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On the Scene: The 23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards

Lambda

(Jacques Cornell)

Some of the world’s finest LGBT writers and their admirers turned up at the School of Visual Arts Theater in Manhattan last night for the 23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards. The ceremony, attended by celebrities like Bryan Batt (Mad Men), former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, TV icon Stefanie Powers and hosted by the hilarious Lea DeLaria (“rhymes with ‘malaria’ ”), honored exceptional queer-themed work in over 20 categories, and the night’s most distinguished honorees, three-time Pulitzer-winner Edward Albee and Scottish crime writer Val McDermid, received the Foundation’s Pioneer Awards for paving the way for gay authors.

One of the highlights of the evening came when Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally (Kiss of the Spider Woman) presented the Pioneer Award to Albee. “Edward has avoided gay subject matter to such a degree that people have wondered if he is indeed gay,” McNally said. “Well, I’m here to tell you, in no uncertain terms, that he is. I picked Edward up in 1959 at a party … I thought he was gorgeous and sexy.”

Both McNally and Albee spoke of what it means to be a gay author. In accepting his award, Albee said, “I’m not a gay writer. I’m a writer who happens to be gay … I’ve written a number of plays with gay characters in them, but I have never written a play that could be considered a ‘gay play’ because I consider that a lessening of the creative act, to limit oneself to one’s own sexual practices as subject matter for one’s work.”

Lambda

Following the awards ceremony, the party moved to Cheim & Read in Chelsea where performance trio Unitard provided funny, off-kilter entertainment. There, I tracked down Stefanie Powers, who presented the award for Gay Fiction and has recently written a book of her own, One from the Hart. We spoke about her appearance on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, her relationship with William Holden, and the evolving state of LGBT literature. “The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities are in a position where they’re expected to fill a niche, to make a point of themselves,” she said. “We all long for the time when nobody has to do that.”

See below for the full list of winners!

Lesbian Fiction
Inferno (A Poet’s Novel), by Eileen Myles, OR Books

Gay Fiction
Union Atlantic, by Adam Haslett, Doubleday

Lesbian Debut Fiction
Sub Rosa, by Amber Dawn, Arsenal Pulp Press

Gay Debut Fiction
Bob the Book, by David Pratt, Chelsea Station Editions

Lesbian Memoir/Biography (TIE)
Hammer! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life, by Barbara Hammer, The Feminist Press
Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures, by Julie Marie Wade, Colgate University Press

Gay Memoir/Biography
Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist and Sexual Renegade, by Justin Spring, Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Lesbian Mystery
Fever of the Bone, by Val McDermid, HarperCollins

Gay Mystery
Echoes, by David Lennon, Blue Spike Publishing

LGBT Anthology
Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, edited by Kate Bornstein & S. Bear Bergman, Seal Press

LGBT Children’s/Young Adult
Wildthorn, by Jane Eagland, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

LGBT Drama
Oedipus at Palm Springs, by The Five Lesbian Brothers: Maureen Angelos, Dominique Dibbell, Peg Healey, and Lisa Kron, Samuel French, Inc.

LGBT Nonfiction
King Kong Theory, by Virginia Despentes, The Feminist Press

LGBT SF/Fantasy/Horror
Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories, by Sandra McDonald, Lethe Press

LGBT Studies (TIE)
Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism, by Scott Herring, New York University Press
Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality, by Gayle Salaman, Columbia University Press

Bisexual Fiction
The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet, by Myrlin Hermes, Harper Perennial

Bisexual Nonfiction
Border Sexualities, Border Families in Schools, by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, Rowman & Littlefield

Transgender Fiction
Holding Still For as Long as Possible, by Zoe Whittall, House of Anansi Press

Transgender Nonfiction
Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, edited by Noach Dzmura, North Atlantic Books

Lesbian Erotica
Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica, edited by Tristan Taormino, Cleis Press

Gay Erotica
Teleny and Camille, by Jon Macy, Northwest Press

Lesbian Poetry
The Nights Also, by Anna Swanson, Tightrope Books

Gay Poetry
Pleasure, by Brian Teare, Ahsahta Press

Lesbian Romance
River Walker, by Cate Culpepper, Bold Strokes Books

Gay Romance
Normal Miguel, by Erik Orrantia, Cheyenne Press

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