E Lynn Harris, dead at 54.

E Lynn Harris, who penned the gay-themed novels Invisible Life and Just As I Am, died last Thursday aged 54.

The author collapsed in Los Angeles where he was promoting his latest novel, Basketball Jones, and according to his assistant Laura Gilmore his cause of death is still unknown.

His latest novel continued Harris’ pioneering tradition of depicting the complicated lives of black gay men in various professions, especially the intricacies of closeted sports figures. Since Invisible Life, originally self published in 1991, his work was embraced by large demographics of readers from gay men to black straight women and sports lovers alike.

Harris was also a lecturer, and since 2003 he was a visiting professor of English at University of Arkansas. In his youth he studied journalism at the University of Arkansas, becoming the first black yearbook editor and the first male black cheerleader.

In a 2006 interview, he said: “It’s difficult for a lot of black men to be honest about” their sexuality. I’m fortunate enough to have a career where I can be who I am and I don’t have to lie about it. I understand that the rest of the world isn’t as accepting. I don’t condone it, but I understand it.”

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