US: Nation’s oldest queer bookshop to close

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The oldest queer bookshop in the US has announced it will close for good next month.

Giovanni’s Room, in Philidelphia, has been serving the LGBT community for 41 years, and owner Ed Hermance has run it for 38.

Hermance told Philadelphia Gay News the shop will close on May 17, citing losses of $10,000-$15,000 (£5940-£8910) this year alone.

He said: “I know that thousands of people have used and cared about this store. It is very emotional for me.

“It has been a wonderful life for me and it combines my best skills with my deepest interests, so it certainly is going to be a lifetime’s work.

“The government is allowing Amazon to tighten their fingers around the throats of the publishers and drive their retail competitors out of the business by clearly monopolistic methods.”

He said he hoped the store, which is a hub for the local gay community, could live on in some form, saying: “Whatever it is that they do, it will have to be something different than what we are doing now.

“It won’t survive if it isn’t different.”

A sign outside the store proclaims its history, saying: “Founded in 1973, the bookstore served as a refuge and culture center at the onset of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights movement.

“The store provided resources to those working to gain legal rights for LGBT people.”

The store is named after a 1956 James Baldwin novel, about a young man in Paris struggling with his sexual identity.

New York’s Oscar Wilde Bookshop, which opened in 1967, was previously the nation’s oldest gay bookshop, but closed for good in 2009.