Two Diverged Worlds

Boy Meets Boy as we have said in class, one could argue, is a utopian novel. Within the dynamics of our society to be comfortable is to be straight. Boy Meets Boy creates a society where people have the ability to be fully accepted based upon their gender expression and sexuality. Luna, however, brings the reader to reality, showing the painful and tumultuous coming out story, especially in a society with preconceived identity roles. That is not to say that these young adult novels are dissimilar, I want to make the claim that these novels are similar in respect to the way in which the main characters create a world for themselves to exist in.

Paul, the narrator and self-assured character in Boy Meets Boy, tells the reader about the world he goes to, called “elsewhere” (Levithan, 113). “Elsewhere” (Levithan, 113), Paul describes as if “it’s almost like meditation, but instead of blanking myself out, I try to color myself in” (113, Levithan), and so going to this elsewhere, Paul knowingly creates a world for himself where he sees his friend Tony happy, where things with Noah aren’t complicated. He creates a world where everyone is able to be the person they want to be even though Paul has the luxury of that for himself. Liam, a transgender girl who is actually Luna, has a similar world to that of Paul, but Luna is in a conscious state. Liam, as his sister Regan (the narrator) describes, emerges at night as Luna and I don’t mean to discredit Luna as this alter ego, Luna is the true Liam, and Luna is the rawest form of a person. However, Luna can only be truly herself at night when no one but Regan is able to appreciate her true self. Throughout the day, though, Liam creates a covert world, the only place where he can think. Regan says here while talking about her mother and Liam “she found her escape by looking outside herself, while Liam escaped within” (Peters, 137), the “within” is the covert state in which Liam exists in every day until night inevitably comes, and Luna prospers.

The difference, though, with these two stories is that Boy Meets Boy is so ingrained and cemented in a town that is extremely accepting of all identities and even though Paul goes to “elsewhere” in times where he does not know how to interrupt his feelings or experiences, he still has the comfortability and familiarity to be himself outside of his mind. Liam lives in the reality of this world, he has a continual struggle to be her­­­­­­­­–Luna–and that is the difference between the hope of one society as to the actuality of the other.



Obstacle vs. Danger

Angels in America overtly creates a story of identities that are hidden, identities that are shamed, and identities that are longing for a truth in life. Kushner has the ability to let the reader see anguish, but also see happiness, in a plague that never had a happy ending. Gloria Anzaldúa, in her piece, Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to 3rd World Women Writers, writes about the oppression and the lack of notice that lesbian women of color writers, have to endure in order to be seen as a legitimate writer. In her piece she writes, “We don’t have as much to lose – we never had any privileges. I wanted to call the dangers “obstacles” but that would be a kind of lying. We can’t transcend the dangers, can’t rise above them. We must go through them and hope we won’t have to repeat the performance” (Anzaldúa, 1). The “dangers” for Anzaludúa are a voice for the lesbian women of color and the “dangers” for Kushner is the AIDS crisis. I want to make the claim that Anzaldúa’s quote correlates with Angels insofar as to say that those “dangers” are the epicenter of both stories. Anzaldúa says that these people have “never had any privileges” (Anzaldúa, 1), but it’s in the way that they go through those “dangers” that makes the intersectionality’s of these marginalized people similar. However, although these people are going through these “dangers,” there is a dissimilar aspect that has to be acknowledged. One group are seen and the other group is not; the ones that are seen, however, are not being acknowledged. Anzaldúa argues that the lesbian women of color are not even seen or acknowledged. Therefore, their voices are not even being heard or respected because they are such a unheard group. The AIDS crisis was acknowledged but it took a few years for people in power to realize that this epidemic was killing at a rapid rate. Even in the case with Prior and Louis, Louis knows that Prior is dying but can’t bring himself to stay with him. Joe’s mother, Hannah, knows that her son is gay but refuses to acknowledge, as she still thinks he has the ability to change. The characters in Angels have “obstacles” however they are still having to “repeat the performance,” they are still having to relive pain, and relive oppression. They are forever not being able to “rise above.”

What is Practical

“But somewhere in the night I stretched out to her and kissed her until we were both sweating and crying with mixed bodies and swollen faces” (Winterson, 111-112).


Intimacy, the intimacy of two people whose love is not found for approval is being separated. Separated through exorcisms and repenting to a lord that is only shaped through different modifications in a devout Christian religion. “The night” is this representation of when only the love, eroticism, and intimacy can exist between that of Melanie and Jeanette. “The night” is where emotions can run rampant, a place where darkness is a part of life for existence. The sweating and perspiring from their bodies and the emotions that trigger water to trickle down their cheeks is not just the intimacy that they have for each other; it is the agony that has culminated between them. The love is something so sinful and shameful in their church that it dismantles the love that could continue to be between them. The love has the potential to still be there and always maintain a stasis between them, but it can never again be an overt being within their lives. Love has overtly eradicated their life as people – as “holy” people.

There “mixed bodies and swollen faces” is in a literal sense their bodies entwined with each other, “faces swollen” because of the pain that is soon yet to come as the sun rises. However their “mixed bodies and swollen faces” further represent the idea that their bodies are not linear beings to the community bodies around, although parallel to each other, they are incongruent to the bible. Their “swollen faces” are still the same however; they are representative of the emotion. Not just the emotion that is transparent between Melanie and Jeanette but their swollen faces represents the tribulation, the shame that they have had to take on because a part of themselves is so neglected from a community that prides themselves as being holistic to a god.

Pushing further, what is this to say about the novel itself? I am making the claim that in certain instances intimacy is sinful, something that can be profound. Intimacy is something that we long for, and we want to feel it, and bask in it. However every intimate relationship is compensated for practicality, for religion, for a perceived conception of what life should be. Although Melanie and Jeannette’s love is deviant it is also true. The falsity that exists around them wants to dismantle this not because it is between two women but because it is that of love. Practicality is the outline of this novel and love is what is trying to exist between the lines.

Damagaed Body

“The problem, unstated till now, is ho/to live in a damaged body/in a world where pain is meant to be gagged/uncured un-grieved-over” (208).


We are damaged, however, we do exist. Rich is at odds. The “damaged body” is the women’s body that has been trampled and silenced by male hegemony and that pain has been “unstated.” Over time, as Rich wrote this poem over the course of two years (1983-1985), the woman’s voice is being heard – “till now”- voicing and acknowledging that the woman’s body is “damaged” and that the degradation done to the woman’s body happens in a world that reinforces that degradation. Therefore this question that Rich poses is inevitable because it has taken an immense amount of time – “until now” she says – to voice the pain that has festered within the bodies of women for so long. The bodies are already damaged, yet existing. I am making the claim that the reality of this existence will always maintain a stasis of pain, however, when Rich says, “meant to be” she implies that our world has the ability to change. That a women’s body does not have to be “gagged / uncured ungrieved-over” but that Rich uses these words to suggest that the “un” can be expunged. Although the history of a woman’s body has been and will be damaged, we can conceivably alter our world to where those bodies can grieve, and can heal and be cured. I want to bring in conversation of Audre Lordes’ excerpt from “Growing up Gay/Growing up Lesbian.” Lorde discuses growing up in NYC while being a black lesbian, and she says, “What I didn’t realize was how much harder I had to try merely to stay alive, or rather, stay human.” Lorde is the epitome of what Rich is adhering to, as her identity has been so neglected, harassed, and abused, that she is now trying to “stay alive” through keeping her body alive, and existing.