My now-deceased cousin Charles was a gay painter who gave this book to me when I was 16. Back then I followed him around like his shadow, loving his stories of travel and lovers. I grew to travel and thought of how no matter where I went, I took me.
James Baldwin's Giovanni's room, seems to be a story of this realization, of not being able to escape yourself; despite being in the free-est position you'll probably ever be in again. Too bad San Francisco wasn't up and running for a man in his position, back then. Nowadays the pilgrimage to self identity is the same by plane, and having lived in both Paris and Frisco, Paris (for me) is definitely the place to face oneself.
James Baldwin's David seems to be fighting a demon that surfaced long before his sexuality came into question. Between the lines I'm seeing a portrayal of Mr. Baldwin's 1950's America as the P-envying society of self-hate that he has escaped. He arrives in America's parallel universe, Paris; a place where he is accepted without having to reinvent himself.
I lived in Paris for 4 years. I went there with my pre-conceived notions, and was introduced to theirs. Being an American woman in Europe, men see you as the unfulfilled dame who has not been allowed to blossom. They see you as the accepting and unsatisfied victim of a cocky, selfish, binging male culture. They feel obliged to help you recover. to show that quality not quantity is the answer. finesse not excess.
Baldwin's Giovanni's room is a book that makes me think, that the plague of identity issues, sexual, societal, etc., is a monster empowered by self-doubt, a parasite in which strength of character can only defeat. You are your own worst enemy.