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Straight Authors Once Again Eligible for Lambda Literary Awards 

Straight Authors Once Again Eligible for Lambda Literary Awards 

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Two years after implementing new, highly controversial rules restricting its annual lit awards to self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer authors, the Lambda Literary Foundation has once again opened its honors to authors of any orientation. For its first 20 years, the foundation accepted submissions for the Lambda Literary Awards based solely on a book's LGBT subject matter. That policy changed in 2009, but Judith Markowitz, cochair of the foundation's board, noted that the LGBT-only policy sharply divided the queer literary world.

"We fully understand the importance of this issue and the extent to which it has divided our community," said Markowitz. "Resolving these strongly held differences was not easy. We worked carefully keeping in mind the best interests of LGBT people, writing, and writers."

The foundation was formed in 1987 when L. Page (Deacon) Maccubbin, owner of Lambda Rising Bookstore in Washington, D.C., published the first Lambda Book Report. The Lambda Literary Awards, the preeminent literary awards honoring LGBT works, were born in 1989. At that first gala event, honors went to such distinguished writers as National Book Award finalist Paul Monette (Borrowed Time), Dorothy Allison (Trash), Alan Hollinghurst (The Swimming-Pool Library), and Edmund White (The Beautiful Room Is Empty).

In reviewing the LGBT-only policy, the foundation's board of trustees took into consideration Lambda's mission statement and noted that the overwhelming majority of finalists and winners of the Lambda Literary Awards have been LGBT authors, but not all of them.

"There have also been a small number of outstanding books about LGBT lives written by our heterosexual allies," said Markowitz, who admitted that opinions about the policy were "intensely held." The new policy, she says, "recognizes that those opposing viewpoints are actually contained in LLF's mission. We hope that the result of our deliberations promotes healing and strengthens LGBT writers and literature."

Critics of the revised policy will be happy to hear that even though books will now be judged solely on their literary merit, some awards will still remain specific to LGBT-identified authors: the Betty Berzon Debut Fiction Award (to one gay man and one lesbian), the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize (to one male-identified and one female-identified author), and the Pioneer Award (to one male-identified and one female-identified individual or group).

The 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards ceremony will be held in New York City in early June 2012.

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Diane Anderson-Minshall

Diane Anderson-Minshall is the CEO of Pride Media, and editorial director of The Advocate, Out, and Plus magazine. She's the winner of numerous awards from GLAAD, the NLGJA, WPA, and was named to Folio's Top Women in Media list. She and her co-pilot of 30 years, transgender journalist Jacob Anderson-Minshall penned several books including Queerly Beloved: A Love Across Genders.
Diane Anderson-Minshall is the CEO of Pride Media, and editorial director of The Advocate, Out, and Plus magazine. She's the winner of numerous awards from GLAAD, the NLGJA, WPA, and was named to Folio's Top Women in Media list. She and her co-pilot of 30 years, transgender journalist Jacob Anderson-Minshall penned several books including Queerly Beloved: A Love Across Genders.