E. Lynn Harris, a gay author of note, will always be a favorite of mine. His saddening, shocking and sudden death on this exact date – July 23, 2009 – only secured his stature in my mind. “Gone too soon” and “such a tragic loss” have become two phrases that many of his fans associate with his name. His readership crossed both cultural and racial boundaries that few imagined possible. Unfortunately, his demise has left an empty void in contemporary same gender loving male authors.
E. Lynn Harris (pictured above) admiration and appreciation was one of the very first common bonds that forged the close platonic friendship that exists between Jay and myself. We first met at a nude cocktail party just before Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration in January, 2009. One of the author’s paperback novels had been left in the booth where we were sitting and immediately initiated our conversation. Our friendship endures and we frequently re-read his novels and re-examine details we’ve overlooked previously.
Was E. Lynn Harris a “down-low” bare practitioner?
He publicly acknowledged being gay and proud. Was he also a naturist/nudist, too? If he had lived longer, would he have openly and proudly “owned” his nude preference?
Jay and I recently reviewed Harris’ “I Say A Little Prayer” 2006 novel. One of the very first comments that Jay shared with me was the observation that “…I’ve never noticed before his familiarity with nudity!” This remark left me utterly clueless – flabbergasted – so much so that I had to immediately return to the book – again!
The main character in this novel is Chauncey Greer. Harris refers to Chauncey’s first attendance at a clothes free social club for bisexual and gay men: “I didn’t wear underwear because the invite specified that no clothing could be worn once you entered the club.” The Back Door was the name of a group or event in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by well-to-do Black men that prohibited the wearing of any clothing at their functions.
Although the entire event discussed in Chapter 6 was exclusively bare, Chauncey revealed no embarrassment or shame being naked. He observed the sexual freedom exhibited at the social gathering with no judgment on the participants even though he (Chauncey, the main character) did not engage in any type of sexual activity.
Throughout the novel, Harris writes of encounters the men attending The Back Door had with others they met at the social nudist event and acknowledged their recognition of one another from the party – again, free from any bias or negative consideration. Their shared bare practitioner experience was viewed as simply another normal or routine meeting, regardless of their nudity and sexuality.
In later chapters, Harris returns Chauncey to reflecting his comfort and relaxation in being bare while contemplating his relationships with his friends such a Skylar, Basil and Griffen. The nudity issue remained a complete nonissue as far as he was concerned.
Both Jay and I were so normalized by our own bare practitioner lives that this revelation was unimpressive and totally regular. In discussing this phenomenon, we wondered together if this was a subtle admission from E. Lynn Harris of his own personal comfort with being a bare practitioner.
Rest in peace, E. Lynn Harris!
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry planned for here is Monday, July 26, 2021, and the proposed topic is: “Enough Nonsense!”
6 thoughts on “E. Lynn Harris, Author!”
Thanks for sharing the info on this author. I have seen his books before, but I have never read one of them. I will have to do so now!
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I hope you enjoy them! Naked hugs! 🙂
I have read and own several of his books but haven’t read that one. Will have to check it out.
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I hope that you enjoy it! 🙂
I’ve read several of his books but not this one. What struck me about the books I have read is the detail/richness of the settings which are presented to characters fait accompli. An artificially simple example: A character arrives at a party and finds everyone is wearing pink hats. The character thinks, “Oh, ok. I’d no idea pink hats were a thing. I’ll wear one. Why not? It’s not like I’m making a commitment to wearing hats, much less pink ones.” At the time I was reading his books I found this very refreshing. So many characters, particularly if they were gay men, seemed to have great existential angst over the slightest issues. At the pink hat party they would’ve spent a half hour torturing themselves about the potential fallout from wearing a pink hat for a few hours……..
To your question…. I know a lot of men who do not consider themselves nudists but have been to a nude beach. If they take a shower they don’t get dressed until they have a reason to because … why? If they have a private outside area they’re out there nude simply because they have no reason to wear clothing. I’ve brought friends to nudist social events simply because they weren’t busy at the time.
Harris might’ve been that kind of guy. There’s another thing. I’m hardly the first to say this, but I think guys in general just like being naked. I’ve met very few guys who declined to get naked in any situation provided they felt it safe (whatever that meant to them) to do so. Harris might just have wanted to show this aspect of life and point out that it’s not an event.
OTOH, your idea that were he still with us he’d be an out & proud nudist is certainly equally plausible (maybe more so) and certainly much more fun to think about.
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Thank you for sharing! Take care and stay bare! 🙂