California’s Last Gay Bookstore to Close

The doors are closing for good at San Francisco's last gay bookstore.


Castro's celebrated gay bookstore A Different Light has been open since 1985, and it emerged as a center of the community even in its earliest days, offering events and workshops that celebrated LGBT readers and writers.

The Northern California Booksellers Association's executive director says online book sales have prompted the demise of many gay bookstores. Hut Landon, executive director of the Association, said, "Amazon lists everything, they sell it cheaper, and they don't collect sales tax."

Gerard Kosovich of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender History Museum shared his research on gay bookstores with The San Francisco Chronicle. According to his findings, 2011 marks the 45th anniversary of the opening of the first gay bookstore in America, the Adonis in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. After the Adonis came the Walt Whitman Bookshop. Both have since closed. There used to be two gay bookstores on Castro and one around the corner on Market Street, but A Different Light had been the last one standing.

Kosovich told The Chronicle, "I find it troubling that we no longer have physical places to discover the books that matter to us and the people who share these interests…I'm not sure that online bookstores create the same opportunities for creating community and bringing about social change."

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