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San Francisco’s legendary gay bookshop to close

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  1. I read the story expecting to see the shop was to become a Starbucks. Why exactly is it closing? Lack of patrons?

    1. Eddy - the original one, from 2007 on 27 Apr 2011, 3:52pm

      CMYB, I expect the fault lies with the avaricious “Amazon” and all of those LGBTs who have chosen to press the Submit button and order from Amazon rather than get their arses down to local LGBT bookshop!

      Amazon is gradually ridding the earth of its independent bookshops, by ruthlessly undercutting the prices at which independent bookshops need to sell books in order to keep afloat, never mind make a decent profit.

      Don’t buy your LGBT books from Amazon.
      Don’t buy your LGBT books from Waterstones.

      Buy your LGBT books from “”

      And if you live in London catch the tube to Russell Square and nip up to the shop itself, in Marchmont Street.

      Let’s not lose our own LGBT bookshop to a greedy international giant.

      1. Jock S. Trap 27 Apr 2011, 4:13pm

        A very good point Eddy.
        Personally I try to do all my veg, bakery and meat from local shops but admit I am guilty of Amazon pleasures.
        Will try harder.

        1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 8:28am

          I will add though it is good that places such as Amazon do sell these book because there was a time when companies refused to stock such items through fear of loosing business.

      2. Why should be rather support a bookstore than an online trader? The latter is sometimes 70% cheaper. I don’t owe any allegience to a store owner, just because we happen to both be gay. I am sure many Amazon shareholders are gay.

        1. Because a bookstore is so much more than just books. It’s free lectures and discussions. It’s news of the local community, as well as national news. Amazon is great for buying cheap books and such. I mean, I can even find music I’ve not seen in decades. But you can’t get the local flavor there that you can in a local store. It’s just another Walmart, but a digital one.

          1. Local community? There’s no such thing in a contemporary urban environment. The only gay bookshop in London is in Marchmont Street, nowhere near where I live and not somewhere I would even consider going for local news. I’m not interested in free lectures and discussions. If someone worthwhile is speaking, as Bret Easton Ellis was recently in London, they’ll be a venue which is nothing to do with sexual orientation for them to speak in, and as they are a worthwhile speaker, I am happy to pay.

            Community bookstores like this are a relic of another time. The very idea of “local flavour” is outmoded – it’s a global economy now – and, to be honest, I’ve never been that interested in my neighbourhood except as a place to lock the door and sleep/eat/read/ watch tv/play on the internet.

        2. Uli Lenart 27 Apr 2011, 5:46pm

          I think that independent gay bookshops need – capital allowing – to evolve and engage with the e-tailing book revolution. I also think that gay community bookshops nurture the gay community practically and culturally – many, such as Gay’s the Word, have regular in-store support groups and book events and field questions from people coming out every week. But the challenge is indeed to motivate people to support gay independents because doing so is a pleasure, not a duty. The world is just a more interesting place with both Amazon and independents and there are areas that one can do better than the other and vice versa.

        3. You’ve obviously never been to A Different Light and haven’t seen how people have been affected by the closing. I work there and a man started crying in front of me at the counter as he was reminiscing about times he had at the bookstore more than a decade ago. ADL was a staple of the community for many years. All local businesses have the potential to help shape lives – when was the last time anyone had a truly amazing and personal experience at a Costco, or in front of their computer ordering from Amazon?

          1. Uli Lenart 28 Apr 2011, 9:16am

            Well said

          2. I no longer live in San Francisco, but when leaving the church and coming out fully as a gay man, I LOVED Different Light Bookstore. I would make the trip down especially when a writer like Mel White was there. I got to see people I would normally NEVER see in the flesh.

            They had a wonderful GLBT music and tape section. I was able to find Pagan music there that I could find no place else at the time.

            I may not live in SF anymore but when my godson told me that A DIfferent Light was closing, I wanted to cry. It meant a lot to a lot of GLBT people to have a bookstore “just for us”.

            I confess that I use Amazon but I live in some isolation now, in a small AZ town with NO GLBT bookstores within a reasonable commute. Ditto for Pagan/metaphysical bookstorse. I wish there were. I love bookstores. Always have, always will.

