"Baldwin is a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature. As a black gay writer in a culture that privileges those who are white and straight, he offered in his work a sustained and articulate challenge to the dominant discourses of American racism and mandatory heterosexuality. As an African-American writer, he ranks among the finest. As a gay writer, he occupies a preeminent place.
Long before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 helped liberate the gay literary imagination in the United States, he boldly made his sexuality a vital part of his artistic vision. Even more important, by insisting on honest and open explorations of gay and bisexual themes in his fiction, he made a sharp break from the established African-American literary conventions. Through such a radical departure from tradition, he helped create the space for a generation of young African-American gay writers who succeeded him.”