On James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room and Staying in my Lane

I recently reread Jame’s Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, a novel that even though I know how it ends, always brings me to tears. I wanted to write this long post talking about bi-sexuality and homosexual and it’s relation to blackness and alienation. While David, in Giovanni’s Room is a white blonde American man and Giovanni is Italian, Giovanni’s Room is inexplicitly tied to the blackness and sexuality of James Baldwin.

This book always leaves me with so many questions, will David forever be wracked with guilt over his abandonment of Giovanni?

Will he ever find happiness and his true-self?

I always come back to critiques that declare David wholly a homosexual male. We know from David’s life that he’s had many sexual encounters with women, that he plans to marry Hella, that he was, until meeting Giovanni, happy(ish) with Hella.

But then I sit here, neither a homosexual male or bisexual male and am reminded that while this is an important conversation to be had, it’s not one that I as a black woman should be leading. I can talk to you about the need to feel acceptance. How toxic masculinity is a recurring theme in this book in how it impacts men with the idea that they are supposed to marry women and have babies and anything outside of that is the norm. This is a book about social alienation and while I can write about that from my perspective as a black woman – it’s not the same experience Baldwin had when he wrote the book.

So I’m going to post this as a “conversations I’d like to participate in, but not lead” because sometimes as a blogger, you need to know when to stay in your lane. Who knows, you might get a guest blog from someone more educated on the subject.

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