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LQBTQIA+ Prizes You Should Be Aware Of!

By Grace Briggs-Jones

There are many prizes that celebrate the wonderful diversity of literature. This Pride Month let’s explore some literary prizes that honour LGBTQIA+ authors and works in fiction and non-fiction!

Lambda Literary Awards

Fondly known as the Lammys, this prestigious award celebrates queer literary excellence. Established in 1989 during a pivotal time when LGBTQIA+ books gained recognition through a growing network of lesbian and gay publishers and bookstores, the award is now in its 36th year. It honours more than 150 LGBTQIA+ writers across twenty-five categories, many of which include cash prizes.

Each category is judged by a panel of three judges selected primarily from Lambda’s extensive community of readers, authors, fellows, former finalists and other stakeholders. These judges operate with full autonomy, making the final decisions without influence from Lambda’s board or staff.

Each spring, the finalists are announced and both winners and nominees are celebrated at an award ceremony held in June. This year’s ceremony took place on 11 June 2024 at Sony Hall in NYC, hosted by Miss Peppermint, with tickets to the celebratory party selling out—a testament to the award's popularity. Winners receive not only a place in Lambda’s rich history of recognised LGBTQIA+ literary brilliance but also a plaque and the coveted Lambda Literary Award sticker for their book covers. The Lammys are a highly sought-after prize, solidifying an author’s name in LGBTQIA+ history.

In 2024, more than seventy avid readers, critics and literary professionals selected the finalists from over 1,300 submissions. The final selections represent the best LGBTQIA+ literature of 2023.

There are twenty-six categories in 2024 and here is a rundown of the fiction shortlists:

Lesbian Fictions

Big Swiss by Jean Beagin, Biography of X by Catherine Lacey, Organ Meats by K-Ming Chang, Our Hideous Progeny by C. E. McGill and Pomegranate by Helen Elaine Lee.

Gay Fiction

American Scholar by Patrick E. Horrigan, Blackouts by Justin Torres, Brother & Sister Enter the Forest by Richard Mirabella, Family Meal by Bryan Washington and I Will Greet the Sun Again by Khashayar J. Khabushani.

Bisexual Fiction

All-Night Pharmacy by Ruth Madievsky, Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly, Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen by Sarah James, Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang and Old Enough by Haley Jakobson.

Transgender Fiction

Bellies by Nicola Dinan, Girlfriends by Emily Zhou, The Rage Letters by Valérie Bah, Trash by Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny and Wild Geese by Soula Emmanuel.

LGBTQIA+ Speculative Fiction

Bang Bang Bodhisattva by Aubrey Wood, I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself by Marisa Crane, The Archive Undying by Emma Mieko Candon, The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera and The Thick and the Lean by Chana Porter.

GCLS Award

The Golden Crown Literary Awards, also known as The Goldies, are presented during the Annual Conference of the Golden Crown Literary Society. They recognise excellence in sapphic and women-loving-women literature, focusing on quality, narration and cover design. Since its inception in 2005, the awards have become a must-see event. Featuring nineteen categories, two popular choices and three special categories with a total of $46,000 in prizes, the awards highlight and promote queer women in writing.

Past winners include If I Don’t Ask by E.J. Noyes, Just a Touch Away by Jae, Modern English by Rachel Spangler, Girl Island by Kate Castle and A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J. Werlinger. The Ann Bannon Popular Choice awards offer prizes of $5,000 for Bronze, $10,000 for Silver and $15,000 for Gold. Winners in each category, ranging from Debut Novel to Horror and Contemporary Romance, receive $1,000. This year's finalists include J.E. Leak, Tiana Warner, Catherine Maiorisi and Jo Hemmingwood, with winners announced in May.

Otherwise Award

In 1991 at WisCon, the world’s largest feminist-oriented science fiction convention, Pat Murphy announced the creation of the James Tiptree Jr. Literary Award. This annual award honours science fiction or fantasy works that explore or expand our understanding of gender. The award seeks thought-provoking, imaginative and even infuriating works. James Tiptree Jr. was a pseudonym used by Alice B. Sheldon, whose stories won many awards and were eagerly accepted by publishers.

When it was revealed that Sheldon was a woman, writing also under the pen name Raccoona Sheldon, it sparked discussions about whether aspects of writing are gendered. The award was named after Tiptree to prove that women could write outstanding science fiction.

It was later renamed the Otherwise Award after disabled fans and writers raised concerns about the circumstances of Sheldon’s death. The name Otherwise comes from Tiptree’s 1975 short story collection Warm Worlds and Otherwise, maintaining the connection to Sheldon. Each year, a new jury determines what "explore and expand" means to them before selecting the winners from the recommended works. Past winners include Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Rupetta by Nike A. Sulway and The Kappa Child by Hiromi Goto. This year marks the award's 34th year with submissions for recommendations now open.

Other LGBTQIA+ prizes include Polari Prize, Gaylactic Spectrum Award, Alice B Readers Award, Stonewall Book Award and Ferro-Grumley Award. Happy reading!




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