The lambda was selected as a symbol by the Gay Activists Alliance of New York in 1970, following the Stonewall Riots, and was declared the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1974. The lambda signifies unity under oppression.
The Scottish Minorities Group hosted the first ever International Gay Rights Conference in Edinburgh from 18 to 22 December 1974. It was co-organised by Ian Dunn and Derek Ogg. Ian Dunn had organised the first meeting of what was to become the Scottish Minorities Group in 1969. Derek Ogg later founded Scottish AIDS Monitor in the 1980s.
The conference tried to provide an international sharing of experience, so that delegates could find out the social, political and legal situation for men and women from other countriesm, and included sessions on the rights of young homosexuals and of gay women. The problem of lesbian invisibility was explicitly addressed by a delegate from Campaign Against Moral Persecution in New South Wales, Australia.
Nearly 400 people attended the conference, which led in 1978 to the establishment of the International Gay Association, later to become the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).
The gay rights organization Lambda Legal and the American Lambda Literary Award derive their names from this symbol. Gay News offered a range of jewellery items featuring the Lambda symbol.
Jugendnetzwerk Lambda Bayern
Das Jugendnetzwerk Lambda Bayern e.V. ist der Dachverband der LGBTIQ-Jugendgruppen in Bayern (LGBTIQ = lesbisch, schwul/gay, bisexuell, trans*, inter* , queer) und Teil des bundesweiten Jugendnetzwerk Lambda e.V.. Wir sind Jugendliche und junge Erwachsene, die ehrenamtlich und nach dem peer-to-peer-Ansatz queere Jugendarbeit gestalten – von jungen Menschen für junge Menschen. Gegründet wurden wir 2002 in München, richtig los mit der aktiven Jugendarbeit ging es dann 2005. Als gemeinnützig anerkannter Verband und Mitglied im Bayerischen Jugendring fördern wir die Gleichstellung und Akzeptanz von LGBTIQ-Jugendlichen in Bayern.
This Gay Couple Just Opened NYC“s 2nd Black-Owned LGBTQ+ Bar
The pair started the space after experiencing homophobia in nightlife.
With the ongoing global pandemic, businesses are shuttering left and right. The social distancing guidelines have had an outsized impact on queer and trans night life in particular. And for the most intersectional of those spaces: the pandemic has been a death knell. In New York City, there has been one Black-owned LGBTQ+ nightlife space, Alibi, after the 2019 closing of Langston’s. Alibi, which was saved from closure last month by crowdfunding, was set to be joined before quarantine by a Lambda Lounge. And though the new Harlem-based spot had to delay its opening, this month it finally opened in a limited capacity.
Here, we talked to the married couple behind Lambda Lounge, Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon, about getting into the business and the importance of the space.
Charles: We initially started investing in real estate. We purchased multi-family home and then we wanted to purchase another home but, you know, things didn’t pan out the way we wanted them to. We decided we wanted to move into a different type of business.
One day I saw an advertisement for Ciroc while I was at work and I thought to myself, well why doesn’t the LGBTQ+ community have a spirit that’s created by us and targets us directly. So I started doing a little research online. I found a distillery in Florida that would be able to create the product for us, and they were humble enough to walk us through the entire process given that we didn’t have any previous experience with spirits.
That took us about a year. Initially, the name of the brand was going to be Rainbow Vodka. That was a little cliche. So we did a little research on the community and found the significance with the Lamdba symbol in the community. So we thought that would be a really good name for the product to give a little nostalgia.
Yes, we’re still full-time insurance now. We started the vodka brand and we do a lot of private events and we continued to work our full-time jobs. It’s the same with the bar: we did everything is on the side and we have to do it after 5 p.m. So it’s a lot of long nights for us.
Charles: A lot of stores weren’t initially receptive due to it being a new spirit brand, and it didn’t have a big name behind it. We didn’t get a lot of traction there. We were able to get into a few stories in Harlem and we did find a lot of opportunities with a lot of the LGBTQ organizations here in New York. We were able to constantly to private events with them. So, not being able to move into a lot of liquor stores and bars, gave us the idea of well, why not have our own bar and sell our spirit to our clientele in that bar.
We kind of killed two birds with that stone because the urban LGBTQ+ community in New York City doesn’t have a lounge specifically for us. So that was the idea behind that.
Richard: I think Charles and I have different outlooks on what kind of launched the idea of the lounge. For me personally, a little while ago we were out at a location here in Harlem. We were out with a couple of friends and this was a straight establishment. We were dancing and drinking and all of a sudden the DJ stopped the entire party by stopping the music.
All of a sudden you hear him screaming in the microphone „men don’t dance with men.“ It kind of shocked everybody because that’s not something that you normally hear when you are out trying to have a good time. Most of us were part of the LGBTQ+ community, but we did have some straight friends with us that were thrown back by this. So for me, that was a large part of wanting to make this lounge. We wanted to be able to have a safe space for people of the LGBTQ+ community and especially people of color. Unfortunately, the days of us having spaces where we could go and cut loose are over; they shut them all down.
