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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 299 > A turn up for the books

A turn up for the books

Gay’s The Word is the UK’s pioneering queer bookshop. Owner Jim MacSweeney and assistant manager Uli Lenart assure us that it isn’t even close to reaching its shelf life


Akey chapter in the British LGBT+ movement was the opening of Gay’s The Word, the country’s first bookshop dedicated to queer literature.

Nestled on Marchmont Street in Bloomsbury, London, the independent store was founded in 1979 by Ernest Hole, who was inspired after a visit to New York’s Oscar Wilde Bookshop, which was devoted entirely to queer authors.

Current owner Jim MacSweeney remembers his anxiety-riddled trip to the bookshop as a young man in the 1980s, while still getting to grips with his sexuality. “I was quite nervous and there was a street fair that day. I felt everybody would know where I was going,” he recalls. “As I got to the door, I couldn’t go in, I walked around the block, then managed to go in on the second time of trying.”

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About Attitude

On the cover: Mamma Mia! star Dominic Cooper and model Zander Hodgson Plus: meet the winners of the Attitude Pride Awards 2018, celebrate Madonna's 60th birthday with her most iconic moments, and Team GB's first karate world champion Jordan Thomas