Lambda Literary Foundation Rule Changes

On Tuesday Erastes will post a much more articulate piece about the recent decision of the Lambda Literary Foundation to redefine its submission guidelines for competitions and awards. This change means that only GBLTQ individuals who self identify will be allowed to enter their books in the different Lammie categories. Since this is a private organization LLF can make whatever changes to its competition rules it feels are appropriate to protect its core membership. However the group most impacted negatively by this change are straight male and female M/M authors and writers of gay fiction who are no longer eligible enter their books in the Lammies.

Why am I posting on this? Because Victor J. Banis did a wonderful opinion piece that I thought everyone who frequents this blog should see. Here’s the link to Victor’s post

http://www.mlrpressauthors.com/2009/09/the-little-lost-lambdas-some-thoughts-by-victor-j-banis/

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10 comments

      • Davina
        I always wondered why Josh never won despite his body of work and being shortlisted several times. I thought that this year he had a great shot with Mexican Heat that he and Laura Baumbach co-wrote, but they were bridesmaids again.

        **

        Well now that everything is out in the open in terms of the judging criteria for the Lammies, perhaps things will get back to normal between gay and straight authors who have nothing to do with LLF’s policies.

        Reply
  • Just for background, this is the LLF’s statement on the awards policy Mr. Banis is writing about:
    * * *
    Clarification of Lambda Literary Foundation Policy Guidelines of Nominations, 2009 Lambda Literary Awards, from Katherine V. Forrest, Interim President, Board of Trustees
    .
    September 25, 2009 – The Board of Lambda Literary Foundation, under the leadership of Christopher Rice, spent much of last year discussing how our literature has evolved, and the actual mission of the Foundation given the perilous place we find ourselves in with our drastically changed market conditions. We also took into consideration the despair of our own writers when a heterosexual writer, who has written a fine book about us, wins a Lambda Award, when one or more of our own LGBT writers may have as a Finalist a book that may be the only chance in a career at a Lambda Literary Award.
    .
    We discussed two essential questions: who we are, what we are here to accomplish. We discussed every single word of this, our Mission statement: The Lambda Literary Foundation is dedicated to raising the status of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people throughout society by rewarding and promoting excellence among LGBT writers who use their work to explore LGBT lives.
    .
    Lambda Literary Foundation is a service organization for our writers. Our LGBT family of writers. We celebrate those who support our writers, those in all the allied areas of our literature: our readers, publishers, booksellers, publicists, agents, etc. We celebrate straight allies of every kind and always have throughout our history, with the Bridge Builder Award, Small Press Award, Publishers Service Award, Editor’s Choice Award, among other awards and acknowledgments, and we’ll continue to do so.
    .
    Today we continue to be excluded in heterosexual society as we have been historically. Our books are taken from the shelves of libraries all over the country and even from the website of Amazon.com this year. It is more difficult to be an LGBT writer now than it has been in many decades, more difficult to make any income from our written words, much less a living. Publishers have closed, stores have closed, the markets seem to be shrinking with each passing day. It seems more urgent than ever that LLF be as active and supportive a service organization as we possibly can be for our own writers, and that’s what we’re working on, with a Board that could not be more passionate in our commitment. We will soon have a new, far more comprehensive website connecting all segments of our publishing world, and we’re determined to restore our Writers Retreat for emerging writers, the single most important initiative we’ve undertaken next to the Lambda Literary Awards.
    .
    As to what defines LGBT? That is not up to anyone at Lambda Literary Foundation to decide. The writers and publishers are the ones who will be doing the self-identifying. Sexuality today is fluid and we welcome and cherish this freedom. We take the nomination of any book at face value: if the book is nominated as LGBT, then the author is self-identifying as part of our LGBT family of writers, and that is all that is required. There are many permutations of LGBT and they’re all welcome as that LGBT term we’ve all adopted makes clear.
    .
    We hope this will clarify our policy and answer some of your questions and concerns. We welcome your comments.

    Reply
    • Batboy
      When I first heard about this policy I had a few questions – Was this policy always in place? If so, were straight writers advised about it in previous years, BEFORE they submitted their books for consideration? If not, did they enter the competitions unknowingly, paid their entry fees, but didn’t stand a chance of winning? If this is the case and they were discriminated against because their books were never really eligible, why the shell game?