      3. Although I am suddened by these bookshops closing (I found quite a few interesting books at the one in San Francisco when I was there last time) I also question if it makes sense to artificially try to keep them alive. If they are destined to close, they eventually will. it’s maybe just a sign of gay issues going mainstream and not needing a dedicated bookstore anymore.. 

        1. Exactly.

  2. The free Market at work :D

  3. I am so sorry….. I was a first buyer in the store when it open in Los Angeles in 1979, and I always remember owners of this store as great gay guys!

    1. 32 years isn’t a bad run. The guys at the SF store were great, too.

  4. Helen Wilson 27 Apr 2011, 7:23pm

    Most information you need is on-line now, we don’t even need books any-more and that’s the sad fact of twenty first century living.

    Personally I still love the experience you get with books the feel and the smell of them add to the experience. Also its far cheaper to drop a paperback into the bath than a kindle!

  5. Oh well, times change I guess. I think it’s better that the big corporate giant bookshops now stock gay literature and we don’t have to go to the ‘gay only ghetto’ shops. I wish tesco’s would start stocking liquid silk lube so I didn’t have to go into the ‘gay only shop’ to buy it.

    1. A gay bookshop and a ‘gay only’ shop are not the same thing – lots of straight people shop in gay bookshops and are welcomed there too; they are fine going in even if some of us – for whatever reason – are not.

      It is due to the enlightening work gay bookshops and other institutions that we now enjoy this level of mainstream service provision. Independent gay bookshop have a breadth and a warmth that you won’t find in any chain or on-line. Surely it is just a better more interesting world where we have both independents and centralised on-line?

      1. I think you’re right, independants and corporate would be good. But, I didn’t mean that it was good that the shop closed, just that times change. I wish gay shops could stay open, and that the corporate giants would cater for us too. And on second thoughts I really enjoy going into Expectations/Clone zone, it would be really boring going to tesco’s for lube.

        1. Cool – I like and respect the fact that you are free to let your reactions evolve. And you are right, times do change. The challenge for pioneering gay institutions – especially those that receive no funding for all the community work they do – is to embrace that change.

        2. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 1:10pm

          Eddy Two
          “it would be really boring going to tesco’s for lube.”
          Well yes, that and the worry of the tub leaking all over your asparagus and petit pois.

          1. You could put it in a separate bag. ;)

          2. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 3:21pm

            LOL, that’s true. I’m all for less packaging.
            Damn peeling then lubed spuds would be tricky… fun though!


          3. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 3:22pm

            Would have to use a rubber potato peeler so as not to cut yaself.

      2. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 1:08pm

        An excellent comment Uli and very valid points.
        I think it’s good to have both as you say Independant and centralised.
        Of course more Independantly Gay bookshops I would think people are more likely to ask for what they are looking for directly with the appropiate response somethink I would think would be lacking with a mainstream bookshop. It’s all a matter of comfort.

  6. “Jock S. Trap 8 hours ago Report Reply

    A very good point Eddy.
    Personally I try to do all my veg, bakery and meat from local shops but admit I am guilty of Amazon pleasures.
    Will try harder.”


    Im surprised you get out, your on here every hour of the day everyday.

    1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 8:22am

      Irrelevent comment but also clearly someone that isn’t good at Maths.
      Are we just name changing William?

    2. I wouldn’t go there Jane.

      You see Jock has the privilege to attack other people’s intentions and relevancy while the rest of us do not have such right. And when you do try to play his own game you are called out by him.

      I am more concerned by what people actually say and taking/addressing points and sharing information. Lets not play the character assassins that Jock et al. always seem to want to play (then change the rules of the game halfway).

      1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 10:42am

        LOL what absolute drivel.

        1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 10:49am

          I find it strange that people come to debate but clearly cannot handle others who may disagree with their point of view. I have never attacked anyone unless standing up for myself so maybe grow a pair and debate, accepting others may not agree with you or don’t but don’t get all childish about it, it’s pathetic.

    3. ”Im surprised you get out, your on here every hour of the day everyday.” I am glad I am not the only one standing up against the infection of this site by the constant and always unedifying posting of Jock S Trap. His housebound blathering and ubiquitous borishness makes the comments sections here a duller, sadder place.

