Too many people believed we were rivals; that had more to do with their buying into the very racist and homophobic notion that there wasn’t room in the literary universe for more than one Negro homo [at a time]. I was tagged the younger upstart trying to usurp his mentor. We would laugh about it; as he once joked: “I guess that would make you Eve Harrington and me Margo Channing!”
He recognized how important it was for us to have as many voices documenting and celebrating our lives–which is why he welcomed me into the literary fold with open arms in 1994, providing me with a jacket blurb for B-Boy Blues and recommending it when his fans asked if there were other authors they should check out. He possessed a generosity of spirit that was unmatched.
With his groundbreaking work, he helped us chip away at the “don’t ask, don’t tell” silence surrounding homosexuality in Black America, and gave many Same Gender Loving people the courage to start living visible lives. His cultural impact and societal significance could never be fully measured, nor will it ever be repeated. I not only lost a friend and comrade, but a member of the family.
This July LambdaLiterary.org 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.