Obituary: Terrance Dean, best-selling queer author


September 8, 1968 – August 11, 2022

Terrance Dean, best-selling author and academic from Detroit, died on Friday, August 11 in Columbus, Ohio. He was 53 years old.

Dean grew up in Detroit and attended Central High School. In a 2008 interview with Between The Lines, Dean share that his mother was a heroin addict and that he lost her – and two brothers – to AIDS. After graduating from high school in 1986, Dean moved to Nashville and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Fisk University.

He then moved to New York where he worked in the entertainment industry for over 15 years. Dean was an executive at MTV Networks for a time where he helped produce award shows and live events such as the MTV Video Awards, MTV Movie Awards, Hip Hop Honors and others.

In 2003, he published his first book, “Reclaim Your Power! A 30 day guide to hope, healing and inspiration for men of color. But it was her controversial 2008 memoir that got her her first real exposure. The book, “Hiding in Hip Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry – from Music to Hollywood”, chronicles the covert gay hip-hop subculture and DL sex parties he witnessed and experienced. it formed part when it worked in the entertainment.

While the first promo for the book, published by Atria/Simon & Schuster, promised that Dean would name famous names and rappers, Dean instead, and disappointingly, used pseudonyms in his book. Still, it became an Essence magazine bestseller. The year the book was released, Dean returned to Detroit to make an appearance at Motor City Pride.

Dean, who didn’t come out until the book came out, told Between The Lines it was “very misleading; you constantly cover up a lie, you manipulate the women you are in a relationship with, you cheat on your friends and family. In the same interview, Dean said, “It’s an imaginary pain and fear that we can’t get out of, and it’s imaginary. Nobody really cares. Once you’ve done that… all my friends are like, ‘OK, it’s okay, whatever.’ »

Other books by Dean include “Straight From Your Gay Best Friend – The Straight Up Truth About Relationships, Love, and Have A Fabulous Life” (2010) and the novel “Mogul” (2011). He also wrote a short story in the book “Visible Lives: Three Stories in Tribute to E. Lynn Harris,” which was released in 2010 and contributed to the “Soul of My Brothers” and “Always Too Soon” anthologies. In addition to these works, Dean’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including VIBE, Essence, XXL and Advocate magazines.

Dean then returned to college, earning a master’s degree in theology and a doctorate in religious and African-American diaspora studies, both from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He also earned a second master’s degree from Vanderbilt’s Divinity School.

As of 2019, Dean worked as an assistant professor of black studies at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. In recent years, Dean has served on the editorial board of Columbus Dispatch and has also written columns for the newspaper and co-hosted a podcast, “In Black and White”, with Dispatch digital producer Scot Kirk.

According to the “Dispatch,” Dean was briefly hospitalized earlier this summer with an undisclosed illness. Columbus police performed a checkup on August 11 and found him dead in his downtown apartment. The exact date of his death and the cause were not immediately known. Flags were flown at half-mast in Denison for three days this week in memory of Dean.

“Terrance was an impeccable scholar, a loving mentor, and an extraordinary colleague,” said Kaila Adia Story, associate professor and Audre Lorde Chair in Race, Gender, Class, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Louisville, in a Facebook post. “His contributions to the fields of Black Queer Studies and Black Religion are irreplaceable.”


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