The Lambda Literary Awards were announced this Thursday, and after my months of coverage leading up to the event, it is only fitting that I summarize the experience of the awards event for you here. If you would like to relive the moderately thorough liveblog experience you can read the Topside Press liveblog here. Here is an incredibly brief round up of notable winners:
Lots of good titles won, including Zoe Whittall’s Holding Still For As Long As Possible (Transgender Fiction) and Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman, and containing the work of an astounding 51 writers. Nominated in two categories, Gender Outlaws: TNG won in the extremely competitive LGBT Anthology category. The Transgender Non-Fiction category went to Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community edited by Noach Dzmura. The winner of the LGBT Sci-fi/Horror/Fantasy category was Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories, by Sandra McDonald, and the titular character is a transwoman. The winner of Lesbian Debut Fiction was Sub Rosa by Amber Dawn, who was spotted at the Original Plumbing party in New York last night. Finally, in the spirit of transman/butch solidarity, I also feel compelled to include mention of Eileen Myles, who I had never seen in person before. Her book Inferno won for Lesbian Fiction, and I had the pleasure of discovering that she is basically the coolest human in the universe.
The other highlight (lowlight?) of the evening was Edward Albee, who was being honored with a lifetime achievement award. He was introduced by his longtime friend, playwright Terrence McNally, who spent an great deal of his allotted time assuring the audience that Mr. Albee was, in fact, a homosexual. (It is arguable that Edward Albee’s plays aren’t particularly gay, though they are sexual, at times explicitly so, and I have always imagined that they exist to make fun of straight people.)
When it was Mr. Albee’s turn to speak he explained in great detail that he was not a gay writer, but that he was a writer who “just happened to be gay”. I couldn’t help but wonder why he was being honored at a gay* event that ostensibly celebrates gay authors who are interested in writing about gay subjects and publishing books with gay protagonists. The more he defensively droned on, the more I wished that he had stayed home. It wasn’t until he told us that he wasn’t “just gay” but that he was a part of “many minority groups.” That I got worries. And his explanation: “I’m white, I’m male, I’m educated. I’m creative.” Made me begin to fantasize about burning my copy of The Zoo Story.
He famously gave essentially the same speech at the Outwrite ’91 conference. As it devolved into narcissism and nonsense, all I could think about was that I hoped to God that I when I am an old man no one has to introduce me by clarifying that I’m queer. So thank you, Edward Albee, for helping clarify my artistic goals: the opposite of you.
At this point, I’d like to hear from other trans artists—how do you negotiate this conflict?
What does it mean to you to be a trans writer or artist? Are you out in your work? Are you out because you have to be, or because you want to be? Do you think it helps or hurts your career?
*LGBT, you know what I mean
Special welcome to New York City goes out to out trans artist Red Durkin, who also will be taking over blogging/tweeting over at TopsidePress.com. We’re so lucky to have her. Trans fiction writers can welcome her on twitter at: @topsidepress and we’ll be at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference next week if you want to chat us up in person. We both love talking about books.