Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lambda GLBT Book Awards Go Heterophobic

Lamda award entry guidelines for 2009:

"The Lambda Literary Foundation (LLF) seeks to elevate the status of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people throughout society by rewarding and promoting excellence among LGBT writers who use their work to explore LGBT lives ... As such, it should be noted that the Lambda Literary Awards are based principally on the LGBT content, the gender orientation/identity of the author, and the literary merit of the work." (emphasis added)

Wow. Lambda overtakes RWA in the area of introducing intrusive and judgemental rules without any prior discussion or need for it.

How many prior award winners would not meet these requirements? I'll start:
1988 recipient in the category of Gay Men's Science Fiction/Fantasy--Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey (DAW). Lackey is female and straight (shock, horror).

Via Teddypig

See also:
No room for the heteronorm?/An Update

See also:
Shame On Me, Shame On You
Lambda Literary Awards: Part II

See also:
The Founder Of The Lambda Literary Awards Speaks His Mind


Anonymous said...


So that means we're supposed to send them a DNA sample or something?

Angelia Sparrow said...

Do I really have to find the video of a youthful indiscretion to prove I'm bi?

There also feels like an element of sexism. "Sorry ladies, you can't write about MEN. Only men are qualified to do that."

Maybe I'm out of line, but shouldn't a writing award be about, you know, WRITING and not the person doing it?

But hey, their award, their rules. If they want to say it's only open to green-eyed twinks born under a full moon, they can.

Angie said...

They can set whatever rules they want for their award, but I have to say my respect for the award and its sponsoring group just went way down.


Mary Winter said...

Magic's Pawn was the first book in the sf/f genre I read. It was THE book that got me into sf/f. I mean, I was a teenage, horse crazy girl, and I stumbled across this book in K-Mart with a hot guy and a horse on the cover. Sold!

Oh dear, I don't think that was what this organization intended when they gave the book the prize.

Fiona Glass said...

Hmm. If only men can write about men, shouldn't it also work that only women can write about women? And only murderers can write about murder, and only aliens can write about life in outer space and and and...

Kind of silly really...

treva said...

Just checkin' -- if you're bi could you write m/m? Or maybe do you have to be male and bi and write m/m ('scuse me, I guess you would write gay and not m/m)? Or do you have to be writing the right story to match the right orientation?

Barbara Sheridan said...

I imagine they've gotten so many submissions from female m/m authors that they're trying to cut down on entires to save themselves the time and trouble of going through them all to pick finalists.

Tracey said...

I imagine they've gotten so many submissions from female m/m authors that they're trying to cut down on entires to save themselves the time and trouble of going through them all to pick finalists.

Yes, God forbid that Lambda give a literary award based on quality and content, rather than on genitalia and sexual identity!

roslynholcomb said...

Do you think they're getting some pushback from gay erotica writers about all the straight m/m writers and that's why they've instituted this change? Maybe they feel they're being pushed out of their own genre?

Angie said...

Maybe they feel they're being pushed out of their own genre?

If that's the case, then the change should've been more substantial than just a note about the judging. Call it the "Lambda GLBT Writers' Award" or something, so it's very clear what the point is. But don't call it a "Literary" award when the judging is based on other things besides literary merit.


Alisha Rai said...

Classy move. Someone needs to blatantly lie and see if TPTB actually pursue it. I'd love to see a demand for a picture and birth certificate next.

Sincerely, Al

Anonymous said...

I wonder what their stance is on hermaphrodites? And how about writers who have had sex changes? Maybe proof of purchase?

roslynholcomb said...

I don't write m/m so I don't really have a dog in this fight, but as a black writer who knows I have no chance in hell at winning a Rita, I think I'd be more than a bit annoyed if suddenly there were a bunch of white women who started writing black romances for a white audience. I'd be even more annoyed if they started complaining because they couldn't win an Emma. To me it's like the way white people complain about the presence of magazines like Ebony or Black Enterprise. Somehow they forget those magazines and other 'black only' things were created because the mainstream refused to include us. I assume that Lambda is trying to create a space of their own because they've been excluded elsewhere. It would seem to me that the problem isn't that Lambda is excluding hetero writers, he problem is that the mainstream has always excluded gay writers. If straight women who write m/m fiction want an award perhaps they should create one of their own. Welcome to the world of being a marginalized group.

veinglory said...

The thing is Lambda has existed since the late Eighties as an award for a genre of fiction. If some elements want to turn it into a prize for GLBT authors then perhaps they should start a new organisation rather than alienate a large group, or all sexualities, who liked Lambda being what it has been for the last 20 years? It is rather like the CEO of Levis saying that from now on they are only going to make business suits.

roslynholcomb said...

Maybe they decided to change it because of this great influx of straight women writing m/m books. I couldn't say, but presumably it's their award and they can set the criteria as they see fit.

I think it's strange that straight people think they have the right to tell a gay organization what their award should be. Apparently they've decided to change it, perhaps in response to a variable that didn't exist when the award was first created. Either way, it seems to me that it makes more sense for straight women who write m/m to create their own award, rather than expect Lambda to accommodate them. Seems that you are a bit outside their mission.

Selah March said...

Only because they've changed the mission. Which is fine. As you said, their award, their rules.

But an award created by straight women for gay fiction that excludes gay writers?

Think about that for a moment.

Talk about standing downwind of a shit-storm. No, thank you.

roslynholcomb said...

Why would they have to exclude gay writers? I mean, I thought the whole point was to have an award where anyone who wrote gay fiction was eligible regardless of sexuality. Then again, their group, their award clearly they can make their own rules as they see fit.

Selah March said...

So basically you're saying we straight female writers of m/m should create an award based entirely on the merits of the work submitted, having nothing to do with who writes it? Let the art speak for itself?

Wow. I wonder why no one's ever thought of that before.

Oh...wait... Never mind.

I agree that Lambda has every right to set up their awards any way they see fit. I'm sure the fact that I and many others think their decision was short-sighted and hypocritical is no skin off their collective ass...unless, of course, they'd hoped to build the award into something prestigious and meaningful that could be appreciated by those of us of ALL genders and orientations who read and write gay fiction. In that case, they've alienated a chunk of their intended audience.

But if they don't care about the larger public perception of their own award, I don't see why I should. Since the award is not meant for me, either as a reader or a writer, I can ignore it without regret.

Nicola Griffith said...

Katherine V. Forrest, the new interim President of the LLF board of trustees, has written a letter clarifying the 2009 Lambda Literary Award guidelines.

I've posted it on my blog:

Unknown said...

This post has been included in a Linkspam roundup.