Ned Weeks, a writer and activist who becomes obsessed with the AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) epidemic in its early stages and founds an organization to help gay men who have the disease. Angry, aggressive, and relentless in his tactics, Ned is criticized by most characters in the play, especially for his view that homosexuals should refrain from having sex until a cure is found for AIDS. In spite of his offensive behavior, Ned is the hero of the play. It is clear that he is upset by the deaths of young, gay men and that he is committed to warning those who have not yet been infected, no matter how much he must fight or what price he must pay.
Ben Weeks, Ned’s straight brother, a partner in a prestigious New York City law firm. Ned needs Ben’s help in setting up the organization for gay men, support Ben is reluctant to give because he does not want his name or the name of his firm associated with homosexual causes. When Ben refuses to be on the organization’s board of directors, Ned vows not to speak to him until Ben can accept him as his “healthy equal.” The brothers remain estranged until Felix’s death at the end of the play.
Emma Brookner, a physician who has devoted her practice to helping gay men infected with the virus eventually identified as AIDS. Besides being a pioneer in the treatment of AIDS, Emma spearheads early...
(The entire section is 532 words.)