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."The awards were instituted in 1988.
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,and categories for bisexual and transgender literature were added as the community became more inclusive. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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).
|Ceremony||Year of presentation||Year of publication|
|1st Lambda Literary Awards||1989||1988|
|2nd Lambda Literary Awards||1990||1989|
|3rd Lambda Literary Awards||1991||1990|
|4th Lambda Literary Awards||1992||1991|
|5th Lambda Literary Awards||1993||1992|
|6th Lambda Literary Awards||1994||1993|
|7th Lambda Literary Awards||1995||1994|
|8th Lambda Literary Awards||1996||1995|
|9th Lambda Literary Awards||1997||1996|
|10th Lambda Literary Awards||1998||1997|
|11th Lambda Literary Awards||1999||1998|
|12th Lambda Literary Awards||2000||1999|
|13th Lambda Literary Awards||2001||2000|
|14th Lambda Literary Awards||2002||2001|
|15th Lambda Literary Awards||2003||2002|
|16th Lambda Literary Awards||2004||2003|
|17th Lambda Literary Awards||2005||2004|
|18th Lambda Literary Awards||2006||2005|
|19th Lambda Literary Awards||2007||2006|
|20th Lambda Literary Awards||2008||2007|
|21st Lambda Literary Awards||2009||2008|
|22nd Lambda Literary Awards||2010||2009|
|23rd Lambda Literary Awards||2011||2010|
|24th Lambda Literary Awards||2012||2011|
|25th Lambda Literary Awards||2013||2012|
|26th Lambda Literary Awards||2014||2013|
|27th Lambda Literary Awards||2015||2014|
|28th Lambda Literary Awards||2016||2015|
|29th Lambda Literary Awards||2017||2016|
|30th Lambda Literary Awards||2018||2017|
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 Outby Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu was forced to compete (and lose) in the category "Lesbian Anthology". Additionally, in 2005, Directed by Desire: Collected Poems, a posthumous collection of the bisexual Jamaican American writer June Jordan's work, had to compete (and win) in the category "Lesbian Poetry".
Led by BiNet USA,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.
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.Within a year the executive director who had initially approved of the book's inclusion resigned. 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."