Philadelphia’s Giovanni’s Room to reopen

James Patrick Carraghan

James Patrick Carraghan is an award-winning activist, writer, librarian and student at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. He spends his free time gardening, hording books and flirting. You can follow him on tumblr at http://thelibrarynevercloses.tumblr.com/

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The oldest LGBT+ bookstore in the United States, Giovanni’s Room, will be reopening on 10 October. The store had previously shut down earlier this summer due to rising costs and a decline in sales after 41 years in business.

The group Philly AIDS Thrift, which has raised over $900,000 for HIV/AIDS organizations, has announced that they have signed a two-year lease on the property, located at 345 South 12th Street in the ‘Gayborhood’ of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The store will reopen as ‘Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room’. The group intends to sell vintage clothes and housewares in addition to books. The group has also said that they intended to open the store a few times before the official opening for ‘sneak peek’ events.

The closure of Giovanni’s Room was only the most recent in a series of closures that LGBT+ bookstores have suffered in the past decade. With the advent of Amazon, independent bookstores have dwindled in the United States, and stores which specialize in particular subjects have been hit the hardest.

Giovanni’s Room originally opened in 1973 and was named after James Baldwin’s ground-breaking novel, Giovanni’s Room. The novel was one of the first American novels to openly address homosexual relationships.

The original owner of the store, Ed Hermance, announced his retirement earlier in 2014.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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