“I'm not the boy for you”: Images of African American male homosexuality
This dissertation examines literary, cinematic, and photographic images of African American male homosexuality in light of religious, gender, sexual, and racial constraints. The reality of homosexuality is substantiated in Chapter 1 as the subtext in Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain with John's homoerotic attraction to Elisha. In the same way that the novel proclaims the gospel of Christ, a declaration of the reality of homosexual desire is also proclaimed. Moreover, the novel challenges the traditional conversion experience in that the young protagonist is not “cured,” “healed,” or “delivered” of this desire but is restored to confront the reality of his homosexual desire and claim the promise of salvation.
In Chapter 2, Baldwin's strategy to normalize homosexual desire despite the forces of masculinity is inspected His concept of sexuality is based on a fluid sexual identity rather than an exclusively fixed heterosexual or homosexual identity. As such, Baldwin's goal to normalize homosexuality by representing it as one form of sexual expression on a continuum at a given time rather than always the deviant and polarized opposite of heterosexuality is thematically examined.
Chapter 3 explores how the intersection of race and the subject of masculinity convene to intensify black male homosexuality in the United States in light of racism and declarations by some in the black community that blackness does not include homosexuality because it is behavior learned from whites, that it is a form of self-hatred, and that it is traitorous to the African American community.
Chapter 4 examines how the black male body has been central to the cultural production of homosexuality in American culture. The chapter inspects the racialization of homosexual desire with interracial pairings in literature, film, and photography. The chapter questions how the erotic desire for the black male body in the art of white mainstream culture relates to homoerotic images of the black male body offered by white gay artists to invite homoerotic desire. An inspection of photographs of black males that invite homoerotic desire by photographers of African descent complete the analysis of the homoerotic presentation of the black male body.