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One for the record books

The UK’s most famous LGBT+ bookshop is celebrating its 40th anniversary having negotiated a fair share of plot twists over the years
READING FROM THE SAME PAGE: Jim MacSweeney, right, and Uli Lenart
Photography Leon Csernolavek

As told to Thomas Stichbury

Books often offer an escape from the real world, a temporary time out from whatever issues or problems you may be dealing with. In many ways, Gay’s The Word bookshop provides that same sense of escapism for LGBT+ people. Situated on Marchmont Street in Bloomsbury, London, the literary haven is free of the judgment and prejudice members of the community may face elsewhere.

Founded by Ernest Hole in 1979, the UK’s first bookshop devoted to queer literature celebrates its 40th anniversary on 17 January. To mark the milestone, we asked manager Jim MacSweeney, who has worked there for more than 30 years, to leaf through its rich history, from its role in the legacy of LGBT+ rights to his future hopes, in an insightful, funny and touching interview with his assistant (and our book reviewer) Uli Lenart.

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