October 15, 2012

Queer bookstore aims to open in Manhattan


The BGSQD at this year’s New York Art Book Fair

Last week, the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York ran an interview with Greg Newton, co-founder of the Bureau of General Services – Queer Division, a project that’s hoping to launch a dedicated LGBTQ bookstore in the city in the next year. Newton says that he and partner Donnie Jochum were inspired to take on the task when it occurred to them that, with the closures of gay bookstores A Different Light in 2001 and the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in 2009. He points out that while the Lower East Side’s Bluestockings, run by a feminist collective, is very gay-friendly, and Staten Island has Bent Pages, a used & out-of-print LGBT store, Manhattan has been left with a dearth of queer bookstores. And Newton makes a point of using the term “queer” rather than “gay,” reasoning that:

From the start, we wanted it to be a queer bookstore, not a gay bookstore. We are excited by the current proliferation of the term “queer.” “Queer” is an expansive term, one that continues to grow. It is inclusive. It is not narrowly defined. And it reclaims a pejorative term, one that was used to deride those who did not conform to gender and sexual norms.

In addition to being a bookstore for LGBTQ books, periodicals, and artwork, BGSQD will provide “a space for socializing, debating, learning, and organizing, and a site for a variety of events, including author readings, lectures, book clubs, performances, and film screenings.” Last Friday, they held a fundraiser at ClampArt in Chelsea, with readings by novelist/essayist Laurie Weeks and poet Pamela Sneed, with books and merchandise up for auction to raise money for the bookstore.

The BGSQD is scouting locations for a pop-up shop on the Lower East Side that they’ll open during the holiday season, and they hope to have a permanent brick-and-mortar store up and running in early spring 2013.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.