Boy Meets Boy and Luna are two clearly different texts. In Boy Meets Boy we are presented with a utopian society. Everyone is accepting of the LGBTQ community and the “norm” does not just refer to heteronormative, cis-gendered, straight people. In Luna, however, we are faced with an arguably more realistic world in which our story takes place. This world follows strict and at times oppressive gender roles. Any break in traditional gender roles, such as the mother of the family being the main breadwinner, is met with extreme discomfort and tension. These two world could not be more opposite in terms of shaping the experiences of the young LGBTQ adults living in them.
However, the two novels do share an obvious similarity; both stories have a transgender character. In Boy Meets Boy we are introduced to Infinite Darlene, a confident transgender woman who wears fabulous outfits to school and is the quarterback of the school football team. In Luna we have Liam/Luna who presents as a boy by day, only donning girl’s clothing and a wig in the safety of the night. It is interesting to note how the two different worlds the authors have created have shaped these characters. Infinite Darlene is loud and proud, accepted by (almost) everyone at her school and unafraid to strut down the halls as her true self. Liam/Luna however only wants to blend in, to pass or be unrecognizably trans. I think it’s interesting to examine the influence that acceptance, or lack thereof, can have on how a person expresses their identity, or even how they desire to express themselves. It would be fascinating to transplant Infinite Darlene into Liam/Luna’s world and vice versa and see how their self-expression changed.
Susan Sontag lays out for us fifty-eight notes on camp, attempting to conjure up the difficult to grasp and almost elusive concept of camp. In very broad terms, I see camp as the extreme dramatization (and often heightened irony) of a moment in order to highlight some aspect of that moment. It is particularly useful in situations dealing with a serious or complex situation. Angels in America,” a play dealing with a myriad of difficult topics such as the AIDs crisis and the struggle that members of the LGBTQ community faced in the 1990s, camp is heavily utilized. The first scene that I found to be clearly campy in the play was act one, scene seven, where Harper’s hallucination and Prior’s dream converge. This scene is particularly important because Harper and Prior are able to provide one another new insight into themselves that the characters they typically interact with have not been able to offer.
Perhaps one of the most defining characteristics of camp is a sort of acknowledgment of the absurdity of the moment. We see this acknowledgement in the interactions between Harper and Prior, who both seem confused by the other’s presence in their personal imaginations. This scene is so infused with camp that we even see elements of it in the stage direction, where it is conceded that the fact that these two characters are meeting on this strange ethereal plane is in fact “bewildering” (36.) However, without this eccentric, absurd, and campy scene, these two characters would not have crossed paths. Infusing the play with these heightened, campy scenes allows for deeper revelations by the characters and interesting overlaps and relationships between characters whose plot lines would not necessarily cross otherwise. The element of camp in “Angels in America” both facilitates these moments of recognition and understanding, as well as highlights them for the audience as moments of particular importance.
What constitutes a problem is not the thing, or the environment where we find the thing, but the conjunction of the two; (45)
This line stood out to me in particular because of the way it relates to our discussion of identity and queer theory. In context, she’s speaking in terms of her sampler and how it makes more sense in Elsie’s house than in her sewing class. However, I think that this concept is really interesting when applied to the idea of identity. Take for instance a lesbian couple. According to Winterson, there is nothing inherently wrong with the couple themselves. Place them in a Greek Orthodox church, however, and issues arise. However, if you take a devout Greek Orthodox and place him in a lesbian dive bar in the West Village and issues are bound to arise there too. Perhaps then it is environment that colors our perception of good and bad, right and wrong. If something can be right in one context and wrong in another, is there such thing as something that is inherently, at its core, good? And for that matter, can something be inherently, at its core, bad? This might be a stretch, but this then leads me to explore the concept of gender. I think that Winterson’s words here can be used to argue that everything, not just goodness and badness, is contextual and situational. Therefore, gender, sexuality, and everything else that we as a society have forced into black and white boxes could be argued to be entirely situational, rather than inherent.
“She died a famous woman denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power” (p. 135)
What initially caught my eye in this stanza was the juxtaposition of her wounds and her power and how they are both born from the same source. After reading the subsequent poems in the book, it becomes apparent that the author almost always mentions suffering when mentioning power and vice versa. The two seem inherently linked. My first thought was to relate this to something that we’ve been discussing in my Women and Gender Studies class. In the 19th century, women were expected to be domestic and submissive to their husbands, tethered to the home and hearth. However, many of the women of that time actually claimed that the home was where they felt most powerful, where they were in charge of shaping the men of the industrial revolution and therefore the future of the country. Their home was both their oppressor and their source of power. I also found the repetition of the phrase “denying her wounds” striking. This denial is clearly important; perhaps we (as women) must deny our wounds, or our weaknesses, in order to achieve power in the misogynistic power dynamic we exist in? Furthermore, perhaps as women gain more power, we become that much more exposed and open to attack. Female politicians, for example, are held to a much higher degree of scrutiny and mudslinging than male politicians are. Perhaps as women ascend to higher positions of power, they are exposed to a whole new slew of wounds and attacks. Yet in order to maintain a position of power, or even gain more power, women must deny that the very thing that gives them power is killing them.