Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lambda Literary Awards

There has been an ongoing discussion among authors of gay-themed fiction round the subject of The Lambda Literary Awards not accepting entries from straight writers, particularly because there is a vast number of straight women writing M/M fiction these days. This discussion has been going on for well over a year, and it recently heated up again on a couple of online writing groups that I belong to.

Many, if not most, of the more vocal writers I know denounce Lambda for not allowing entries by straight women. They feel there is a huge body of gay-themed work being ignored by the powers that be, and if Lambda doesn’t recognized that work, who will?

On the other hand, Lambda created these awards as a means to recognize queer writers, because glbt writers were being ignored or excluded from other awards. And by letting straight women participate, it would dilute the original meaning, which is to highlight queer writers.

I can easily see both sides. Straight women writing m/m fiction advance the world of queer writing as much as gay or lesbian writers do. But, the Lambda Literary Awards are not for the best lgbtq themed books, they are awards to honor the best lgbtq authors. They figure there are plenty of awards out there where straight writers can compete, and they don't want another contest where lgbtq writers are pushed aside by the vast numbers of straight writers.

An example of this type of award would the Black Oscars. Tired of being overlooked by the Academy Awards, African-American actors, directors, producers and executives launched the Black Oscars more than two decades ago to celebrate black performers. A ceremony held on the eve of Oscar night, the Black Oscars -- which includes such participants as James Earl Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Whitney Houston and Will Smith -- was traditionally a time for black Hollywood to honor its own. In the twenty-five years of these Black Oscars, was anyone bitching that white, Hispanic, or Asian actors, directors and producers were excluded?

I guess my feeling is, if focusing on queer writers, rather than books, is what Lambda wants to do, then they should be able to do that without criticism. There are certainly enough straight authors writing m/m fiction that they could organize their own awards.

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