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.
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 we’ve been up to recently
LGBT History Month Scotland
We celebrated LGBT History Month with our online about Iona McGregor at our free online event, part of our Conversations With Writers series, hosted by LGBT Health and Wellbeing. Here’s the link to the evening’s recording. Thanks again to LGBT Health and Wellbeing for making it available.
Our first in-person author’s event at Currie Library was about the story of Iona McGregor, one of Edinburgh’s earliest lesbian writers. The talk included illustrations and readings from her work and finished off with a workshop on the audiences favourite queer books. The event was very successful and had been postponed to Friday 4 March because of the weather. Thank you to all of you who turned up.
We were at the Radical Bookfair in November
Cartoonist Kate Charlesworth and Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive got together 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.
Our new range of cards and bookmarks
For more about our new range of postcards and bookmarks – and the six queer writers – the first in a series designed by Kate Charlesworth – read our blog , Menaces in Colour.
And help secure our collection of queer books and sponsor readers’ events, they are available to buy from our new shopping page all good queer retailers. The production of the cards and bookmarks was generously supported by Somewhere Enterprise and Reseach Network.
Footsteps & Witness: a conversation with Bob Cant
We held 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 discussed Scottish queer oral history as it is today and the possibilities for the future.
You can watch the whole evening’s event on here.
Jo Clifford and Ely Percy in conversation with Eris Young
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 – Ellen Galford and Elix Hwang
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.
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.
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.