Amid increased book bans and anti-trans legislation, Lambda Literary has announced a $250,000 gift from author and philanthropist Chuck Forester in support of the organization’s capacity to advocate for LGBTQ writers and books. In a April 11 press release, Lambda acknowledged Forester as a "near and dear" friend to the organization and "fervent champion" of its mission.
Forester's contribution affords the Lambda an opportunity to "ground itself and stretch to meet the increasing needs of a precarious present," the organization announced.
“Lambda Literary has long been a small but mighty organization swinging far above its weight in the literary arts,” said executive director Samiya Bashir. “We are proud to have made it through the worst of the past few years and come out stronger and more determined than ever.”
Bashir called Forester's gift "transformational," which will allow Lambda Literary to usher in a new phase of expansion. "With his help we can stretch, allowing us to meet our community’s needs during a precarious time when our books are being banned, our stories attacked, and our voices silenced,” Bashir said.
The gift has already allowed the organization to hire its first director of development and engagement in advocate and educator Harper Zacharias, who joined the team in March. “Fundraising is at its core a form of advocacy and storytelling—a way to secure, through empathy building, material resources for a community that needs them,” said Zacharias. “This is why, among other reasons, the work of Lambda Literary is so important to me."
Born and raised in 1950s Wausau, Wis., Forester credits queer literature in helping him feel comfortable in his own skin as a gay man. "It’s the way we tell each other who we are. It’s the way we pass our culture on to future generations, and it saves lives, like it saved mine,” said Forester, who is a philanthropist and author of four books, including I Throw Like a Girl (Querelle Press, 2022).
After two years of a virtual program, Lambda's annual Lambda Literary Awards (the “Lammys”) will return in-person on Friday, June 9 at the Edison Ballroom in New York City. The full list of award finalists can be found here.