So sad. Are there any gay/LGBT bookstores in the United States left??
Giovanni's Room, Philadelphia's gay bookstore (& the oldest gay bookstore in the US) closed its doors today, after being open for the last 40 years. The owner became very old, and he could not find a suitable owner to take on the business. He said he has lost business to Amazon.com and mainstream bookstores.
I have heard that New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Atlanta all used to have gay bookstores, but they have all shut down already. I never had the opportunity to visit any of them, as I was either too young or too deeply closeted at the time to even think about visiting a gay establishment.
When I visited Philly about 3 yrs ago, I was closeted but I did visit Giovanni's Room. I went because I figured that nobody would recognize me since I'm from California. The experience was magical.......of course there was the porn magazines (as to be expected in a gay bookstore) but I found the collection of fiction and non-fiction literature to be amazing. There were even gay comic books & children's books written for children who have a parent who is gay, or have parents in a same-sex relationship. I spent almost 2 hours browsing the books on all 3 floors of the bookstore (but I did buy a couple books though).
I visited Philly again back in March, and I went to Giovanni's Room again. It was the same place but something felt slightly off. I was easily the youngest person there.......everyone else was mostly gay men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s.
People say that the death of gay bookstores is a sign of progress for the gay community, because gay people are now assimilated with straight people. Gay people can buy gay-themed books at their local straight-owned, independent bookstore or their corporate bookstore chain. And of course they can buy gay-themed items online from Amazon & have it shipped right to their doorstep.
But for me, the loss of a gay bookstore is the loss of something special I'm really quiet and I get nervous with big crowds so I don't really enjoy going to gay bars. But at least for a couple hours when I was at Giovanni's Room, I didn't feel like I was the "other" or a misfit in a heterosexual world.
I'll miss you, Giovanni's Room.