E. Lynn Harris, a best-selling author whose novels explored the lives of black men in gay relationships, died last Thursday night, according to a statement from his publicist. He was 54.
Away from his Atlanta home on a business trip in Los Angeles, Harris collapsed at a hotel and could not be revived. The cause hasn’t yet been determined.
Harris was born in Michigan and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas; he worked as an IBM executive before giving it all up to write books. In 1991, he began selling his self-published book, “Invisible Life,” out of the trunk of his car.
Noted as a pioneer of gay, black fiction, Harris wrote 11 books, many of them best sellers. A few of his titles include: “A Love of My Own,” “Abide With Me” and his most recent novel, “Basketball Jones,” which was published in January. In his 2003 memoir, ”What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” he wrote about enduring abuse by his stepfather and an attempted suicide in 1990. Harris had another book set for release in October.
All together, Harris has an estimated 4 million-plus books in print. He is remembered as a favorite among fans, always generous and hospitable. More significantly, perhaps, Harris will be remembered for the positive and encouraging voice he provided for homosexuality within the black community.