Lambda Literary Award

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The Lambda Literary Award Medal Design 2008. Lambda award 2008.jpg
The Lambda Literary Award Medal Design 2008.

Lambda Literary Awards, also known as the "Lammys", are awarded yearly by the U.S.-based Lambda Literary Foundation to published works which celebrate or explore LGBT themes. Categories include Humor, Romance and Biography. To qualify, a book must have been published in the United States in the year current to the award. The Lambda Literary Foundation states that its mission is "to celebrate LGBT literature and provide resources for writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, and librarians – the whole literary community." [1] The awards were instituted in 1988.

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The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

The Lambda Literary Foundation is a LGBT literary organization. The group was incorporated in 1997, but traces its roots to 1987. The foundation aims to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature through programs that encourage development of emerging writers, including the annual Lambda Literary Award, the Writers' Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices, their website, their editorial staff Lambda Literary Review, their weekly e-newsletter Bookish, their annual anthology, their scholarships, and LGBTQ writers in schools program.

LGBT Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons

LGBT, or GLBT, is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In use since the 1990s, the term is an adaptation of the initialism LGB, which was used to replace the term gay in reference to the LGBT community beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s. Activists believed that the term gay community did not accurately represent all those to whom it referred.


The program has grown from 14 awards in early years to 22 awards today. Early categories such as HIV/AIDS literature were dropped as the prominence of the AIDS crisis within the gay community waned, [2] and categories for bisexual and transgender literature were added as the community became more inclusive. [2] In both the bisexual and transgender categories, one or two awards may be presented annually; if the number of submissions in a given year warrants, then separate awards for fiction and non-fiction are presented, while a smaller number of submissions results in a single award.

HIV/AIDS Spectrum of conditions caused by HIV infection

Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Following initial infection, a person may not notice any symptoms or may experience a brief period of influenza-like illness. Typically, this is followed by a prolonged period with no symptoms. As the infection progresses, it interferes more with the immune system, increasing the risk of developing common infections such as tuberculosis, as well as other opportunistic infections, and tumors that rarely affect people who have uncompromised immune systems. These late symptoms of infection are referred to as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This stage is often also associated with unintended weight loss.

Transgender Gender identity that does not match assigned sex

Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex. Some transgender people identify as transsexual if they desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another. Transgender – often shortened as trans – is also an umbrella term: in addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex, it may include people who are not exclusively masculine or feminine. Other definitions of transgender also include people who belong to a third gender, or else conceptualize transgender people as a third gender. Infrequently, the term transgender is defined very broadly to include cross-dressers, regardless of their gender identity.

In addition to the primary literary awards, the Lambda Literary Foundation also presents a number of special awards. The Pioneer Award is presented as a lifetime achievement award to a distinguished figure in the history of LGBT literature; the Bridge Builder Award is presented to a person, regardless of sexuality, who has been a prominent ally and advocate of the LGBT community; and the Trustee Award is presented to a writer who has made a considerable contribution to a wider awareness and understanding of the lives of LGBT people.

Beginning in 2011, the Lambda Literary Awards also took over the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize, formerly presented by the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. The award, endowed by academic and writer James Duggins, is presented annually to two LGBT writers, one male and one female, to honor their bodies of work. In 2013, the foundation instituted the Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award to honor young LGBT writers who have published at least one book; in 2016, the award was renamed to the Judith Markowitz Award, endowed by writer and philanthropist Judith Markowitz, while the Betty Berzon Award was taken over, and continues to be presented, by Publishing Triangle.

The Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize is an American literary award, presented annually to two writers, one male and one female, from the LGBT community to honour their body of work. First presented by the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in 2007, the award became part of the Lambda Literary Awards program in 2011.

Saints and Sinners is an alternative literary festival specializing in LGBT literature, held in various locations around the world-famous French Quarter neighborhood in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana each March.

Betty Berzon was an American author and psychotherapist known for her work with the gay and lesbian communities.

Award categories


  • Bisexual Literature or Bisexual Fiction, Bisexual Non-Fiction, Bisexual Poetry1
  • Gay Erotica
  • Gay Fiction
  • Gay Memoir or Biography
  • Gay Mystery
  • Gay Poetry
  • Gay Romance
  • Lesbian Erotica
  • Lesbian Fiction
  • Lesbian Memoir or Biography
  • Lesbian Mystery
  • Lesbian Poetry
  • Lesbian Romance
  • LGBT Anthology
  • LGBT Children's or Young Adult
  • LGBT Debut Fiction
  • LGBT Drama
  • LGBT Graphic Novel
  • LGBT Non-Fiction
  • LGBT Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror
  • LGBT Studies
  • Transgender Literature or Transgender Fiction, Transgender Non-Fiction, Transgender Poetry1

The Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction is an annual literary award, presented by the Lambda Literary Foundation to a work of fiction on gay male themes. As the award is presented based on themes in the work, not the sexuality or gender of the writer, women and heterosexual men may also be nominated for or win the award.

The Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry is an annual literary award, presented by the Lambda Literary Foundation to a gay-themed book of poetry by a male writer.

The Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction is an annual literary award, presented by the Lambda Literary Foundation to a work of fiction on lesbian themes. As the award is presented based on themes in the work, not the sexuality or gender of the writer, men and heterosexual women may also be nominated for or win the award.


1 In both the bisexual and transgender categories, presentation may vary according to the number of eligible titles submitted in any given year. If the number of titles warrants, then separate awards are presented in either two (Fiction and Nonfiction, with the Fiction category inclusive of poetry titles) or three (Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry) categories, while if a smaller number of titles is deemed eligible, then a merged Literature shortlist is put forward. However, even when the category shortlists have been merged, judges still retain the right to identify a single winner in the unlisted category; for example, at the 25th Lambda Literary Awards in 2013 the judges named both fiction and non-fiction winners in the Bisexual Literature category, and at the 29th Lambda Literary Awards in 2017 the judges picked a title from the Bisexual Fiction shortlist as the winner in Bisexual Poetry despite the lack of an advance poetry shortlist.

The 25th Lambda Literary Awards were held on June 3, 2013, to honor works of LGBT literature published in 2012.

The 29th Lambda Literary Awards were held on June 12, 2017, to honour works of LGBT literature published in 2016. The list of nominees was released on March 14.


Ellen Hart has won five awards in the Lesbian Mystery category, the most by any single author, and is one of only three writers to have won the award more than once (with three-time winner Katherine V. Forrest and two-time winner J. M. Redmann). Similarly, Michael Nava has won five awards in the Gay Mystery category, the most by any single author, and is one of only four writers to have won the award more than once (with three-time winner John Morgan Wilson, two-time winner R. D. Zimmerman, and two-time winner Marshall Thornton). Marshall Thornton is the only author in the gay mystery category to have won twice for two different series.

Ellen Hart is the award-winning mystery author of the Jane Lawless and Sophie Greenaway series. She was born in Maine in August 1949. A professional chef for 14 years, Hart's mysteries include culinary elements similar to those of Diane Mott Davidson.

Katherine V. Forrest is an American writer, known for her novels about lesbian police detective Kate Delafield.

Jean M. Redmann is an American novelist best known for her mystery series featuring New Orleans private investigator Micky Knight.

Alison Bechdel has won four awards in the Humor category, the most by any single author, and is one of five writers to have won the award more than once (with Joe Keenan, Michael Thomas Ford, David Sedaris, and David Rakoff). The Humor category has been discontinued.

Nicola Griffith and Melissa Scott have each won four awards in the Scifi/Fantasy/Horror category, and are two of six writers to have won the SFFH award more than once (with Stephen Pagel, Jim Grimsley, and Lee Thomas).

Sarah Waters has won three awards in the Lesbian Fiction category, for Tipping the Velvet (2000), Fingersmith (2002), and The Night Watch in (2007), and is one of only three writers to have won the Lesbian Fiction award more than once (with two-time winners Dorothy Allison and Achy Obejas).

Mark Doty and Adrienne Rich have each won three awards in the Poetry category, and are two of seven poets to have won the award more than once (with two-time winners Joan Larkin, Michael Klein, Marilyn Hacker, Audre Lorde, and J. D. McClatchy)

Richard Labonté, Radclyffe, and Tristan Taormino have each won two awards in the Erotica category, each winning once before the category was split into Gay and Lesbian subdivisions, and each winning their second after the category was split.

Karin Kallmaker and Michael Thomas Ford have each won two awards in the Romance category, each winning one before the category was split into Gay and Lesbian subdivisions – Kallmaker with Maybe Next Time and Ford with Last Summer, but in 2004 – and each winning their second after the category was split – Ford with Changing Tides in 2008 and Kallmaer with The Kiss That Counted in 2009.

Colm Tóibín is the only writer to have won two awards in the Gay Fiction category for The Master in 2004 and for The Empty Family in 2011.

Paul Monette is the only writer to have won two awards in the Gay Non-Fiction category, for Borrowed Time in 1989 and for Becoming a Man in 1993.

Lillian Faderman is the only writer to have won awards in seven different categories, having received:

  • The Editor's Choice Award for Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers in 1992
  • The Fiction Anthology Award for Chloe Plus Olivia in 1995
  • The Lesbian Studies Award for To Believe in Women in 2000
  • The Autobiography/Memoir Award for Naked in the Promised Land in 2004
  • The LGBT Arts & Culture award for Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics and Lipstick Lesbians in 2007
  • The LGBT Non-Fiction award for Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics and Lipstick Lesbians in 2007
  • The Pioneer Award in 2013.

