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It is 1985, Ronald Reagan is in the White House, and AIDS is causing mass death in America. In Manhattan, Prior Walter tells Louis, his lover of four years, that he has AIDS; Louis, unable to handle it, leaves him. As disease and loneliness ravage Prior, guilt invades Louis. Joe Pitt, a Mormon and Republican attorney, is pushed by right-wing fixer Roy Cohn toward a job at the United States Department of Justice. Both Pitt and Cohn are in the closet: Pitt out of shame and religious turmoil, Cohn to preserve his power and image. Pitt's wife Harper is strung out on Valium, causing her to hallucinate constantly (sometimes jointly with Prior during his fever dreams) and she longs to escape from her sexless marriage. An angel with ulterior motives commands Prior to become a prophet. Pitt's mother and Belize, a close friend and drag queen, help Prior choose. Joe leaves his wife and goes to live with Louis but the relationship doesn't work out due to ideological differences. Roy is diagnosed with AIDS early on and as his life comes to a close he is haunted by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg. As the film continues, these lost souls come together to create bonds of love, loss, and loneliness and in the end, discover forgiveness and overcome abandonment.
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