Tuesday, August 4, 2009

E. Lynn Harris; The Passing Of A Brilliant Author

I was very troubled to hear about the passing of Mr. Harris. To me he was more than just an author. He helped me see that being an out gay black male was possible. The way I first discovered his writing was kind of serendipitous. I was a very unhappy closeted college freshman at East Carolina University. I've always had a passion for reading, and used books as a way to escape the reality of my inner-turmoil. I would go to Barnes and Nobel quite often to sip coffee and find new books to read. I was aware that they had a "Gay and Lesbian interest" book section, but I was so deeply closeted that I couldn't even walk towards that isle (even though I wanted to very badly). During one of my days there, I walked around a bit, and found a couple of books that looked interesting. I went to purchase my coffee, and found a comfortable chair to sit in while I went through my books to see which ones I wanted to buy. I sat my things on the coffee table in front of me, and I noticed an interesting looking book lying there on the table that someone had left for the employees to re-shelve. I picked it up and read the title "Invisible Life". That really peaked my interest because I felt as though I were living a kid of invisible life. I started to read and it drew me in instantly. When I noticed that they were about to close the store, I had already went through half of the book. As soon as I got home, I couldn't sleep. All I could think about were the characters and how much I could relate to things that they were going through. I knew I had a morning class at 8am, and I'd feel like hell if I didn't get any sleep, but I didn't care. I got back up, and finished the book just as the sun was rising. It was the first time in my life that I watched the sun rise, and really felt as though it was a new day. Over the next couple of days, I read the book again until I could get another chance to hit Barnes and Nobel and search for another one of his books titled "Abide With Me". In those few short days, my world felt as though it had transformed. I thought being gay was a curse bestowed upon me, and I was destined to live my life in lonely solitude, but E. Lynn's book gave me hope. It help me see that I could be happy. I could find love. I could be the person God made me. All of that never occurred to me before. This time when I walked into the book store, I headed directly to the "Gay and Lesbian Interest" section. The store was very busy with people, and I didn't care at all. Just three days before, I couldn't fathom going down that asile and taking my time looking for a book. So for me, Mr. Harris was not just an author of gay fiction. This man and his books completely changed my life... and changed it for the better. Before I read that first novel, it had never occurred to me that I could have a healthy loving relationship. Without his books, I would of never met Brook (my ex). My five year relationship with him was the happiest I've been in my whole adult life. Whoever I was before that trip to Barnes and Nobel, I don't know who that is anymore. It's like looking back at someone else's life. When I heard the news on CNN about the death of E. Lynn Harris, it really sadden me. I wanted to meet him, and tell him my story of how he helped me, and how he changed my life. I just wanted to thank him, and now it's to late. My only solace and hope is that he passed knowing about how many lives he's touched and how much his work has helped me and millions of people just like me. For this, I am forever grateful.

R I P Mr. E. Lynn Harris


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