Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[URBAN NOTE] "Manhattan's Only LGBT Bookstore Fighting for Permanent LES Space"

Since the 2009 closure of the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City, not only has Toronto's Glad Day Bookshop been the oldest extant GLBT bookstore in North America, but New York City has been lacking in such. I was alerted by Towleroad to news that a pop-up GLBT-themed bookstore in Manhattan is crowdsourcing to raise funds for a permanent location in the Lower East Side.

(The Bureau of General Services Queer Division is a nice name.)

The owner-operators do seem to have caught onto the idea that, to survive, an independent bookstore has to offer more than books, with Glad Day's combination of book space and community space seeming relatively viable. I hope that they succeed.

The Bureau of General Services Queer Division, or BGSQD, has been operating out of 27 Orchard St. since Nov. 15, creating a community through art and literature events aimed at the gay community.

But with the temporary store set to shut down next month, its owners are hoping a fundraising campaign will give the bookstore the initial boost it needs to make the Lower East Side its longtime home.

"This is a space that is open for everyone," said BGSQD co-owner Greg Newton, 42. "But it is a space dedicated to supporting queers and exploring issues of gender and sexuality."

BGSQD is working with local crowd-funding site Lucky Ant to raise $15,000 — the equivalent of three months rent for the store — by Dec. 20, while offering donors a range of gifts and perks for their generosity.

[. . .]

Newton and Jochum's gallery-like space on Orchard Street is stocked with titles such as "Bi-Curious George," a parody of the classic children's series, and Sarah Schulman's "Israel, Palestine and the International Queer," about how the LGBT community works together from the two sides.

"You stumble across things, you talk to people in the store," Newton said of the experience at of shopping at BGSQD. "You find things that might not be introduced to you by the algorithms of Amazon."

The store's events calendar of poetry and book readings, live music and gallery nights is another important aspect of the business.

"The social spaces for a lot of LBGT people happen to be bars, especially for men," said Newton, "but they are often loud, not conducive to conversation… they serve a different purpose."

While Newton was researching the plight of independent bookstores in the city, he found that creating a community space with events was crucial to success in selling books. He pointed to Word in Greenpoint and Greenlight in Fort Greene as community bookstores BGSQD is looking at as a model.
Tags: bookstores, glbt issues, new york city, popular literature, toronto, urban note
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