When it comes to realistically chronicling the experiences of contemporary black gay life and love, no one comes close to award-winning American author James Earl Hardy.

His deft exploration of the cross-cultural differences among African-Americans, clear-eyed examinations of racism and homophobia, and passionate pleas for peace have made his best-selling B-Boy Blues series a modern classic as is the fourth book in the series The Day Eazy-E Died. Mike Gray has been talking to James in his Manhattan apartment and if you're already familiar with his work you can go straight to the interview here.

The Day Eazy-E Died
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James' books are available direct here in the UK at online prices and you can get more details by clicking the jacket or link.

In B-Boy Blues, the first book in the series, Hardy explores the tension that exists between two very disparate cultures, the upscale black gay community inhabited by Mitchell, and the more dangerous street life lived by Raheim. It is an uneasy balance the two men strike in the early days of the relationship, marked by intense passion, anger, misunderstanding, and violence. Raheim is intensely closeted, Mitchell is actively out. Despite their differences, the two men are increasingly drawn to each other, and Mitchell finds himself falling in love not just with Raheim, but also with his five-year-old son Raheim Jr. B-Boy Blues
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In 2nd Time Around, Hardy moves the story forward from the perspective of Raheim. The entire novel is written in Raheim's rapid-fire dialect, and tells the story of his earlier life, juxtaposed against his ongoing relationship with Mitchell. Picked to be a model for All-American Jeans, a Tommy Hilfiger type clothing company attempting to make inroads into the African American marketplace, his growing celebrity presents challenges, but nothing compared to the sudden emergence of his father after a sixteen-year absence.

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The shorter and more compact novel, If Only For One Nite, is a journey down memory lane for Mitchell, as he prepares for his high-school reunion, and facing down his former gymnastics coach, who was also his first love. Unabashedly nostalgic and romantic, "If Only For One Nite" is a sort of sidebar to the series, which ends with Mitchell having a greater understanding of the nature of true love.

If Only For One Nite
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With The Day Eazy-E Died, Hardy prepares to move his characters into the future and deals with the issues surrounding HIV infection and AIDS. The disease is now the leading cause of death among African Americans between the ages of 25-44 and they account for 56% of all reported cases. Eazy-E was a founder member with Dr.Dre of rap group NWA, and he died a month after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1995. Dubbed the "Godfather of Gangsta Rap", Eazy-E was credited with pushing the boundaries of lyrical and visual content in mainstream popular music.


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