I get frustrated with the Lambda Literatery Foundation sometimes, most recently because they made the decision to allow non-LGBT identified people to win “Lammies” which is the award for LGBT books. As if if straight people didn't have enough awards of their own, they have to barge in and win ours! I settled this for myself but vowing to avoid as much as possible books or other culture about gay people written by a straight person, since they always make themselves the heroes (The play Rent? The Movie Philadelphia?)Having said that, I'm pleased that they've got an awesome website run by an an awesome editor and I'm equally impressed with the The Writers’ Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices. The first year it happened was 2007 and every year someone I know comes back from it completely encouraged and motivated and having built really good skills. Some of the different teachers have included Dorothy Allison, Claire Carmichael, Bernard Cooper, Elana Dykewomon, Katherine V. Forrest, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Eloise Klein Healy, Fenton Johnson, Michael Nava, D.A. Powell, John Rechy, Ellen Bass, Ellery Washington and Nicola Griffith.
I think one of the secrets to the success of the Retreat is that they include as faculty members not just the superstar writers of the LGBT world; they include writers who really enjoy teaching and care about nurturing the next generation of LGBT writers. The Retreat is by invitation only; you have to send them twenty pages of fiction/nonfiction or 10 pages of poetry that are evaluated for craft, creativity and originality. There are only eight to twelve students per workshop (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, genre) and it's really expensive as well. But there are substantial scholarships and I don't know anyone who has been a part that didn't think it was an amazing experience.