Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Saving and Supporting LGBT Bookstores

Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York.

Lambda Rising in Washington, D.C.

A Different Light in Hollywood, CA.

In 2009, all three independent LGBT book retailers went out of business. Each store was a beacon of hope for its neighborhood, and provided both physical materials and a safe space for the community to which it catered. The Huffington Post writes that, overall, "LGBT bookstores have played a big part in cultivating our history, serving as resource centers for queer and questioning youth and fostering relationships." When the three stores announced they were going out of business, though, it was only the beginning.

In the past three years, queer bookstores in several major cities around the world have had to throw in the towel. Most recently, Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, currently the oldest LGBT book retailer in existence, had to follow the unfortunate growing trend. The store went up for sale two weeks ago and may be facing its last days, according to an article in Queerty. Several other sellers are on the out-and-out as well: Outwrite (Atlanta), Calamus Bookstore (Boston), Prinz-Eisenherz Buchladen (Berlin), and Libreria Complices (Barcelona), just to name a few.

The most frustrating battle facing all independent bookstores, LGBT and otherwise, is, of course, big name retailers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Readers fear that losing so many queer indie bookstores to larger outlets will not only be a loss in local shops and important books, but also a sense of community. When the Oscar Wilde Bookshop closed, the New York Times spoke with the store's fifth and final owner, Kim Brinster, who said, that "in 1967 Craig Rodwell, started this landmark store that not only sold Gay and Lesbian literature but also became a meeting place for the LGBT community." Queer book retailers have been crucial in the literary and social world and are now, as GayCities.com puts it, "one of the nation's best endangered species."

Buy local. Buy independent. Go to any of the bookstore links in this article to help save LGBT bookstores from going out of business.

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