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Gay's the Word Bookshop

Home > London > Books and Writing | Gay & Lesbian
by Leonard Shearmur (subscribe)
Freelance ballerina based on Earth. I have no birthmark.
Published October 15th 2016
One of the most famous bookshops in the UK - and that is not an exaggeration - is Gay's the Word, on Marchmont Street, right next to Alan de Botton's fatuous School of Life, that will bore any life out of you.

The Logo, Unchanged


The bookshop is devoted to LGBT literature, culture, and academia and is extremely well stocked in newly published works and studies on sexuality and gender. It was the first shop dedicated to lesbian and gay literature and remains, sadly, the only surviving one in the country.

It was founded back in 1979 by a gay socialist group called Gay Icebreakers, but have only moved to the present location in recent years. When it did, the Camden Council tried to deny granting it a lease but was defeated when Ken Livingston, later the Mayor of London, ruled against this prejudice.

Its significance can be attested by the fact that it served as headquarters for the planning and support of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners in '84 and 85, which inspired the 2014 film Pride, starring Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton. A documentary has also been made and was screen in 2006 at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

Pride - the film that was inspired by the the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners


Today, Gay's the Word is still active and features many events, which can be found on its website www.gaystheword.co.uk/. In the past, it has hosted several speakers, such as Allen Ginsberg, Sheila Rowbotham, Edmund White, David Leavitt, William Corlett, Armistead Maupin, Charlotte Mendelson, Neil McKenna (one of Oscar Wilde's biographers), historians Matt Cook (A Gay History of Britain), Matt Houlbrook.

It is rare that a shop can have an impact, even a small one, but this one has.
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When: Mondays to Saturdays: 10am to 6.30pm
Sundays: 2am to 6pm
Where: 66 Marchmont Street WC1N 1AB London
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