It was such a sad day when news went out that Nelsan Ellis passed away at the ripe age of 39. Even though he had so many acting roles throughout his career, I knew him as someone who was the first representation of a black gay male similar to myself in Lafayette Reynolds. It is rare for actors to be able to portray a character so well that it becomes the character everyone knows and loves them for. Nelsan Ellis brought Lafayette Reynolds to life and not only made him a character to remember but a fan favorite, so much so, that they left his character alive and well beyond the first season.
One of the issues that came to light after his passing was that there was complications of him playing the role and his family upbringing. He is a man from southern roots and his family was not at all okay with him displaying the sexual orientation and mannerisms of a flamboyant character like Lafayette. It seemed to be a struggle even after True Blood was done filming and he went on to play other characters. As someone who grew up with a particular Southern religious background and pressure from family to not play that role I commend him for continuing to bring that person to the small screen until the end and he will always be remember by gay black men like me. In a world where being your true authentic self is frowned upon it is courageous to accept a role like Lafayette Reynolds and here is to Nelsan Ellis who made that all possible.