Posts Tagged ‘popular literature’
Since the 2009 closure of the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City, not only has Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop been the oldest extant GLBT bookstore in North America, but New York City has been lacking in such. I was alerted by Towleroad to news that a pop-up GLBT-themed bookstore in Manhattan is crowdsourcing to raise funds for a permanent location in the Lower East Side.
(The Bureau of General Services Queer Division is a nice name.)
The owner-operators do seem to have caught onto the idea that, to survive, an independent bookstore has to offer more than books, with Glad Day’s combination of book space and community space seeming relatively viable. I hope that they succeed.
The Bureau of General Services Queer Division, or BGSQD, has been operating out of 27 Orchard St. since Nov. 15, creating a community through art and literature events aimed at the gay community.
But with the temporary store set to shut down next month, its owners are hoping a fundraising campaign will give the bookstore the initial boost it needs to make the Lower East Side its longtime home.
“This is a space that is open for everyone,” said BGSQD co-owner Greg Newton, 42. “But it is a space dedicated to supporting queers and exploring issues of gender and sexuality.”
BGSQD is working with local crowd-funding site Lucky Ant to raise $15,000 — the equivalent of three months rent for the store — by Dec. 20, while offering donors a range of gifts and perks for their generosity.
[. . .]
Newton and Jochum’s gallery-like space on Orchard Street is stocked with titles such as “Bi-Curious George,” a parody of the classic children’s series, and Sarah Schulman’s “Israel, Palestine and the International Queer,” about how the LGBT community works together from the two sides.
“You stumble across things, you talk to people in the store,” Newton said of the experience at of shopping at BGSQD. “You find things that might not be introduced to you by the algorithms of Amazon.”
The store’s events calendar of poetry and book readings, live music and gallery nights is another important aspect of the business.
“The social spaces for a lot of LBGT people happen to be bars, especially for men,” said Newton, “but they are often loud, not conducive to conversation… they serve a different purpose.”
While Newton was researching the plight of independent bookstores in the city, he found that creating a community space with events was crucial to success in selling books. He pointed to Word in Greenpoint and Greenlight in Fort Greene as community bookstores BGSQD is looking at as a model.
This poem was by the door of OWN Housing Co-Op, a housing cooperative aimed at older women founded by the Older Women’s Network Ontario located at 115 The Esplanade. The poet, Ingrid Cryns is an architect and artist who, in addition to the poem, sculpted great winged handles for the door.
A doorway, A portal
What are the possibilities?
The symbolic structure of our soul
Merging, integrating with
Our spirit in flight
The freedom of our choices
To leave, To end
To enter, To begin
- Ingrid Cryns
I’ve been meaning for some time to link to Paul Aguirre-Livingston‘s article in The Grid about the ongoing revival of the Glad Day Bookshop. I’ve frequently blogged about the vissicitudes of the place, most recently noting in August (after a blogTO report) the extent to which Glad Day has relaunched as a neighbourhood hub. This bookstore, for so long barely hanging on, seems set to hang on for a while yet.
Almost nine months ago, Glad Day Bookshop, Canada’s first bookstore targeted to the gay community, was about to close its doors—until it was saved by a group of citizen investors. They’ve since turned a chapter in Toronto queer history, making Glad Day a place for very memorable nights.
Last December, when former owner John Scythe announced that the shop would be put up for sale, high-school English teacher Michael Erickson started a campaign to engage friends and allies from every corner of his Toronto network to invest in the project. “Since it’s an institution and an incredible resource for the community, [Erickson] decided that we should save the bookshop,” says Andy Wang, who needed little persuasion to became one of the 22 people (from white collar to creative class) who bought shares in the company. Wang also acts as the shop’s CFO and event booker. Since this re-incarnation, Glad Day has become a fiercely community-driven initiative, says Wang. “Having a lot of people involved is good for having connections all over.” With so much added outreach, the social calendar has become the backbone of its new direction.
[. . .]
Erickson, Wang and co. wanted desperately for the shop to survive, and, in keeping up with the Indigos, the idea of holding events and launches became crucial to the business model. It was a way of enticing new customers to get acquainted with and raise the profile of the shop—fast. Erickson asked the landlord, who was renovating the unused third floor at the time, if the team could rent the space. “It was modelled after our specifications,” Wang proudly explains, as he walks me through Glad Day’s vast collection of everything from thoughtful memoirs to DVDs to vintage erotica.
Upstairs, I overhear a woman say, “Like, what is this? Are we in Trevor’s apartment?”
It’s easy to see why she says that. The result of the renovation was a charming multi-use loft space, with a bathroom, a kitchenette, and glorious hardwood floors. It’s like the most perfect bachelor apartment you’ve ever seen, with standing room for up to 100 guests, making it expansive, yet intimate. And with rentals starting at $20 per hour, it’s a bloody steal. Its availability spread quickly by word-of-mouth. Campbell says he immediately thought of using the space after visiting for a friend’s launch.
Under the new Glad Day collective, the third floor has hosted countless talented minds. The Toronto Gay Gamers (the “Gaymers”) meet here regularly. There was an AIDS Sunset Service, and a night of remembrance upon the passing of Maurice Sendak. During Pride 2012, Glad Day revived the Proud Voices reading series, a program that lasted for three years before it vanished from Pride programming in 2010. There was the debut of the Kickstarter-funded Human Canvas Project. Last Friday night, they hosted the revue-style Loft Cabaret. (Watch a performance below.) The week before that, it was a caBEARet, a night of bear artists and creators.