The winners of the 26th Annual Lambda Literary Awards (the "Lammys") were announced last night in a gala ceremony hosted by comedienne Kate Clinton at The Great Hall at Cooper Union. It occurred on the heels of BookExpo America, the book publishing industry's largest annual gathering of booksellers, publishers, authors, and readers. Also preceding it was the Bisexual Book Awards organized by the Bi Writers Association and inspired by the Lammys. The Lambda ceremony brought together over 500 attendees, sponsors, and celebrities to celebrate excellence in LGBT literature and 26 years of the groundbreaking literary awards. Obie Award-winning performance artist and past Lambda Award winner Justin Vivian Bond graced the ceremony with a special "half-time" performance. The celebration continued at the VIP After-Party hosted by Scholastic at the Scholastic Greenhouse & Terrace with DJ Sean McMahill.
The ceremony opened with a powerful montage of video clips from the "What LGBTQI Book Changed Your Life" campaign, a project conducted in conjunction with the Lammys to recognize LGBT literature of all types, from poetry to erotica, that has influenced millions of readers. As master of ceremonies for the third consecutive year, Clinton treated the audience to her signature brand of topical, political comedy. She kept the audience laughing with lines like "Happy Pride Month, the month formerly known as June," and "I'm happy about the new pope. He's our first Christian one."
Cartoonist Justin Hall, award-winning creator of the series True Travel Tales in presenting the Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Literature to Alison Bechdel said that her body of work from her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For to graphic memoirs Fun Home and Are You My Mother? solidify her unique place in the comic book cannon. Bechdel gave a funny and moving acceptance speech filled with memories from when she won her first Lammy in 1991.
Appropriately, Bechdel presented the first award for the new category of best LGBT Graphic Novel to Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir by Nicole J. Georges.
Kate Bornstein was presented the Pioneer Award by her life partner, Barbara Carrellas who said that when people are asked what Kate Bornstein means to them, "the overwhelming answer is 'Kate Bornstein saved my life.'" Bornstein's call to action to stop the history of shaming with regard to sex and gender brought the audience to a standing ovation.
Michael Thomas Ford and Radclyffe were awarded with the Dr. James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize and Imogen Binnie and Charles Rice-Gonzalez were presented with the Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award.
Justin Vivian Bond provided the "half-time" entertainment with three songs from ve's recent show, "The Drift," all of which were inspired by classic literature.
"Throughout the beautiful ceremony, we were reminded of the meaningfulness of LGBT literature and writers in our lives," said Tony Valenzuela, Lambda Literary Foundation Executive Director. "Congratulations to all the winners and honorees."
Once again, the stage glittered with a stellar roster of presenters from the worlds of film, television, theatre, politics, religion, sex, and, of course, literature. Just some of the presenters who graced the stage were: Mike Albo, Henry Alford, Hilton Als, Masha Gessen, A.M. Homes, Sassafras Lowrey, David Mixner, Pauline Park, Seth Rudetsky, Ira Silverberg and Urvashi Vaid.
26th ANNUAL LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD WINNERS
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/YA - 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
NON-FICTION 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