The Implication of Giovanni’s Room on Black Boy Queer Identity

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*The Implication of Giovanni’s Room on Black Boy Queer Identity – (8 phases)

presented by khalil anthony peebles

at “A Language to Swell In: James Baldwin, Paris, and International Visions”

The American University of Paris, May 26-28, 2016

*Note: Video presentation contains mature language and subject matter.







PHASE 2 – the self as running


Everyday begins with a black man on the run

As soon as the sun threatens to rise in the morning sky

Dark greyish blues

Orange red hues

Early to rise

Early to run

Just in case the polices come


TRANSITION: movement/humming


PHASE 3 – they say


GIRL #1: you know what they saying about that david don’t you?


GIRL #2: no, I don’t.


GIRL #1: I don’t want you no where near him. They saying he, well he like boys.


GIRL #2: where did you hear that. And if he like boys he aint gon be messing with me no how.


GIRL #1: girl, you silly. you aint going to believe this shit.


GIRL #2: what happened? Tell me. Hol’ up is this for real?


GIRL #1: david. Was. Caught. In the boys bathroom. With another boy. And he was (motions to sucking a dick)


GIRL #2: everybody know he gay, likes everything about a girl but the girl.


GIRL #1: the whole school says he gay


GIRL #2: so what’s the big deal?


GIRL #1: girl, he was caught with that gay boy, ohhh he is so nasty, I don’t even know girl, you should really stay away from him. They say, they say he gay girl


GIRL #2: you said that already.


GIRL #1: just listen you know Rhonda? she was smoking cigarettes in the boys bathroom and she say, she heard someone sucking on something, she say, like you know, a dick.


GIRL #2: GIRL!! Just stop. I mean, stop. You already said that remember? (motions like she sucking)


GIRL #1: why you acting like that?


GIRL #2: like what? I’m not going to condemn him?


GIRL #1: I know that you likeded him and stuff, so I just think you should let that boat or ship or whatever sail away, girl.


GIRL #2: girl, why we always repeating what they say? Always them over there, always saying something. They say, they say, they say….




PHASE 4 – when I am david


When I am david,

I imagine giving myself to you without saving every last drop of me for myself,

To touch you and not innately revolt, regurgitate – everything even my love for you.

to turn and face the wall when we have finished doing what to do.. and melt into the off white-ness of the chipping paint.

When I am david,

I see myself seeing you

Touching you

Wanting you

To orbit around you

Give completely into the passionate pain of your departure

Why can’t I love you when you are?

When I am david,

I can’t love you.


Whats the use of these eyes if I cannot see, use them for the good of the world,

For the joie de vie, the simple things,

You looking at me and me flying closer to you,

But my feet continue to walk away into a distance I know too well when I will never know myself


Transition: Breathing/ Deeply/Meditative



PHASE 5 – when I am Giovanni


When I am Giovanni I am drunk off love like rumi, like petals clinging onto stem, to be held, to hold unto, slippery hands,

Fists unclinched

Weak, strong, needs,

I need you like soil black dirt deep


When I am Giovanni I investigate your silence with my eyes and delve deeper into your escape, every time you leave

I anticipate you, or your gaze, drifting away.

Mouth agape, with nothing to say because you don’t need to listen to me ask you how you are doing?

When I am Giovanni, I miss you when you are here.

Enough space igive that I know how much of a fuss to throw, how well I get to know your smell from your shirts left here every time you go.

How I deserve more, but don’t know where to find this more that I deserve

How you know better but better don’t know you. Is it better that I no longer exist david? Are you better, david?


When I am Giovanni I tremble under your touch, cower by your gaze, pray for you to care. To be here, to not run away, but to not expect anything anyway, expectations lead to death. (X4)


Transition/low scream 



There is a cardboard box for us somewhere/

All of my joeys (who will never answer my calls either, ever AGAIN)

Will never forgive the fact that I learned to RUN + walk away then and still forever more… when they loved me


To linger is not too familiar | not so important | not what I am used to, not anything


I am old buildings dying under the light of day

To want you and want to go, at the same time

Testify each contradiction

On your arms, HOLD| you waist, HOLD| your face I kiss, HOLD| – space


Empty as my balled fist

Opened like my festering heart,

Complacent like my altruist love,


(to be sung)

there is no love, there are no names

with all of this that I carry – that U carry

and you don’t really want me either,



we are both running, BUT I move father away

like this, like always


water rains down your face for the last time|

for the best make-up kisses| for the next dark night alone| empty bed|

empty caress especially when you are right here in my arms





PHASE 7– my name is anthony


But I am not david,

My name is Anthony.

I am not Giovanni

I have no name

My name is Khalil

You touch me in my mind more times than you do in real time

And I like it the same (x2)


But I am not david

I am black

I am not Giovanni

I am closed doors, and windowsill like waiting for you to come home.


Farther than I have been from here,


I do not have a room.

Do not sleep in cardboard boxes,

With lovers who don’t answer calls as adults,

Who were never lovers,


I am not david.

I don’t know my father, I don’t know my name.

I am not Giovanni.

You cannot stay with me,

I am running, or I used to run,

I used to know my name, used to feel something

Used to be more in tuned with shame,


I taste you.

Used to suck my thumb too much,

Had a bump there, it was gross

(so) Stopped sucking my thumbs,

Still suck things

This is revolutionary for me to say

That sometimes I like to (motions to sucking dicks)

I am not david,

I am not afraid to be afraid, to be left alone in a big house,

Not going to sit here in this big house alone,


I am not david


I am not Giovanni

For I will not die tonight

I will not take off in flight,

Be your memory

Your mistake


I am not awake

I am not asleep


I am Anthony

I have no name

I am learning to see David and Giovanni in me as the same


The one who will die tonight, and the one who has always been a bit dead inside….


I am a boy

With no home


PHASE 8 – I am a boy w/no home

I am a boy

With no home (riff)


BIO: Khalil Anthony Peebles is a polymath. A multi-disciplinary artist working within varying mediums and media. His work investigates the relationships between the spirit and space, the black body, sexuality, and society, and the urban experience. Weaving together these artistic intentions through writing, dance and movement, acting, painting, arts-admin, education, and song; his work speaks to a diverse audience and varying communities.

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