In Angels in America we are exposed to a very real situation that occured particularly in the late 20th Century. Joe and Harper’s relationship could be reflected in many households often times with families who had already birthed multiple children.
With homosexuality being such a stigma, many members of the LGBTQ+ community kept their sexual orientation hidden. Some, like Joe even chose to get married to a member of the opposite sex. The term Mixed Orientation Marriage is used to describe marriages in which one spouse is heterosexual and the other isn’t.
The AIDs epidemic however forced many men to come out of the closet. Like Roy Cohn, when the disease struck, their actions were reflected physically. It was a complex situation to be in, being homosexual in a heterosexual relationship and to this day still remains a complex situation. This article done a professor of Iowa State University talks of the many reasons that mixed orientation marriages are maintained.
Fortunately more and more people are opening up about their sexual orientation. However mixed orientation relationships still remain. Countless articles and research has been done on the topic. Emily Reese speaks about her experience being the straight spouse. Nevertheless there are always two sides of a story. This TED Talk shows a mixed orientation couple and how they dealt with it from both sides. Another article by Jeff Levy shows the story of a gay man who struggled with coming out years after living with his wife and kids.
There are so many stories and testimonies and research that I could keep linking till Christmas. This is indeed a very complex topic and I cannot begin to discuss the nuances of these relationships. Some couples choose to stay together, some choose to divorce. This post is just meant to draw more awareness to the issue – to show that Harper and Joe are not alone in their struggle.