Haven of Rest Cemetery Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA
Everette Lynn Harris (June 20, 1955 – July 23, 2009) was an American author. Openly gay, he was best known for his depictions of African-American men who were on the down-low and closeted. He authored ten consecutive books that reached The New York Times Best Seller list, making him among the most successful African-American or gay authors of his era.
Born Everette Lynn Jeter in Flint, Michigan, Harris moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, with his mother at the age of 3. Upon his mother's marriage to Ben Harris, his surname was changed to Harris. By the time he was 13 years old, his mother divorced his stepfather who had abused Harris for years.
Harris was one of the first African-American students at Forest Heights Junior High and Hall High School in Little Rock. Generally well-liked by his classmates, two of his closest friends were Karen Krenz and Becka Henry. Harris also had homes in Houston, Texas, Atlanta, Georgia, and Fayetteville, Arkansas. In his writings, Harris maintained a poignant motif, occasionally emotive, that incorporated vernacular and slang from popular culture.
Harris became the first black male cheerleader as well as the first black yearbook editor while attending the University of Arkansas. After graduation, he became a computer salesman with IBM, AT&T, and Hewlett-Packard for 13 years living in Dallas, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. In 1990, Harris attempted suicide during a dark phase of depression and heavy drinking but later found the will to live through his writing. Harris relieved himself of his salesman duties and quit in order to begin writing his first novel. Harris was initially unable to land a book deal with a publishing house for his first work, Invisible Life, so he published it himself and sold copies from his car trunk. He later was published by Doubleday, and ten of his novels achieved New York Times bestseller status.
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Alongside fiction, Harris had also penned a personal memoir, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted. Also see, "Lynn's Angels - The True Story of E. Lynn Harris and the Women Who Loved Him" by Vanessa Gilmore. www.vanessagilmore.com
Harris died July 23, 2009, while in Los Angeles for a business meeting. He was found unconscious at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, and was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was heart disease. That same day, Harris had fallen ill on the train to Los Angeles and blacked out but was fine after, according to his publicist Laura Gilmore.
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