The Lambda Literary Foundation has been having a bit of an issue with the eligibility criteria for the awards. A while back they decided they would limit eligibility to authors who self-identified as LGBT. This caused something of a ruckus (see here for some links), and they have now changed their minds again.
I should note here that this is not an easy issue. The UK’s Green Carnation Prize has a similar LGBT-only restriction on authors, and one of the consequences of that is that publishers are refusing to submit books because they don’t want their authors to be publicly identified as queer. See here for an example.
Having said that, what Lambda has done is rather bizarre. They now have a three-pronged policy.
1. All judges must be LGBT-identifed, which I think is fair enough.
2. The main awards are open to all authors, which I’m very pleased about.
3. They have some separate awards specifically for LGBT writers, or rather LG(bt) writers, as follows:
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)
I’m sorry, what is going on here?
First of all, why is one award specifically restricted to “one gay man and one lesbian”, while others are for “male-identified and female-identified” people. At least the latter appears to include some bi people, which the former seems to exclude. As for trans people, apparently they are OK for the first award if they identify as gay or lesbian, but not otherwise, and they are OK for the other two awards is they are male-identified and female-identified, but not otherwise.
My first impression is that this is really sloppy writing. My second impression is that, despite the claim of widespread consultation, Lambda didn’t talk to a single bi or trans person when formulating this policy — or if they did they ignored any objections.
Is it really so hard for someone at Lambda to engage their brain before putting their fingers to the keyboard? Or do they just not care if they offend bi and trans people?