Though homosexuality functions as a vehicle for developing Stop Kiss’s central conflict, it is the relationship between the two main characters, rather than their sexual orientations which builds the play’s theme of identity. Sarah and Callie’s nervous and unspoken interest in one another creates tension as the play develops and the anti-gay hate crime committed against Sara becomes a pivot point for the plot, yet it is Sarah and Callie’s commitment to one another despite these difficulties—their relationship—which allows the two characters to develop both individual and common identities.
Identity in Stop Kiss: Independent to Mutually Supporting
Importantly, the work depicts two characters with independent struggles, struggles which are at least partially resolved when the two are drawn together into a relationship. Callie grapples with the lack of fulfillment she finds in both her job and her relationship with George, and Sara similarly finds herself confronting the daunting task of finding her footing in a new and foreign setting. In this sense, Callie becomes just the welcoming arms Sara needs in a new city while Sara simultaneously opens Callie’s eyes to what it means to have passion for a career. Each woman offers something the other is missing, and it is from this moment that the characters’ quests for identity become intertwined and mutually supporting.
What Role Does Sexual Orientation Play in Stop Kiss?
However, the same relationship which quiets the characters independent internal conflicts simultaneously breeds new difficulties for the women as a couple. Though their relationship itself becomes mutually fulfilling, their sexual orientation stimulates the work’s central conflicts: the difficulty both characters have in expressing their feelings for the other and the work’s climactic hate-crime.
Yet despite this setup, Son’s ultimate message seems hopeful. She seems to be separating the idea of finding a personal identity from the idea of being identified by others via characteristics such as sexual orientation. Importantly, the work’s hate-crime is the product of identity being imposed upon the two women. In that sense, Son’s work confronts the reality of the pain caused by the imposition of identity, but also optimistically suggests that true identity stems from something within, and something found in mutually supportive relationships, not something a label can even begin to capture.
Stop Kiss’s Resonating Message
Diana Son commented on her play in an interview with AsianWeek.com: “There was a time in history when everybody, because of their ethnicity or sexuality, wanted to say, “I’m gay and I’m different” or “I’m Asian American and my experience is different.” Previous generations, seeing plays like Raisin in the Sun, might first have realized that black people have their own culture. People our age understand that we all have different cultures, but most importantly we’re all included in American culture and human culture. The most important idea in Stop Kiss is about commitment, not race or sexuality.”
In that sense, though Stop Kiss is in many ways a play about identity, the work is fundamentally a love story. Son’s play thus ultimately develops the resonating message that finding ourselves alongside other people may be more meaningful than finding ourselves through socially imposed labels.
“Stop Kiss.” AsianWeek. 9 Feb. 2001. Web. <http://asianweek.com/2001_02_09/ae1_stopkiss.html>.