Lambda Literary, the global leader advancing LGBTQ literature, is pleased to announce two full scholarships for students of the organization’s prestigious summer residency, which begins August 5th in Los Angeles, California.

The Jeanne Córdova Words Scholarship

The Jeanne Córdova Words Scholarship, in memory of the beloved activist and author who passed away in January 2016, is given annually in conjunction with Lambda’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices. The Scholarship is awarded to a lesbian of color or lesbian-identified queer or trans woman of color, working on text with lesbian content in any of the workshop categories excluding poetry. The scholarship includes the Retreat tuition, room and board fees plus transportation costs, up to a total of $2,500. Each year’s Scholarship awardee are selected by the Córdova Words Scholarship Committee, from a list of writers accepted to the Retreat who meet the scholarship criteria.

The 2017 winner of The Jeanne Córdova Words Scholarship is California-based writer Elizabeth Tran, who will be working in the Fiction cohort with Garth Greenwell.  Tran’s work impressed the scholarship committee as a “lyrical and moving reminder of the importance and power of family and memory.”

And Lynn Ballen, who was Jeanne Córdova’s spouse, noted that “Jeanne’s own experience as a participant at the first Lambda Emerging Writers Retreat in 2007 helped her to complete a Lammy-award winning memoir, and inspired her to create this scholarship award, to support future community storytellers.”

The Bryn Kelly Scholarship for Trans Women/Trans Femme Writers

The Bryn Kelly Scholarship for Trans Women/Trans Femme Writers honors the life and artistic work of Bryn Kelly, a 2013 Lambda Fellow in nonfiction who passed away in January 2016. Bryn, a much loved writer and performer, created innovative work that was smart, sharp, daring, and from the perspective of an HIV-positive trans woman. The scholarship includes the Retreat tuition, room and board fees plus transportation to and from Los Angeles, with the potential for ongoing annual funding. A special thanks to Gaines Parker, Sarah Schulman, Everett Maroon, and many of the participants in Bryn’s 2013 Retreat cohort for helping initiate the scholarship.

The 2017 winner of The Bryn Kelly Scholarship for Trans Women/Trans Femme Writers is the writer Sarah Bess, who will be working in the Poetry cohort with TC Tolbert.

Gaines Parker, who was Bryn Kelly’s partner, stated:

Sarah Bess has a commitment to centering the rural experience of queerness that would have made Appalachian-born writer Bryn Kelly very proud. I’m certainly proud that she applied to the scholarship dedicated to fostering trans women writers in Bryn’s name, and that her important work as a neurodivergent, rural trans poet will have room to grow at the Lambda Retreat. The trans women’s writing group Ms. Bess facilitated in Norman, Oklahoma is an example of why a scholarship like this is absolutely vital to the future of our literature- supporting those working in community like Sarah Bess through the mentorship of the retreat has an ever more fruitful cascade effect that we will all enjoy.

Scholarship Winners 

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Tran is a high school English teacher, a near-graduate of an MFA in Fiction, a mother of two magical little boys, and a Kundiman Fiction Fellow-a space dedicated to the cultivation of Asian American Literature. She has written newspaper articles about social justice for the Vietnamese American community in Orange County, California. She is a lover of nature and words, a Vietnamese culture that doesn’t recognize her, people of color, and feminism. Currently, she is agonizing over a series of linked Vietnamese stories that reimagines Vietnam, myth, and war, while next to the ocean she can’t breathe without.

Sarah M. Bess is a neuroqueer transsexual witch/poet grown in the ghostswamps of rural southeast Missouri. She was a 2016 Topside Press Trans Women Writers Workshop Fellow. Her writing has appeared in MatrixThe Fem, and The Wanderer and is forthcoming in Resilience, an anthology from Wormbook Press.


About Jeanne Córdova and Bryn Kelly

Jeanne Córdova, author, activist & publisher, was a pioneer of the West Coast LGBTQ Movement. Her writing and journalism included the Lammy award-winning memoir When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love & Revolution. Her work also appeared in numerous award-winning anthologies including Persistent Desire: a Femme-Butch Reader and Lesbian Nuns: Breaking the Silence. In addition, she was a columnist for many publications, among them the L.A. Free Press and The Advocate. Córdova also founded and published The Lesbian Tide, the national newsmagazine of the lesbian feminist 1970’s, and she created the Community Yellow Pages, the nation’s largest LGBTQ business directory. Her long life of activism included founding many key LGBTQ rights organizations including the LA Gay Press Association, and serving as President of Stonewall Democratic Club and as Media Director for the campaigns to defeat anti-LGBTQ Propositions 6 & 64 in California. Major conferences she organized ranged from the first National Lesbian Conference in 1973 to Butch Voices LA in 2010.  More recently her band of guerilla activists-LEX (the Lesbian Exploratory)-created political, art and history events, including “GenderPlay in Lesbian Culture” and the Lesbian Legacy Wall at ONE Archives.

Bryn Kelly shared her written work at NYC-based performance series TRIPS, Low Standards, and Queer Memoir; as a columnist at Showtime Network’s; in Original Plumbing magazine; as a regular contributor to the digital literary magazine; and in the anthology,Trans/Love: Radical Sex, Love and Relationships Beyond the Gender Binary, edited by Morty Diamond. She published the short story “Time is Not a Line,” commissioned by artist Carlos Motta, for the journal We Who Feel Differently.

She was a co-founder of Theater Transgression, a transgender multimedia performance collective; a co-creator and cast member of the touring roadshow, The Fully Functional Cabaret; and performed in Lisa Auerbach’s public program, Art in the Age of Aquarius, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She studied playwriting at Brooklyn College and was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow.



Lambda Logo new Lambda Literary believes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer literature is fundamental to the preservation of our culture, and that LGBTQ lives are affirmed when our stories are written, published and read. LL’s programs include: the Lambda Literary Awards, the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, LGBTQ Writers in Schools, Lambda LitFest Los Angeles, and our web magazine, The Lambda Literary Review, at
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