Prior: The fountain’s not flowing now, they turn it off in the winter. Ice in the pipes. But in the summer…it’s a sight to see, and I want to be around to see it. I plan to be, I hope to be. This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all. And the dead will be commemorated, and will struggle on with the living and we are not going away. We won’t die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward, we will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now, you are fabulous each and every one and I bless you. More life, the great work begins.
Watching Rent made me realise why I find the ending of Angels in America so powerful ( if you don’t know, it’s a play in which the angels are not dead gay people, but, well, angels).
In the final scene we discover that AIDS has not killed Prior after all. Five years on, he’s not only still alive; he’s better than he was, and his friends are still with him.
No death scene;
No exploitative pathos;
No saintly gay man as “Little Nell” narrative;
No “yes it’s sad, but at least the scary queer is safely dead now” undercurrent;
No implicit confirmation of the queer=death equation;
In Angels in America it isn’t the queerness that kills you. It’s the denial of queerness.
One thing probably remains the same, though: the tears of the queer audience are coming from a different place to the tears of the heterosexual audience.