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For Immediate Release
New York, NY — Three-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Edward Albee and Diamond Dagger Award-winning crime fiction writer Val McDermid were honored last night at the 23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards, in a ceremony at the School of Visual Arts Theater in New York City. Taking place the same week of Book Expo America-the book publishing industry’s biggest annual gathering of booksellers, publishers, and others in the industry-the Lambda ceremony brought together over 400 attendees, sponsors, and celebrities to celebrate excellence in LGBT literature.
The ceremony was hosted by comedienne Lea DeLaria who kept the evening light and hilarious with her brand of bawdy humor saying, “I don’t know what the [expletive] I’m doing here. You’re all smarter than me.” Also in attendance were presenters such as Jim McGreevey, Stefanie Powers, and award-winning author, Emma Donoghue.
Awards were presented in twenty-four categories. Among the winners were Eileen Myles’s Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) which took the top honor in Lesbian Fiction and Adam Haslett’s Union Atlantic in Gay Fiction. There were two ties as well, an unusual occurrence for the Awards, in the Lesbian Memoir category as well as in LGBT Studies.
Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally presented the Foundation’s Pioneer Award to Edward Albee, saying of the legendary playwright, “He has avoided gay subject matter throughout his career that people wonder if he’s gay. Well, I’m here to tell you he is … I picked him up at a party in 1960.” In accepting his honor, Albee remarked “I’m not a gay writer. I’m a writer who happens to be gay.”
The other Pioneer Award was given to acclaimed Scottish crime writer Val McDermid who joked that there were no lesbians in the small town she grew up in believing they were “mythical, like mermaids.” McDermid went on to thank the writers who came before, such as her award presenter Katherine V. Forrest, saying, “I understand the importance of doors being opened. Other people opened doors for me.”
LLF Executive Director, Tony Valenzuela, in his remarks from the stage appealed to the audience to support the literary arts. He said, “If civil rights are another way of saying quality of life, of what makes life meaningful and gives us joy, then writers, publishers, literature, arts, are a key component of civil rights and we have to say that over and over again.”
Alex Sánchez, Mexican-American author of award-winning novels for teens and adults, and Susan Stinson, winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award in Fiction, received the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists’ Prizes, and the University of Wisconsin Press received a special Publisher’s Service Award.
The Lambda Awards ceremony’s glamour quotient reached new highs this year with a stellar roster of presenters from a diverse cross section from the worlds of film, television, theatre, politics, religion, sex, and of course literature. Besides McGreevey and Powers, gracing the stage to bestow awards were transgender photographer Amos Mac, feminist porn actress and director Tristan Taormino, former speech writer for Billy Graham Mel White, Mr. Gay USA Eddie Rabon, and beauty queen Claire Buffie, Miss New York.
Immediately following the awards ceremony, a VIP after-party took place at Chelsea’s Cheim & Read, the legendary art gallery that has exhibited Robert Mapplethorpe, Don Barchardy, and Diane Arbus. The performance troop Unitard (Mike Alboof the Underminer, Nora Burns, of the Nellie Olesons, and David Ilku, of the Dueling Bankheads) provided their twisted and sardonic brand of entertainment.
Sponsors of the event include: RÖKK Vodka, Harper Perennial (all at Benefactor level); Kensington Publishing (Patron level); Northwest Press, Barefoot Wine (Mentor level); Cleis Press, Blind Eye Books, Arsenal Pulp Press, Seal Press, Bywater Books, The American Institute of Bisexuality, Rainbow Book Fair (all at Friend level); and FLUX Books (Gift Bag level).