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Saturday, July 25, 2009

May his memory be a blessing: E. Lynn Harris

Novelist E. Lynn Harris has died suddenly, and too young.

Harris was one of the few writers whose new book I always had to read. Every time. Even when I couldn't afford to buy it in hardcover.

Here are three reasons he inspired me:

1. When he wrote his first, groundbreaking novel, publishing "wisdom" said no one wanted to read about black gay men. Since Harris couldn't get anyone to publish Invisible Life, he started selling it himself. Eventually, he sold millions.

2. I am neither African-American, nor male, nor bisexual. Yet Harris took me into the minds and hearts of those characters, and made me feel their emotions. Showing me something I could never experience in real life is one of the great gifts of fiction.

3. In some ways, I could relate to Harris's stories more than those of almost any white and/or lesbian writer. Faith and family are very important in the lives of many of his characters--as they are in mine.

We have lost a great storyteller.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Immigration Equality is the U.S. organization that works on immigration issues that affect LGBT people. Of necessity, they work at the federal level.

One of their most important issues is helping "binational" couples, i.e., where one partner is American and the other is not, and therefore must either leave the country or be separated. However, they are also reporting that the HIV ban is nearing its end.

I don't know how many people are aware of the fact that people with HIV or AIDS are legally banned from entering the United States--even for one day. Foreigners living with HIV in the U.S. are required to leave. This ban dates from the earliest days of the AIDS crisis and has never been repealed.

Incredibly, until the 1990s people who were "mentally ill or homosexual" were also banned from entering the U.S., even as visitors. It is high time people were no longer treated this way.

The LA Daily News is reporting on the unprecedented efforts of Congress to recognize same-sex relationships as part of immigration reform. (Don't hold your breath...)