Boy Meets Boy vs. Luna

To me, “Boy Meets Boy” and “Luna” are more obviously different for a few reasons. The first reason why I think they are different is because Paul in “Boy Meets Boy” does not struggle with being gay while Luna faces many obstacles to being transgender. To clarify, I see Luna in her story as being the main character of the novel, paralleling Paul’s role as the main character in “Boy Meets Boy.” Despite the fact that “Luna” is told from Regan’s point of view, I think it is much more accurate to claim that the story is more about Luna’s life than it is Regan’s.

Paul does not struggle being gay and does not face any outward struggles with his sexuality as he was able to run for the third-grade class president as an openly gay candidate and win over the support and admiration from his classmates. His family also never gave him any grief for being gay either. Luna, on the other hand, struggled with the fact that she was born in a boy’s body despite being a girl on the inside. I believe his internal struggle is seen most clearly when Regan comes home to find Luna in her closet in a failed (thank god) attempt to commit suicide after football practice. Luna begs Regan saying “Help me die. Pour these down my throat, okay?” Luna struggles to bring out her true self and is often met with resistance from her father who expects him to act like a boy and try out for various sports.

Luna’s struggle with her father is seen clearly when Regan recalls the incident at Luna’s sixth birthday party where her father freaks out that Luna’s only friends are girls. Tensions flair even more when Luna becomes upset that she didn’t get the barbie or bra that she asked for and she is pulled away and yelled at by her father for wanting “girl things.”

Where as Luna, the main character, faces burdens in her novel, it is those who are close to Paul in “Boy Meets Boy” that struggle. Tony is the best example of this where his parents become increasingly worried about him after learning that he was seen hugging Paul in the woods. The tension culminates with Tony admitting he is gay and demanding that Paul be allowed to visit and for his parents to accept that. Although they ultimately allow for this, it isn’t before Tony breaks down emotionally that his parents give him some leeway.

Overall, the focus of “Boy Meets Boy” is that of a normal teenage love story that happens to be about a boy who is gay. There is no struggle or coming out narrative which allows the reader to get caught up in the everyday struggles of teenage love. “Luna” on the other hand, takes dark twists through suicide attempts and family conflicts, resembling a more typical struggle with being accepted.

Despite these differences however, both books share similarities in that the characters that struggle rely on the support of family and friends to get through these difficult times. In “Boy Meets Boy” Kyle struggles with the notion that he is bisexual and is ultimately lost until Tony reaches out and calls him to offer him support. We see how much this support helps him towards the end of the novel when he states “The last couple of days I’ve been talking to Tony. We’ve been talking a lot now, and the funny thing is that part of me is glad that all this happened, because if I become friends with him and I’m friends with you, then it’s like the good coming out of the bad. And the bad isn’t really that bad.” Tony understands Kyle’s struggle and with his support, Kyle is able to accept who he is and to salvage his relationship with Paul.

This support mirrors the support that Regan offers Luna when she first says that Luna can try on her dresses and nightgowns in her room in front of the mirror at night. This simple offer helps to enliven Luna and is one part of her battle in embracing who she is. The biggest hurdle that Regan helps Luna overcome is being able to go out in public as her female, her true self. By taking Luna to the mall and supporting her as she gets comfortable being out in public as a female, Regan helps Luna overcome a major threshold in her life.

What is important about these similarities is that it points out that support for others is a universal and critical component for others to overcome their struggles. It shows how important other people can be in our lives and how sometimes we can’t overcome our struggles without the support of others. The fact that the support of friends in “Boy Meets Boy” is seen through many examples, the last of which Joni overcomes her funk and supports Tony to go to the Dowager’s Dance, shows that support is necessary. After all, if “Boy Meets Boy”, a relatively easy-going carefree novel, emphasizes this point, then it does show that we need to be looking out for each other.

