Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Lambda Literary Foundation marks 25 years of LGBT writers
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Charlsie Dewey
2013-05-28

This article shared 5184 times since Tue May 28, 2013
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


On June 3—when the Lambda Literary Foundation hands out its annual Lammy awards to authors in 22 categories for their contributions to the LGBT canon of writing—it will also celebrate its own 25-year history of honoring and supporting these writers.

The organization began in 1987, when gay bookstore owner L. Page (Deacon) Maccubbin established the Lambda Book Report, a review periodical focused exclusively on books published by LGBT writers.

"It was a time where gay bookstores were popping up all over the country," explained Tony Valenzuela, executive director of LLF. "Starting in the '70s, there had been an explosion of LGBT, especially gay and lesbian, but really of LGBT publishing and bookstores.

"There were so many LGBT books coming out and nobody was reviewing them. That was an important service to gay and lesbian authors. Around the same time he felt like the best books of the year should be honored so the first Lambda Awards were held in 1989 for books published in 1988. That was the beginning of the Lambda Literary Foundation."

Hundreds of writers have received Lammys since 1989, including Paul Monette, Dorothy Allison, Edmund White, Jeanette Winterson, Colm Toibin, Sarah Waters, Armistead Maupin, Adrienne Rich, Nichola Griffith and Tony Kushner.

The Awards have grown from an initial 14 categories to the 22 categories being recognized this year. Categories have altered over the years, reflecting changes within the LGBT community as well as outside of it.

"When Lambda got started AIDS literature was really central to the community and that's when we had an AIDS category and then that AIDS category dropped off as the epidemic became less central and less of a crisis in our lives," Valenzuela explained.

Bisexual and trans writing categories have also been added, the latter in 1997.

"I do feel like there have been, especially in the last decade, trends that I have seen," Valenzuela said. "YA (young adult) is definitely not a trend in that it is passing, it's a genre that is emerging for LGBT writers and it's huge. It's one of our categories that receives the most book submissions."

He reflected on changing society at large saying, "Some of the books that used to be very controversial like "Heather Has Two Mommies, "those books were always on banned book lists, but now the major publishers, many of them are putting out LGBT YA books every year. That is something that wasn't happening in 1989."

Although society and the publishing industry may be becoming more accepting of LGBT focused writing and LGBT writers, there are still plenty of discouraging stories being swapped about agents encouraging writers to make their books less gay or to keep LGBT characters in supporting roles.

"An organization like LLF is so important because we are promoting and celebrating authors and books that make our lives central to the story and there is a strong market for that," Valenzuela said.

"Lambda Literary Foundation's place in the LGBT literary community is pivotal," said writer Dorothy Allison in an email to WCT. "Writers write and will write even under the most arduous discouraging situations. But it remains a challenge to address our most personal and challenging issues in any deep and considered way.

"We do that best within a community that we recognize and value—and Lambda helps young writers to develop a sense of that. I always ask young writers who they are writing to—and for—and sometimes against. But it is one thing to write to challenge bigotry and hatred and quite another to memorialize or record from within this complex history. Often the best work builds on other books, and other writers—and you have to know those intimately or at least recognize their existence."

Allison has been a Lammy recipient for her work and has also served as an instructor for LLF's Writer's Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices, started in 2007.

"It astonishes me sometimes to meet young would-be writers and find they do not know their own history," Allison explained. "I will mention a book or a writer and they might stare at me blankly, not having heard of either.

"The Emerging Writer's Retreat and the LGBT Writers in Schools programs [another LLF program in its pilot stage] counter that directly. And frankly it brings to the contemporary queer imagination writers who I loved and treasured and lost decades ago—those who helped shape the literature we now have."

The United States has never seen a civil-rights movement move faster than what the LGBT-rights fight has in the last four years, Valenzuela said, pointing out the place that books have in that process.

"Many of us believe that literature plays an important role in telling our stories complexly," Valenzuela said. "A lot of LGBT organizations are civil rights focused and their work are around campaigns and changing laws and changing attitudes, and we feel like, at LLF, that the arts does that too.

"For a lot of people what brings them out into a community is a book. The first time they read Dorothy Allison for example. Or people of my generation, the first time they read Edmund White, or even Paul Monette or Armistead Maupin. Those books changed lives.

"We still believe that is true and we see it. We know that our authors get letters from kids ... that say 'your book made me realize that there is a life for me.' That is still happening. There are a lot of readers out there and a lot of people that the arts are where they find meaning."

LLF has evolved over the years from an organization focused solely on published and established writers to one that now also focuses on beginning and emerging writers. Valenzuela said that LLF now addresses the needs of writers at every stage and he hopes the organization will be able to add more services for all writers as it continues to grow.

