The Lambda Literary Awards are like the National Books Awards or the Pulitzers — just a whole lot gayer. They’ve been celebrating excellence in LGBT literature since 1989, and last night they held their annual awards gala in New York City. Over 400 people attended the sold-out event, which was hosted by comedienne Kate Clinton. Just some of the literary and/or queer stars who presented awards during the evening were Wally Lamb, Jacqueline Woodson, Ally Sheedy, Ted Allen, Anthony Rapp (Mark from Rent, everyone! Mark was there!), Charles Busch, and Susie Bright.
What’s great about the “Lammy’s” is that there are so many award categories — 24, to be exact — which shows just how much diverse queer literature—and good queer literature—there is out there to be had. And, unlike that debacle where the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year went to exactly no one (awkward!), at the Lammy’s, there were lots of winners, with a lot to celebrate. Here’s just a few of the highlights.
Perhaps the most notable award is the Pioneer Award, granted to those “who have broken new ground in the field of LGBT literature and publishing,” and this year there were two winners, one of which was awarded to Armistead Maupin, an author most famous for Tales of the City.
Tales of the City is a series of eight novels, originally published as serial installments in the San Francisco Chronicle (which is so neat and Dickensian! Am I right?), dealing with the (dykey) love and adventures of Mary Ann Singleton in San Francisco. The first novel in the series was published in 1978, running all the way until Mary Ann in Autumn in 2010. In the early ’90s, the first few volumes were made into a mini-series that ran on UK and US television; there have also been many theater adaptations.
The award was presented to Maupin by Olympia Dukakis, who starred in the TV adaptation alongside Laura Linney, and who called it the most meaningful role of her career. (And she was in Steel Magnolias and Moonstruck, people!)
The other Pioneer Award went to feminist Kate Millett, most well-known for her 1970 book Sexual Politics. She was presented her award by Dr. Eleanor Pam, a founding member of NOW, the National Organization for Women. Millett was honored by the award but tried to insist to the audience that she was just “a farmer, really.” Oh, Millett. You are such a lesbian.
Kate Millett (left) and Eleanor Pam
Onto more books!
The prize for Best Lesbian Fiction went to Six Metres of Pavement by Farzana Doctor, and Best Debut Lesbian Fiction went to Zippermouth by Laurie Weeks, which Heather Aimee O’Neill reviewed for us last year.
Best Lesbian Memoir/Biography was awarded to When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love and Revolution by Jeanne Cordova, a tale of queer and feminist badassery in the 1970s. For those wondering, no, Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? was not up for this award, although I’m not sure why.
Best Lesbian Mystery went to Dying to Live by Kim Baldwin and Xenia Alexiou. Best Lesbian Romance went to Taken By Surprise by Kenna White; Best Lesbian Erotica went to Story of L by Debra Hyde. And if you’re looking for more erotica, Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscape by Lisa L. Moore won for LGBT Studies.
In the category I consider to be my baby, Young Adult LGBT Literature, Bil Wright’s Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy took the prize, a book that also won the American Library Association’s Stonewall Award this year. Basically, I am behind the times by having not read this yet. A shout-out is also still well deserved to former AfterEllen.com writer Malinda Lo, who was nominated for her novel Huntress. And speaking of Malinda Lo, you should probably head over to her blog where she’s celebrating a month of YA Pride, kicking it off this week with a fascinating read of the history of queer YA literature by librarian Daisy Porter.
But back to the moment at hand: the award for Best Bisexual Fiction went to The Correspondence Artist by Barbara Browning, a delightful-sounding novel where the protagonist creates a series of fascinating, fictional lovers in order to hide the identity of her real one. Best Transgender Fiction went to Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, edited by Tristan Taormino. Phew, there is a lot erotica all up in here. *fans self*
And there are even more! Get the full round up by checking out Lambda’s press release here. I have to admit I feel a little ashamed of myself for having read hardly any of these, although there are now quite a few I’m adding to my never-ending “to read” pile.
Have any of you read any of these titles? Are there any ones you think the Lambda committee missed?