OUT OF PRINT

World’s Oldest Gay Bookstore Might Be Facing Its Final Chapter

Wanna buy a bookstore? The Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, the world’s oldest operating outlet for LGBT lit, is for sale.

The Toronto Star reports that John Scythes, who bought the store from founder Jearld Moldenhauer in 1991, has put a sign on the counter inviting anyone interested in buying it to contact him.  According to a staff member, he began looking about a month ago, reaching out first to friends and customers first.

Glad Day first opened in 1970, operating out of Moldenhauer’s apartment in downtown Toronto, and was a hub for the city’s burgeoning queer community. (Giovanni’s Room, the oldest gay bookstore in the U.S., opened in 1973.)

Moldenhaue moved the shop to a private home in Kensington Market before relocating to its current location, a second-floor shop on Yonge Street, in 1981. Scythes purchased the store in 1991.

In addition to its roles as a retailer and meeting place, Glad Day was key in changing Canada’s pornography laws: In 2003’s R. v. Glad Day Bookshops Inc.,  the courts found that requiring the approval of the Ontario Film Review Board before films could be distributed or shown in the province was a violation of the freedom of expression.

But the cost of legal battles, coupled with a flagging economy and the move toward online booksellers, has taken its toll. In 2010, Scythes told Inside Toronto he had to dip into his own savings to keep the store running.

We’re sure most of you don’t have a spare hundred thou lying around, but you might want to consider buying your next LGBT title from Glad Day’s website.

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6 Comments

  • TASTEY GOODIES

    IS THERE A GLBT PRESERVATION SOCIETY? WHATEVER THE ANSWER, THIS BOOKSTORE HAS BEEN A PART OF THE GLBT HISTORY SINCE 1970 AND NEEDS 2 B PRESERVED LIKE AN HISTORICAL TREASURE.

  • MEJ

    I’ve been to the bookstore many times over the years. My boyfriend and I talked seriously about buying it, but realistically the commute would be hard on him, since we’re two hours away from Toronto, and I haven’t the time, nor inclination to manage a bookstore off site.

    I hope to god someone from the community can buy the shop. Maybe if people put down their gadgets, and actually bought and read a book every once in a while, great shops wouldn’t be closing all over the place.

  • Shannon1981

    I hate seeing so many pieces of our culture closing and falling by the wayside. My worst fears are coming true: homogenized, de- homoized gay society.

  • Kylew

    It’s sad news, and there is nothing quite so satisfying as actually browsing books in your hand, but many businesses are not adapting to the internet business model, and as a result, they die. A niche market store like this would also have challenges surviving on the high street, but should thrive online if managed properly, one would have thought.

  • Michael Bedwell

    With respect, your poorly worded title is not saved by adding the word “operating” to “oldest” in your second sentence. “Surviving” would be clearer, as well as more accurate, even if you did not choose to mention that New York City’s late Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop beat both Glad and Giovanni by opening in 1967 and lasting 42 years until 2009.

    Still, here’s to both stores surviving even longer.

  • Otis Fennell

    The Faubourg Marigny Bookstore was founded in 1977 by Tom Horner, grew under the direction of New Orleans gay activist Alan Robinson and now sports a fabulous LGBT art and book selection combined with a large selection of mainstream local and national titles at it’s original location of 600 Frenchmen Street in the Marigny music entertainment district under the name FAB – Faubourg Marigny Art & Books and direction of Otis Fennell. Come visit soon.

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