Richard: Well, we’ve been working on this project, we’ve been working on this location, for our community for about a year. You know, literally days before we were about to have our grand opening, we got hit with the whole shut down.
It’s a little more difficult for us, for a location that hadn’t even opened yet because you haven’t had the opportunity to build any revenue. Locations that have been open for some time they’re able to build revenues they have that cushion, so they can, they can sustain months of a shutdown like this because they have stockpiles of money. Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to gain any revenue.
We’ve been bearing the cost of getting the place, then getting the place renovated and dressing it up the way we wanted to dress it up — and you know we’re gay, so we tend to be a little extravagant. So we were bearing that cost believing that we could make some money from it and when we go to do that we are halted but still have the burden of rent, utilities, and other overhead costs.
Charles: Really, the lack of experience we had with open a location. We weren’t able to find a lot of mentors within our community who had previous experience. We were really bouncing ideas off each other’s head, looking up YouTube clips and honestly trial and error. With that, you know, you lose a lot of money. Contractors are harder to deal with.
Charles: We had friends tell us to just put friends inside and people would accept that. We wanted to give our customers something a little more upscale, downtown feel in Harlem. We decided to go with big, beautiful leather couches in here. We want people to come and enjoy themselves and be able to lounge. We have three sections, throughout. We have a number of features we have PlayStations in the sections, a call server button.
Richard: That’s so people don’t have to wait. For us, customer service is important so you’ll be able to press a button and a server will come right over.
Charles: We thought why not bring the inside, outside. So we created three sections outside of the locations with lounge couches, all the tables are LED and we provide games like Jenga to keep an entertainment factor.
Richard: We had worked with him on an event before and he also carried Lambda Vodka. But we need more. They are right down the street from us and there’s more than enough people in our community for both of us to survive.
25 best LGBTQ books of 2020, according to Lambda Literary
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Though the the coronavirus, the organization announced winners Monday. Twenty-five LGBTQ books earned awards across categories like fiction and nonfiction, comics, romance and anthology.
These Are The Finalists for the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards, Announced Exclusively on
Every year, the „Lammys“ celebrate the best in LGBTQ literature
In our list of the LGBTQ books that’ll change the literary landscape in 2020, we wrote that the previous year had seen something of a sea change in the kind of coverage afforded to queer literature. Our stories, which once were told only in the shadows, are finally coming to into the light.
Need proof? Poet Ocean Vuong’s luminous debut novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous—a fictionalized love letter to his Vietnamese mother and, in some ways, his own queer self—was not only a bestseller but was, according to certain metrics, the best reviewed book of the year. Moreover, Bernardine Evaristo’s experimental novel-in-verse —which includes a lesbian and non-binary person as main characters—was a co-winner of one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world: the UK’s Booker Prize.
And three of our twelve favorite books of 2019 were by and about LGBTQ people: Jacqueline Woodson’s Red at the Bone; Benjamin Moser’s Sontag; and Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Patsy, the latter of which Jenna Bush Hager chose for her Book ClubThat doesn’t even mention Kristen Arnett’s Mostly Dead Things and Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf—queer-centric books that also landed on the New York Times Bestsellers list.
“LGBTQ visibility has increased and the general public’s understanding of the queer community has deepened,” says Sue Landers, the Executive Director of Lambda Literary, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of and showcasing LGBTQ authors and works. “Yet in many places in this world right now, it is still dangerous to be LGBTQ, which makes it all the more important to write and share our stories so that queer life can be better understood and celebrated.”
Many of the books mentioned above are among the many finalists for the 32 nd Annual Lambda Literary Awards, which is exclusively announcing today. These awards serve as a capstone on a monumental, mountain-moving year of queer reads.
Since 1989, the Lammys (as they’re known colloquially) have recognized the critical role LGBTQ writers play in shaping our culture and society at large. Past winners have included literary legends like Alison Bechdel, Michael Cunningham, Roxane Gay, Audre Lorde, and many others.
This year’s nominees are a veritable reading rainbow of excellent books, including many that we’ve covered in these pages: De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s In West Mills and Bryan Washington’s Lot in the Gay Fiction category; Jericho Brown’s The Tradition and Franny Choi’s Soft Science in the Poetry categories; and Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House, Elissa Altman’s , and T. Kira Madden’s Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls in the Nonfiction categories.
The winners will be celebrated live in ceremony on Monday, June 8 in New York City at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. The emcee for the evening? Bowen Yang, Saturday Night Live’s newest cast member. Imagine a mashup of the SAG Awards, the National Book Awards, and the Tonys (presenters have been known to break out in song), and you might get a sense of what this jubilee has in store.
