The Lambda Literary Awards: now less inclusive!

In the wake of the controversial decision to limit Lambda nominations [which, re: topicality, include speculative fiction] to LGBT authors only, the Lambda Literary Foundation has attempted to remedy its policy:

  • LGBT authors will be recognized with three awards marking stages of a writer’s career: the Betty Berzon Debut Fiction Award (to one gay man and one lesbian), the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize (to one male-identified and one female-identified author), and the Pioneer Award (to one male-identified and one female-identified individual or group)
  • Awards for the remaining Lambda Literary Award categories will be based on literary merit and significant content relevant to LGBT lives. These awards will be open to all authors regardless of their sexual identity
  • All book award judges will be self-identified LGBT

As writer, critic and former Lambda judge Roz Kaveney points out, the new awards are based on a rather narrow and restrictive idea of what a writer’s career is like, and queer people’s lives in general. She adds,

It is hard to see how the new Lambda regulations can possibly include anyone with a non-binary gender identity as eligible.

Rose Fox, editor and also a former Lambda judge, expands on the latter point in an open letter:

I cannot fathom the decision-making process that led to the splitting of these awards along gendered lines, especially since you must be aware of the growing number of queer people who do not identify as gay, lesbian, male, or female […] You may intend these protectionist tactics to keep the awards “safe” from the encroachment of straight authors, but in the process, you’re joining a long and ignominious tradition of queer people who pay lip service to the B and the T while doing everything possible to promote the L and the G.

Saying that only gays and lesbians, and only men and women, are eligible for recognition is really no different from saying that only queer authors are eligible for the awards in general, except that you have made the criteria even more restrictive.