Welcome to our new Lavender Menace Queer and LGBT+ Books Archive blog

When we opened in 1982, one person asked shyly, ‘Are there were really enough lesbian and gay books to fill an entire shop?’.

Today, there are enough queer books (as we would call them now) to fill an enormous library. Small presses such as Onlywomen, Gay Men’s Press, and Brilliance Books opened the door. Larger publishers followed and created such classic bestsellers as Rubyfruit Jungle and A Boy’s Own Story.

Interior of McDonald Road Library showing book display including What Belongs to You
Interior of McDonald Road Library Edinburgh, featuring book display including What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell

Forty years on the queer library has so many floors, attics, cellars, corners, and balconies, that some of them are hard to find. The rise of the internet and changing fashions in publishing have meant that the original presses have closed – of all of them, only Virago Press still exists. Many of their books are now out of print and unknown.

But at the same time there are new queer writers and new shops and publishers. After 20 years which saw independent bookshops in decline, two queer booksellers have set up business in the UK since 2018 – Category IS Bookshop in Glasgow and Portal Bookshop in York. We don’t seem to have to worry about having enough books or readers.

This blog will wander through the queer library, climb the ladders to some of the inaccessible shelves, try the keys to rooms which aren’t usually visited, and help visitors make their own maps. We’ll call on guest bloggers to take us where we haven’t been before. We want to use our knowledge of the start of queer bookselling to connect the older books and writers with the new ones – it’s all one story.

We’ve already started blogging about the books in our growing archive – found in our own and friends’ collections and secondhand shops.  And we invite you to comment – tell us about your part of the queer library and take part in readers’ conversations which wouldn’t have been possible when we opened the shop in the 1980s.

2 Replies to “Welcome to our new Lavender Menace Queer and LGBT+ Books Archive blog”

  1. Lovely to read this, as I’m rereading this novel for the first time in (9!) years. And how odd – to find my own blog linked to at the end..! From the *last* time I read it!

    Very glad to happen upon your blog and website.

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