My Big Gay Day at ALA

As you all know may know I’m a librarian. This last weekend I attended the annual conference of the American Library Association here in Washington, D.C. If you didn’t know the ALA has one of the oldest professional associations for GLBT people, the GLBT Round Table and nearly every year since 1971 the GLBTRT has presented awards to the best queer books of the year. Sunday morning I attended the 2007 GLBT Round Table Stonewall Book Awards Brunch and these were the winners.

Holleran_grief The winner of the Barbara Gittings award for best GLBT fiction was Andrew Holleran for his book Grief. Grief is a compelling short novel revolving around a man who upon the death of his mother travels to D.C. and becomes engrossed in the letters of Mary Todd Lincoln. Deeply moving, Grief was the unanimous choice for the fiction book of the year. Unfortunately Andrew was away in Europe on a book tour and couldn’t recieve his award, but he shared his thanks in a letter that was read before the crowd.

Other finalists for best literature were:

The Manny Files / Christian Burch
The Night Watch / Sarah Waters
Rose of No Man’s Land / Michelle Tea
A Scarecrow’s Bible / Martin Hyatt

Bechdel_funhomeThe winner of the Israel Fishman award for best GLBT non-fiction was Alison Bechdel for her graphic novel memoir "Fun Home." Fun Home tells the story of Alison and her family. Through the process of coming out to her father and sharing her experiences her father begins coming to terms with own sexuality. Alison Bechdel spoke this morning at the brunch and she shared her own story of coming out through literature, and the ping-pong process of reading about sex and actually having it and how sometimes the twain did not meet. It was really quite funny and I look forward to reading her book. Oh, and by the way, it’s also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award for best non-fiction book of the year and it’s already won loads of awards. The full list is available at:

The other finalists for best non-fiction were:

Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights / Kenji Yoshino
Gay Power: An American Revolution / David Eisenbach
Male-Male Intimacy in Early America: Beyond Romantic Friendships / William Benemann
Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son: A Memoir / Kevin Jennings

Maupin_michaeltolliver After the brunch I attended a few other lectures on library stuff, and spoke to a few people about books, bought a few books from the trade show floor reps and then headed up to the Public Library Association keynote speech by Armistead Maupin. Originally Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, was slated to speak to the ALA, but unfortunately she couldn’t make it. As Maupin noted to the attendees there was an irony in that Elizabeth Edwards was in San Francisco speaking at gay pride, when one of the most noted gay authors was in Washington DC speaking to a bunch of librarians. We laughed. Oh, his speech was fantastic. It was about the common questions he gets asked, about his inspiration, his life, and his new book Michael Tolliver Lives.  I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say that some of the story in MTL is based exactly on his life, specifically the opening sequence where Michael at 55 finds the love of his life on the internet, and that’s not giving anything away as it happens in the first chapter. This directly mirrors Maupin’s own experience falling in love with his partner, Christoper Turner founder of

I ended the day by walking another gay colleague back to Lambda Rising to go to the Alison Bechdel book signing and having a couple bits of kissy time. It was lovely.

And I got LOADS of books.

And I’ll be blogging them. Just you watch. 😉

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