29-queer-owned-bookstores-to-know-and-support

29 Queer-Owned Bookstores To Know And Support

Photos Courtesy Under the Umbrella and Firestorm Coop

It’s no secret that book bans are dominating the nation’s culture wars, and LGBTQ+ books are some of the most challenged.

A report by PEN America disclosed a 33 percent hike in book bans across U.S. public schools during the 2022-23 school year compared to the previous year.

As some states work to ban book bans themselves, here are LGBTQ-owned bookstores that you can support across the country.

Related: 11 Most Banned Books by Schools So Far This Year

Common Ground Books – Tallahassee, Fla.

Alex Spencer

A safe space to find common ground, Common Ground Books is an LGBT+ owned bookstore in Tallahassee, FL, which specializes in LGBT+, feminist, and banned books. The bookstore carries fiction, non-fiction, young adult, and children’s books, books by local authors, and art by local artists.

Violet Valley Bookstore – Water Valley, Miss.

Image courtesy of Kevin Cozart

Violet Valley Bookstore is Mississippi’s only queer, feminist, trans-inclusive bookstore, and serves both the state and the South. The bookstore hosts readings and other programs to support diverse voices and features new and used books so that everyone, no matter their economic ability, can afford to have books.

All She Wrote Books – Somerville, Mass.

Image courtesy of All She Wrote Books

All She Wrote Books is an intersectional, inclusive, feminist, queer, and queer-owned bookstore that supports, celebrates, and amplifies underrepresented voices across all genres. Founder and owner Christina Pascucci Ciampa says: “Our bookstore is a place where people can find themselves in the pages of the books we have curated on our shelves.”

A Room of One’s Own – Madison, Wis.

Image Courtesy Fawzy Taylor

A Room of One’s Own is a queer and trans-owned and operated indie bookstore that serves the Madison community. The bookstore offers queer & trans books for everyone, books by and for people of color, labor and abolitionist movement work, as well as books to spark “radical reimaginings and understandings of the world and what it could be.”

BookWoman – Austin, Texas

Image Courtesy Erica McCarthy

First established in 1975, BookWoman is the only feminist bookstore in Texas, and is also queer-owned and queer and trans run. Its original mission was to bring lesbian and feminist literature to the women of Central Texas, but its mission has now grown to help all marginalized people find books that reflect their experiences.

Astoria Bookshop – Astoria, N.Y.

Image Courtesy Lexi Beach

Astoria Bookshop is a queer woman-owned bookstore in the heart of Western Queens. The store first opened in August 2013, with a mission to serve its diverse, vibrant community with the books it stocks and the events it hosts.

Black Garnet Books, St. Paul, Minnesota

Image Courtesy Dionne Sims

Black Garnet Books is a queer and Black-owned and operated business that was created in the summer of 2020 in direct response to state violence, and the purposeful and unconscious exclusion of Black people from the literature community. The bookstore sells new, contemporary books by authors and illustrators of color, and sees the space as a protected place for anti-racist conversations and education.

Burdock Book Collective – Birmingham, Ala.

Image courtesy of Katie Willis and Meagan Lyle

Burdock Book Collective is a volunteer-run, queer-owned, intersectional feminist bookstore in Birmingham, Ala., that aims to cultivate radically inclusive community building and political organizing. Burdock also co-founded and co-runs the Alabama Books to Prisons Project, an organization that matches people in prison with pen pals on the outside and sends free books to incarcerated individuals.

Charis Books and More, Decatur, Georgia

Image Courtesy Bonnie Palter

Located just outside of Atlanta, Charis Books and More is the South’s oldest independent feminist bookstore and has been serving the South since 1974. This queer-owned and queer bookstore also has a non-profit programming arm called Charis Circle, which fosters sustainable feminist communities, works for social justice, and encourages the expression of diverse and marginalized voices.

Firestorm Books, Asheville – N.C.

Firestorm Staff @firestormcoop

First opened in 2008, Firestorm Books & Coffee is a collectively-owned democratic workplace with several queer and trans staff who co-own the bookstore. Self-described as a “radical bookstore,” Firestorm features books and events that reflect their interests, and the needs of marginalized communities in the South.

Fabulosa Books – San Francisco, Calif.

Image Courtesy Bex Hexagon

Fabulosa Books is a queer-owned and queer-staffed bookstore located in the Castro district of San Francisco. The store boasts a large LGBTQIA+ selection, including lesbian, gay and trans fiction, drag, bisexuality, queer science fiction, and many others. The store also hosts a rich event series centering queer literature, poetry, and nonfiction.

Hello Again Books – Cocoa, Fla.

Image by Kimberly Tank Art & Photography, LLC

Three weeks before the pandemic shut everything down, MerryBeth Burgess and her wife Amy Elkavich opened Hello Again Books in Florida. Three years later, the bookstore is still going strong, with weekly LGBTQ game nights and a variety of new and used books, literary gift items, and inspiring, fun events for readers of all ages.

