E. Lynn Harris

E. Lynn Harris

Born:     June 20, 1955
Place of Birth:   Flint, MI
Died:       July 23, 2009
Place of Death:   Los Angeles, CA

Zodiac Sign:  Gemini

Everette Lynn Harris was an American author. Openly gay, he was best known for his depictions of African-American men who were on the down-low and closeted. He authored ten consecutive books that made The New York Times Best Seller list, making him among the most successful African-American or gay authors of his era. 

Upon his mother's marriage to Ben Harris, his surname was changed to Harris. By the time he was 13 years old, his mother divorced his stepfather who had abused Harris for years. 

Harris was one of the first African-American students at Forest Heights Junior High and Hall High School in Little Rock. Generally well-liked by his classmates, two of his closest friends were Karen Krenz and Becka Henry. Harris also had homes in Houston, Texas, Atlanta, Georgia, and Fayetteville, Arkansas. In his writings, Harris maintained a poignant motif, occasionally emotive, that incorporated vernacular and slang from popular culture. 

Harris became the first black male cheerleader as well as the first black yearbook editor while attending the University of Arkansas. After graduation, he became a computer salesman with IBM, AT&T, and Hewlett-Packard for 13 years living in Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. In 1990, Harris attempted suicide during a dark phase of depression and heavy drinking but later found the will to live through his writing. Harris relieved himself of his salesman duties and quit in order to begin writing his first novel. Harris was initially unable to land a book deal with a publishing house for his first work, Invisible Life, so he published it himself and sold copies from his car trunk. He later was published by Doubleday, and ten of his novels achieved New York Times bestseller status. 

He returned to the University of Arkansas in 2004 to teach African American Fiction, quickly becoming a student favorite. He hired one of his students, Celia Anderson, who has since gone on to become an author as well. 

Alongside fiction, Harris had also penned a personal memoir, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted. 

In June 2019, Harris was one of the inaugural fifty American “pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes” inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the Stonewall National Monument (SNM) in New York City’s Stonewall Inn. The SNM is the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights and history, and the wall’s unveiling was timed to take place during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Source.