Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Friday, July 9, 2010

E Lynn Harris: Invisible Life & Lessons Learned

A couple of days ago I pulled Invisible Life off the shelf. I read this book in college (almost twenty years ago). Wow, it just doesn't seem that long ago that I was first introduced to this author that changed my life. I've said this before, prior to reading E. Lynn Harris I didn't know that it was possible to be black, gay and out. I thought only two out of the three were possible.

As I read it again these many years later I was reminded as to why I was struck so hard by this same-gender loving narrative. I came out while in college. So I was reading Invisible Life as a person that had only recently started to get comfortable with his sexuality. Harris touched on so many points that seemed to be directed specifically at me. In this book I witnessed someone write eloquently about living as a black, gay man.

As a product of the rural South I thought there were things I HAD to do as a part of being an adult. Growing up I received all those messages about heterosexual marriage and masculinity. In my mind I thought I would have to pursue this life, even if it meant lying to my wife, lying to my family and friends, and lying to myself.

Invisible Life forced a paradigm shift in my life. As I read this story about a lawyer torn between a relationship with the person that would make him happy (the man in his life) and the person that would make his life look good (the woman in his life), I reflected on the many lessons I learned from this novel.

Lesson 1 - First and foremost, it is important to live an authentic and honest life. Living a life that makes everyone else happy (but you're living a lie) is not fair to you or to those around you.

Lessson 2 - You really can't judge a book by it's cover. Many of the most masculine men on the planet can be same-gender loving. And some of the most effiminate of men can be straight.

Lesson 3 - HIV has no friends. Everyone and I mean everyone can catch it.

Lesson 4 - It is possible for black gay men to be successful and give back to both communities they are apart of.

Lesson 5 - Love is a powerful thing.

Lesson 6 - What you don't know CAN hurt you.

Lesson 7 - With faith, family and friends you can get through anything.

Lesson 8 - Haters are a part of life. People will hate you for your intellect, for the car you drive, for the clothes you wear or for the person you love.

Lesson 9 - You may never really know what a person is going though (no matter how close they are to you).

Lesson 10 - God loves me just as I am.

When I got the news that E. Lynn Harris had died I was stunned. I really didn't know how to react. I've read every single novel he's written. I know many men and women that were influenced by his books. I'm grateful that I had to opportunity to meet him and share with him how his words impacted my life. He was/ is an inspiration for men and women everywhere. I hope I'm living a life that would make him proud.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I thnk that anyone who reads this would be proud of you and how you live your life, excellent sentiments!