring in the real world during the AIDS crisis. During their encounter in Roy’s hospital room, Belize and Roy trade barbs back and forth, from race to competence. However, despite his stated hate for the man, Belize chooses to assist Roy to the best of his capabilities. Of course, his position as Roy’s nurse gives Belize power over Roy. Instead of leaving Roy to die like a number of his friends have, Belize advises Roy to “watch out for the double blind” and to avoid radiation therapy (155). When Roy questions Belize’s decision to help him, Belize tells him that it is “solidarity”, from “one faggot to another” (155).  During the AIDS crisis, the queer community pulled together to support each other when the powers at be left them behind. Lesbian women reached out to gay men, providing them with services like haircuts when no one would touch them for fear of transmission. In telling Roy about which treatments to avoid and what to watch for, Belize plays a similar role by reaching out and providing support. Yet, Belize and Roy also represent the larger divisions in the community as a whole, especially considering access to AZT and other life-saving treatments. As a rich white man in a position of power, Roy is able to demand access to AZT in large quantities and actually receive it, while Belize and his friends are left to fend for themselves. Belize and Roy are foils of each other, representing the communities affected by AIDS and the opposing actions taken by society in support or against them.

3 thoughts on “Community Solidarity – Belize and Roy”

  1. Morningflower, I love that you focused on Roy and Belize’s bizarre relationship, I found it fascinating too. You highlighted the power dynamic between the two, Belize being in a unique position of power over Roy as his nurse. The role of nurse is interesting in this case because typically a nurse might be seen as a subordinate to their patient, caring for them but not in the authority figure of the doctor, but in this specific political climate the nurse has the most power: they can decide what level of care the patient receives, and directly effect their health or access to live-saving drugs. You point out that although Roy has power (“clout”) he does not have the valuable information that Belize does as an openly gay man – so in this way, being a member of a socially oppressed group pays off due to the mutual aid efforts and sharing of information. In another sense, Roy’s closeted-ness is literally killing him because his refusal of an AIDS diagnosis or appropriate care prevents him from receiving the right treatment.

  2. I think Belize and Roy’s relationship most certainly reflects the imperative solidarity within and between communities to defeat the AIDS crisis, and your point about divisions is rather important too. Expanding on the latter, I believe the overarching message about their dichotomy speaks to the dangers of ascribed power. As we have discussed in class, power only exists for certain groups in certain contexts. In America (explicit in real-life and in AIA), the society we have created privileges white, straight, cis men — which as you acknowledged, allows them access to life saving resources that are otherwise gatekept from anyone who doesn’t fit the description. Belize ultimately stealing Roy’s stash of AZT within a few feet of Roy’s corpse is an extremely noteworthy part of the play. Without any of the context of the story or knowledge of the AIDS epidemic, we are conditioned to think all stealing is wrong, especially from the dead, so this action in isolation seems quite disrespectful. Knowing what we do know, this scene really points out what inequitable power forces people to resort to. Belize redistributing Roy’s AZT is an act of service, as Roy was otherwise so selfish for hiding it away all for himself. To me, this emphasizes several things: how power structures are arbitrary, for once privileged people die, they have nothing separating them from everyone else; and how the skewed exertion of power is what divides us on issues that really pertain to everyone, and forces those deemed less-powerful to commit evils in retaliation to greater evils, making them at least somewhat justified.

  3. This post highlighted one of my favorite aspects of the play, Belize’s unlikely kindness towards Roy. When initially reading the play I fully expected Belize to use every ounce of his power and position over Roy, but instead he decided to help him and give him advice despite Roy’s continuous verbal abuse towards him. The two charcters truly are foils to each other, Roy using his power to hurt people like him and Belize using his to help those within his community, so seeing their interactions within the play were truly fascinating to read. What this post truly made me think of was how Belize helped Roy in his life while Roy helped him in his death.

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