I found out that E. Lynn Harris died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 54.
Harris was known for writing about the lives of black gay men, a topic that didn't get a whole a lot of ink in society and in some cases, still doesn't.
His books came along at a time back in the early to mid 90s when I was coming out. It was a godsend to read books about people who looked like me and who came from background similar to my own. Harris' novels opened me up to a world where black gay men were not so invisible, but present to their friends, families and churches. I think I can safely say that Harris made it possible for me to be proudly black and proudly gay.
But he wasn't just admired by black gay men- in fact, what made him a celebrity was the response he got from black women who loved his portrayals of strong women who weren't acting like "bitches and hos." He respected them and they loved him back.
It will be sad to not read any more of his wonderful novels. But I hope the novels that he has written will continue to help a new generation of young black gay men to know that it's okay to come out- black and proud.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Harris.