Clare gives a great metaphor for the mountain which is the societal patriarchy that crushes those who are marginalised and who only want to see the view from the top. The book raises great questions about how many of us have struggled up the mountain, lived in its shadow or measured ourselves against it. Life is hard no matter who you are people need to find work, do well in school and make friends, but not everyone needs to find their identities and actually feel comfortable in themselves to show people who they really are. The queer community struggles daily in just trying to figure out who they are but also figuring out where they fit when society often casts them aside. Clare does a great job of showing his own struggles and describing that people of minorities aren’t given respect and are often seen as weak, lazy or different and even when attempting to climb that mountain nothing on the way up is familiar. The people who are pushed down the mountain or even who aren’t given help to reach the peak find similarities with the other people who have been pushed away by society. It almost feels like why someone should who is pushed away so much even try to fit in should be with the people that truly do see them as a person and not an outlier. But this isn’t fair no one should be forced to find peace at the bottom and not be allowed to see the world like everyone else does.
The Netflix show Grace and Frankie represents the idea of the hidden life of people’s queer identification, two men who spent most of their entire life being gay and never being able to show it and living the “normal” hetero lifestyle. This reminds me of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel whose story follows her father’s secret life that destroys his life and his home until he reaches a point of complete emptiness when he takes his own life. The two men Sol and Robert who are both married with children has a happier take on what if people choose to actually live the life which allows them to love the person they love and not whom society forces them to.
Although they hid their affair for years and were always afraid of what would happen if people found out they decided that they had spent all of their life hiding who they were and enough was enough. Bechdel alludes to the fact that her father often had affairs with men, but it was in secret and his wife was often miserable because of it. Well, Grace and Frankie have a similar approach with the two men deciding to both tell their wives who it was they were truly in love with but even though it breaks their wives’ hearts it allows them to be free and for both parties to stop living in a life that was all a façade. Both parties get to move on and find a new way to spend the remainder of their days. Perhaps if Bechdel’s mother and father had this conversation then her father would still be here today or perhaps it was never an option for him but this is something we will never know.
Religion and sexuality
Struggle is a common factor in The Angels in America, whether it comes in the form of being a minority, power struggles or even a disease crisis. Throughout this play, there are funerals, broken relationships, identity struggles and dealing with certain death. The play covers the personal lives of multiple characters that have vastly different views and ways of life but is all connected through different aspects of every person’s life and journey as they progress.
The important factor of this play is the time it’s based in, the 80s was difficult for many minorities that differed from the “social norm” or religion. The 80s was a time when unless you were straight, white, and male you didn’t have power or respect in the workplace, so when someone from the queer community had to live in that society how can they feel accepted. The AIDs epidemic was a thing of mass panic, a disease that at the time felt like it could end the world; But who did the media blame it on, the already hated gay community. AIDs was portrayed as a disease that only was spread in the gay community and not what it really was and could be spread by anyone. Joe is a character that struggles with religion and his place in the world, as a devoted Christian he later finds out that he himself is homosexual and he consistently struggles with what side he must take. In act 2 scene 8 Joe calls his mother Hannah to tell her he is gay and asks if his father loves him and rather than respond she just says, “Don’t be ridiculous”. It’s easy to see where his families priorities are and that the religious life doesn’t accept the idea of homosexuality and if Joe himself is homophobic he would lose his family.
This poem talks about the idea of rural homosexuality, it’s interesting to see an approach from this perspective as many people from rural communities would never be tied to the idea of being queer. The rural rules that are set in place are often set in stone, they are Christian rules of people being strong, straight, and always following the bible. Jones states in his essay that he often felt the only way to write was to pretend he wasn’t him, to dissociate himself into female or mythological characters. This is the same idea in his poem, he talks about this man who is clearly gay but cannot accept that fact of himself. Jones says on page 42, “To realize you drank so you could face me the morning after, the only way to choke down rage at the body sleeping beside you”. It’s clear this man drinks to allow himself to be homosexual and the alcohol is what disassociates himself from his sober reality that he can never be true to his sexuality or at least not without the judgement of others. His father seems to be someone who especially enforces this closeted reality. The next line states that his father abused him for either being gay or the assumption of gay tendencies. Jones says how could he understand this man’s life, how can he judge a decision to drown himself to hide from his sober self when Jones had done the same thing. His imagination of being a beautiful woman so the desire of men wasn’t homosexual to avoid the fear of being murdered like the countless men he had seen killed because of their sexuality.