Donna Ferrato is a photographer who documents both the lives of women and the effects of domestic abuse. In one of her prints she writes “I became a soldier in the war on women. The camera, my weapon.”
An image from Ferrato’s collection that closely relates to this class is Lesbian couple Jay and Kattain labor with their first child conceived with a turkey baster, a revolutionary act of reproductive independence unheard of at the time, Northhampton, MA, 1993. This image was taken in 1993, a time when two lesbians having children would have been a bizarre phenomenon to the general public. If we look at it through the view of The Legend of Auntie Po, this was a reality and a relationship that Bee and Mei were unable to have. Although it was uncommon when the photograph was taken, it was this couple’s reality and they were able to make that life for themselves rather than give it up.
One of the most obvious connections is between Saeed Jones’s writing and Ferrato’s The eight year old boy called 9-1-1 to report his father… The image shows a young boy yelling at his father for abusing his mother. Certain versions of the image have text imposed over top, presumably in Ferratos handwriting; this text provides dialogue for the boy; “ I hate you for hitting my mother. Don’t come back to this house.” A rather intense dialogue for an eight year old boy, we can only imagine what the boy has seen and been through. He has had to grow up much faster than we want to believe, similarly to the character that Saeed Jones writes through. Saeed Jones’s writings are through an innocent and fearful veil, while the photograph from Ferrato is showing the anger and frustration that could come from this as well.
Whether it is denial about sickness, sexuality, or reality itself; nearly every character in Angels in America experiences denial at some point during the play. In the first act of Millennium Approaches, we see Joe in denial about his sexuality, claiming that as long as he doesn’t act on his homosexuality it wont be a problem in the eyes of the Mormon church. Joe’s denial about his sexuality, though he addresses it in later scenes, is brought to the surface by both his wife Harper and Prior, a man he has never met. Although Harper is also Mormon, she doesn’t seem to have the same moral problems with her husband being gay but it does aid in showing the audience her denial about reality. Harper has constant thoughts about leaving for Antarctica where she believes she can have a new life. She eventually gets to experience this in what is a reality for her only to realize she had never left New York. We see Harper’s denial be challenged in ways she has not experienced before, just as we did Joe’s.
Louis has a different experience with denial, he believes his boyfriend is dying and rather than face what is happening he is in denial about his emotions. He attempts to cover these fears by leaving Prior and finding solace in others. Towards the end of the reading we have done so far, Louis realizes that he wants to be back with Prior, but it has taken him so long to get over the denial of his emotions around Prior’s sickness that there has been significant change in both circumstances. Prior’s denial is closer to that of Harpers, he questions his sanity because of his visits from the angel. He is not sure if what he sees and hears is real or if it is his sickness getting to his head and creating delusions. The development of each character in either the progression or overturning of their denial brings their stories closer, giving the audience a way of connecting each storyline and personality.
“I lie when I write that home is being a dyke in dyke community. Rather, home is particular wild and ragged beaches, specific kinds of trees and berry brambles, the exact meander of the river I grew up near, the familiar sounds and sights of a dying logging and fishing town. Exile is the hardest because I have irrevocably lost that place as actual home (p 32).”
Clare connects himself to nature and the impact that had on his life growing up in Oregon. In every part of the book we can see the special connection he had with the landscape and wildlife of the area, from the long hikes to admiring the moss and lichen. In this specific passage, Clare emphasizes his connection to nature using a repetitive structure, describing features of nature he values while explaining his loss of that connection in what he explains as his exile. He describes exile as “not only loss, but a sense of allegiance and connection- however ambivalent – to the place left behind (p 35)” Clare makes it very clear to the reader that he could have lived his life in his hometown, but had he wanted a fulfilling life, not hiding his identity, he needed to leave. It is a battle between the love for a region, and the need for a gratifying life.
He is shedding a light on the push for queer people to move away from their hometowns and their lives and move to more urban places where they know they will be accepted. It seems like it is a choice to move but not all queer people want to live in big cities, its the draw of not having to hide that brings people to a place they might not necessarily want to live. With being queer, there is an implied sense of having to forfeit your true home to live a life true to yourself, or forfeit your identity to live your life in the area you chose, not necessarily the space chosen for queer people.
In the first few lines of Thralldom, Saeed Jones uses hunger as a metaphor for desire. He says he “survived on mouthfuls of hyacinth,” which may not be poisonous in small quantities, but in the context of consuming for extreme hunger, would most likely be poisonous to the human body. It gives the idea of purposefully poisoning oneself for the sake of fulfilling desires. Running with the idea of hunger, Jones would not have been able to survive if he didn’t eat something but he chose to eat this plant that could poison him because at the very least it satisfied him. The poem is talking about the sexual experience between two men. In this case it seems to be saying that the speaker had such desires that it didn’t matter to them how the desires were filled. They took the fulfillment in any way they could, even if it was not conducive or practical. With alluding to the hyacinth, the speaker makes this connection of felling like you are nourishing or being productive to yourself in the short term, but in the long term you may actually be hurting yourself. I think there is also an interesting contrast with the idea of beauty. The hyacinth is generally a pretty flower and in many cases may not be seen to be dangerous, but can in fact be deadly. There is this same idea with desire and pleasure, which may seem beautiful from a distance, but can be truly destructive in certain circumstances. I think a lot of kids who grow up not knowing or figuring out their sexuality have a harder time deciphering this because they begin their experience a little later after spending that time figuring out and accepting themselves. This makes it easier to end up in a harmful situation that may seem beautiful because there is this desire and impatience for those experiences.