As we announced in mid-March, In Her Words: 20th Century Lesbian Fiction is the winner of the Publishing Triangle Leadership Award. Created in 2002, this award recognizes contributions to LGBTQ literature by those who are not primarily writers, such as editors, agents, librarians, and institutions. This year’s winner, the first feature documentary to be honored, receives $500. In Her Words examines the history and impact of lesbian fiction from the 1920s through the 1990s. Eighteen authors were interviewed, including Dorothy Allison, Ann Bannon, Rita Mae Brown, Jewelle Gomez, Jenifer Levin, Lee Lynch, Achy Obejas, and Sarah Waters. The narrator, historian Lillian Faderman, gives historical perspective to the film.

The project had its origin at the 2014 National Women’s Music Festival in Madison, Wisconsin, where author Marianne K. Martin was the keynote speaker and author Sandra Moran was presenting on lesbian authors. Moran died not long after, but her widow, Cheryl Pletcher, stepped in to continue the project, and Lisa Marie Evans was brought on to make the movie.

In honoring In Her Words, the Publishing Triangle salutes the immediacy of this film, which portrays the history of twentieth-century lesbian fiction from the perspective of those who created it; In Her Words ensures that the legacies of these literary pioneers will continue to be available to inform and inspire future generations.

In accepting the award, Martin, Pletcher, and Evans write: “We are humbled that our film, In Her Words: 20th Century Lesbian Fiction, was chosen to be the recipient of the 2020 Leadership Award. We are especially pleased to be the first film ever to be selected for this prestigious award. This film was a labor of love in so many ways for us. Our goal from the very beginning of the project was to share the critical, yet generally untold story of twentieth-century lesbian fiction from the perspective of those who created it, and to preserve those voices on film in perpetuity. We thank the Publishing Triangle for giving the film such a high honor.”