Several writers have won awards in more than one category in the same year for the same work (note that according to current guidelines a book may only be entered in one category):

Several writers have won awards in more than one category in the same year for different works:

Several other writers have won awards in more than one category in different years and for different works:

Several authors have won awards in three different categories:


Numerous Lambda Award-winning works have been adapted for film and television:


  • AIDS Literature (1–3)
  • Anthologies – Fiction
  • Anthologies – Non-Fiction
  • Arts and Culture
  • Autobiography/Memoir
  • Belles Lettres
  • Biography
  • Editor's Choice
  • Erotica
  • Gay Anthology
  • Gay Debut Fiction
  • Gay Mystery/Science Fiction (1)
  • Gay Non-Fiction
  • Gay Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror
  • Gay Small Press
  • Gay Studies
  • Humor
  • Lesbian Anthology
  • Lesbian Debut Fiction
  • Lesbian Mystery/Science Fiction (1)
  • Lesbian Non-Fiction
  • Lesbian Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror
  • Lesbian Small Press
  • Lesbian Studies
  • Photography/Visual Arts
  • Poetry
  • Publisher Service
  • Romance
  • Small Press
  • Spirituality
  • Transgender/Bisexual

Awards by year

The Lambda Literary Awards are presented each year to honor works of literature published in the previous year; accordingly, the first awards ceremony may be described in different sources as either the 1989 awards (for the year of presentation) or the 1988 awards (for the year in which the nominated works were published).

CeremonyYear of presentationYear of publication
1st Lambda Literary Awards 19891988
2nd Lambda Literary Awards 19901989
3rd Lambda Literary Awards 19911990
4th Lambda Literary Awards 19921991
5th Lambda Literary Awards 19931992
6th Lambda Literary Awards 19941993
7th Lambda Literary Awards 19951994
8th Lambda Literary Awards 19961995
9th Lambda Literary Awards 19971996
10th Lambda Literary Awards 19981997
11th Lambda Literary Awards 19991998
12th Lambda Literary Awards 20001999
13th Lambda Literary Awards 20012000
14th Lambda Literary Awards 20022001
15th Lambda Literary Awards 20032002
16th Lambda Literary Awards 20042003
17th Lambda Literary Awards 20052004
18th Lambda Literary Awards 20062005
19th Lambda Literary Awards 20072006
20th Lambda Literary Awards 20082007
21st Lambda Literary Awards 20092008
22nd Lambda Literary Awards 20102009
23rd Lambda Literary Awards 20112010
24th Lambda Literary Awards 20122011
25th Lambda Literary Awards 20132012
26th Lambda Literary Awards 20142013
27th Lambda Literary Awards 20152014
28th Lambda Literary Awards 20162015
29th Lambda Literary Awards 20172016
30th Lambda Literary Awards 20182017


Bisexual Community/Bi Any Other Name

In 1992, despite requests from the bisexual community for a more appropriate and inclusive category, the groundbreaking bisexual anthology Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out [3] by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu was forced to compete (and lose) in the category "Lesbian Anthology". [4] Additionally, in 2005, Directed by Desire: Collected Poems, [5] a posthumous collection of the bisexual Jamaican American writer June Jordan's work, had to compete (and win) in the category "Lesbian Poetry". [6]

Led by BiNet USA, [7] and assisted by other bisexual organizations including the American Institute of Bisexuality, BiPOL, and Bialogue, the bisexual community launched a multi-year struggle that eventually culminated in 2006 with the addition of a Bisexual category. [8]

Transgender Community/The Man Who Would Be Queen

In 2004, the book The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism by the highly controversial researcher J. Michael Bailey was announced as a finalist in the Transgender category of the 2003 Awards.

Transgender people immediately protested the nomination and gathered thousands of petition signatures in opposition within a few days. After the petition, the Foundation's judges examined the book more closely, decided that they considered it transphobic and removed it from their list of finalists. [9] Within a year the executive director who had initially approved of the book's inclusion resigned. [10] Executive director Charles Flowers later stated that "the Bailey incident revealed flaws in our awards nomination process, which I have completely overhauled since becoming the foundation’s executive director in January 2006." [11]

See also

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  1. "News and Announcements". Lambda Literary Foundation. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  2. 1 2 Dewey, Charlsie (May 28, 2013). "Lambda Literary Foundation marks 25 years of LGBT writers". Windy City Times . Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  3. "Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out Review". International Gay & Lesbian Review. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  4. "1991 Lambda Literary Awards Recipients". Lambda Literary Foundation. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  5. "Directed by Desire: Collected Poems". Copper Canyon Press. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  6. "2005 Lambda Literary Awards Recipients". Lambda Literary Foundation. Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  7. Curry, Wendy (2007). "What makes a book bisexual?". Curried Spam. BiNet USA. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  8. Chuck Stewart, Proud Heritage: People, Issues, and Documents of the LGBT Experience. ABC-CLIO, 2014. ISBN   9781610693998. p. 84.
  9. Letellier, Patrick (16 March 2004). "Group rescinds honor for disputed book". PlanetOut. Archived from the original on 5 February 2008. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  10. Schwartz, Nomi (16 June 2005). "Lambda Literary Foundation Announces Major Changes". American Booksellers Association . Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  11. Flowers, Charles (September 20, 2007). Letter to the New York Times, Sept 20, 2007. Archived 2008-05-17 at the Wayback Machine