Louis is a white, Jewish, and homosexual male with light colored eyes in the miniseries whose family immigrated to the United States. After his grandmother’s funeral, Louis does not introduce Prior to his family, saying he “always gets so closet-y at these family things” (Kushner). Moreover, Louis is shown saying “Reaganite Heartless Macho Asshole lawyers” when talking about the supporters of Ronald Reagan, and his voice contains indignation when he discovered Joe voted for him (Kushner). Finally, when interacting with Belize, Louis says that America is different from all other nations given that it has people from every race and thus is not defined by race. He also says that “there are no angels in America, no spiritual past, no racial past,” acknowledges that he is racist, and states that he believes most black people are antisemitic (Kushner).
Belize is a black homosexual that used to dress in drag. When talking to Prior in the hospital, he is in colorful clothing, holding a purse, and wearing earrings. When talking they address each other with ‘female words,’ and it is shown that Belize considers this “girl-talk” conversation to be “political incorrect” given that they gave up drag a while ago (Kushner). Moreover, Belize gives non-Western medication to Prior, and we discover he is a nurse. Belize also says that if he wanted to “spend [his] whole lonely life lookin’ after white people [he] can get underpaid to do it” (Kushner). Furthermore, during the conversation with Louis stated in the previous paragraph, he maintains a serious face and orders food as Louis talks, staring at him and later mentioning that some things Louis said were offensive. Finally, Belize says he does not know what is love and when Louis states that he is dying, Belize responds: “[Prior] is dying, you just wish you were”(Kushner).
Although the presence of intersectional identities in the play “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches” may seem trivial, it is in fact crucial in terms of today’s concern over discrimination and social equity, as it helps to portray a new view of America that diverges from the commonly used melting pot and shows discrimination through a new lens.
Throughout the years, one of the ways America has been represented the most is through the melting pot view, largely focused on immigrants. The melting pot style of representing America is connected to the idea that immigrants can be Americanized by getting everything to ‘melt together’ and create a common culture (Americas). However, the idea of becoming an American is also closely related to ‘whiteness’, as mentioned in episode three of “Race – The Power of an Illusion”, suggesting that for the ‘melt’ to occur, an immigrant needs to let go of other cultures and religions and melt into the white American lifestyle (Race). In the end, the melting pot view is not truly about acceptance of other religions and cultures, but about those other cultures and religions merging into one, losing their characteristics and getting the American’s. In many plays this view was used to portray an image of America and oftentimes a message about discrimination present in society.
In “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches” the melting pot view is not the lens through which America is represented. In this play the intersectional identities of the characters, especially Louis and Belize, help to portray America through a different lens. The theory that intersectional identities refer to is known as intersectionality, which addresses how discrimination and disadvantage is created by the overlap of multiple identities of a person, including race, sexual orientation, religion, class, amongst others (Alemán). It portrays the fact that all identities are important in defining a person’s opportunities and experiences, as each one contributes to one’s life (Alemán). We can see the intersectional identities in multiple characters of the play, especially Louis and Belize. Louis is white, homosexual, Jewish, male, and has immigrant roots. On the other hand, Belize is black, male, and homosexual. Simply because both of these characters are homosexual, for example, does not mean they both have had similar experiences and opportunities, because their other identities, such as Louis being white and Belize being black, also impact said things. Not only can some of these identities be seen, such as their race through skin color, others can be seen by their speech and the plot, such as the fact that the play begins with the funeral of Louis’ grandmother, who was a Jewish immigrant to the United States. These intersecting identities end up showing America through a different lens, showing how each individual has multiple aspects of their identity that makes one different from the other. This play does not define characters as either American or immigrant, but instead makes sure to define each identity of the characters. This portrays America through a much more complex and individualized lens, showing its diversity and thus highlighting the fact that each person experiences a different America.