Baby weaves the story of Toland’s accepting himself as a homosexual while at same time learning to accept black people as people who should have full equal rights. All of this is set in the south in the early 60’s. An interesting juxtaposition because both homosexuality and race were discriminated against. Toland cannot come to grips with his emerging homosexual preferences. He works extremely hard to appear and behave straight. Through Sammy, Toland becomes acquainted with Clayfield’s “seedy underbelly” of “beatniks, anarchists, homosexuals, negroes, vegetarians, drunks, and poets” as expressed at parties and at the Rhombus, a gay bar, and Alleysax, a black nightclub. At his first “underbelly” party, Toland meets Ginger Raines, a white folk singer/guitarist very involved with civil rights issues. She is considerably different from the girls he’s known, and they strike up a prickly but for a while satisfying relationship. Because of her, he starts attending integrationist meetings and gets to know many of the major black civil rights activities, including Reverend Pepper, his gay son Les. Toland starts participating in civil rights protests.
A must read. Baby should be rereleased with a more attractive cover!