June 3, 2015

Gay icons celebrated at the Lambda Literary Awards


John Waters was one of several writers honored at the Lambda Literary Awards this week. © Tinseltown / via Shutterstock.com

John Waters was one of several writers honored at the Lambda Literary Awards this week.
© Tinseltown / via Shutterstock

The Lambda Literary Awards were held earlier this week in New York, celebrating the year’s best in writing that explores LGBT themes. First awarded in 1989, the honors affectionately known as the “Lammys” are given out for novels, poetry, memoir/biography, and erotica, among other categories. Steven W. Thrasher writes about the event for The Guardian, a big night replete with appearances by big names like Rita Mae Brown, John Waters, and Alan Cumming.

Brown was the recipient of the Pioneer Award, a lifetime achievement honor that the Lambda Literary website explains is given to “those who, through their achievements and passionate commitment, have contributed to the LGBT literary community in significant and tangible ways: through works of literature, or by establishing publishing houses, publications, archives, bookstores, or other institutions.” After being presented the award by Gloria Steinem, Brown proceeded to make—per Thrasher’s description—“the strangest acceptance speech of the night…a rambling patriotic speech about the founding fathers.”

Cumming took the stage alongside transgender artist Justin Vivian Bond, speaking about that day’s reveal of Vanity Fair’s upcoming issue featuring Caitlyn Jenner and expressing “how wonderful it is that transgender writers are finally telling their own stories.” Cumming and Bond presented the prizes for transgender fiction and nonfiction. Other presenters included Alison Bechdel, the cartoonist well known for what’s come to be called the Bechdel Test; radio host and author Michelangelo Signorile; and noted gossip columnist Liz Smith, who presented the Excellence in Literature award to John Waters.

While Waters is best known as a film director, he’s also written all the movies he directed (as well as several books), and has famously said, “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.” Not to mention the fact that he clearly has excellent taste in literature:

Pressed by the Guardian about whether he follows the advice of his own notorious quote, he admits, “That’s so old! I said that years ago! And I’m a liar… If they’re cute enough, you make exceptions.” While accepting his award, he dedicated it to the recently deceased owners of the Provincetown Bookshop.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.