LGBTQ+ History Month: The Oscar Wilde Bookshop

oscarwilde-190

The Oscar Wilde Bookshop was the first bookstore devoted to gay and lesbian authors. It was founded by Craig Rodwell on November 24, 1967 as the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop. It is named after author Oscar Wilde.

As a member and vice president of the Mattachine Society, Rodwell sought to make Mattachine more visible to gays and society at large by opening a storefront to cater to the growing local gay community.

Rodwell did not consider himself to be a bookseller businessman but, rather, a person who set out to help change the world’s view of gay people and of gay people ‘s own self-image. Despite a limited selection of materials when the bookstore was first established, Rodwell refused to stock pornography and instead favored literature by gay and lesbian authors. Early organizing meetings for the first Pride Parade in New York City were held at the bookshop in 1970.

Rodwell sold the bookshop in March 1993 to Bill Offenbaker, three months before Rodwell’s death of stomach cancer. In June 1996 Offenbaker sold the store to Larry Lingle. In January 2003 Lingle announced that the bookshop would close due to financial difficulties. Deacon Maccubbin, owner of Lambda Rising bookstores, purchased the bookstore to prevent the historically significant bookstore from closing. In 2006, the bookstore was purchased by longtime manager, Kim Brinster.

The bookstore closed on March 29, 2009, due to declines in sales caused by the economic crisis amid extreme competition with online book sellers. It was part of a spate of LGBT brick and mortar bookstores closures in the early 21st century, including Lambda Rising’s Washington store and A Different Light in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to LGBTQ+ History Month: The Oscar Wilde Bookshop

  1. Urspo says:

    I remember visiting it. I always weep when I hear of the closing of a bookstore. any book store.

  2. It had to be fantastically brave to open the store in ’67. Being open and out in that era was still dangerous to a person’s employment, housing, personal relationships, safety….

  3. I love Oscar’s writing.
    JP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s