Frederick Smith Remembers E. Lynn Harris

One thing that many of my friends and I have in common is that the book Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris affirmed who we were as young men coming of age. Or at least gave us a clue that we weren’t ‘the only one’ dealing with sexual orientation and coming of age.

Many of the stories are the same, no matter where you go or who you ask. We ‘discovered’ E. Lynn Harris by mistake at a library, bookstore, or street vendor. Or a female friend recommended his books. Or we overheard someone talking about the characters. And then we had to figure out where to find the books. Surprisingly, that’s how taboo sexual orientation and LGBT books were in the early 1990s.

I often revisit Invisible Life, re-reading to remember the magic of Raymond Tyler’s life, his coming out process. It affirmed that I was OK being who and what I was/am. That we didn’t have to lead an invisible life because of who we are. It gave us hope for our emerging lives.

I’m thankful to E. Lynn Harris for his contribution to my personal life and for inspiring me to write the novels I’ve written.

This July will be honoring the memory of author E. Lynn Harris, who passed away last year. As a part of our tribute, we asked his friends and peers to tell us about the important legacy of his work and his incredible impact on the community.