Lambda Literary Awards Finalists Disappoint This Year

Two years ago I was the only African-American Lammy Finalist in the Lesbian Memoir/Biography category for Practicing for Love. This year there is NOT ONE African-American finalist. WTF! 

While there are no African Americans, there are some women of color represented in the category: an Asian-American, a Hispanic/Latina, and a Cambodian immigrant. The two white women represented are a butch dominatrix from West Virginia, and a Jewish woman who falls in love and loses her father to a heart condition around the same time. These were some heavy-hitting publications from major publishing houses. Kathryn Schulz is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Her book Lost & Found is Longlisted for the National Book Award, is a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and is Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal. It is also one of People Magazine's Ten Best Books of the Year, and is listed as one of the Best Books of the Year in Time, NPR, Oprah Daily, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Esquire, Vulture, She Reads, Book Riot, and Publishers Weekly

This book will probably win.

Putsata Reang's Ma and Me: A Memoir is winner of the 2023 Pacific Northwest Book Award, with reviews in Publishers Weekly, and one written by Sarah Schulman.

"Absolutely not to be missed," is the quote from Vogue about Chris Belcher's Pretty Baby.

Raquel Gutiérrez's debut essay collection, Brown Neon, is described as "part butch memoir, part ekphratic travel diary, part queer family tree. [It] gleans insight from the sediment of land and relationship."

Regarding Neema Avashia's Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place, Vauhini Vara of New York Magazine wrote: "I'm glad this memoir exists . . . and I'm especially glad it's so good." It was named Book Riot's Best LGBTQ+ Memoir of 2022, and a New York Public Library Best Book of 2022.

In my second book of memoirs (Practice What You Preach), which I submitted for consideration for a Lammy this year, I tell the story of my experience with trying to relate - as an African American descendant of slaves - to a sub-Saharan African's culture - the sexism, as well as the homophobia, that she endured. Where have you seen the story told of two black women - one African American, the other African - trying to love each other in spite of the cultural differences designed to keep them apart? Evidently this is not the kind of story that American publishers and publications want to put forward.

Angela Bassett's expression speaks for all of us!

Interestingly, I saw in a Facebook post how so many black women who have been nominated for Academy Awards did so by portraying maids, prostitutes, drug-addicted singers, a medium (in Whoopi Goldberg's case), and other non-glamorous roles. Halle Berry became the first woman of color to win the Academy Award for best actress in 2002, but 20 years later, she remains the only black woman to have won the award.

Not one Oscar has ever been given to a black woman who portrayed an African queen!

Our stories are important and deserve to be told and heard, even if others don't seem to think so.

Keeping our fingers crossed for a Publishing Triangle Award later this year. Keep Hope Alive!



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