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On Monday, September 23rd, bisexuals all over the world honored the fifteenth Annual “Celebrate Bisexuality Day.” As I reflect on the advances in bisexual visibility of many LGBT organizations, I feel especially honored to be Lambda Literary Foundation’s first openly bisexual Board member. LLF has a long history of celebrating the work of bisexual authors and bisexual-themed literature and continues to increase bi visibility.
The first annual “Celebrate Bisexuality Day” was held internationally in Johannesburg, South Africa at the conference, “Building Partnerships for Equality” in 1999. This conference was the most successful and biggest-ever International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) World Conference with delegates from 40 countries gathered at the plenary session. It also marked the first time in its 22 years of existence that an ILGA World Conference was held on the African continent.
It was inspiring for bisexual activists who attended the ILGA World Conference in Johannesburg to see the official Bisexual Flag, with its pink, blue and lavender colors flying over the conference. Since that time, groups all over the US and the world celebrate by holding many different types of events.
Although Lambda Literary Foundation has a long history of celebrating the work of bisexual authors and bisexual-themed literature, these titles were historically submitted to the Lambda Literary Awards in various categories.
But in 2007, LLF recognized the increased visibility of bisexual literature and created a category for Bisexual Literature. When the first Bisexual Lammy was awarded to Mike Szymanski and Nicole Kristal for The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe, bisexual activists and community leaders came from all over the country for the Awards Ceremony. Authors of bisexual-themed literature felt validated and became even more enthusiastic about participating in LLF programs.
Since that time, there have been increasingly more bisexual books published and submitted for consideration for the LLF Awards. So much so that in 2010, LLF created separate categories for bisexual fiction and non-fiction. Literature bearing the “Lammy Finalist” gold sticker are recommended reading by all national bisexual organizations, including BiNetUSA, the Bisexual Resource Center and The American Institute of Bisexuality.
This year, on September 23rd, I was part of a group of 30 individuals from the bisexual community invited by the White House Office of Public Engagement to come to Washington D.C. and meet with officials to discuss policy issues important to the health and well-being of bisexuals. This demonstrated the administration’s ongoing commitment to improve the lives of all Americans, but also was a testament to the increased visibility of bisexuals in the United States.
As an LLF Board member, I was proud to be invited and to participate in this discussion, but also proud to see many familiar faces of Lammy-nominated authors among the group that attended this historic meeting.
In reviewing the list of Lammy Award winning Bisexual Literature below, it is exciting to look forward to the submissions for the upcoming Awards. In the list below, there is so much diversity: there are books of poetry, young adult novels, and compelling memoirs. Submissions for the 26th Annual Lambda Literary Awards are being accepted now through December 1st, 2013. This year shows promise to be the best year ever for Bisexual books.
2007: The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe, Michael Szymanski & Nicole Kristal (Alyson)
2008: Split Screen, Brent Hartinger (Harper Collins Children’s Books)2009: Open by Jenny Block (Seal Press)
2010: (Non-Fiction ) Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents, by Minal Hajratwala (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
2010: (Fiction) Holy Communion, by Mykola Dementiuk (Synergy Press) and Love You Two, by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli (Random House Australia)
2011: (Bisexual Fiction) The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet by Myrlin A. Hermes (Harper Perennial)
2011: (Bisexual Non-Fiction) Border Sexualities, Border Families in Schools, by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli ( Rowman & Littlefield)
2012: (Bisexual Fiction) The Correspondence Artist, by Barbara Browning, (Two Dollar Radio)
2012: (Bisexual Non-Fiction) The Horizontal Poet, by Jan Steckel, (Zeitgeist Press)
2013: (Bisexual Fiction) In One Person, John Irving, (Simon & Schuster)
2013: (Bisexual Non-Fiction) My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B,Cheryl Burke, (Topside Signature)
Denise Penn is Vice President of the American Institute of Bisexuality, an organization focused on research and education that has supported over 30 scientific studies in more than five countries. As an advocacy journalist, reporter and editor based in Orange County, California, she has covered issues for the LGBT and HIV affected community for nearly two decades. As a clinical social worker, she has worked with hospice patients and families and designed educational materials. She also produced and hosted an award-winning LGBT community television program for twelve years, interviewing community activists, political figures, and ordinary people with stories to tell. She received BA degrees in English and Social Science Research and earned a Masters in Social Work from San Diego State University.