During the last few years the organization has seen positive success from its efforts to strengthen its financial footing. Valenzuela points to a doubled membership, increased submissions by nearly 300 and a growing reputation within the industry for its awards.

To help celebrate its history LLF will also release its first eBook, "25 by 25", later this summer. The book includes 25 of the most famous LGBT voices, each with an introduction provided by an emerging voices fellow.

The Lambda Literary Awards will be held in New York City June 3. To learn more about LLF, visit www.lambdaliterary.org .


This article shared 5184 times since Tue May 28, 2013
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Women & Children First marks its 45th anniversary 2024-04-11
By Tatiana Walk-Morris - It has been about 45 years since Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon co-founded the Women & Children First bookstore in 1979. In its early days, the two were earning their English degrees at the University of ...


Gay News

UK's NHS releases trans youth report; JK Rowling chimes in 2024-04-11
- An independent report issued by the UK's National Health Service (NHS) declared that children seeking gender care are being let down, The Independent reported. The report—published on April 10 and led by pediatrician and former Royal ...


Gay News

Judith Butler focuses on perceptions of gender at Chicago Humanities Festival talk 2024-04-10
- In an hour-long program filled with dry humor—not to mention lots of audience laughter—philosopher, scholar and activist Judith Butler (they/them) spoke in depth on their new book at Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., on ...


Gay News

Kara Swisher talks truth, power in tech at Chicago Humanities event 2024-03-25
- Lesbian author, award-winning journalist and podcast host Kara Swisher spoke about truth and power in the tech industry through the lens of her most recent book, Burn Book: A Tech Love Story, March 21 at First ...


Gay News

RuPaul finds 'Hidden Meanings' in new memoir 2024-03-18
- RuPaul Andre Charles made a rare Chicago appearance for a book tour on March 12 at The Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave. Presented by National Public Radio station WBEZ 91.5 FM, the talk coincided with ...


Gay News

Without compromise: Holly Baggett explores lives of iconoclasts Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap 2024-03-04
- Jane Heap (1883-1964) and Margaret Anderson (1886-1973), each of them a native Midwesterner, woman of letters and iconoclast, had a profound influence on literary culture in both America and Europe in the early 20th Century. Heap ...


Gay News

There she goes again: Author Alison Cochrun discusses writing journey 2024-02-27
- By Carrie Maxwell When Alison Cochrun began writing her first queer romance novel in 2019, she had no idea it would change the course of her entire life. Cochrun, who spent 11 years as a high ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Women's college, banned books, military initiative, Oregon 2023-12-29
- After backlash regarding a decision to update its anti-discrimination policy and open enrollment to some transgender applicants, a Catholic women's college in Indiana will return to its previous admission policy, per The National Catholic Reporter. In ...


Gay News

NATIONAL School items, Miami attack, Elliot Page, Fire Island 2023-12-22
- In Virginia, new and returning members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County School Board were inaugurated—with some school board members opting to use banned books on the topics of slavery and LGBTQ+ ...


Gay News

Chicago author's new guide leads lesbian fiction authors toward inspiration and publication 2023-12-07
- From a press release: Award-winning and bestselling lesbian fiction author Elizabeth Andre—the pen name for a Chicago-based interracial lesbian couple—has published her latest book, titled Self-Publishing Lesbian Fiction, Write Your ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Tenn. law, banned books, rainbow complex, journalists quit 2023-12-01
- Under pressure from a lawsuit over an anti-LGBTQ+ city ordinance, officials in Murfreesboro, Tennessee removed language that banned homosexuality in public, MSNBC noted. Passed in June, Murfreesboro's "public decency" ordinance ...


Gay News

BOOKS Lucas Hilderbrand reflects on gay history in 'The Bars Are Ours' 2023-11-29
- In The Bars Are Ours (via Duke University Press), Lucas Hilderbrand, a professor of film and media studies at the University of California-Irvine, takes readers on a historical journey of gay bars, showing how the venues ...


Gay News

BOOKS Owen Keehnen takes readers to an 'oasis of pleasure' in 'Man's Country' 2023-11-27
- In the book Man's Country: More Than a Bathhouse, Chicago historian Owen Keehnen takes a literary microscope to the venue that the late local icon Chuck Renslow opened in 1973. Over decades, until it was demolished ...


Gay News

Photographer Irene Young launches book with stellar concerts 2023-11-20
- "Something About the Women" was appropriately the closing song for two sold-out, stellar concerts at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage November 19, in celebration of the new book of the same name by Irene Young, the legendary ...


Gay News

Rustin film puts a gay pioneer into the spotlight 2023-11-16
- The story of activist Bayard Rustin is one that should be told in classrooms everywhere. Instead, because Rustin was an openly same-gender-loving man, his legacy has gone relatively unnoticed outside of LGBTQ+-focused history books. Netflix hopes ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.