„There is really nothing like being at the ceremony,“author and editor Rakesh Satyal tells Back in 2009, Satyal won a Lammy for his novel Blue Boy. „It is such a powerful and heartening and entertaining demonstration of what makes books so vital to our culture and to our identities. Seeing so many people who love LGBTQ+ literature and want to celebrate it in one place, on one night, reminds us that books are often the best and most effective tools for understanding the world and our commitment to social justice.“
Satyal said that winning the Lammy was „perhaps the first time in my career that I thought, ‚Oh, wow—I am really doing this. I am really a writer.‘ It’s difficult to feel validated in a creative field in the first place, but when you come from marginalized backgrounds, it can seem all the more impossible to find a sense of community or a sense of true worth. Holding that award and thinking that others wanted to recognize something I had written was immeasurably empowering.“
Tickets for the Lambda Literary Awards ceremony, VIP cocktail reception, and after-party are on sale here. Many of the proceeds from ticket sales Lambda Literary’s Writers-in-Schools program, which has brought LGBTQ books and authors to over 7,000 students throughout New York City, and the Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, the only multi-genre writing residency exclusively for emerging LGBTQ writers.
Introduction: Mozambique is a large country with a small LGBT representation. Despite the absence of aggressive anti-gay action by authorities, gay citizens keep their secrets and make no showing of Pride in public. A single organization called LAMBDA quietly goes about its business of health, sexual education and human rights; it also presses to become a registered NGO. In June 2015, homosexuality was decriminalized.
The most significant event in LGBT history in Mozambique was the decriminalization of homosexuality in June of 2015, a very unusual act in homophobic Africa. The landmark legislation was scheduled to go into effect June 29 and would make the southeast African nation the 21st country in Africa to legalize same-sex relationships. That leaves 33 countries with anti-gay laws.
It is an odd irony of history that Mozambique was ruled for centuries by harsh and repressive Portuguese regimes during which slavery thrived and brutality was wrought upon the native people—but homosexuality was handled lightly. Unlike many British and French colonies around Africa where the 19th century brought demeaning and deadly criminal laws against same-sex behavior, in Mozambique the ruling class did not act with the same abhorrence.
The specific reasons are embedded in complex psycho-religio-political history but the bottom line is that homosexuality was not as highly stigmatized, condemned or made sinful by the Catholic Portuguese here as other Euro-imperialist colonies elsewhere in Africa. In 1886 the Portuguese codified the laws in Mozambique and there was no mention of same-sex behavior.
“Mostly they just ignored it,” said Danilo da Silva, director of modern Mozambique’s only LGBT organization, LAMBDA. “It apparently was not so important to them that they were scared of it to make it such an evil way.” Instead of naming homosexual acts as illegal (‘carnal behavior against the laws of nature’ claimed the British), the laws here described ‘vices’ against nature, which was interpreted as referring to bestiality rather than human sodomy. But the law has almost never been applied, according to Danilo. Mostly people just kept quiet about it, there was—and is—a ‘safety zone of silence’.
The resulting effect for modern-day gays in Mozambique is that homosexuality is still handled somewhat ‘lightly’—certainly not openly accepted but also not cruelly or vengefully persecuted as currently done in Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Congo and across most of this continent of 54 countries where gay people face harassment, jail and violence.
Also, said Danilo, present day religious organizations—Muslim and Christian–are not as fundamentalist here as in other countries. “Sharia law is not accepted here plus the Anglicans are most moderate here—unlike central Africa where they are just bonkers against homosexuality,” explained Carmen, a pretty lesbian member of LAMBDA who joined us for dinner one evening at the Jacaranda restaurant in central Maputo.(Photo: downtown Maputo)
“Bishop Akinola (Anglican bishop of Uganda) has made himself famous and notorious over his rabid anti-gay statements that have tapped into the ignorance people have about homosexuality. He has played to people’s fears instead of to their love. It’s all about his ego and power,” she continued.
(The counter-balance to Akinola’s mean spirit is the much beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former head of the Anglican Church in South Africa. He has consistently urged church leaders to stop obsessing against gays and pay more attention to poverty, AIDS, children’s health in Africa. Tutu has apologized in public many times over for his church’s homophobic discrimination.)
Origin of the symbol
The lambda symbol seems to be one of the most controversial of symbols in regards to its meaning. There are several differing opinions as to why the lambda was chosen as a gay symbol and what it really means. However, most sources agree on a few things:
The lambda was first chosen as a gay symbol when it was adopted in 1970 by the New York Gay Activists Alliance. It became the symbol of their growing movement of gay liberation. In 1974, the lambda was subsequently adopted by the International Gay Rights Congress held in Edinburgh, Scotland. As their symbol for lesbian and gay rights, the lambda became internationally popular.
Whatever the exact meaning and origin, the lambda originally embodied a fairly militant connotation. Today, the symbol generally denotes lesbian’s and gay men’s concerns together. Although the lambda was never intended to be linked to any specific gender or orientation such as other symbols may be, historically this is not so: some saw the lambda as a male symbol only.