      1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 10:58am

        1) What has me being on here go anything to do with you?
        2) So your bad at Maths but why the personal attack?
        The mind boggles.
        If I was here “here every hour of the day everyday” don’t ya think the times of messages would reflect that? Plus I think if I was, there would be many more message than already left.
        Makes no sense, just an personal attack which is strange being I don’t know you or vice versa. Wouldn’t I be first to comment on all stories? Yet I’m not.
        Still if personal attacks is all your about then
        1) You clearly have nothing to add to debate and
        2) If your attacking me it means your leaving some other person alone.

      2. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 1:02pm

        Just re-read that post Joe and think “The Unedifying Posting of Jock S. Trap” would actually make a very good book title.

        1. great title – but where would you buy it when it got published? That’s the question :-)

          1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 3:25pm

            Now that is a Very good question Uli. I would have to say definitely a Gay independant shope me thinks.
            Gimme a couple of years, though it would make a good title for my memoirs. Original anyway.

        2. So piss off and write your book, Jocko.

          I am attacking you because I am sick and weary – as are others – of opening up these comments boxes and seeing your posts scattered about like crabs on a libertine’s pubes. Comments sections and forums are often spoilt by those sad individuals who are socially inept enough not to know what a reasonable amount of posting is.

          1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 3:26pm

            Calm down dear, it’s only a comment page.


          2. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 3:27pm

            PS… who are these ‘others’ you talk of?

    4. Have anything REALLY topical to add to the conversation, Jane?

      Actually, given you attitude towards us, why are YOU on here as much as you are?

  7. Maybe is closing down because us gays want to be equal and to have something individual would not make them equal, and we cant have that can we. After all straights cant have their own without us homos getting upset over it,

    1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 8:24am

      Erm what?
      Funny how you attack someone then leave a comment that makes absolutely no sense.

      1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 8:26am

        Actually two comments that don’t make sense.

      2. It made sense to me. Even though it is worded with bad grammar it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure it out.

        Basically the claim is made that the closing of this gay bookstore confirms to the true ideal of “equality” (which is a loaded word that the gay mafia uses to destroy the gay community in many aspects) because we would be “equal” to straights since straights do not have th luxuries of straight only book stores (which in reality they do). This is the danger of supposed equality which means the smearing of gay identity and purpose.

        1. Gay mafia? Get over yourself.

        2. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 10:46am


          Actually you’ll find that the reason Gay book shops are around is because most bookshops ie straight ones, won’t stock LGBT material hence the need for Gay bookshops. If those ‘straight’ bookshops did stock such books then maybe and only maybe we can call it ‘Equality’.

          1. But isn’t this what’s happened? Mainstream bookshops – not to mention Amazon – do stock gay books now, so the need for specialist shops has largely gone.

            Of course, there’ll always be some nutters around who claim this is a conspiracy of some sort, but they only deserve a polite laugh.

    2. If you’re a “homo” (and I rather doubt that), you’re a self-hating twit. Got any more stereotypes for us? I’m sure there is a ton where the latest one (“After all straights cant have their own without us homos getting upset over it.”) came from.

      If “homos” get upset over straights “having their own”, it is because of the systematic exclusion and marginalisation when it comes to marriage equality and little things like inheritance, etc. For the rest of it, they can do theire own thing. To each his own.

      1. Jock S. Trap 1 May 2011, 8:13am

        Isn’t it because of “straights “having their own”, it is because of the systematic exclusion and marginalisation” that LGBT, shops, pubs, hotels etc opened up in the first place. It’s a little late for people like “Jane” to whinge about in now.

  8. dave wainwright 28 Apr 2011, 7:25am

    Am kind of glad I grew up in a time when the gay world had just been legalised and everything was new , you had to seek and find and gay books and magazines were new and vital to understand the lifestyle and a gay bookshop was an Alladin’s cave of self discovery offering an intellectual understanding of gay consciousness and who one was, as there were NO reference points in the STR8 world. They speak of a time when gay life was still underground and magazines and books were seized by the obscene publications squad when raiding our bookstores , who had done all the homework and sourced and imported the relevant literature and available published magazines which were a rarity and hard to find , the times they are a changing and am glad I have known the times I have , it was a great time to be Gay.

  9. Welcome to the corporate takeover!

    Don’t you just love how the gay mafia sold the gay community out?

    1. I’m intrigued who you think this gay mafia is Pepa. Who’s the Godfather, Elton John, Peter Tatchell? Please give us details?

