I’m Not Like the Others

The complexity of personality, morals, and relationships has been frequently highlighted throughout the play thus far. It has brought unlikely pairs together through friendship, romantic relationships, or simple tolerance, displayed contradictions between religious beliefs and the realities of life, and has skewed the perceptions of common labels. I believe that one of Angels in America‘s main goals is to portray the idea of similarities among differences and differences among similarities in order to combat the feeling of “otherness” that was so strong during this time period and even in today’s current social and political climate. 

One way Kushner achieves this is through the romantic pairing of Joe and Louis. In the last scene of act 3 of Perestroika during a conversation between the two where Louis brings up that Joe is conservative, again, Joe says “You’re obsessed, you know that? If people like you didn’t have president Reagan to demonize, where would you be?

Louis: If he didn’t have people like me to demonize where would he be?[…]

Joe: I’m not your enemy . Louis.

Louis: I never said you were my-

Joe: Fundamentally, we want the same thing. (203-204)”

In this,  the emphasis on difference, between political stances, and similarity, in their attraction to one another and recently leaving a long term relationship (yet still for different reasons), is clearly stated. I think this scene, and relationship, is important in showing us how crucial it is to look further than surface level differences in order to truly know people and form connections. On the outside, Joe: a “straight”, Mormon, conservative and Louis: an openly gay, Jewish, democrat would not seem to be likely friends, let alone each other’s romantic interests. However, though these issues still do come up at times, they were able to find and bond over their similarities in a more meaningful way.

This theme was so important during the AIDS/HIV epidemic because too many years were wasted and lives were lost because of this idea of “otherness”. With the common perception that the disease was only affecting queer people, or “those people”, there was unfortunately far too little action done to help stop the spread and combat the symptoms. There was so much emphasis put on the differences that the world seemed to forget that these were their friends, family, neighbors, doctors, teachers, servers, and so on. This relates to how Covid, upcoming elections, and other social issues have divided people in the present. However, through this play, we see the potential of relationships among what would seem to be polar opposites, which I believe is a key takeaway that has been repeated many times so far.

One thought on “I’m Not Like the Others”

  1. I agree totally with your point about the potential of relationships between polar opposites. Prior has a similar understanding of relationships when he starts to befriend Harper and Hannah. Both women are Mormons and are opposed to Prior as a gay man, yet both provide support for him in his lowest moments. With Harper, it is during their shared dream/hallucination when she sees just how sick he truly is. With Hannah, it is when she helps him to the hospital after he returns to the Mormon welcome center.

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