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Now that Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale has breathed its last, the buzz is on former IBM sales exec E. Lynn Harris and his stories of African-American relationship gripes. In 1992, Harris began hand-selling his self-published Invisible Life, the provocative story of a bisexual man and his love interests, in Atlanta beauty shops and bookstores. Anchor Books heard the word-of-mouth and offered to publish the book in trade paperback; this led to a successful sequel, Just as I Am, and the brand-new And This Too Shall Pass. Despite so much reader enthusiasm, however, Harris’ candid portrayals of man-to-man desire make some people uneasy. “I thought this book was going to make my stomach hurt. My reaction to chapter one was, ‘Ugh, no way, he can’t be gay,’” cringed a reporter in the Arkansas Democrat & Gazette, who “as a straight, single woman” was indignant that a good man would disqualify himself from straight marriage. Meanwhile, a recent USA Today profile focused on Harris’ love of the Arkansas Razorbacks, as if to emphasize his traditional masculinity over his books (which, not surprisingly, feature gay football players and sports fans). Harris himself expresses ambivalence about his semi-autobiographical work; he resists being labeled a gay activist and fully supports blacks, even when they express hostility toward gays. Expect a lively evening when he reads at 6 p.m. today at Lambda Rising, 1625 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 462-6969; and at 6 p.m. Thursday at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 429-9272.