Lambda Literary Announces 2020 Winners

Lambda Literary announced their 32nd Annual Award winners in a press release on Monday and via an exclusive in Vanity Fair magazine.  VF wrote, “Under normal circumstances, the staffers and board members of Lambda Literary would be planning to hand out their annual awards at a ceremony in New York City on June 1, also meant to honor comedy writer and director Jane Wagner for her contributions to LGBTQ life. For more than 30 years, the nonprofit that focuses on serving LGBTQ authors in a variety of genres has thrown parties to honor the winners of their annual literary awards, usually called the Lammys.”

The reimagined award ceremony, Vanity Fair says, “is being replaced by a series of happy hours over the month of June, featuring Wilson Cruz, Samantha Irby, Glennon Doyle, Chani Nicholas, Nico Tortorella, Lily Tomlin, and more.“People are hungry for connection, executive director Sue Landers said in an interview. “So we decided to expand the Lammys by making it a series.”

VF notes that  the awards announcement, “come days after the death of author and firebrand Larry Kramer, whose advocacy and searing writing have influenced generations of writers. For Landers, losing Kramer, whom the nonprofit awarded with its Pioneer award in 2010, was unexpected and painful amid the coronavirus pandemic. ‘The earth shakes when someone like that leaves the earth,’ she said. ‘We are a country and community in mourning.'”

From the Press Release: This year’s winners represent the very best of what the Lammys have sought to honor for over thirty years. With twenty-six winners in twenty-four categories, the Lammys continue their storied tradition of celebrating not only the best in LGBTQ literature, but in honoring work that represents the depth and breadth of the queer experience. 

Always known for championing works published by emerging authors and small presses, this year’s winners list includes an unprecedented eighteen books published by small presses and one, James Lovejoy’s Joseph Chapman: My Molly Life, which is entirely self-published. For the first time this year, the LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult category has produced two winners, one for children’s/middle grade, Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow, and one for young adult, Alexandra Villasante’s The Grief Keeper. As the Lammys have always done, this year’s awards honor exciting new LGBTQ voices like Fiona Alison Duncan, winner in the Bisexual Fiction category for her debut novel Exquisite Mariposa and Samra Habib’s We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir, while also recognizing those who have received multiple accolades, including Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop, which won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree Bryan Washington for Lot; and Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House and Saeed Jones’s How We Fight for our Lives, two of the best reviewed memoirs of 2019. 

“While the world has changed so much since we first announced this year’s finalists back in March,” said Sue Landers, executive director of Lambda Literary, “our commitment to celebrating the very best in LGBTQ literature remains stronger than ever.  We are so incredibly proud to honor each of this year’s winners, and send them, virtually for now, our most sincere congratulations.”

The Lammys are the most prestigious award in LGBTQ publishing. Please join us in celebrating the following authors and their literary accomplishments.

Lesbian Fiction

  • Patsy, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Liveright Publishing

Gay Fiction

  • Lot, Bryan Washington, Riverhead Books

Bisexual Fiction

  • Exquisite Mariposa, Fiona Alison Duncan, Soft Skull Press

Transgender Fiction

  • Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian), Hazel Jane Plante, Metonymy Press

Bisexual Nonfiction

  • Socialist Realism, Trisha Low, Coffee House Press

Transgender Nonfiction

  • We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan, Ellis Martin and Zach Ozma, Nightboat Books

LGBTQ Nonfiction

  • In the Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado, Graywolf Press

Lesbian Poetry

  • & more black, t’ai freedom ford, Augury Books

Gay Poetry

  • SLINGSHOT, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, Nightboat Books

Bisexual Poetry

  • Pet Sounds, Stephanie Young, Nightboat Books

Transgender Poetry

  • HULL, Xandria Phillips, Nightboat Books

Lesbian Mystery

  • Galileo, Ann McMan, Bywater Books

Gay Mystery

  • Carved in Bone: A Henry Rios Novel, Michael Nava, Persigo Press

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

  • We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir, Samra Habib, Viking Canada

Gay Memoir/Biography

  • How We Fight for Our Lives, Saeed Jones, Simon & Schuster

Lesbian Romance

  • Aurora’s Angel: A Dark Fantasy Romance, Emily Noon, Bluefire Books

Gay Romance

  • Joseph Chapman: My Molly Life, James Lovejoy, Self-published

LGBTQ Anthology (tie)

  • Love WITH Accountability: Digging up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, AK Press
  • A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969, Noam Sienna, Print-O-Craft

LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult

Children’s/Middle Grade:

  • Hazel’s Theory of Evolution, Lisa Jenn Bigelow, HarperCollins

Young Adult:

  • The Grief Keeper, Alexandra Villasante, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

LGBTQ Comics

  • Cannonball, Kelsey Wroten, Uncivilized Books


  • A Strange Loop, Michael R. Jackson, produced by Playwrights Horizons

LGBTQ Erotica 

  • Whore Foods, LA Warman, Inpatient Press

LGBTQ Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror

  • The Deep, Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes, Gallery/Saga Press

LGBTQ Studies

  • All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence, Emily L. Thuma, University of Illinois Press

While this year’s Lammy Award ceremony, scheduled for June in New York City, has had to be cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Lambda Literary will celebrate LGBTQ writers throughout Pride month, with a virtual Happy Hour series to celebrate great authors and support the Lambda organization. Scheduled throughout June, the series will feature readings and conversations from popular authors and provide dynamic, uplifting, virtual content during a time of crisis. The schedule is as follows:


Thursday, June 4th, 8 pm ET

Wilson Cruz reads Paul Monette


Tuesday, June 9th, 8 pm ET 

Samantha Irby & Glennon Doyle in conversation


Thursday, June 11th, 8 pm ET 

Nico Tortorella reads from books that have inspired them


Tuesday, June 16th, 8 pm ET 

Ryan Jamaal Swain reads Edmund White & Original Work


Thursday, June 18th, 8 pm ET

Kristen Arnett & T Kira Madden in conversation


Tuesday, June 23rd, 8 pm ET

Nicole Byer reads from her own work


Thursday, June 25th, 8 pm ET

Chani Nicholas & Jacob Tobia in conversation


Tuesday, June 30th, 8 pm ET

Jane Wagner & Lily Tomlin in conversation with Hilton Als


**All events are pay-what-you-wish, with a suggested donation between $10-$100. Proceeds benefit Lambda Literary. For more information on programming, and to reserve your spot for any of the above events, go here.**

Proceeds from donations made during the virtual happy hours support LGBTQ storytelling year round, including the LGBTQ Writers-in-Schools program, which has brought LGBTQ books and authors to over 7,000 students throughout New York City, and the Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, the only multi-genre writing residency exclusively for emerging LGBTQ writers.