New York, NY – The winners of the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards were announced last night in a sold-out gala ceremony hosted by comedienne Kate Clinton at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Author of the groundbreaking Tales of the City books, Armistead Maupin, and seminal influence on second-wave feminism Kate Millett, were the Pioneer Award honorees. Taking place the same week of Book Expo America – the book publishing industry’s largest annual gathering of booksellers, publishers, and others in the industry – the Lambda ceremony brought together over 400 attendees, sponsors, and celebrities to celebrate excellence in LGBT literature. Legendary entertainer Lypsinka gave a special performance at the ceremony, and the VIP After-Party at hotspot Slate was a night to remember with Lady Bunny as DJ.
As “mastress” of ceremonies, Clinton treated the audience to her brand of topical, political comedy that The New York Times has called, “Quick-witted, clear-spoken… a bizarrely logical, seemingly free-associating style of delivery…” Welcoming the members of the audience from out of town, she joked, “If you’re here to buy a Big Gulp or smoke a cigarette in a park…you’ll have to go to New Jersey.” Later, describing Michele Bachmann as “the SkyMall of useless ideas,” Clinton set her target on the conservative right and their attack on women’s reproductive rights, to hearty laughs and whoops of support from the audience. Also in attendance were presenters such as Olympia Dukakis, Charles Busch, Frank Bruni, Ally Sheedy, and Ross Bleckner.
Awards were presented in twenty-four categories. Among the winners were Farzana Doctor for her novel, Six Metres of Pavment, Justin Vivian Bond for Tango: My Childhood Backwards and in High Heels, and Rahul Mehta for his debut collection of short fiction, Quarantine. In his acceptance speech, Mehta reflected on his first experience encountering Tales of the City, as a scared and closeted college freshman in North Carolina, citing Maupin’s books as part of a pivotal moment of self-acceptance in his life.
Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis presented the Foundation’s Pioneer Award to Maupin, calling Anna Madigral, the Tales of the City character she portrayed in the television adaptation, the most meaningful role of her career. “What happened for me when I did Anna Madrigal was that I understood the most important thing was to survive myself-and that’s what Anna Madrigal did.” Accepting his honor, Maupin remarked how moved he’d been by Mehta’s earlier anecdote, and pointed to the similar experience he’d had when he first discovered the work of Christopher Isherwood as young man. “I thought: Who wrote this? Where did this come from?”
The other Pioneer Award was given to iconic feminist Millett and was presented by Dr. Eleanor Pam, a pioneer in the women’s movement and a founding member of NOW, the National Organization of Women, as well as an expert on women and violence. “I am so moved to have been chosen to present the Lambda Pioneer award to Kate Millett,” Dr. Pam began her introduction, “someone I have known for more than 55 years, and a true pioneer in life as well as in literature.” In her speech, Millett charmed the audience with her insistence that she was “a farmer, really,” and shared her hope that the Millett Center for the Arts, the arts colony for women she’s established in LaGrange, NY, will be her legacy.
Stacey D’Erasmo, author of the novels Tea, A Seahorse Year, and The Sky Belowand Brian Leung, author of the short story collection, World Famous Love Acts and the novels Lost Men and Take Me Home received the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prizes.
24th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners
Six Metres of Pavement, by Farzana Doctor, Dundrun Press
The Empty Family, by Colm Tóibín, Scribner
Lesbian Debut Fiction
Zipper Mouth, by Laurie Weeks, The Feminist Press
Gay Debut Fiction
Quarantine: Stories, by Rahul Mehta, Harper Perennial
When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love & Revolution, Jeanne Córdova, Spinsters Ink
The Jack Bank: A Memoir of a South African Childhood, by Glen Retief, St. Martin’s Press
Dying to Live, by Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou, Bold Strokes Books
Red White Black and Blue, by Richard Stevenson, MLR Press
Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader, ed. by Michael Hames-García and Ernesto Javier Martínez, Duke University Press
LGBT Children’s/Young Adult
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy, by Bil Wright, Simon & Schuster
A Menopausal Gentleman: The Solo Performances of Peggy Shaw, by Peggy Shaw, University of Michigan Press
A Queer History of the United States, by Michael Bronski, Beacon Press
The German, by Lee Thomas, Lethe Press
Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes, by Lisa L. Moore, University of Minnesota Press
The Correspondence Artist, by Barbara Browning, Two Dollar Radio
The Horizontal Poet, by Jan Steckel, Zeitgest Press
Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, ed. by Tristan Taormino, Cleis Press
Tango: My Childhood Backwards and in High Heels, by Justin Vivian Bond, The Feminist Press
Story of L, by Debra Hyde, Ravenous Romance
All Together, by Dirk Vanden, iloveyoudivine Alerotica
Love Cake, by Leah Lakshmi Piepza-Samarasinha, TSAR Publications
A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, ed. by David Trinidad, Nightboat Books
Taken by Surprise, by Kenna White, Bella Books
Every Time I Think of You, by Jim Provenzano, CreateSpace/Myrmidude Press