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Author & Philanthropist’s $250,000 Gift Brings Transformational Opportunities to Lambda Literary

Author: Harper Zacharias

April 11, 2023

Author & Philanthropist’s $250,000 Gift Brings Transformational Opportunities to Lambda Literary


April 11, 2023 Iyana Gallen | 

Author & Philanthropist’s $250,000 Gift Brings  Transformational Opportunities to Lambda Literary 

NEW YORK, NY – Lambda Literary is proud to announce author and philanthropist Chuck  Forester’s (he/him) truly transformational gift of $250,000 to promote and support the  organization’s growth to meet the increased needs of a community under attack.  

Mr. Chuck Forester is a near and dear friend of Lambda Literary and a fervent champion of Lambda Literary’s work. His past contributions have been indispensable to the organization’s  success. This most recent investment in Lambda Literary’s future affords Lambda Literary the  opportunity to both ground itself and stretch to meet the increasing needs of a precarious  present. 

“Lambda Literary has long been a small but mighty organization swinging far above its weight in  the literary arts,” said Executive Director Samiya Bashir (she/her). “We are proud to have  made it through the worst of the past few years and come out stronger and more determined  than ever.” 

Born and raised in 1950s Wausau, Wisconsin, Forester said that it took seeing a gay man in  print to kick him out of the closet. “I volunteered to lead the gay and lesbian affinity group that  provided the queer community its first secure repository of queer culture.” 

“That campaign,” Forester continued, “taught me about the power of the written word. It’s the  way we tell each other who we are. It’s the way we pass our culture on to future generations,  and it saves lives, like it saved mine.” 

Forester’s generous gift will be used to build organizational capacity. “Lambda Literary  miraculously got by for 35 years with no development staff,” observed Forester, a prolific  fundraiser and philanthropist and the author of four books, including I Throw Like a Girl (Querelle Press, 2022). “I see no better way of securing the future of Lambda Literary than by  filling that gap.” 

In 2022, Lambda Literary engaged in a nationwide search for new leadership and appointed  Bashir to the top job six months ago. Bashir isn’t the only new member of a team whose growth  Forester’s gift helps to make possible. Mission-centric fundraiser, advocate, and educator  Harper Zacharias (they/them) joined Lambda Literary in March as its first Director of  Development & Engagement. 

“Fundraising is at its core a form of advocacy and storytelling—a way to secure, through  empathy building, material resources for a community that needs them,” said Harper Zacharias. This is why, among other reasons, the work of Lambda Literary is so important to  me. I bring with me a diverse background of experience in fundraising for literary arts, freedom  of expression, educational programs, LGBTQ+ issues, and sex workers rights. I look forward to  

building a sustainable, reliable and robust development structure to support and grow the  essential educational and community building work being done at Lambda Literary.” 

Bashir emphasized the metamorphic journey she intends for the 35-year-old LGBTQ+ literary  arts organization. “Chuck’s generous, transformational gift allows us to usher Lambda Literary  into a new phase of expansion. With his help we can stretch, allowing us to meet our  community’s needs during a precarious time when our books are being banned, our stories  attacked, and our voices silenced.” 

The journey forward includes an increased focus on community engagement. “I am excited to  engage Harper Zacharias’ partnership as we expand and diversify revenue streams and  reconnect with our communities both in person and online,” said Bashir. “Harper’s experience,  both in the queer and trans communities we serve, as well as with the literary arts communities  such as at our partner organization, PEN America, are right in line with the work Lambda excels  at today as well as the roads we are paving toward our future.” 

This year’s 35th Annual Lambda Literary Awards (the “Lammys”) will take place on Friday,  June 9, 2023, at the celebration’s new Broadway home, The Edison Ballroom. The full list of  award finalists was announced on March 15, 2023, and can be found here. Purchase live and/or  virtual tickets and explore sponsorship opportunities for the first in-person Lammys since the  start of COVID.  

About Lambda Literary: 

For 35 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. Visit 

About Chuck Forester: Wisconsin raised, east coast educated, San Francisco resident since 1971 and HIV+ since 1978. Chuck attended Dartmouth and Penn and holds a MCP in city planning and an MFA in poetry. Chuck had the good fortune to come out in 1972 as his generation learned what it means to be gay. Chuck worked for three San Francisco mayors before serving as an executive with several non-profits. Since coming out Chuck has had a keen interest in supporting LGBT literature and preserving LGBT history. He was chairman of the Board of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, now the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and he led the effort that raised $3.5 million for the Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center in San Francisco’s Main Library, the first public collection of queer literature. Chuck Forester is the author of the novels “Eat, Sleep, Love,” “Our Time,” and “Do You Live Around Here?” and his most recent, a memoir, I Throw Like A Girl. 

About Samiya Bashir

Artist, writer, performer, educator, and advocate Samiya Bashir is the author of three poetry  collections, including Field Theories, winner of the 2018 Oregon Book Award. A long-time  communications professional focused on editorial, arts, and social justice movement building,  Samiya was a founding organizer and longtime Board member of Fire & Ink, a nonprofit devoted  to increasing the understanding, visibility, and awareness of the works of LGBTQ+ writers of  African descent and heritage. Recent Saints & Sinners Hall of Fame inductee Samiya’s honors  include the Rome Prize in Literature, the Pushcart Prize, and Oregon’s Arts & Culture Council  Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature among numerous other awards, grants, fellowships, and  residencies. Samiya is also a two-time Lambda Literary Awards finalist. In addition to her books,  Samiya has served as editor to national magazines and anthologies of literature and artwork. 

About Harper Zacharias

Driven by a dedication to economic, racial and gender justice, Harper Zacharias has a passion  and a knack for putting resources in the hands of those who need them most. Zacharias has  experience advocating for the rights of sex workers, LGBTQ+ rights, and the value of literary  arts. As the Director of Development at the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center,  they transformed the organization’s relationship with philanthropy by implementing a three year  strategic plan, increasing and diversifying revenue, and streamlining project management. At  Trans Student Educational Resources, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the  educational environment for transgender youth, Harper supported programs at more than 500  schools, quadrupled the size of the organization, and raised over $500,000 for transgender  youth. At PEN America, Zacharias helped grow programs that uplifted the voices of  marginalized and emerging writers and was integral in securing over $3.5m in revenue. 

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