Gay Activist Alliance (New York City, US)
Tom Doerr originally (in the 1970’s) intended the lambda sign to refer to the political work of GAA (Gay Activist Alliance) specifically, and it was only later that it became a sign for gay liberation in general. Tom Doerr originally colored it chrome yellow (a reference to Huxley’s novel , 14 Jun 2005
Los Angeles (US) gay community proposal
In the early 1970’s the Los Angeles gay community created a flag with a lavender lambda on a simple white background. They hoped the flag would catch on to other cities, but their hopes were denied because some saw the lambda as a male symbol only. , 16 Mar 1999
Lambda on a rainbow flag
I came across a website interview concerning the rainbow flag. But this flag has a white greek letter lambda on it. Has anyone seen one of these? , 16 Mar 1999
Yes, one of these flags or more in Chicago, some on buildings along Halsted Street. The Lambda flag, with the Greek letter „L“, is one of many variations on the standard six-striped Rainbow flag that has become the basis for the Gay flag worldwide. , 16 Mar 1999
The rainbow with the lambda did come both ways [both red on top and purple on top] in the 1980’ies. The “red up”, so far as I know, came from an incorrect handout from Lambda Rising in Wash D.C. , 28 Jul 1999
The variant with lambda in canton also exists. Its photos from the West Hollywood City hall, where it was flown together with the US national flag and old city flag until January 2014, can be seen here, here and here. A photo from Long Beach, taken on 2013-03-26, can be found here On the oldest photo so far, which is from the Long Beach Gay Pride Festival in 1989, the flag hoisted above the letter R in word GENERATION is charged with a lambda in canton. There may be more such flags, but the details are just not visible enough. There is also a newer photo from San Diego Pride Festival in 1992 and a much newer one, taken on 2010-07-12 in San Diego. , 31 Aug 2014
by Amy E. Moore
The gay community often uses the Greek symbol Lambda because it means “change.”
Delta Lambda Phi, a national fraternity with open acceptance of gay and bisexual men, Lambda Delta Lambda a lesbian-oriented sorority, and the organization Lambda 10 are actively seeking changes in the acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and intersex people in the Greek community.
“Sororities involve a bonding that is different from that of any other group,” said Cara Walter, a student at the University of California Davis, and a previous co-president of Lambda Delta Lambda. “We are a group of like minded women who come together to support each other, have fun, and get something done.”
Lambda Delta Lambda was founded at the University of California Davis in 1988. The chapter’s website states that Lambda Delta Lambda is a Greek organization with a “message to the campus and community is one of acceptance and hope for equality.”
The only Greek organization like this in the state of Missouri is a colony of Delta Lambda Phi at the University of Missouri Rolla.
Lambda Delta Lambda is not a national chapter. The chapter Lambda Delta Omega existed at Pennsylvania State University with the same purpose as Lambda Delta Lambda. This chapter existed under the name Lambda Delta Omega because a science fraternity was already using the name Lambda Delta Lambda. The chapter closed in the spring of 2005 due to lack of membership and interest in joining the sorority.
The Gamma Chapter of Lambda Delta Lambda was not a recognized chapter at UC Davis until it complied with the constitution created by the Alpha Chapter and followed the procedures outlined by the University of California Los Angeles.
“The Alpha Chapter started with nine members,” said Walter. “Lambda Delta Lambda will be increasing its membership this quarter with a large pledge class, and this is due to increased visibility in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and intersex community at events, such as the LGBTQI conference that was held at UC Davis this year.”
Lambda Delta Lambda’s membership criteria is defined by their constitution stating, “Membership shall be open to all students, faculty and staff, or the University of California at Davis, regardless of race, nationality, creed, political affiliation, sex (in accordance with title IX), sexual orientation, physical handicap, age, marital status or religion.”
“Disclosure of sexual orientation is not required or solicited by the sorority because of people’s different comfort levels, therefore, any such information is conveyed on a person to person basis,” said Walter.
Walter said she joined Lambda Delta Lambda in search of a community of people similar to herself.
“Rush week consists usually of an information night, an ice cream night, a pizza night, a potluck, and usually two other events,” she said. “In addition, we tend to find some of our pledges before rush week at events and gatherings.”
She describes the pledge period as being relaxed with minimal hazing.
Lambda Delta Lambda has strict rules against romantic relationships starting between pledges and active members during the pledge period. “Other than that, we have a general no drama policy,” said Walter. “Actives or alumni can date as long as such relationships do not create drama within the sorority.”
Lambda Delta Lambda does not have a chapter house on campus because it would increase membership fees, therefore, limiting the number of people capable of joining. When asked about the sororities retention rate Walter said, “We are somewhat concerned about sisters remaining involved in the sorority since we have been a small group recently, but most of our problems in that regard stem from sisters pledging late in their college careers and thus only being a part of the sorority for a year or two.”
Delta Lambda Phi and the Lambda 10 Project support Lambda Delta Lambda. The Lambda 10 Project is an organization that recognizes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues and provides members with educational resources applicable for Greek life.
Shane Windmeyer, a Phi Delta Theta at Emporia State University, created the Lambda 10 Project in the fall of 1995 to educate Greeks against homophobia.
“L10 is an information clearinghouse and online community for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fraternity and sorority issues. It does not have chapters on campuses,” said Windmeyer.
Lambda 10 regularly communicates with Lambda Delta Lambda and Delta Lambda Phi. When people interested in starting a LGBT fraternity or sorority approach Windmeyer he often refers them to these and other LGBT organizations.
The two books Out on Fraternity Row and Secret Sisters is the biggest contribution Lambda 10 has given to the Greek community, said Windmeyer.
