But the most interesting development may be this year’s decision by the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Awards Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Round Table, which gives the award, to announce it at the same time as the ALA’s other prominent awards, which include the Newbery (given for outstanding children’s literature), the Printz (given for outstanding teen literature), and the Coretta Scott King (given for outstanding African American literature).
This decision has greatly increased the visibility of the Stonewall Awards (and, perhaps, their clout), and some are saying this is a direct response to last year’s decision by the Lambda Awards to restrict nominations only to books whose authors identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
At the time, I argued that this was very ill-conceived — that the sexual orientation of an author was irrelevant to the quality of a book or the “truthfulness” of its voice, and that, for various reasons, this decision, however well-intentioned, was an unnecessary slap in the face of our strongly supportive straight-author allies.
My friend, heterosexual author Ellen Wittlinger, makes this case particularly effectively here.
I also argued it would inevitably reduce the quality of the Lambda winners and end up reducing the overall clout of the awards themselves, something the increased visibility of the Stonewall Awards may be hastening, at least with regard to teen and children’s GLBT literature.