08 December 2009

Another One Bites the Dust - Queer Bookstores Fading Fast

I was extremely disappointed to read that Lambda Rising, a queer bookstore with two locations serving LGBTQ communities in Washington DC and Rehoboth Beach, DE, will be closing its doors.  This comes less than a year against the closing of the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in NYC, then the oldest independent queer bookstore in the nation.  However, this blog is not intended to be a lament, but rather a call to action.

Here in Philadelphia, we still have Giovanni's Room.  While I'm sure they were suffering due to the economy and the decline in print media just like everyone else, Giovanni's Room has been especially hard hit this year because they've had to replace a structural at a cost of over $50,000.  They continue to host a variety of fund raisers, but I intend to use this blog, other blogs, Twitter and our combined social networks to keep them open.  They have served the LGBTQ population of the Philadelphia region for decades and are one of the only independent, queer bookstores left on the East coast.  Here's how we're going to pitch in together:

1.  I'm going to post three books below that I really love, with links to purchase them directly from Giovanni's Room online.

2. I am asking all queer & ally bloggers, Twitterers, activists and artists to help me out and do the same.  Ideally, to reach the most people, I would like you to guest blog here and post a link it on your blog/Twitter.  We will have network overlap, but you'll also likely gain new audience posting here.  The format should be: A) Introduce yourself and a 2-3 sentence plug for your current show, project, your blog, whatever B) Your 3-5 favorite queer books, hyperlinked to be purchased directly online from Giovanni's Room.  Alternately, if it's not something they usually carry, link to their contact info and let the readers know that they can special order pretty much anything at all, even if it's not queer related!

3. Spread this blog and all the subsequent blogs in the series every way you can.  Email it to friends and family, put the books on your wish list if you are one of the many people celebrating an upcoming gift-giving winter holiday, tweet about it, etc.

Without further ado, here are my three recommendations.  In a nod to Twitter's #transtuesday, all three books are trans or genderqueer related.  Click on the titles to buy them online from Giovanni's Room!

1.  GENDERqUEER - This is a fantastic anthology edited by Joan Nestle, Clare Howell, and Riki Wilchins.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this book was a huge stepping stone for me in understanding gender.  The arrangement of stories, essays and interviews represents a diverse culture within the genderqueer, transgender and transsexual communities and is a great place to start examining gender in small bites, as it were.

2. Girls will be Boys will be Girls will Be... - This delightful queer coloring book is appropriate for kids, adults and tribal elders aged 2 to 102 and was created by Jacinta Bunnell and Irit Reinheimer.  Along with a genderqueer short story, each page has one illustrated statement such as "Stanley Spends Superbowl Sunday Sewing Slacks," and "Enough about our forefathers, let's learn about some revolutionary women," with an (adorable) accompanying illustration. I cannot pick up this book without smiling.

3.  Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us - By Kate Bornstein, this is a staple of trans writing, and a great book on gender overall.  If you can put this one down without learning something new, congratulations, you must already have written your doctoral dissertation in post modern gender theory!  Pass go and collect $200!  In all seriousness, Kate is an outstanding author, performer and mentor.  You wouldn't be hard pressed to find people in the trans community who count this book as the first time they saw their reflection in someone else's experience, or even the thing that facilitated their transition.

If you are interested in writing a blog to help Giovanni's Room and are willing to cross-post here, please contact me. jrudyflesher[at]gmail[dot]com.

With love and hope for our community, and supporting the queer spaces that support us. xoxo

UPDATE: Want to share this on Twitter?  Simply copy and paste this text and tweet away: RT @njrugger45 Another one bites the dust. The demise of queer bookstores & how to save Giovanni's Room http://tinyurl.com/ygjcp6j


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