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Digital Subscriptions > DIVA Magazine > December 15 > Off the shelf

Off the shelf

AS NUMBERS DWINDLE, LGBT READERS NEED TO SUPPORT PRECIOUS COMMUNITY BOOK STORES, SAYS RACHEL SHELLEY

You can’t go wrong with a book for Christmas. There’s something for everyone: from Dogs In Jumpers for your magazine editor friend to Jodie Foster: A Biography for your fangirl pal. And so long as they’re from an independent seller, they not only bring Christmas cheer, they’re doing good, too. They help keep that rare, almost extinct and oh-so-precious species alive and kicking – the wonderful community bookshop.

Whilst the world’s oldest operating LGBT bookshop is thriving in Canada’s downtown Toronto, it’s sad to say that there is only one, yes one, surviving gay and lesbian bookshop in the whole of the UK. Fittingly located in the literary area of London’s Bloomsbury, it was also the UK’s first serious LGBT bookstore. Opening back in 1979 with the help of the then unknown Camden councillor Ken Livingstone, Gay’s The Word went on to pioneer through the 80s becoming, amongst other things, headquarters for the action group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. With a backstory ripe for a movie, the plucky book-store spawned the marvelous 2014 feature film, Pride.

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About DIVA Magazine

Kristen Stewart tells DIVA what has been going on for her since Twilight, why she's avoiding blockbusters and what life is like for her in the tabloid spotlight. Christmas has come around quickly! Some of us love it, some not so much, so with that in mind for our gift guide, we’ve scoured the land for queer businesses, artists and crafters so you can buy your loved ones gifts and support community businesses while you shop. Because some of us like our Christmas a little different – with the honourable exception of Susan Calman – we asked counsellor Alena Dierickx to help us with a few suggestions on how to take a more innovative approach to the festivities. We’ve a bumper crop of arts-related features this month. From queer Muslim artist Raisa Kabir’s exploration of what it feels like to be both included and excluded by your own communities to author Andrea Stuart’s beautiful and thoughtful coming out story (in extract) . Author/performer Yang-May Ooi reflects on what it means to be a lesbian Asian woman living in the West. Many of us know what it’s like to be affected by homophobic abuse and Louise Carolin’s powerful feature on this issue reflects how, despite significant legal changes, hate incidents persist. Perhaps our experiences of feeling cast out explains why LGBT people are heading to Lesvos to help refugees fleeing persecution, as Mel Steel discovers. Plus all the very best in life, scene, books, film, music and TV.
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