For the rest of Black History Month we are celebrating James Baldwin, who wrote:
“The American idea of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American idea of masculinity. Idea may not be the precise word, for the idea of one’s sexuality can only with great violence be divorced or distanced from the idea of the self. Yet something resembling this rupture has certainly occurred (and is occurring) in American life, and violence has been the American daily bread since we have heard of America. This violence, furthermore, is not merely literal and actual but appears to be admired and lusted after, and the key to the American imagination.
“All countries or groups make of their trials a legend or, as in the case of Europe, a dubious romance called ‘history.’ But no other country has ever made so successful and glamorous a romance out of genocide and slavery; therefore, perhaps, the word I am searching for is not idea, but ideal.
“The American IDEAL, then, of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American IDEAL of masculinity. This ideal has created cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys, punks and studs, tough guys and softies, butch and faggot, black and white. It is an ideal so paralytically infantile that is is virtually forbidden—as an unpatriotic act—that the American boy evolve into the complexity of manhood.”