      **

      This policy could have been cleared up years ago if Lambda were honest with the straight writers (male and female). They talk about the fact that a n umber of issues precipitated this announcement e.g. gay books are being taken off bookshelves and gay writers can’t make any money. The majority of gay books I believe are written today by straight writers so they are the ones who suffer more in this context. The recent amazonfail campaign was spearheaded by straight writers, and gay writers benefited as well, when amazon backed down.

      **

      Lambda seem to want to have it both ways – support from straight writers but they refuse to acknowledge them in their awards, except for a couple of areas.

      ***
      I applaud Lambda for disclosing their policy at this time, however, what took them so long?

      **

      I think they should have considered the impact of this policy change and had the appropriate communication in place BEFORE the statement was released, not after. This is one of the reasons why there is such a hue and cry and the great pity of all this is that the policy is now pitting gay and straight writers against each other. I have always valued and loved books by both gay and straight authors and continue to do so because they are all extremely talented.

      Reply
      • Wave,
        I don’t know what went into this decision, but I doubt it was a deliberate ‘shell game.’ My own guess, and it’s just a guess, is that back when the awards were first established, no one foresaw the huge increase in straight writers producing gay romance novels and the like, or that gay authors would become greatly outnumbered by straight authors among the entrants. If the spirit of the award was to encourage LGBT writers, and maintaining the status quo would have meant giving most of the awards to straight writers, the change was appropriate.
        There are many literary awards that recognize only writers in a particular category: women writers, Spanish language writers, disabled writers, and writers who celebrate their Icelandic heritage in prose. They all exclude someone or other. The Lambdas were meant as a way to support a particular community, and it is perfectly appropriate for them to limit entrants to members of that community.

        Reply
        • BB
          “The Lambdas were meant as a way to support a particular community, and it is perfectly appropriate for them to limit entrants to members of that community.”

          **

          I agree with you on this, that LLF can determine its own eligibility for awards and limit them to its core membership. But those entering the competitions in previous years didn’t know the rules beforehand, and now even the previous winners are suspect because straight writers feel that the playing field was not even. The Coretta Scott King award only goes to black authors, but the eligibility criteria is well known beforehand.

          **

          My concern is that it could not have escaped LLF’s notice over these many years that straight writers were entering their competitions in increasing numbers and outnumbering GBLTQ writers. They waited and buried their heads in the sand until this issue could no longer be ignored and then issued a statement in a ham handed way that was guaranteed to put the backs up of all their straight friends and allies. LLF needs the goodwill of publishers and straight authors. Their own GBLTQ authors are published by straight pubs. When they need help, these same straight authors run to the rescue e.g. amazonfail. Surely they could have come up with a compromise such as a transition over say 2 – 3 years?

          ***
          Anyway, it’s done now and I hope that the damage and rift between what seems to be two warring factions of writers will eventually be healed.

          Reply
  • Hi Stuart
    I’ll do a check of the Lammies over the last 2 years and send you a list by email.
    **

    You’re very welcome but it was actually Leslie who posted the definitions before I saw your question. I have a list of M/M definitions compiled by Tam which we haven’t moved from the blog as yet (we’re still moving 2 months later)*g* but I intend to post it before we close the blog.

    Reply
  • Hi Wave,

    I hope the following question is not too off-topic.

    *

    Which authors who define themselves as M/M writers currently hold awards from the Lambda Literary Foundation? I’d probably enjoy reading their books and they would end up being DIKs. Thanks for sending me definitions for the abbreviations… BTW! 🙂

    -Stuart

    Reply
    • Scott
      Here’s a truncated list of Lambda finalists that I posted last March
      ******

      GAY EROTICA

      Hard Working Men
      William Maltese, Victor J. Banis, Jardonn Smith, & J.P. Bowie
      MLR Press

      GAY ROMANCE

      Mexican Heat, Laura Baumbach & Josh Lanyon, MLR Press
      The Protector, N.L. Gassert, Seventh Window Publications

      LGBT SCI-FI/FANTASY/HORROR

      The Archer’s Heart, Astrid Amara, Blind Eye Books
      Wilde Stories 2008, Steve Berman, Lethe Press
      Turnskin, Nicole Kimberling, Blind Eye Books

      ****
      The winners are on the list I sent you earlier.

      Reply

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