I first came across E. Lynn Harris’s books when I was in high school. My mother had a few copies of his books. When I read “Invisible Life” it had open my mind and eyes to writing and being that the book was written by a black man made me felt more confident about being a black writer. I fell in love with his main character Raymond, the way he was portrayed and how he showed a different side to being a black gay man. From his first encounter with a man to accepting himself was something I missed in my early childhood and with no one to talk to about what I was feeling. I look to his books to show the way, my mother was concern when it came to me wanting to read his books and how often I would reread them.
At one point she told me to stop reading them and of course I didn’t listen. For a young man in the city where someone always has something negative to say about gay and bisexual men it became my outlet. When I got older and lived on my own, I purchase my own copies of his book and was able to really enjoy his works. I started to see myself as Raymond, a man that just want to find someone to love and to be love. I hoped to one day to meet E. Lynn Harris and just to be in the room with him or share my works with him and get his advice about it.
That dream became a permanent dream when I find out he had passed away. I feel pain that I would never get to share with him how he made an impact on me and my writing. I felt more connected to him as a writer when I read his memoir, the life he live was profounding. How he used parts of his life in his books and the challenges he face even after he became a publish author. The part Basil plays in the story shows a small taste of what bisexual men face, dealing with people who assume your gay because you deal with men and thinks your in the closet when you deal with women.
Not understanding bisexual men and women are attracted to both genders, and depending on the person he or she may either lean to being with more men than women or vice versa. The way Basil struggles to have balance in his love life and finding someone he could be himself with, without the underlying doubt or complete ignorance as to who he is. Is something that many bisexual men and women face on a daily basis. Sadly, some conform to society’s views and suppress their attraction to either a man or woman. E. Lynn Harris had capture something that is true and honest, I am grateful for being introduce to his works and his passion for storytelling.