Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

E. Lynn Harris

Born in Michigan, E. Lynn Harris was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas by his mother and stepfather, an abusive drinker who frequently taunted Harris for his “sissy” behavior. He studied journalism at the University of Arkansas, where he was also a cheerleader, before working as a computer salesman for IBM. After 13 years, Harris quit to pen his first novel, Invisible Life, which he self-published in 1991.The story, about an African-American man questioning his sexuality, “had to be the first book out of me,” Harris later said, because “it helped me deal with my own sexuality.” Harris sold it himself to black bookstores and salons out of the trunk of his car before being discovered by mainstream publishers. He went on to write many more novels and became a nationwide sensation, with ten consecutive books making the New York Times Bestseller List. Harris’ novels are famous for shedding light on the “down low,” African-American men who live publicly as heterosexual while having sex with other men in secret. In 2003, he published a memoir, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted. Generous to his fans, Harris died in LA in 2009 at age 54.