Silver Lake’s A Different Light Bookstore Bites The Dust—Literally

It’s not news that gay bookstores are swiftly going the way of the dodo, but residents were surprised to see the original Silver Lake location of A Different Light, the queer bookshop George Leigh and Norman Laurila opened on Santa Monica Boulevard on 1979, turned to rubble over the weekend.  The shop had closed in 1992, but work was underway by the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council’s Urban Design & Preservation Committee to get the building, which also once housed a Red Car trolly terminal. declared a historic cultural monument.

On the Eastsider LA blog, responses to the demolition varied:

“Don’t they get that these charming little shops in the older buildings are part of what made people want to visit Silver Lake? There are so many things wrong with this, and I have such a hard time realizing that I have no influence over developers’ plans for this city.”  —K

“I appreciate the concern for gay history in our neighborhood, but I don’t see how it’s relevant if the bookstore left 20 years ago. I’d rather have more housing that allows new neighbors to enjoy the community we love than have people hide behind a store that died decades ago to prevent the growth of our community.” —Kenny

“How very sad that now the original building for A Different Light is gone. A sad footnote to a sad story.” —Gar

A Different Light’s locations in West Hollywood and San Francisco have both closed, leaving California without a gay-specific bookstore (to our knowledge).  Think about that when you’re ordering Tales of the City on Amazon.


Source: the EastSider LA via Towleroad; Image via

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  • LandStander

    Maybe its a sign of the times, I am 23 and have never even heard of a gay-specific bookstore :-(

  • Riker

    Its sad that Gay bookstores have died out almost completely. One of the few I’ve ever seen, Calamus Bookstore in Boston, is a great place to hang out and find something for everyone. If you’re ever traveling by bus or train to Boston, be sure to check it out a few blocks from South Station.

  • Little Kiwi

    Boourns. :-(

    To all the young’uns out there, or those who’ve never read Queer lit –

    The Buddies’ Cycle – Ethan Mordden (series of 5 novels)
    How Long Has This Been Going On? – Ethan Mordden
    The Venice Adriana – Ethan Mordden

    Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series

    E. Lynn Harris – Invisible Life & Just As I Am & If This World Were Mine

    Edmund White’s A Boy’s Life & The Beautiful Room is Empty

    these writers and their works changed my life.

  • Pete

    Philadelphia’s gayborhood has Giovanni’s Room, one of the best gay bookstores anyplace. Located at 12th and Pine, also online.

  • chpinnlr

    I was 19 years old when i moved to Silver lake many years ago, and my first foray into Gay culture was a visit to A Different Light Bookstore. It was a terrifing and liberating experience, I was as nervous as a whore in church but I found myself surrounded by Books that were about people like me. Being a broke 19 year old I spent about 2 hours in there on my first visit carefully looking at as many books as I could trying to decide on which one I would spend my hard earned money on, knowing it would be a rare treat. I bought “I’ve A Feeling We’re Not In Kansas Anymore” by Ethan Mordden, and read it that night in less time than it took for me to pick it out! I read it many more times until I had saved up enough money to buy another book, but I would stop by the Store almost every night on my way home from work just to browse, and occasionally cruise Lol! I was 19 after all. I was sad when it closed, and sorry to see it completely gone

  • David Gervais

    There is also Little Sisters in Vancouver, BC. They are at They have been in business over 25 years. If you visit Vancouver, they have an extensive book selection in a nice store on Davie St., well worth visiting. They also sell online.

  • rick mechtly

    Norman and George were in early stages of the store’s first paint job when I knocked on their windows to chat and especially to inform them of the first gay comics (frm KitchenSink Press)- Well that cemented me as one of their initial bookstore hounds! Soo much water has flown under that bridge- Even had sweet pix taken with Quentin Crisp later that year— Nornan’s in NYC now I believe and Richard Labonte back in Canada —

  • Guillermo3

    @Pete: Yeah,and Philadelphia just erected a bronxe historic plaque in front of Giovanni’s!! Can’t believe there’s no gay bookstore in LA.SF,or Sausolito.

  • iDavid

    Cali isn’t completely w/o gay specific bookstores. Google will bring up a few in San Diego’s Hillcrest area. And tho the Castro in SF may not be just books, there are gay stores w alot of gay books in them. All is not lost.

  • Parker

    Circus of Books…right next to The Gold Coast in West Hollywood…..
    homo book store!

  • ronsfo

    All my favorite bookstores are gone; The Oscar Wilde Bookstore in New York, I always went by and bought a t-shirt and the Different Light in the Castro. Small press book publishing seems to be picking up, people still like the tactile feel and smell of paper and ink on their hands, something a Kindle can’t produce, and books look nice on a shelf, well until you decide to move to a new place.

    Books, Inc, in San Francisco, on Market in the Castro, has a pretty good LGBT section and is Gay managed, it seems to be surviving OK after Different Light shut down. They have reading on occasion.

  • Cinesnatch

    @Parker: Isn’t Circus of Books a porn shop?

  • JoeyO'H


    I think it’s a sign of the times that younger queers just does not care about about queer books and bookstores. Sad.

  • JoeyO'H


    I think it’s a sign of the times that younger queers just do not care about about queer books and bookstores. Sad.

  • JoeyO'H


    I live in SOuth Jersey and have always gone to Giovanni’s Room. Love that place! It’s been there at least 30 years when I came out at 19.

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