By Sarah Ernestine
This pride month, there are so many exciting new titles being released that amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community. This summer, we have the opportunity to support independent queer-owned small businesses by ordering books from an LGBTQ+ independent bookshop. There are several bookshops across the UK that specialize in queer literature and can help you find the perfect summer reads!
Gay’s The Word (London, England)
Gay’s the Word is a staple in the queer independent bookshop community, having opened its doors for the first time in 1979. The shop was originally opened as both a retail and a social space, allowing members of the community to engage with LGBTQ+ literature and conversations. For over forty years, Gay’s the Word has amplified the voices of queer authors and highlighted books with LGTBQ+ characters. Gay’s the Word has a large catalogue with new releases, queer classics and secondhand books available. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or there is a book you would like to pre-order, their expert team is happy to help! You can find their Twitter at @gaystheword or visit their website here!
The Bookish Type (Leeds, England)
The Bookish Type started with pop-up bookstalls in 2019, but its bustling brick-and-mortar storefront opened in Leeds, England in September of 2020. One of the store’s owners, Ray (she/her), tells us, “The Bookish Type is there for the queer community and it’s important to us that we’re offering a friendly, comfortable space that is multigenerational, open during the day and doesn’t revolve around alcohol. We’re here for the quiet queers and the bookish types.” An important component of their business model is their “pay it forward” option, where customers can donate funds to help provide books for members of the LGBTQ+ community that can’t afford to buy one for themselves. You can find their Twitter at @typeleeds or visit their website here!
Category is Books (Glasgow, Scotland)
Category Is Books, an independent queer bookshop which was founded by Charlotte (they/them) and Fionn (‘Fin’) (they/them). They opened the doors of Category is Books in 2018, bringing queer books, magazines, comics, zines, films and more to the southside of Glasgow. Category is Books has been operating remotely through the pandemic, sending books to their readers’ doorsteps but they’re excited to reopen their storefront soon! You can find their Twitter at @categoryisbooks or visit their website here!
The Portal Bookshop (York, England)
The Portal Bookshop opened its storefront in 2019 and continues to share science fiction, fantasy and LGBTQIA+ books with their customers. This unique bookshop is located in the city centre of York, England. They sell books published in the UK, as well as imported titles from the US. They also have a “pay it forward” fund that has worked to provide free copies of The Trans Teen Survival Guide to trans and non-binary readers who have been navigating unsupportive homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is now working to provide any LGBTQIA+ books for readers that cannot purchase their own copies. The Portal Bookshop is a welcoming, community-centred space that recognises the importance of increasing the visibility and availability of LGBTQ+ voices and stories. You can find their Twitter at @PortalBookshop or visit their website here!
Queer Lit (UK Digital Bookshop)
Queer Lit is a digital, independent bookshop that recognised a gap in the UK book market for queer literature. The store has grown rapidly with a large influx of online support, leading them to expand their catalogue to well over 1,500 titles. Their website has a digital bookshop, as well as a variety of digital media including podcasts and blogs. Each book they send comes individually wrapped and sealed with their sticker logo. As their digital shop continues to grow in popularity, they have recently announced their plans to open a physical storefront this Summer in Manchester, England. You can find their Twitter at @QueerLitUK or visit their website here!
Proud Geek (UK Digital Bookshop)
Proud Geek is new to the queer bookshop scene, having just opened in 2020, but they’re a huge hit with their fans and readers on social media platforms such as TikTok. They are a digital bookshop that can ship to the UK, the EU, the US, Canada and Australia, intentionally packing their orders in discreet packaging to ensure the safety of their customers. Proud Geek specializes in queer graphic novels and sci-fi/fantasy but their catalogue covers many additional genres! Their website is extremely user friendly, allowing customers to filter their search results by genre or specific queer representation. Tom (he/him), owner of Proud Geek, commented on their place in the book market, saying, “I get to spend my days interacting with my community and I feel like I'm making a difference.” You can find their Twitter at @ProudGeekStore or visit their website here!