As I mentioned in class, I remembered reading a book titled Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran in my Gay and Lesbian America class freshman year. *Spoilers*: The whole novel talks about the way gay men search for love and eventually fail to do so and end up in mainly sexual relationships, addicted to hard drugs (such as poppers and heroin), and stuck hanging around gay clubs.

In Gay and Lesbian America, we also watched movie (the name of which I cannot remember) where the premise was a closeted Catholic gay man struggles with his identity as he has dinner with his friends (who I cannot remember if they were out and gay or not). In both these stories, the men end up unhappy. There is no hope for them. There is no love for them. This reminds me very much of Giovanni’s Room.

Jacques lives a loveless life where he finds no comfort in the arms of young boys that he pays to keep him company and sleep with him. Similar to Jacques, Guillaume pays young boys to keep him company and attempts to add Giovanni to the mix (unsuccessfully) and dies. Giovanni is left behind by David, sexually harassed by Guillaume, and eventually sentenced to death without David even making an attempt to visit him. David, the penultimate character, finds that he can never love another person again and ends up alone.

What is so interesting about all of these stories is the holding on to the staunch idea that gay men cannot find love. That whether they are actively looking for love (like Dancer from the Dance) or are not looking for love (the movie I watched) and stumble upon it (Giovanni’s Room), it is impossible to keep the love that they gain, it is impossible for them to love another man fully or for another man to love them fully, and love does not exist for gay men.

I wonder if these works of art are just works of art of the times. Giovanni’s Room was published in 1956. Dancer from the Dance was published in 1978. The movie I watched was in black and white, suggesting it came out around the same time as Giovanni’s Room. I know that those times were very much different from today, but, I’m left wondering why that even in fiction people could not imagine gay men being happy.

One thought on “Tragedy”

  1. Hey Rae’vonne,

    I have also seen this trope repeated so often both in film and novels. Not to keep connecting everything to Foucault (he is at the forefront of my mind right now as I’m doing my paper on his connections to Baldwin and Giovanni’s Room), but what you wrote reminds me of another one of his ideas. He claims that society (at least when he was writing in 1976) sees sexuality as repressed, something taboo that shouldn’t be spoken about. While sexuality may be repressed to a degree, he does not agree with the idea that it is entirely repressed or not talked about; he actually thinks we talk about sexualities, of all kinds, all the time. If we are actively talking about these things, or in this case, making movies and books about them, then they can’t at the same time be unspoken about. Like you said, it is interesting that there are so many different fictional representations of queer sexualities, and yet so many of them still end in tragedy. Perhaps, the ideas that we carry about queerness being repressed shades our ability to see happy endings for these individuals romantically.

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