“L10 has broken the cycle of invisibility when it comes to LGBT men and women in the college fraternity and sorority. No longer can anyone deny that there are indeed LGBT men and women in the Greek Community. Education has begun and change is happening over the last 10 years of Lambda 10,” he said.
Delta Lambda Phi is a national fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men. The fraternity was founded in 1986 with the intent to create a social fraternity that “wouldn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation.” Nationally the fraternity has about 200 members.
Delta Lambda Phi states, “All men, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic background, religion, or sexual orientation are welcome to apply for membership.”
“Fraternities or sororities in general are an organization, not a club, and I think the distinction needs to be recognized,” said Jeremy Charles the National Executive Director of Delta Lambda Phi.
“Within the organization you take an oath as a pledge and brother to uphold certain principles that this organization would serve. In local clubs members can come and go. There is a defined purpose to Greek organizations,” he said.
The Nationals of Delta Lambda Phi vote each year on a philanthropy for the fraternity. Last year the fraternity supported funding for AIDS and HIV research. In some cases, each chapter will develop their own philanthropy.
The organization plans to increase membership by marketing itself as a unique fraternity. “It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, bisexual, or straight. You’re welcome whoever you are,” said Charles.
“In recent years, we’ve overcome the ‘Animal House’ stigma,” said Charles. Many factors contribute to the nationwide decrease in Greek population.
“Some people still have the idea that Greek life is just a party club, and across the board it is seen as a place to hook up,” he said. “People see them having events and dating, but they don’t just see it as dating; they see it as something else. It has hurt us, and we have seen a few chapters drop. People attach these stigmas to Greek life. We attribute it to their lack of understanding.”
Delta Lambda Phi’s recruitment process is similar to the other fraternities on campus. If the chapter is a member of the Inter-Fraternity Council it must follow those restrictions for Recruitment. If not, Lambda Delta Phi usually conducts their recruitment about the same week as the other chapters on campus. The process typically includes an information meeting, social events, and formal interviews.
Charles became an active member of Delta Lambda Phi during his junior year at Ohio University. He summarizes his experience as being good. He developed leadership and social skills that were valuable after graduation. Delta Lambda Phi also offered him a unique network and bonding experience not offered through other organizations.
On March 12, 2005 Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville started Beta Zeta, the 52nd chapter of Delta Lambda Phi. Similar to most chapters, Beta Zeta was a colony for a year and a half before receiving its charter.
To become a recognized chapter, all colonies must recruit at least three pledge classes. This usually brings them to about twelve members total.
The colony does a community service project, a fundraiser, and a central event. They develop colony bylaws, which later become the chapter bylaws. Then the colony writes a petition to nationals stating who they are, what they’ve done, and why they believe they should be chartered as a chapter.
“I joined DLP to feel Brotherhood,” said Christopher Miofsky, the President of Delta Lambda Phi at SIUE and the Vice President of Greek Council. “I joined another fraternity my freshman year and it did not work out so I found DLP on the Internet and found how to colonize with them. It has been an amazing experience and I am so glad I was able to be part of DLP.”
Beta Zeta has eight brothers. The chapter’s small size offer’s a close bond that may not be felt with other organizations said Miofsky.
“We’re much more likely to bond overall,” said Miofsky. “I won’t say that the others don’t also share a Brotherhood, but we just seem to be much closer than they do. We also offer an acceptance of everyone that may not necessarily be felt in the other (fraternities). We are just a very accepting group of men. It is awesome that I have met people this accepting of all kinds of people, not just sexual minorities.”
Delta Lambda Phi’s bond is not just felt on local campuses. “Delta Lambda Phi has a Brotherhood to offer,” said Miofsky. “It is a Brotherhood unlike any I have seen anywhere else. We, being a small organization nationally, are all very close. I know many of the people in our region and it is wonderful to be able to get to meet these people and actually have a Fraternal experience with them.”
SIUE has roughly fifteen Greek organizations, and about 3% of the total student population is Greek. “We have most of the similarities to other fraternities on campus, other than we are just more open and accepting of homosexuality,” said Miofsky. Similar to the other fraternities on campus Beta Zeta participates in mixers with the sororities, follows the same recruitment process, and met the same requirements to receive a charter.
Beta Zeta interacts with on organization on campus called SOTA (Sexual Orientation and Trans-gendered Alliance). Since the completion of their charter Miofsky said he hopes his fraternity will have more time to socialize with the organization.
Over the weekend of April 22, Beta Zeta is having a spring retreat to plan yearly goals and discuss events like Recruitment and increasing membership.
“We are a fraternity just like any other fraternity and we do not really concern ourselves with stuff like who is and is not straight. We do not have any other issues than do the other fraternities on campus,” said Miofsky.
Currently there are 22 chapters of Lambda Delta Phi nationally. The most recent chapter started on April 9, 2005 at the University of Pennsylvania. None of the chapters have a fraternity house on campus. As the fraternity ages and the number of alumni increase, hopefully there will be enough funding to build houses for the chapters said Charles.
