James Baldwin was the first writer I encountered who showed me the timeless power that fearlessness on the page has. Likewise, Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill and Melvin Dixon’s voices gird me each time I sit to grapple with this work. At the heart of all of their work is the quest for love & dignity, but what makes E. Lynn Harris’s love stories so powerful is their reach across generational, gender and educational lines, how many conversations about sexuality he generated among scholars and everyday people alike. The beauty is that his accessibility didn’t stop at the page. I’ll always remember his encouragement at a reading months before he passed away, his genuine interest in my journey and those of the young people around me. I know so many who were not only transformed by his written word but who felt his investment in their lives. If I can have an ounce of E. Lynn Harris’s generosity of spirit, I know I will have lived and written well.
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths.
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.