Monday, January 4, 2010

Hardy, Clay, Dean Pay Tribute To E. Lynn Harris

Gay-literature pioneer and acclaimed author E. Lynn Harris passed away last summer at age 54 of undiagnosed heart disease. Harris, who wrote groundbreaking novels which opened up the modern gay-literature genre, is widely considered to be an American literary icon. His sudden death shocked us all, as a genuine human treasure was removed from within our midst. Everette Lynn Harris was my own great literary influence, who encouraged me and befriended me, and made it possible for me to write and get published, when I had my own doubts about being able to do so. He often recalled his own difficulties in getting his very first book, Invisible Life, published in a time when American publishers shunned "gay-lit". He originally self-published that first book as a result, selling copies out of his car trunk, until someone noticed its stellar quality and persuaded publishers to take another look.

So began Harris' literary career, which spanned fifteen novels, eleven of which made the New York Times bestseller list. Now, in tribute to his life and career, three noted black gay authors, James Earl Hardy, Stanley Bennett Clay, and Terrance Dean have composed Visible Lives, three stories in homage to the gay-lit giant. It is fitting and proper that E. Lynn Harris be paid respect with a book written by his contemporaries, and all of us who write gay literature today are certainly indebted to Harris for opening the doors for us. Each of Visible Lives' three authors is accomplished in their own right as a wordsmith of the gay genre. James Earl Hardy is the author of the unforgettable B-Boy Blues series, Stanley Bennet Clay has given us In Search Of Pretty Young Black Men and Looker, and Terrance Dean penned the tell-all of gay life in L.A.'s music industry, Hiding In Hip Hop. These distinguished authors have created a fine salute to E. Lynn Harris, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy when it releases in May. You can pre-order one here.

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