“I think that being Greek is an experience that not everyone can have, as not everyone is mentally equipped to handle it,” said Miofsky. “I know that since my initiation and going through the colony process, I have changed in a way that I would not have changed had I not been Greek. It is an amazing feeling to be one of those few people on campus with letters. I would not trade this for anything.”
Who We Are
For over 30 years, Lambda Literary has championed LGBTQ books and authors. No other organization in the world serves LGBTQ writers and readers more comprehensively than Lambda Literary. We believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer literature is fundamental to the preservation of our culture, and that LGBTQ lives are affirmed when our stories are written, published, and read.
LAMBDA, Danilo and Carmen
Perhaps because of the relative ‘lightness’ of being gay and due to the general absence of vigorous persecution of gays, no significant LGBT organization was formed until 2006 (although there is certainly gay stigma from the current homophobic government).
That year LAMBDA Mozambique came into being with Danilo heading the effort. Describing this effort, Danilo and Carmen talked with me in balmy weather during a break in the usual rainy season (December to February). (Photo right: Danilo and Carmen)
We could have been sitting anywhere in Europe or North America. There were no watchful eyes upon us, no prying ears, no authority to fear, no sense of risk as we talked. (During several days in Maputo I hardly saw a policeman on the street.)
Danilo is a handsome 30-something computer programmer who is now wholly engaged in leading LAMBDA. He has been out and proud for five years speaking and educating on behalf of gay rights and HIV health care. It was during a television appearance that Carmen saw Danilo and was surprised that anyone would be so brave. “I said to myself, that is someone I want to meet.” She was in the process of coming out and had been inspired at a women’s conference in 2008 in Mozambique, which included seminars on human rights for sexual minorities, so she was ready to hear LAMBDA’s message.
LAMBDA’s vision is stated on their website: to work toward a society where sexual orientation and diversity are recognized by the state, respected by citizens and protected by law. LAMBDA promotes civic, human and legal rights of the LGBTI community through public awareness and education as well as advocacy and social dialogue. We are motivated by the belief that sexual orientation is integral and that everyone has the right to exercise their sexuality without fear of being stigmatized.”
The organization has been partially funded by the Dutch charity Hivos, one of the most generous and pro-gay organizations in the world. Their mission with LAMBDA is: “to focus on lobbying for the repeal of homophobic legislation whilst the public awareness campaign will raise the profile on the rights of the LGBTI community in Mozambique. The objective is to enhance the numbers of LGBTI people coming out of the closet and celebrating their sexuality. Hivos will also try to create an enabling legal framework so that the sexual minorities are not criminalized when they exercise their rights. Hivos supports the internet union as there is little support to sexual minorities and they are at risk as Mozambique is highly homophobic.”
LAMBDA has members across the county some of whom lobby supportive legislators hoping to become an officially registered NGO with the government, currently headed by the ruling Frelimo party (for the past 20 years) with a less than receptive current president.
As usual there are parliament members who are hardliners and other who are moderate. LAMBDA has tried for over a year to get registered. Technically, said Danilo, there are no constraints since the constitution declares that “all are equal” but of course “there are moralists who resist the equality so we wait patiently.” (Photo left: government building in Maputo)
These fundamentalists take the usual stand against homosexuality. “Mostly it is due to ignorance of the masses about human sexuality. The vast majority have no intelligent education about sexual issues.” Danilo noted there is an upcoming election later in 2009 so Frelimo is using that as an excuse to delay gay requests lest they be accused of being pro-gay. “Although we have apparent freedom, we are not a true democracy since we are essentially a one-party government. The opposition—Renamo—is disorganized and ineffective.
“We can’t officially offer services to the public, including to LGBT citizens, unless we are registered. So we offer support as individuals.” With the help of Hivos, LAMBDA is able to offer informal education seminars about HIV issues, gay sensitivity, condom and lube use and other health issues. Despite its non-legal status LAMBDA does work with local authorities to lobby for HIV awareness. Unfortunately it’s still a long way off that MSM will be specifically targeted as a high-risk group by the health produces a newsletter called ‘The Colors of Love’.
Danilo also travels to rural areas and gives trainings in human rights, sexuality and peer education. LAMBDA currently counts about 50 activists in its membership. A major project being initiated in March 2009 is a sex survey of men in Maputo to determine sexual patterns of behavior, with the intention of bringing the MSM population to the authorities’ attention. It is estimated that 17% of men in Mozambique are HIV+ with most not knowing it. “Many men here are on the down-low,” said Danilo. (During the conversation, I asked, where he learned such good English? “In bed!” laughed Danilo.)
The Brazil-led 2007 UN effort urging member nations to decriminalized homosexuality was signed by many nations, mostly European but not signed by Mozambique who abstained. (Also not signed at first by the USA but under Obama it will signed.)
Not surprising for southern Africa (RSA excepted) in a conservative Christian/Muslim country, with a vastly rural population with minimal education, LAMBDA is the only LGBT organization to be found here. It is a poor country with little history of respect for human rights. The Portuguese were harsh rulers and slavery flourished, as mentioned above, along the Indian Ocean coast for three centuries as hundreds of thousands of black people were treated like cattle to be bought and sold.
