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  1. #1

    Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    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.

    http://citypaper.net/article.php?Wha...i-s-Room-20330



    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.
    Last edited by JayQueer; May 17th, 2014 at 11:26 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    I've been there several times, and it really is a major loss. I've been to gay bookstores in lots of other places. (When I travel for conferences, I try to visit gay establishments in the area if I can.) As far as I know, Rehoboth, DE still has one (though they used to have more, IIRC), and as of a little over a year ago, there was a decent one in Boston. I've been to one in DC, but that was many years ago and I don't know if it's still there; same with Atlanta. I can't remember if I've been to any outside the US--those travels were many years ago. I once stayed at a gay guesthouse in Dublin, and they had a guide to gay establishments in the city, but I can't remember if there was a bookstore. I may have been to one in London, but again, it was quite some time ago.

    Surprisingly enough, when I was in college (late 90's), I found most of my LGBT-related material at a mainstream (albeit locally-owned) bookstore in my tiny college town. They had a good selection of magazines and books of all genres. I was really sad when I last visited the town and saw that they had shrunk dramatically. The store still exists, but it's moved to a smaller space and now seems to focus on selling vinyl records to hipsters.

    While I do think it's good to have LGBT-related materials in mainstream bookstores, there's something comforting about having a space dedicated solely to the LGBT community.I've never been a huge fan of gay bars, but I think that the demise of the gay bookstore is really sad.
    Recently I heard a 'wise guy' story that I had a party at my home for twenty-five men. It's an interesting story, but I don't know twenty-five men I'd want to invite to a party. ~Joan Crawford

  3. #3
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    Something in the OP is bothering me, but I can't figure out what...

    Anyway, both the gay and lesbian bookstores are alive and well in Chicago.
    That we are capable only of being what we are, remains our unforgivable sin.
    - Gene Wolfe

  4. #4

    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolyo85 View Post
    Something in the OP is bothering me, but I can't figure out what...
    What do you mean by that??

    Seriously, I put up a legit post and I still get shade from the usual suspects
    I used to be like that, but not anymore. At least not on the first date. Third date, whole other story..."

  5. #5
    Execuvette Rolyo85's Avatar
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    Yeah, which is why I said I don't know what it is.
    That we are capable only of being what we are, remains our unforgivable sin.
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  6. #6
    Are u haleloo ya ? Telstra's Avatar
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    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    ok then, business is business.
    If you don't make money you close it down.


    NEVER LISTEN TO A ONE SIDED STORY AND JUDGE.

  7. #7

    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    The internet provides alternatives to the gay store, and too many gays would go to the store, browse and not buy.

  8. #8
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    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    Its a very sad but very real truth that this is the way the world will turn.
    40 years ago, having access to things like book stores, video stores and other such things of interest, and us having to travel to find these places was the only method of finding them. When I was in my late teens to early 20s, this was how i found gay porn and magazines and sex toys, by travelling far out wide to other towns and even as far as places like london just to find stores that catered to what I wanted to find.
    And back then, such places were of meaning to people looking for them, I still have old vhs porn tapes I got from such places.

    But with todays age of the internet, downloading porn online for the same or lower price you would pay for in a store, websites like queermemore and many others that cover porn news day by day, and even getting to order all the porn paraphernalia you want without needing to slog it home, its what everyone does now and find exactly what they want, instead of exhausting themselves travelling place to place.

    It is sad, but I think the only place where gay themed shops and book stores will carry on being of any worth in the future will be in tourist areas people come on holiday to visit and buy stuff.

    While I do think it's good to have LGBT-related materials in mainstream bookstores, there's something comforting about having a space dedicated solely to the LGBT community.I've never been a huge fan of gay bars, but I think that the demise of the gay bookstore is really sad.
    Well, its not like 20-30 years ago where it was the only means any gay people could find things related to them now, today if we don't find something in a store, we simply go home and find it online there. Infact I can't remember the last book I brought in physical form, since I got my kindle.
    Last edited by Studdly; May 18th, 2014 at 04:12 AM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    The Internet is the homo bookstore for this decade at least.

  10. #10

    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    I've noticed even when I lived in SoCal that adult bookstores period are just lumping all porn in the same location. There are several stores here where I live now and many in Cali that have both gay and straight porn in the same shop. Aside from the obvious internet being the major culprit for many bookstores and music shops failing and going out of business in general, I think porn shop owners are maybe seeing the benefit of having an array of porn and toys that cater to everyone and all their different tastes.

    Yeah it's sad long time establishments that may hold sentimental value will be going by the way side but I see it as a sign of slow progress that people are more inclined to be open about who they are and what they like sexually.

  11. #11
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    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    Quote Originally Posted by ElmosToe View Post
    I've noticed even when I lived in SoCal that adult bookstores period are just lumping all porn in the same location. There are several stores here where I live now and many in Cali that have both gay and straight porn in the same shop. Aside from the obvious internet being the major culprit for many bookstores and music shops failing and going out of business in general, I think porn shop owners are maybe seeing the benefit of having an array of porn and toys that cater to everyone and all their different tastes.

    Yeah it's sad long time establishments that may hold sentimental value will be going by the way side but I see it as a sign of slow progress that people are more inclined to be open about who they are and what they like sexually.
    You either go with the flow of time or get left behind.

    Taking the label of something and adapting it to modern means is more practical a solution. Maybe what he should have done is keep inventory as to be sold online for books and other products with a website, and in the meanwhile turn his shop into a cafe.
    There is still a call out for bars, pubs and cafes, even if information itself is digitized doesn't mean interaction in a physical form is lost yet.

  12. #12
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    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    I see this more as a business thing than a gay thing. Bookstores are an industry in decline. Why should gay ones not be lumped in with the industry?

  13. #13
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    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    I never knew there were special gay bookstores!

    Bigger outfits than this are falling to Amazon and other online sources, though.

    "Thirty-one* states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible. "

    --Jonathan Rauch, Salon Magazine, March 13, 2000

    *the number is now forty

  14. #14
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    Re: Oldest gay bookstore in US went out of business today

    I understand that feeling when you find and like the content of a gay bookstore, a place not entirely focused on porn. I loved a place called Lambda Rising in Norfolk back in the day. It too has shuttered its windows and taken down their tile.
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