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2024 GCLS Trailblazer Award Winner Announced

Lesléa Newman is the recipient of the 2024 Golden Crown Literary Society Trailblazer Award. The Trailblazer Award is granted for lifetime achievement and is presented each year to one author in recognition of contributions to sapphic literature.

Lesléa Newman has created 86 books for readers of all ages, including the short story collections, A Letter to Harvey Milk and Girls Will Be Girls, the novels, The Reluctant Daughter and Good Enough to Eat, the poetry collections, I Carry My Mother and I Wish My Father, the novel-in-verse, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, and the children’s books, Sparkle Boy, A Fire Engine for Ruthie, The Boy Who Cried Fabulous, The Babka Sisters, The Best Cat in the World, and Heather Has Two Mommies. Her literary awards include poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, two American Library Association Stonewall Honors, two National Jewish Book Awards, a Barbara Deming Fiction Writing Award, a GCLS Lee Lynch Classic Award and Goldie Award, and the Matthew Shepard Foundation Making a Difference Award. Nine of her books have been Lambda Literary Award Finalists. From 2008 – 2010, she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, MA. But what has made her mother most proud is that her book, Heather Has Two Mommies has been a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle and on Jeopardy!

"Imagine that one of your earliest works gains international attention. It’s even read into the Congressional Record. It would be a dream come true for most writers, but in 1989, with a children’s book published by a small queer press, Lesléa Newman lived the real nightmare of book banning. Ever since, throughout her nearly four decades of writing, she’s faced relentless censorship attempts – poems, scholarship, essays, children’s books – all of it because of what she wrote and who she was. She has responded time and again with a grace and steadfast resistance I don’t know if I could have found in myself. Her example is there for all of us to draw strength from in these dark times."

Karin Kallmaker, GCLS Trailblazer (2011)

"Because of the politics of the land and the urgency around the renewed censorship of our books, I believe we need to make our own statement from our vantage point of Trailblazers, and so I cast my vote and affirmation of the author of Heather Has Two Mommies (not to mention her other work), Lesléa Newman."

Katherine V. Forrest, GCLS Trailblazer (2008)

"It is timely to recognise Lesléa Newman and Desert of the Heart [2024 GCLS Lee Lynch Classic] because of the recent renewed assault on queer books. Each of these writers tells stories of self-actualisation and bravery that are part of the pride of lesbian communities past, present and future."

Jewelle Gomez, GCLS Trailblazer (2016)

Lesléa Newman was chosen for this award by the current GCLS Trailblazers. She will be honored at the GCLS 20th Annual Awards Ceremony in Saint Paul, Minnesota on July 13, 2024.

GCLS Trailblazers forged a path for the generations of authors that follow. The annual GCLS Goldie Awards recognize excellence in sapphic literature.

Betsy Carswell


Board President

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