Following independence in 1975 and a ruinous experiment with socialism, civil warfare broke out in the late 70’s between rival political parties each with its own army for killing civilians who opposed them. The chaos and violence went on for 16 years before a fragile election (1994) could be mounted that gave authority to one party (Frelimo), which is currently still in power. The country has experienced relative stability since 2000 and life and prosperity have improved.
Human rights have not been a priority in the rebuilding of the country; survival for most is subsistence farming on small plots of land—corn grows everywhere. Commerce is slowly emerging as investors and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) have returned. It is estimated that more than 40% of the gross national income is derived from foreign governments and charity organizations that support public works, sponsor schools, churches and agricultural projects.
Daily Gay Life
Meanwhile at the personal daily level, both Carmen and Danilo go about their lives with relative freedom to choose their lifestyles. Both enjoy primary relationships with their partners. Danilo’s partner has a seven year-old child who, Danilo chuckled, now has three dads since the mother has remarried. The child lives with the gay double-dads.
There are numerous long-term gay and lesbian couples in Maputo among Carmen’s and Danilo circles of friends. There are no reports of overt discrimination or homophobia—“just the usual family pressures to marry and make babies.” Is there any reaction from neighbors? “No, they mind their own business and our interactions are easy.” (Photo left: trendy cafe in Maputo)
Carmen described gay life in Maputo: “LGBT people have an open social life when in a LGBT event. But people are afraid of being stigmatized or discriminated when around non-LGBTI. Maputo society mostly does not mind whether you are LGBTI as long as you don’t kiss your partner in the street or if the LGBTI is not part of their family. Most cases of LGBT people live in closets because of their family’s (parents/brothers/sisters) reaction to the news. The pressure drops on their backs to get married which is strong. There is the possibility to get kicked out of the house with nowhere to go.”
Danilo added, “in such an ‘elementary’ modern social fabric (mostly in Maputo) there are no gay-only bars or clubs, no publications, no big social events other than friendship networks. There is the occasional general reference to homosexuality in health/HIV seminars presented by LAMBDA to government organizations, health care workers and schools.”
Are there cruising places in Maputo? Danilo and Carmen together reported some favorite places in the area for socializing or cruising. I expected to hear two or three places but they named a list including Inhaca Island, Marracuene Lodge, Ponta D’ouro Beach, Namaacha Village, Pequenos Libombos Dam and Costa do Sol Beach. As well, they went on, there are some mixed nightclubs like Coconuts, Lounge, 4U, Mafalala Libre (offering gays night every Thursday) and also Sheik and Havana clubs. Not bad for a conservative homophobic culture!
How do rural villages react if someone is found to be gay? Carmen described that she knows a couple of people in rural areas: “their cases are similar to others in the urban area. The pressure comes from inside the house to marry. Today homosexuality in Mozambique is something that society thinks is new but if they go back in lot of family history they will find someone that was homosexual. People tend to close their eyes for what they believe is ‘abnormal. But whose standards decides the normal and abnormal when it comes to people’s sexual identity”
Mozambique is a vast country, considerably larger than Texas, with a vast rural outback of low forests and endless small plots of subsistence farming. A long train ride through the northern wilderness reveals countless tiny villages of mud-and-thatch houses and the occasional motorbike.
Along the rails, at every stop, hundreds of villagers run to greet the train hoping to sell varieties of goods—vegetables, fruit, woven bamboo, used clothing, shoes, fried and live chickens or drinks (Coca Cola is everywhere)–as children stare at the iron horse in their midst with its packed 3rd class cars and its one gritty 2nd class car. Many of the children are dressed in rags, the men in worn used donated clothes and the women in colorful prints. (Photo: farm children with hoes)
What might these people know of homosexuality? The life expectancy out here is about 38 years. The national per capita earning is about US$300. For sure, if one does have emotional or sexual feelings for a same-sex friend it will be poorly understood since there is usually no social reference that can help a person to learn about sexual variety.
Only heterosexual behavior is modeled for young people, although doubtless there is some sexual play among young unmarried boys with boys and girls with girls. If it happens it is seen only as silly play and nothing more. Anything else will be buried under layers of tradition, social standards and family expectations to conform. And with few skills other than farming or manual laboring, there is only a remote chance that a rural person will ever go far away.
That said, in these modern times, there are some young ‘entrepreneurs’ on a small scale such as truck or taxi drivers or souvenir dealers or some clever students who make it to urban centers, mostly Maputo. Most of the time their motives are commercial but for the few LGBT citizens who become aware of their sexuality via newspapers or magazines or Internet (rarely) or by gossip (mostly), there can be some authentic satisfaction found in the cities in Mozambique however secret.
If he (very unlikely she) is lucky enough to discover LAMBDA there is new hope, new friends and possibly a new love that may well open to them as the country moves into the future.
I am personally aquainted with some veterans of the old 1970’s Gay Activist Alliance, in New York City. The story that they always told me was that the lamda was first designed in December 1969 by the graphic artist and GAA founding member Tom Doerr. Doerr chose it because he said that in chemistry it is a sign for a , 14 Jun 2005
But where history ends, speculation begins. Some suggested that it is simply the Greek lower-case letter „L“ for of knowledge shed into the darkness of ignorance».
