Even as social media has brought a new fandom to Millz’s work, accusations of him being a white man profiting on Black culture continued across TikTok and Twitter. “I do understand the concerns over Quan’s racial identity,” says Georgina Kiersten, a Texas-based author of Black romance. “What can be seen as a joke or satire with a Black author can immediately be seen as an act of blatant racism with a white author.” It is, Kiersten adds, also more complex than that.
“Being a romance or an erotica author is not an easy profession. There are many real-life consequences a lot of us face when we choose to be open about our identity,” she says. “You can lose your day job, your home, your marriage, your family and friends, or even your kids. This is the reason that a lot of us choose to write under pen names. It is truly unfortunate that Black authors are burdened with risking their safety in order to prove their racial identity.”
In one of his last recorded interviews, from December 2018, Millz was clear-eyed about the corner he’d unfairly been backed into. “I’m just one small blip in the urban fiction universe,” he said. “These fake, stay-woke Black folks are hypocrites in a way because they’ll get on Twitter and talk all types of shit—Quan Millz is this, Quan Millz is that—[but] they have no idea what the book is about.”
All the gossip surrounding Millz’s identity quieted on August 11. It was a Friday, and Millz, responding to a TikTok commenter, finally revealed himself. He sat in his car, sporting a black T-shirt and a thick mustache. The author is notorious for his imaginatively graphic vocabulary, but on this particular day he kept it short and sweet, pangs of irritation in his voice. “But I’m not white, though,” he said in the five-second video. “So I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Millz, whom I finally got a hold of in September, said he felt he was holding himself back by keeping his identity a secret. “There were a lot of people sitting on the sidelines, wanting to support me, but they didn’t want, in good faith, to do that, if they knew a white person was behind it,” he tells me. The decision turned out to be a boon for his business. “Now that I am out there front and center, I have seen a shift in reception.”
Since then, and hoping to capitalize on his increasing fame, he has been a steady presence on TikTok. He joined the app in July, right as @justdesean’s post went viral. He consistently responds to fan reaction videos and has hosted live readings. In the most recent, from early September, he wore a blonde wig and read from his forthcoming title, 1000-lb Beckys and the Niccas That Love Them. “My American literature course should’ve included these books,” one commenter exclaimed.
In August, as enthusiasm swelled, Millz started a GoFundMe for Old Thot Next Door, his story about 76-year-old Vernita Washington’s quest to find a renewed sense of life through sex. “I really would like to adapt this book into an indie film that would be distributed to Tubi,” he wrote on the page. Millz set the goal for $100,000 but, to date, it has only raised $250.