Oklahoma-based singer-songwriter Eric Himan has penned an ode to gay bookstores!
Like gay bars and clubs, LGBTQ bookstores face a challenging future. The rise of online shopping has seen many of the world’s longest-running booksellers forced to close. Following COVID closures, the ones remaining are fighting for life to stay in business.
But as Himan points out, the stores are more than just a place to buy books. For many, they have been a refuge, a meeting space, somewhere to meet with cherished queer authors and performers, and a place where you could find material to help you explore your sexuality and gender identity.
Himan says he has often found himself performing at LGBTQ bookstores, which led to his new track, simply entitled ‘Local Gay Bookstore’.
“I wrote this song with my best friend, Cas [Cassandra Buncie], as a tribute to the many LGBTQ+ bookstores I visited, felt comfortable in, performed my music, carried my cds, educated me on LGBTQ+ life and issues facing our community, and made me feel connected to my LGBTQ+ community. Thank you to them for all they have done and still do day-to-day!”
The video features an incredible miniature model of a local gay bookstore constructed by Himan’s husband, Ryan Nichols.
Stores namechecked in the song included Outwrite in Atlanta, Lambda Rising in DC, A Different Light in San Francisco, and Oscar Wilde’s in New York City. All have now closed.
Also mentioned are Outwords in Milwaukee and Giovanni’s room in Philadelphia, both of which are still trading. They, along with the likes of Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, and Gay’s The Word in London, need all the customer support they can get as lockdown restrictions begin to ease around the world.
Himan is based in Broken Arrow in Tulsa County. He started releasing music in 2000 while at Penn State University, and recently put out his tenth album.
“One of the first gay bookstores I remember was A Different Light in San Francisco,” Himan told Queerty. “I went out on a trip with my friend, Cassandra (who co-wrote the tune with me) in 1999.
“I was excited to see so many references to LGBTQ+ life all in one place. The impact the store had on me was huge. Before that, I had only witnessed gay life on TV and in a few magazines. This store really opened my eyes to see that there were queer voices in many types of media from books to music to movies. Later on I would get my start playing at some of the ones I listed in the song.”