I always thought that it was just the inicial of „, 31 May 1999
I was told once that the Lambda (or „L“) derives from ancient Sparta: Its citizen-militia promoted homosexuality among its members… The Spartan military used shields which sported the letter Lambda as a “heraldic” device. This was done because the “official” name of Sparta was „Lacedaimonia, 01 Sep 2000
Lambda Literary traces its beginnings back to 1987 when L. Page (Deacon) Maccubbin, owner of Lambda Rising Bookstore in Washington, DC, published the first Lambda Book Report, which brought critical attention to LGBTQ books.
The Lambda Literary Awards were born in 1989. At that first gala event, honors went to such distinguished writers as National Book Award Finalist Paul Monette (Borrowed Time), Dorothy Allison (Trash), Allan Hollinghurst (The Swimming Pool Library), and Edmund White (The Beautiful Room is Empty). The purpose of the Awards in the early years was to identify and celebrate the best lesbian and gay books in the year of their publication. The Awards gave national visibility to a literature that had established a firm if nascent beachhead through a network of dynamic lesbian and gay publishers and bookstores springing up across America. Since their inception, the Lambda Literary Awards ceremony has consistently drawn an audience representing every facet of publishing. The Awards have ranged over many categories, reflecting the wide spectrum of LGBTQ books, and from the very first year they have made the statement that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans stories are part of the literature of the nation.
Lambda Book Report, meanwhile, grew into a comprehensive review periodical, and together with the Lambda Literary Awards, these programs cemented the reality that a distinct, definable LGBT literature existed. Lambda Literary was created in 1997 as a 501(3)(c) corporation; its first Executive Director was Jim Marks.
In 2007, led by Board President, Katherine V. Forrest and Executive Director Charles Flowers, Lambda Literary founded its Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices: a residency designed to offer intensive and sophisticated instruction to selected writers over a carefully designed one week period. Faculty have included well-known and highly regarded writer-teachers such as Dorothy Allison, John Rechy, Fenton Johnson, Katherine V. Forrest, Claire McNab, Bernard Cooper, Nicola Griffith, Ellen Bass, Rigoberto Gonzalez, D. A. Powell, Ellery Washington and Eloise Klein Healy. The Retreat provides open access to industry professionals and the opportunity for fellows to create for themselves an ongoing community of practice as they advance in their craft and careers. It is one of Lambda’s most important initiatives: it represents the future of LGBTQ literature.
In early 2010, in an effort led by board member Nicola Griffith, Lambda Literary funded, staffed, and launched an online presence at which celebrates, supports, serves, informs, entertains, and connects the whole of the brilliantly diverse community that creates and supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans literature. Our website offers content of interest to readers, writers, agents, booksellers, editors, educators, distributors, librarians, and more.
In 2012 Lambda Literary launched the LGBTQ Writers in School program, where LGBTQ writers visit K-12 classrooms to discuss LGBTQ literature with young people.
In 2017, Lambda Literary hosted the first annual Lambda LitFest, a week-long, community-curated literary festival demonstrating all that queer literary LA has to offer.
On first Wednesday of every month, we organize the „Lambda Istanbul Gay & Lesbian Party“ in one of the most famous clubs of Turkey, called „Twenty“. It takes place between 9.00 p.m. and 1.00 a.m. and gives us the opportunity to come together in a very nice atmosphere with music & dance! As we get the fee for entrance, the party is also a support for our acitivities and the rent that we have to pay for our weekly meetings. For details look below!
In this article
“Because of the pandemic, the list is even more vital because we’re feeling even more separated and isolated,” William Johnson, the deputy director of Lambda Literary, said. “I think the need to have some sort of communal celebration around queer art is only heightened as we’re operating under these extraordinary circumstances.”
Lambda Literary is the premier organization promoting emerging queer writers. As in previous years, the 2020 “Lammy Awards” recipients celebrate the “dynamic diversity” of the LGBTQ community, with categories ranging from transgender poetry to LGBTQ drama. More than 60 literary pros perused more than 1,000 submissions to determine the year’s best books — which came from more than 300 publishers. The list of finalists clocks in at 164, out of which Lambda selected the best 25.
Our list constantly evolves as the community becomes more expansive in terms of what queerness can contain and what queerness can hold
“Our list constantly evolves as the community becomes more expansive in terms of what queerness can contain and what queerness can hold,” Johnson said. “We are brilliant, we are wonderful, we are talented. I want everyone to understand that that’s the actual power of queer creativity.
While in-person meetings, like the Lammy Award ceremony, have been curtailed, Johnson believes there is still ample opportunity for readers to find connection through rallying around books. If you’re looking for your next LGBTQ read, why not start with those that Lambda Literary has rated among this year’s best?
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
If you think you have a drinking problem, We in the Lambda Group of Alcoholics Anonymous invite you to join us. For those of us who identify as LGBTQIA+, AA extends a helping hand, an open heart, and a life-saving and life-affirming program of recovery.