The 36th annual Lambda Literary Awards, known as the Lammys, celebrated the best of LGBTQ literature during a sold-out ceremony held at Sony hall in Manhattan on June 11. Presiding over the evening was drag queen, actress, and activist Peppermint, who, in her opening remarks, discussed the renewed importance of Lambda's work in light of surging censorship of queer books and "attacks on libraries."

"The work that Lambda Literary does is obviously essential, because it's uplifting the work that so many of you do," she said, referring to the audience full of queer authors and publishing professionals. "I'm grateful, because a lot of the ideas and the connections that I had about the queer community that helped me form a better self-image came from me reading books."

Awards were presented in 26 categories alongside seven special prizes. Two new prizes were awarded this year: the Denneny Award for Editorial Excellence, named for editor and queer publishing legend Michael Denneny, and the Pat Holt Prize for Critical Arts Writing, named for author, longtime SF Chronicle book review editor, and former PW correspondent Patricia Holt.

Small and independent presses carried the day, making up the majority of nominees and the vast majority of winners. BenBella Books, Black Lawrence Press, BOA Editions, Bold Strokes Books, Catapult, Chronicle Books, Feminist Press, Microcosm Publishing, Nightboat Books, Tin House, Unnamed Press, and Verso all took home awards.

Among the evening's winners were Myriam Gurba's Creep, for Bisexual Nonfiction; Catherine Lacey's Biography of X, for Lesbian Fiction; and Bryan Washington's Family Meal, for Gay Fiction. Most winners accepted their award via pre-recorded video, had their editors speak on their behalf, or were altogether absent. Many also voiced support for Palestine in their remarks.

Category presenters included authors Bobby Finger, Edgar Gomez, Casey McQuiston, and Torrey Peters.

Peters, presenting the awards for Trans Fiction and Trans Nonfiction, remarked on the growth of trans literature in recent years, noting that "there are tons of books by trans authors getting published." She continued, "I'm glad that the publishing industry is finally beginning to see the same need for a trans presence that Lambda saw a decade ago."

McQuiston, who presented the awards for for LGBTQ+ Children's, Middle Grade, and YA, emphasized the importance of libraries and classrooms as sites of discovery for young readers. "Now more than ever, I think, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to librarians and educators," McQuiston said. "They're fighting to get books into the hands of kids who need them. And, of course, I feel especially thankful for the writers who continue despite all odds and pushback, despite every manufactured moral panic, to create stories these kids need."

Lambda board member Michelle Herrera Mulligan, who is a VP and associate publisher at Atria Books and was recently tapped to lead its new bilingual imprint, Primero Sueño Press, delivered a rousing speech about the effects of book bans on authors and publishing as a whole.

"Being a publisher is actually about fighting, a lot more than you might realize," Herrera Mulligan said, noting that "attacks on LGBTQ+ books' presence in schools and libraries" have dramatically increased in the last year, with a record spike in book challenges. "It's easy to become inoculated to the headlines, to even joke that a ban increases a book's underground appeal. Hell, I've even had a few authors that said, 'Did I get banned? Buzz alert!' But no. No. Make no mistake: these bans are affecting our authors' livelihoods. They're even tarnishing their enthusiasm for calling themselves authors in the first place."

"How many agents and editors in this very room right now have had to make that devastating call to tell their authors they're disinvited from speaking at a college?" Herrera Mulligan continued. "That they're disinvited to promote their work in front of audiences in schools? That's their lifeblood. I've watched authors lose their livelihood. This is serious. Authors are hearing that retail demand for their books has gone down due to controversy or 'community backlash.' At a time when the independent booksellers that have celebrated our books for decades are shutting down, the truth is that books aren't just about telling stories or entertaining ourselves at the beach."

For the complete list of the 2024 Lambda Literary Award winners, click here.