My dream is to be told, “we could go to a bookstore, I’ll watch you browse for six or seven hours,” like Dean says to Rory on Gilmore Girls. Just pretend they’re a queer couple.
Bookstores are truly my happy place. The endless possibilities of worlds to explore in your next read along with the inviting booksellers and smell of books (who doesn’t love the smell of books?).
When people ask my favorite genres, I currently say fantasy and new adult, but my one addition is always, “I’ll read anything if it’s queer.” Which is why I love stumbling upon an LGBT bookshop wherever I can.
Our 20 LGBT+ Young Adult Books to Look Forward to article details my reason for loving queer books, and gives you some good recs. Nowadays, I often see LGBT+ shelves or sections , which is fantastic. But bookstores that put LGBTQ+ content at the center of their shop’s focus feel like a welcome home hug.
With a hopefully growing list of gay bookstores around the world, here are some of our favorites.
Gay’s The Word (London, UK)
Located in London, UK, Gay’s The Word is one of the best queer bookstores I know of. It’s historical, the staff are phenomenal, and it’s such an inviting environment. You may have seen the movie Pride, based off real life events, and recognize it as the meeting spot for Lesbians and Gays Support the Minors.
You walk in and the shop is stock full of LGBTQ+ literature across various genres; Young Adult, Adult, Fantasy, Nonfiction, Poetry, and more. Their staff is warm and always happy to help. This bookstore of history, activism, and comfort is one you don’t want to skip if you’re in London.
Hares & Hyenas (Melbourne, AU)
Hares & Hyenas is a gay bookstore in Melbourne, AU that has books, magazines, and more, while also hosting queer events, including literary, comedy, and other performing events. They host a variety of clubs, including the Lesbian Literature Book Club, Melbourne Gay Men’s Book Club, and the Trans-masc Conversation group.
Savannah Bay (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Savannah Bay is a feminist bookshop in Utrecht, Netherlands. They first opened in 1975 and over the years it has expanded to include many books with intersectional themes and topics, including LGBTQ+ topics, postcolonialism, emancipation, and other gender and sexuality studies.
Savannah Bay is also a current community place for customers, volunteers, and locals, and holds events and gatherings. They are also home to the center for LGBTQ+ information in Utrecht, Pink Point.
News from Nowhere (Liverpool, UK)
Liverpool, UK is home to News from Nowhere, a women worker’s cooperative. They describe themselves as a “not-for-profit radical & community bookshop” and the shop was started in 1974.
They have a variety of LGBTQ+ titles as well as books on politics, activism, disability rights, the environment, and more. News from Nowhere also has books for all ages, from young children through adults. If you’re in the area, don’t miss this amazing community stop.
Bluestockings Cooperative (New York City, US)
Bluestockings Cooperative is a true hub of literature, community, and mutual aid in New York City. It’s a completely worker-owned center with a mission of activism and cultivating an inclusive space for everyone.
They have a wide selection of literature and zines with staff recommendations and workers that are always happy to help you find something if you ask. They also have a café and seating area in the back of the store so you can unwind with a coffee and your new book. Bluestockings often hold events and workshops.
In addition to the literature, they are also very active in providing mutual aid, harm reduction, and other resources. It’s a wonderful place to be in the city that truly feels like a place of community.
Little District Books (Washington, DC, US)
Located in Washington, DC, Little District Books is another great LGBT bookshop that aims to make queer literature more accessible and support independent publishers and authors local to the area.
They have personalized staff picks on their website. Little District Books hosts author events and book clubs, including the Found Family Book Club, Real Queer Stories Book Club, and Queer Escapism Book Club.
A Room of One’s Own (Madison, WI, US)
A Room Of One’s Own is a trans and queer owned feminist bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin that has a variety of titles and genres, including their fantastic LGBTQ+ selection. They partner with many different organizations, including the LGBT Books to Prisoners Project, the Wisconsin Books to Prisoners Project, and the Arts + Literature Lab’s Queer Youth Book Club.
They have an active social media presence full of book recs and community news. A Room of One’s own also hosts events each month and is loud in their activism and support.
Giovanni’s Room at Philly AIDS Thrift (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Giovanni’s Room is an LGBTQ+ and feminist bookstore in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are a non-profit business that donates to organizations that are fighting against HIV and AIDS. Giovanni’s Room started in 1973 and holds over 7,000 titles in the store.
If you’re visiting Philadelphia, it’s also a great place to go because it has guides, maps, and the staff can offer touring advice. There are thousands of LGBTQ+ books to browse as well as events and volunteer opportunities.
Independent bookstores are a vital part of the local community, providing not only amazing literature and staff recommendations, but a place for support and a place to come together. When you visit a new city, try to find an independent bookstore. It could take you to a part of the area you haven’t been and you’re sure to be greeted with a staff who truly loves books and cares about the community.