"Suck It, Fate!": The 2010 Lambda Literary Awards
“... And to fate, who made sure I had a pimple right on my upper lip, who cancelled my first flight, and then when I did get a flight, the flight attendant dropped a Diet Coke right in my lap." Colette Moody, writer of The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin and winner of a 2010 Lammy in the Lesbian Romance (which is not an oxymoron, by the way) category, held her clear, glass Lammy Award up high and shook it, a new victory, despite seemingly significant signs pointing otherwise. "Suck it, fate!"
We—the audience—erupted in laughter and applause. It was that kind of night.
The 22nd Annual Lamda Literary Awards took place last week in New York City, and for the second year in a row I attended. I have paid attention to the Lammy shortlist and finalists for years, as I come from nearly 10 years of experience in bookselling and was always trying to get bookstores to carry more queer titles, and because I love to read stories about queer folks. Reading a really satisfying book is one of my favorite things to do, up there with a really satisfying meal and really satisfying sex.
I love it.
I love it, I love it, I love it, to borrow from Larry Kramer, (honored, along with Kate Clinton, with the Pioneer Award at the ceremony). He said, "I love writing. I love writing. I love it, I love it, I love it. I can't imagine a life without writing. To be able to fashion words into stuff that people read is the greatest gift."
And being able to read those words that writers fashion into stories, archives, memoirs, and histories is also one of the greatest gifts.
Books save lives, and "Queer books save queer lives," writes Nicola Griffith, one of the Lambda Literary Foundation Board members. It has been essential that I read about my people, my heritage, my slightly different but still well-traveled path of partnering with women, being genderqueer, being kinky, being an activist, going against the grain in many ways. I came of age just before the start of the Internet and am perhaps the last generation that will always be grateful for the libraries, the queer and feminist and activist bookstores, for taking a major part in my identity formation as the safe haven where I could lounge and read and cruise and absorb and eavesedrop on other older queer's conversations.
"I want to thank you," said Pauline Park, Chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, as she introduced the nominees in the Transgender category. "I read everything I could at A Different Light bookstore in West Hollywood, and they never charged me, and they let me cruise. It shaped me, gave me self-esteem."
My heart leapt at the mention of one of the great queer bookstores, much like it did during last year's very moving tribute to Oscar Wilde Books, the queer bookstore in New York City which closed in 2009. Now, I suppose, we have the Internet revolution, we have thousands and thousands of results when we simply type in "gay" or "lesbian" or "bisexual" or "trans" or "queer" into Google, we have message boards, and Facebook groups, we have free web hosts which offer easy ways to record our own lives and share them with the world when we fear our stories aren't being heard or valued.
And perhaps like all great moments of change, though the door to Oscar Wilde closed, another opened, in that the Lambda Literary Foundation has completely re-visioned its web presence since last year, re-launching their website just a few months ago as the one-stop information shop for queer writers, editors, teachers, anthology contributors, and booksellers. It's beautiful, if you haven't yet seen it for yourself; you're bound to find various plenty of titles that will inspire you to zip over to your local independent bookstore and slap down some of your hard-earned recession money for the fine opportunity to read.