Kona Bay Books – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Image courtesy of Sarah Gibbon

Kona Bay Books is a queer-owned, woman-owned, and family-run business as well as the largest independent bookstore in Hawaii. Kona Bay Books offers new, used, and rare books on every subject for every kind of reader, as well as locally made cards and gifts.

Philly AIDS Thrift at Giovanni’s Room – Philadelphia, Penn.

Image courtesy of Christopher Cirillo

Founded in 1973 as “Giovanni’s Room” and purchased by Philly AIDS Thrift in 2014, Philly AIDS Thrift at Giovanni’s Room is the oldest continuously operating queer bookstore in America. This LGBTQ+ and feminist bookstore offers a wide selection of new and lightly used LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction, as well as various odds and ends. Its unofficial motto is “endless browsing encouraged.”

Irreverent Bookworm – Minneapolis, Minn.

Image Courtesy Meg Niesen

The Irreverent Bookworm is Minneapolis’s only queer-owned new and used bookshop, and is also queer-operated. Its mission is to “provide a warm, welcoming, whimsical & inclusive place to find your next favorite read from [its] diverse selection.”

Left Bank Books – St. Louis, Mo.

Image Courtesy Danielle King

First established in 1969 by a group of graduate students, Left Bank Books is the oldest and largest indie bookstore in St. Louis. Left Banks Books is also owned by a queer woman, who was the bookstore’s first full-time employee in 1974. Its mission is “to improve the world with access to a widely representative and culturally relevant selection of books.”

Little District Books – Washington, D.C.

Image Courtesy Little District Books

First opened in June 2022, Little District Books is an LGBTQ-owned bookstore that celebrates LGBTQ+ authors and stories. The bookstore only sells queer books or those written by queer authors, and hosts several queer book clubs and lots of queer events.

Main St. Books – Monroe, Wash.

Image Courtesy Emily Newman

First opened in 1997, Main St. Books is a woman-owned and LGBTQIA-owned bookstore in Monroe, WA. It sells both used and new books, and has a large selection of mystery, fantasy, and local history books, as well as books for kids and teens.

Red Emma’s, Baltimore, Maryland

Image Courtesy Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse

Founded in 2004, Red Emma’s is one of Baltimore’s oldest independent bookstores and one of Maryland’s oldest and largest worker-owned cooperatives. The store, which includes a fully vegan restaurant and community events space, stocks a wide variety of titles, focusing on left-leaning titles, and books by marginalized authors, including robust queer, trans, and gay studies sections.

Reparations Club – Los Angeles, Calif.

Image Courtesy of Kayla James

Reparations Club is a queer Black-woman owned concept bookshop and creative space in Los Angeles that is “curated by Blackness.” It carries an array of titles that speak to the intersections of Black, queer experiences, histories, and futures.

Tombolo Books – St. Petersburg, Fla.

Image courtesy of Ysanne Taylor

Tombolo Books is a queer-owned independent bookstore committed to carrying books by emerging and marginalized voices, books in translation, and books from small independent presses, as well as classics and popular titles. The bookstore started as a pop-up in the Tampa Bay area before finding a permanent home in Saint Petersburg in December 2019.

Rofhiwa Bookcafé, Durham, North Carolina

Image courtesy of Rofhiwa Bookcafé

Rofhiwa Bookcafé is a queer and Black-owned bookstore and café that offers a thoughtfully curated selection of works by Black authors across the globe. Its intention is “to capture the dexterity of black writers across classic and contemporary works, reflecting the depth and expansiveness of the Black imagination.”

Under the Umbrella Bookstore – Salt Lake City, Utah

Image courtesy of Under the Umbrella Bookstore

Under the Umbrella is a “queer little bookstore” in Salt Lake City, UT that provides a safe space for queer people of all ages. Notably, every book sold in the store is either queer in content and/or written by a queer author. All other items in the store are also made by small queer-owned businesses and queer artists and makers.

Womencrafts, Provincetown – Mass.

Image courtesy of Erin Splaine

Since 1976, Womencrafts has been a lesbian-owned and operated intersectional feminist and queer book and gift shop in Provincetown, Mass. A gathering space and hub of queer activism, the shop features more than 100 female artists, 1,000 books, and “finds its mission as politically and culturally necessary today as it was when it first opened in 1976.”

Loudmouth Books -Indianapolis, Ind.

You may have heard of queer Black author Leah Johnson from her debut young adult (YA) novel You Should See Me in a Crown, which won a Stonewall Book Award, and was named one of the 100 best YA books of all time by TIME Magazine. But last month, Johnson started a new chapter in her career as a bookstore owner, when she opened Loudmouth Books, an Indianapolis-based indie bookstore dedicated to banned books and marginalized authors.

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