Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Visible to the Masses"

"Scraping together what little money he had saved during the summer as a bartender in the gay enclave Fire Island, he opened the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore, which was the first-ever gay bookstore in the world, on Thanksgiving Day in 1967.
"Frustrated that bars and bathhouses were the only places where gay men could openly congregate, he believed that a bookstore could be a community hub, a place where gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people could transcend the segregated restrictions imposed by bar culture and interact collectively. The bookstore also showcased LGBTQ people's literary contributions as writers, novelists, historians, poets, and essayists, at a time when the Library of Congress’s subheadings for homosexuality only included 'criminality and medical abnormality' with no reference to writers' sexual identity or recognition of a queer community."

Jim Downs at Slate discusses Craig Rodwell, who helped create the first Gay Pride parade in 1970.

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