The last surviving gay and lesbian bookshop in the UK is under threat of closure due to rising rents and falling sales.
From Jim and Uli of Gay’s the Word:
“A combination of pressures including the Internet, rising rents, and the availability of some LGBT books in mainstream bookshops have all played their part. Fundamentally, it comes down to the fact that just not enough people are buying their books here anymore. Independent bookstores across the UK are having a difficult time but there isn’t a bookstore in the country that has our unique range of titles. We think it would be a real pity if Gay’s The Word, the oldest and only surviving independent gay and lesbian bookstore in the whole country, had to close.
We are, of course, much more than just a bookstore and also function as a community resource. Hundreds of people visit the shop every week to collect free papers, look at our notice board and pick up leaflets of interest. A number of discussion and support groups also have free use of the space for their meetings. We’re often the first point of contact for lesbians and gays new to London or coming to terms with their sexuality. It is perhaps this somewhat invisible aspect of what we do that we are saddest to see in jeopardy. We have tried to create a safe, non-threatening, non-judgemental space where people can come and browse, ask questions and get help and advice or just buy a book or card.
To survive in the 21st century we need to adapt and change. We have lots of ideas of how we might face these new challenges. These range from changing our structure so that we can access funding for some of our work, acquiring charity status, updating our computer systems so that we can establish a strong web presence to renovating the shop and developing our downstairs space as a resource for community events.
But to implement these longer-term ideas and initiatives we have to survive our present crisis. So how can you help? Most important is that we get word out about our predicament. Please spread the word: by e-mail, by phone, at the water-cooler, in the bars, clubs, cottages, saunas…wherever.
Here are five ways you can help support Gay’s The Word:
i. You can come into the shop and buy one (or two, or three) of our fabulous books.
ii. You can pick one (or as many as you like) of one of our current top-ten titles, listed below, and order it.
iii. You can send us a donation (cheques payable to GTW), or call up with your card details.
iv. You can sponsor a shelf for £100. You will become an official ‘Friend of Gay’s The Word’ and your name will be officially listed as such in-store. We are calling this our ‘Cash For Honours’ promotion.
v. You can order a copy of the Gay’s The Word documentary film, which screened at last year’s London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival at the NFT, for £10.
We believe in our importance, relevance and future. We believe many people do. If you’re one of them, then lend us your support. Help save Gay’s The Word. Where there’s a will…there’s a way…”
Tim Teeman has written about celebrity customers campaigning to save the bookshop in The Times.
Visit the Gay’s the Word website to read more about their campaign to stay open and ways in which you can help, such as sponsoring a shelf.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/news/_1628