I recently joined the board of Lambda Literary, and I couldn't be more impressed with this organization. I attended our bi-annual retreat a few weeks ago where we had the privilege to meet face-to-face, reflect on the past, and prepare for the future.
Kids need LGBTQ books in schools. We all need books that affirm our lives.
I will match all donations of $100 or more up to $5000.
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This touching story from Tamika Butler, a fellow board member, came out of a thought-provoking exercise where we were asked to reach deep inside ourselves and remember.
- Remember when you were first discovering your sexuality?
- Remember the LGBTQ books that guided you on the journey? Could you even find them at the time?
- Remember the first time you found Lambda Literary? How did you find us? How did it impact you?
I'm going to answer these questions for myself here as well.
Growing up Southern Baptist, I was sheltered from homosexuality. I recall having some sense of gay men, but no understanding at all of lesbians, bisexuals, or transgender. I understood the term tomboy and knew that it applied to me. I embraced myself as a tomboy until I reached the age when boys were supposed to start showing interest in me and asking me to go to dances, on dates, and to go steady. When I reached that age, popularity and acceptance in school were closely tied to the attention boys gave you. And I wasn't getting any attention from boys. Whatever attraction I had to girls, I filed away as "normal" friendship. And even so, I had more drama and pain in my life over my friends who were girls than I did for any boy I I dated. And that began to bother me. So I made it my mission to acquire attention from and experience with boys. I wanted to fit in. And I was successful.
Fast-forward thirteen years and I divorced my husband and was raising my twelve-year-old son as a single parent. But as I closed the coffin on my marriage, I met someone at my new job who stirred something powerful, foreign, and undeniable inside me. I met my soul mate. And she was a woman.
The internet didn't exist. Amazon didn't exist. If you wanted to read about lesbians, you went to your library or your local bookstore in disguise and searched for the one or two books that may exist on the shelves in the back. I didn't just make a selection. I bought and borrowed EVERYTHING! Those first books connected me to others who loved a woman as I did. And with each book, I felt a little less lonely, a little less freakish, and a lot more brave.
I became aware as I listened to others at the retreat tell their stories, whether it was about sexuality or something else entirely, we each started sentences with, "I read a book...". How many of your major life discoveries begin with, "I read a book..."?
Fast-forward and I've been with the woman from work who knocked my socks off for twenty years. When I decided to write Eagle Cove, one of the first things I did was search online for writing and publishing classes and resources. Lambda Literary and our Writers Retreat program was the first resource I found that fit my needs perfectly. And though I wasn't accepted into the program that year, I had found my people. I found Lammy winners, reviews, LGBT publishers, and a host of other resources that took me from having a story in my head to being a best-selling lesfic author.
As both a reader and writer of lesbian fiction, I value and depend on the information, programs, and resources provided by Lambda Literary. So, as we work to raise money this Spring to continue our mission, I'm challenging each of you to click the button and Donate. Kids need LGBTQ books in schools. We all need books that affirm our lives.