Welcome to Lavender Menace

Growing a queer LGBT+ Books Archive

Lavender Menace queer LGBT+ books archive aims to give space to hard-to-find and out-of-print queer LGBT+ books and make them accessible to the community by establishing a ground-breaking digital and physical archive, supported by an interactive blog and our social media.

Logo: Lavender Menace Queer and LGBT+ Books Archive Eye

We grew out of Lavender Menace which first opened as a lesbian and gay bookshop in Edinburgh in 1982. Founded by Sigrid Nielsen and Bob Orr, the name was revived in 2019, as part of the Stonewall 50 celebrations. You can find more about us here.

Queer LGBT+ books archive blog

We have been blogging about the books in our growing archive since May 2020. And we invite you to comment. Tell us about your queer library. And take part in readers’ conversations. None of this would have been possible when we opened the shop in the 1980s. We also post regularly on our social media.

How to get involved

Even as restrictions are lifted, we are encouraging you to record your own collection of your own queer LGBT+ books and share it with us.

What’s New

We’re going to be at the Radical Bookfair

Graphic: Lavender Menace & Kate Charlesworth Steps to a Queer Archive

Join cartoonist Kate Charlesworth and Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive at 12:00 Friday 12 November for the launch of our new range of cards and bookmarks! Kate, author and illustrator of Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide has created these exclusive portraits of queer writers for us.

Come along to Lighthouse Bookshop’s Radical Book Fair and be the first to see her unveil them – and find out how you can help us establish our queer archive.

Friday 12 November at 12:00. Tickets to the bookfair are available online from Lighthouse Bookshop.

Our new range of cards and bookmarks

Watch this space to see our new range of postcards and bookmarks – the six queer writers – the first in a series designed by Kate Charlesworth – and help secure our collection of queer books and sponsor readers’ events. And they will be available to buy from our new shopping page from 12 November and all good queer retailers.

Footsteps & Witness: a converation with Bob Cant

Announcing our third in the Conversations with Writers series – an interview with gay writer, teacher and activist Bob Cant about his book, Footsteps and Witnesses: Lesbian and Gay Lifestories from Scotland (1993).

This was the first book of our community’s oral history – as Bob Cant himself now puts it, ‘People making sense of their lives’ was the beginning of the vast changes we’ve seen since Stonewall. And we have a film interview with Bob Cant and clips from some of those who spoke with him for the 1993 and 2008 editions.

Jaime Valentine of OurStory Scotland, Footsteps & Witnesses interviewer Ann Marriott who worked on the book and Rowan Rush-Morgan queer archivist and PhD student will comment on Scottish queer oral history as it is today.

Join us on 18 November at 6:30pm. This event will be online and you can book your free space here.

What we’ve been up to recently

Conversations with Writers

We’re delighted that the first in the series of Conversations with Writers (after our collaboration with LGBT Health and Wellbeing in June) was a great success. The feedback as been very positive and more are in the planning. The event was live online at 19:30pm BST on 2 September and featured playwright Jo Clifford and novelist Ely Percy in conversation with Eris Young, author of They/Them/Their. Here is the full recording. This was the first online event we produced ourselves with the advice and support of Jules Stapleton Barnes at LGBT Health and Wellbeing. If you enjoyed it , we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Meet the Authors

During Pride month this year, we took part in an online event in collaboration with LGBT Health and Wellbeing live streamed on Tuesday 29 June, with Meet the Authors with Elix Hwang and Ellen Galford in conversation with Sigrid Nielsen. Here’s the full recording of the event. With many thanks to Jules Stapleton Barnes.

Festival of Pride and Knowledge

We were invited by the LGBTQ+ network of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) to appear as guests during a live streamed event on Tuesday 15 June at 6pm as part of their Festival of Pride and Knowledge 2021. The video and transcript are in preparation and will be available soon.

Image: CILIP LGBTQ+ Festival of Pride and Knowledge 2021 Banner

LGBT History Month 2021

LGBT History Month 2021, saw us working with Edinburgh City Libraries and Pretty Bright producing a video call Unsung: How queer books tell our story. The first streaming of the video was followed up by a live Question and Answer session chaired by Chris Creegan. Here’s the complete production.

Unsung: The queer books that tell our story from Howard Elwyn-Jones on Vimeo.

Somewhere for Us

Logo: Somewhere for Us

We have been contributing to our own pages in the amazing Somewhere: For Us magazine now well on to being a queer LGBT+ sensation. The articles we write reflect what it was like to run Lavender Menace and West & Wilde Bookshops in the 1980s and 1990s. We also feature reviews of books from our collection by guest reviewers.

The future beyond the pandemic

Image: Collage of archive books and material
Collage of archive books and material

We continue to work with our main LGBT+ partner Lighthouse Bookshop who are housing the main part of the archive. And with their co-operation we are planning a community meeting when the time is right, to publicise the archive locally and to gauge support for its long-term development.

We will also be launching a fund-raising effort and a range of merchandise designed by Kate Charlesworth to promote our services.

So watch this space!