Op-ed: The Lambda Literary Awards Are as Essential as Ever

The executive director of the Lambda Literary Foundation counters an earlier op-ed, saying the awards and foundation are more crucial than ever in their 25th year.

BY Tony Valenzuela

October 09 2012 3:00 AM ET

Steve’s piece also raised questions about the award categories themselves. Throughout the foundation’s history, its Lammy categories have evolved and expanded in keeping with the evolution of LGBT literature as well as the larger LGBT community. For example, we added categories to honor Transgender and Bisexual literature as these areas of writing began to flourish over the past 15 years. Similarly, we added a Debut Fiction award because the board felt it was important for Lambda Literary to foster fledgling literary careers. As a foundation we welcome and embrace change, especially if it helps us better reflect who we are as a community.

Another important change for the good of the foundation — and the community — is the awards ceremony is now covered by the media more widely than ever before, bringing greater visibility to LGBT literature both within and beyond the LGBT community.  The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, and The Washington Post have all reported on the ceremony. We’re particularly grateful to the honorees and presenters who helped us attract media attention, including Armistead Maupin, Olympia Dukakis, Kate Millet, Larry Kramer, Terrance McNally, Edward Albee, Kate Clinton, Ally Sheedy, Ted Allen, Eileen Myles, Stefanie Powers, Wally Lamb, Frank Bruni, Emma Donoghue, and Jacqueline Woodson, among many others.

But the Lammys are just one pillar of the foundation’s work. Year round we advocate for LGBT literature through workshops, public programs, and speaking appearances. For example, the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive residency program for queer writers. Equally important is our LGBT Writers in Schools program, which, as its name suggests, brings authors into classrooms to discuss the enduring importance of LGBT literature with young people. We also spearhead the Lambda Literary Review, an online magazine that publishes more LGBT book reviews and author interviews than any other publication in the world.

After 25 years, the foundation continues to evolve, improve, and reimagine itself to better serve the needs of the community. Because of this Lambda Literary remains as essential as ever, providing services to the community that no other organization does. We are the largest and most vital organization committed to nurturing and advocating on behalf of LGBT literature. I therefore invite you to join us in our important work by becoming a member. The foundation is only as strong as its supporters, and the furtherance of its work ultimately depends on you. You can learn more about the Lambda Literary Foundation at LambdaLiterary.org.

 

TONY VALENZUELA is the executive director of the Lambda Literary Foundation.

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