Beyond Bookselling: How Queer Bookstores Shaped the Gay Liberation Movement

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Adults, All Ages
Registration for this event will close on March 5, 2024 @ 6:00pm.

Program Description



UCSB History Associates presents, "Beyond Bookselling: How Queer Bookstores Shaped the Gay Liberation Movement," with doctoral candidate Sarah Dunne in partnership with the Santa Barbara Public Library. This event is free and open to the public. Join us for light refreshments after the talk!

Did you know that The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, a gay liberation bookstore, opened in New York City two years before the famous 1969 Stonewall Rebellion? Gay and lesbian bookstores, some of which were founded by key homophile and gay liberation activists like Craig Rodwell, are forgotten spaces in LGBTQ+ history. Queer bookstores are more than a location where books are sold. During the late-twentieth century gay and lesbian bookstores served as de facto community centers for queer customers and fostered business, artistic, and political networks devoted to organizing for gay liberation. Across the US, Canada, and the UK, a transnational network of queer booksellers founded bookstores that created queer communities, organized early Pride events, and fought the impounding of queer publications by customs officials. Looking at archival materials like bookstore newsletters, correspondence, business records, photographs, and newspaper articles allows us to recreate the vibrant dynamics of now-closed queer bookstores and to understand their impact on the fight for gay liberation in the twentieth century.

Presented by: UCSB History Associates in partnership with the Santa Barbara Public Library. Co-sponsored by UCSB Affiliates, UCSB's Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity, and the UCSB Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life

Speaker Bio
Sarah Dunne is a doctoral candidate in the history department at UC Santa Barbara. She was awarded a UCSB Graduate Humanities Research Fellowship and is also serving as a 2023-2024 Mendell Graduate Fellow at UCSB’s Walter H. Capps Center. She is spending this academic year conducting archival research for her dissertation: The Migrating Queer Bookshelf: Queer Bookstores and the Making of Queer Communities in the United States and Canada, 1945-present.


Participants in this event may be photographed by Library staff. These photos may be used in promotional or educational publications, including in print, social media, and presentations. Please see staff if you do not consent to having your photo taken. Staff will obtain individual, signed photo releases of photographs that contain only an individual as opposed to a group.


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