Friday, June 7, 2013

My night at the Lammys

On Monday Kelley and I were at the big queer lit bash known as the Lambda Literary Awards. I was there to get the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. It comes with a juicy cheque (which isn't that rumpled piece of paper on the podium. Not sure what that is. I didn't take any paper out with me. Probably an acceptance speech by somebody else who abandoned it in a hurry of spirits when wandering star struck off the stage clutching their lump of Lucite--or, if you're from the UK or Australia, Perspex.)

Kelley and I are seriously crap at remembering to take photos. So these two are by Jesse Blackadder and Tony Valenzuela (used, of course, with permission; see Jesse's Facebook profile and LLF's Flickr stream for more).

by Jesse Blackadder
by Tony Valenzuela, from LLF's Flickr stream
I'm wearing black and grey because, fuck it, it's New York. (And, y'know, you don't have to worry too much about clashing with whatever backdrop you stand against. Yes, I think about these things.) The man standing next to me is Trebor Healy, my fellow winner. (Who I thought looked great in those colours. But hey, he was just off the plane from California.) Trebor was very kind about holding one of my crutches while I gave my speech (the speech is reproduced here). I didn't speak for long--unlike some other people who ignored the guidelines and spoke at length (Trebor also was quick--yay!). I've talked before about the purpose of such speeches--be grateful, gracious, generous, and, above all, brief--but some of the award winners seemed a little confused and wanted to deliver a Message. It was a good humoured crowd (five hundred people coming together to celebrate 25 years of celebrating queer literature are in the mood to party) and the Great Hall at Cooper Union was comfortably air-conditioned, so no one threw anything. But, trust me, an awards podium is not the place to impart your prescription for a more harmonious society. It's just not.

But, eh, that's a rant for another time. For now let me say: I had a wonderful evening. I didn't get to talk to as many people as I'd like before the ceremony because I went backstage to figure out the access stuff and ended up hanging out in the Green Room for an hour or so with Janis Ian and Kate Clinton.

Kelley and I went back out onto the floor ten minutes before the ceremony started and then people came up to chat. That's when I met Jesse Blackadder (go read her books).

The highlight of the night, for me, was when Janis sang "At Seventeen." When I recognised the first two notes my heart squeezed, and a beat later I heard, and felt, the breath of the entire audience--like one giant mammal--catch in its throat. Kelley wept. I most definitely suffered blurred vision. Magical and magnificent:
Uh, I forget whether Tony or Jesse took this one
She got three SOs and deserved every one of them. Kate was, as always, sharp and witty. (The fringe on the podium? "So gay. They think of everything...") And, more to the point, extremely helpful with some of the access questions. I can't imagine the Lammys without her. So thank you to those two fine women with so much stage experience between them that they couldl figure out what I needed without batting an eyelid.

Then it was off to the after-party at the Skyroom, with its fabulous view of Manhattan. I ate lots of little tasty things, drank anonymous white wine and talked myself hoarse. I met so many cool people it's not possible to name them all here. But, hey, if you get the opportunity next year, you should go.

So thank you to the board, staff, and volunteers of LLF who made Monday night a true occasion. And who knows, maybe I'll be there next year with Hild...
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