Roy and Jeannette and the Power of Creation

Roy in “Angels in America” is similar to Jeannette in “Oranges are Not the Only Fruit” because they both claim to make their own “laws.” In “Angels in America,” Roy states, “Lawyers are…the High Priests of America. We alone know the words that made America. Out of thin air. We alone know how to use The Words.” Roy points out the significance of lawyers to Belize in order to highlight the fact that throughout his own life, he has used his position of power to create his own laws and truths. From his position of power, he was able to persuade the judge to convict and execute Ethel. He was also able to use his power to hide the fact that he was a homosexual and use that power to get whatever it is that he wanted whether it be pills to help his fight against AIDS or to have his lovers introduced to the President at a time when homosexuals were marginalized. As a High Priest, he created his own narrative and influenced the lives of others.

This is similar to Jeanette’s experience as she considers herself to be a prophet, able to create her own meaning from certain texts. She was able to break from her mother’s reality and teachings that homosexuality was a sin. She often used dream sequences and storytelling to create her own version of good, regardless of what the Church said. In the book, Jeannette does not see anything wrong with her love and affection for Melanie. In fact, she sees her love for Melanie and both of their love for God as fitting neatly together in harmony. She states, “I love you almost as much as I love the Lord.” By claiming this, she puts her love for Melanie on the same playing field as her love for the Lord, rejecting the Church’s notion that her love is a sin. Her affection for Melanie stems from the fact that Melanie has joined her religious community, a community in which Jeannette has used as a guide throughout her life.

Another part where Jeannette creates her own reality is when she and Melanie embrace each other and she wonders out loud whether this is an “Unnatural Passion” to which Melanie states, “Doesn’t feel like it. According to Pastor Finch, that’s awful.” Jeannette accepts this as truth, thus affirming her belief that her love for Melanie is not sinful like the Church says but rather wholesome and comparable to the love of the Lord.

The difference in this similarity is that Roy used his power to create in order to hide who he was and to harm others. The fact that he hid who he was is made clear in the book when he loudly asserts that he is not a homosexual, but a man who has sex with other men. He creates his own reality and denies his homosexuality based on the belief that homosexuals are feared and treated as second class citizens while he is an influential powerbroker who gets his way. Roy uses his power to create in order to hide himself from the world. In a world that oppresses him, instead of embracing himself for who he is he shoves it aside in order to stay powerful.

Jeanette on the other hand uses her power to create in order to accept who she is. Unlike Roy, she uses the Bible to reinforce her own life, not shun it. By comparing her love for Melanie to the love of the Lord, she legitimizes herself in a time when the Church and the rest of the world oppress her. Another differences is that as Jeannette considers herself to be a Prophet, she recognizes that others will reject her teachings and her ways. Roy, however, uses his ability to create his own laws and narrative in order to have others see and believe his heterosexuality. It is precisely because of society’s belief, though, that gives him his power.

Intersectionality of Race and Sexuality

I found the dialogue between Roy and Belize in the hospital scene to be very interesting. Packed within Scene 6, I noticed a lot of factors intersecting, from the struggle of the aids epidemic to Roy’s blatant racism towards Belize. Roy being a high profile New York lawyer and political boss, his whiteness and socioeconomic status reflect the hegemonic power structures of the second half of the twentieth century. As a powerful and bigoted white male, he embodies the power of the Reagan Administration whether it was through the systematic negligence of the aids epidemic or through policies that increased mass incarceration and targeted people of color. Angels in America highlights the issues that gay people faced through the late eighties via the aids epidemic as a result of the Reagan Administration. But as the Netflix Documentary “13th” argues, being a black person at this time was also extremely difficult as policies that sought to criminalize the use of crack cocaine were intentionally created to disenfranchise black people and keep them in jail. I think it is important to recognize this issue in America at the time in order to truly understand that these racist attitudes at the time didn’t stop short of action but led to the oppression of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Understanding this relatively untold story of American History, I believe, will give us more appreciation for the struggles of Belize because while the play does not dwell in detail about his race, the fact that he is both black and gay does create a unique intersection of oppression. And despite this, Belize still finds the courage to stand in solidarity with Roy as a gay man and spare one life from the aids epidemic.