By Mitch Kellaway
Originally published on Advocate.com June 03 2014 7:40 PM ET
The 26th annual Lambda Literary Awards, held last night in New York City’s Cooper Union, honored LGBT writers and editors in 24 categories, in addition to several awards for debut writers, mid-career novelists, and two accomplished awardees who brought the crowd to their feet: graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, who was given the Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Literature, and transgender trailblazer Kate Bornstein, who was given the Pioneer Award.
The ceremony opened with an emotional montage from the "What LGBTQI Book Changed Your Life?" campaign, and maintained that momentum with comedy from Kate Clinton, who returned to emcee the event for the third year in a row.
More than 500 attendees — the largest audience to date — watched as outstanding fiction and nonfiction was honored in Transgender, Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian categories, in addition to gay and lesbian poetry, romance, mystery, science fiction/fantasy/horror, and erotica.
LGBT-wide categories covered drama, nonfiction, biography/memoir, scholarship, anthology, children’s/young adult, and a highly anticipated new category: LGBT Graphic Novel.
Nicole Georges, who accepted this first-ever Lammy for her graphic memoir, Calling Dr. Laura, summed up the overarching sentiment of the evening in her acceptance speech: LGBT literature can show gay, queer, gender-nonconforming, and transgender people who they are, often long before peers or other media, she said, and can even make the world a place worth living when one’s environment feels almost too oppressive to bear.
Soon afterwards, Kate Bornstein was handed the Pioneer Award by her life partner Barbara Carelles, who brought the point home by telling the audience how when asked what Bornstein means to them,"the overwhelming answer [readers give] is 'Kate Bornstein saved my life.'"
Bornstein, who authored Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (1995) and Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws (2006), among other books, tearfully accepted the award and asked a rapt audience to use their future work to end inter-community shaming. Bornstein also took the opportunity to commend RuPaul Charles as a self-described "tranny," and person of color at the top of popular culture, alluding to an ongoing controversy surrounding the use of the word that many people view as a transphobic slur. Bornstein addressed the controversy explicity in a May 25 blog post. But on Monday, she concluded by asking the audience to "take care of each other; watch each others' backs."
Find a full listing of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award winners on the next page, or at Lambda Literary's website.
Full disclosure: Mitch Kellaway served as a judge for this year's Lambda Literary Awards, and copresented the Lambda Literary Awards for Transgender Fiction and Transgender Non-Fiction.
2014’s Lammy winners appear below, as listed on the Lambda Literary’s website:
DR. BETTY BERZON EMERGING WRITER AWARD
Imogen Binnie and Charles Rice-Gonzalez
DR. JAMES DUGGINS OUTSTANDING MID-CAREER NOVELIST PRIZE
Michael Thomas Ford and Radclyffe
BOARD OF TRUSTEES EXCELLENCE IN LITERATURE AWARD
GAY GENERAL FICTION
Mundo Cruel: Stories, Luis Negron; translated by Suzanne Jill Levine, Seven Stories Press
LESBIAN GENERAL FICTION
Happiness, Like Water, Chinelo Okparanta, Mariner Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Descendants of Hagar, Nik Nicholson, AuthorHouse
My Education, Susan Choi, Penguin Group/Viking
Wanting in Arabic, Trish Salah, TSAR Publications
White Girls, Hilton Als, McSweeney’s Publishing
The End of San Francisco, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, City Lights Publishers
The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television, Maria San Filippo, Indiana University Press
Unpeopled Eden, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Four Way Books
Rise in the Fall, Ana Bozicevic, Birds, LLC
LGBT GRAPHIC NOVEL
Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir, Nicole J. Georges, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
LGBT CHILDREN’S/YOUNG ADULT – TIE
If You Could Be Mine, Sara Farizan, Algonquin Books
Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, by Glenway Wescott, Ed. Jerry Rosco, University of Wisconsin Press
Body Geographic, Barrie Jean Borich, University of Nebraska Press
The Prisoner of the Riviera: A Francis Bacon Mystery, Janice Law, MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Media
High Desert, Katherine V. Forrest, Spinsters Ink
Into This River I Drown, TJ Klune, Dreamspinner Press
Clean Slate, Andrea Bramhall, Bold Strokes Books
The Padisah’s Son and the Fox: an erotic novella, Alex Jeffers, Lethe Press
Wild Girls, Wild Nights: True Lesbian Sex Stories, Ed. Sacchi Green, Cleis Press
FICTION: Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction, Karen Martin and Makhosazana Xaba, MaThoko’s Books
Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners, Eds. Jim Elledge and David Groff, The University of Wisconsin Press
Tom at the Farm, Michel Marc Bouchard, Talonbooks
Death by Silver, Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold, Lethe Press
Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence, Christina B. Hanhardt, Duke University Press