      1. I’d like to know too. Pepa’s postings increasingly sound like the paranoid ramblings of a Daily Mail aficionado.

        1. That might just be a very rare example of being unfair to the Daily Mail. I think pepa might be more a Daily Star type.

      2. Kevin Spacey? *cough*

        1. Jock S. Trap 30 Apr 2011, 4:27pm

          Dame Edna Everage?

    2. Enough with the ‘gay mafia’ conspiracy theories. Either elaborate on your ramblings and speculations or say something new. P1ss or get off the pot Pepa.

  10. Sad to see them go. Among other things they were one of the first public venues to show my art work many years back. I still go to gay bookstores, when there is one, not many left. However I would personally not fault Amazon. At least not in the US, tons of bookstores of all kinds were killed off by Barnes and Noble and Borders long before Amazon came along. Amazon is to a certain extent making things available again, available for the first time for people in some areas, and affordable in a very bad era for the average American. And to a certain extent amazon is killing off Borders and Barnes and Noble, neither of whom will be missed by most people as they were usually overpriced, have much worse customer service than Amazon, pay their people very low wages, have terrible benefits, and offered none of the experience of the better shops they ran out of business.

  11. There’s a lot of people here talking nonsense about “mainstream bookshops” now stocking LGBT books. I can only think they live in the few concrete jungles on this island, i.e. in London, Brum, Manchester.

    But go elsewhere! The last time I checked out Waterstones in Tonbridge Wells and Waterstones in Canterbury both of them had NO NO NO NO NO NO gay or lesbian section WHATSOEVER!!!!!!!!!

    1. Jock S. Trap 28 Apr 2011, 3:29pm

      Excellent comment and the reason why such bookshops are important to the community.

    2. martyn notman 28 Apr 2011, 8:11pm

      i agree..the waterstones in sheffield- which is the 5th biggest city in the country!- has an abysmal selection of lgb titles (well actually most of them are lesbian, theres a grand total of three gay male orientated ones and NO fiction at all), all of them rammed in between feminist tomes and new age books. I buy my books off amazon cos i simply cant afford to go to london once a month to get them.

  12. PUFF POOFTER 28 Apr 2011, 3:19pm

    I wish I had the money to patronize such stores. When I first came out, such establishments were part of helping me learn about this new aspect of my being.

  13. Connor Wallace 28 Apr 2011, 3:29pm

    Erm, i know it was useful before and that….but maybe we just don’t need it anymore? All this “gays should stick together” sh*t is stupid. I’m not gonna go out of my way to a propbably expensive shop, just because gays work there.

    1. I think there needs to be a clarification between just going to and independent gay bookshop out of a sense of duty (which no one wants) or because they happen to have the best comprehensive range of books and offer the most informed advice and help and additional elements no found in chains. These indie bookshops are often social enterprise type businesses run for the well-being and support of those members of the LGBT community who need it. They don’t line anybody’s pockets but survive to collate a breadth of gay literature you would never find anywhere else. Supporting an indie can mean buying a book there once a year – or actually popping when you are in the neighbourhood and getting a feel for what they are actually about in 2011 and hopefully seeing what you might be missing. Either way – surely choice is best…

    2. Eddy - the original one, from 2007 29 Apr 2011, 3:06pm

      Connor, I have a strong suspicion that if you have set aside even just ONE hour to browse the extraordinary collection of all sorts of gay literature at “Gays the Word” you would realise what a wonderful and unequalled resource it is. You would realise that there is a far better reason for taking the time and trouble of nipping to “Gays the Word” than going “just because gays work there”.

      1. connor wallace 2 May 2011, 9:29pm

        Well maybe they should make more of an effort. Why should i go to a gay bookstore? I can see it might have been an indie community thing once upon a time, but maybe people have just lost interest?

        And why would i spend a whole hour in a gay bookstore? I might be impressed if i go yer, but what have they actually done to get me interested in going? Should i go just in case i find something interesting? Could do that anywhere.

  14. David Lynton 15 Sep 2012, 12:29am

    Sad sad sad , c’mon gay San Fran get in there and support queer business . How can we ever be fully accepted if we can’t support our own unique businesses !these institutions are a valid part of our community and are windows to the straight world that shows we are , cultured , interested in art , photography , literature . Keep this gay gem going instead of becoming bland , and part of the great unwashed .

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