Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 203
In The Boys in the Band, an affluent, thirty-year-old gay man named Michael has invited a number of his homosexual friends to his stylish New York City apartment for a birthday party honoring their gay Jewish friend, Harold. The group includes Donald; Michael’s present lover; Emory, a portrait of the effeminate gay stereotype; Hank, once married and the father of two children but now living with Larry; Bernard, a gay black man; and a male prostitute who is Emory’s birthday gift to Harold. Michael’s former college friend, Alan, who is married and hostile toward homosexuals, crashes this party. Alan soon recognizes the stereotypical Emory as a homosexual, is offended by his behavior, and punches him; however, Alan is later surprised to discover that the others also are gay, especially Hank, who Alan thinks is heterosexual. The action of the play culminates in a party game that Michael designs; each guest must telephone the one person he truly believes he has loved and confess his deepest feelings. Michael intends for this game to reveal Alan’s latent homosexuality, but Alan’s telephone call goes to his wife. The play ends with Harold characterizing Michael as a gay man consumed by self-loathing.