A short time later, Joe Pitt is working at his legal office. He walks into the bathroom and comes across Louis crying. Louis explains that he’s a word processor—the “lowest of the low.” Joe offers Louis a tissue, and asks him if he’s all right. Louis calls Joe a “nice man,” and Joe immediately replies, “Not so nice.”
Louis and Joe’s scene has a strange, flirtatious intimacy that’s difficult to convey in this summary. Joe’s tenderness and sensitivity—he offers a stranger a tissue—is surprising to us: up to this point, nobody in the play has been quite so gentle.
Louis explains that he has a sick friend, and he adds that Joe’s other friends, whom he calls “Reaganite heartless assholes,” have ignored him. Joe claims that he voted for Reagan twice, and Louis laughs about “gay Republicans.” Joe shoots back, “I’m not gay.” Louis grins and claims that Joe “sounds like a … Republican.” He kisses Joe on the cheek and walks out of the bathroom.
Louis doesn’t dance around the issue—he calls Joe gay. Joe’s response comes so quickly that it sounds almost reflexive (as if he’s so afraid of being accused of being gay that he has a response ready at any time). If anything, Joe’s denial only seems to confirm the suggestion that he’s trying to suppress his true feelings.