Having a queer place to hang

bgsqdI first met Greg and Donnie because my ex’s school chum used to be their housemate.  She told him and he told me that these guys were making a queer bookstore called the Bureau of General Services Queer Division (BGSQD).  I say ‘making’ because at the time all the other exclusively queer bookstores in NYC had gone out of business (e.g. Oscar Wilde Bookshop).

I wanted to go and see for myself, step one.

Step two, finding common ground with Donnie and Greg (friend of friend, check).

Step three, common ground provides pretext for a double date… them, me and the ex.

Regular attendance at events, inviting friends to join me, and then inviting BGSQD to ‘pop-up’ at some events I had planned in a gallery and performance venue … steps four, five and six.

I would get to know them more and more with each encounter. I empathized with the challenges of starting up a small business (an independent bookstore at that) and cultural space… with their drive to create a sense of community and their thriftiness in partnering with one – and now two – gallery spaces to share rent and find synergies. From the audience, I could see how much Donnie admired Edmund White while giving his introduction … me too. Empathy, yeah that’s a step – seven.

Making introductions to resource people who might be able to add value or assist their project in some way, step eight.

Agreeing to help them think about building a non-profit board, step nine.

Being lonely a couple Saturday nights ago after a day spent by myself writing, needing to get out and be around people … preferably people who I knew and could be myself around.  Going to their website to see if anything was happening:  A band, called The Values, was playing at 8pm.  Perfect. Hanging out, looking at books, listening to music, catching up, inviting friends to stop by, flirting, drinking beers, talking about steps 8 and 9.   Having a queer place to hang, step ten.


Last week I was  in Amman (Jordan) and both Makan House and Books@Cafe have nice queer vibes. This week I’m in São Paulo and here’s a shout out to the Centro Cultural São João.  The Occupation São João where the Cultural Center is located has a political sensibility that I really go for … check out our event there this Saturday.  Oh yeah, Bluestockings and La Casa Azul are great places to hang in NYC for the queer and bookish, too.

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