As we wrapped up James’ Baldwins novel, Giovanni’s room, a thematic question continuously came up that made me wonder. As the novel is placed in 1950’s Paris, we as the reader see consistent instances of David’s internalized homophobia with the ’50s societal norms. They appear as he begins to feel emotion towards Giovanni as well as reminisces on his past homosexual relations. Our class continuously brought up this idea that now, this internalization isn’t as prevalent in our society yet my experience says otherwise.
Coming out as bisexual at the end of my sophomore year was a milestone for me as I felt like I could finally express my interest in those who I liked. However, once I came out I felt as though my feelings were invalid. “If I’m bisexual then shouldn’t I find women more attractive than men? Am I really bisexual or do I just want the attention?” These thoughts pondered me day and night, making me wonder if I should have come out in the first place. As I got into some of my first relationships with those of the same gender, these concerns only heightened, was this really right for me or am I an imposter?
Though the class defended a point that our queer community has changed significantly since the 1950’s, through the evaluation of David and I’s personal thoughts it occurred to me that no matter the stance on those around us there is a prevalent stigma. David convinced himself that men we’re not what he wanted in life, that he was not truly gay, or that it simply wasn’t right. Similarly I convince myself that I am invalid, not a true member of the LGBTQ+ community, or other deprecating thoughts.
After reading through David’s pain and relating it to my own, his struggle made me feel like I wasn’t alone, as though there are others feeling the same confusion as I. It encourages me to emphasize to myself and others that no matter what I feel, sexuality wise, gender wise, or further that I am allowed to feel what you want and it is valid. David’s pain and compartmentalization of his emotions is an important lesson of unhealthy habits, and expresses how we should all truly be ourselves.