Gay's the Word bookshop

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exterior view of the shop
Gay's the Word bookshop, July 2013
Gay's the Word is an independent bookshop in Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury, central London. It specialises in all types of gay and lesbian books, both fiction and non-fiction. It has hosted meetings by various community groups.

The shop was founded in 1979 by Ernest Hole and others from Icebreakers.[1] Gay's The Word was a gay mail order company before opening the shop [2].

Mark Bunyan regularly performed in the shop.

In 1984 the shop was raided by Customs and Excise and a large quantity of books seized as being obscene; a defence fund was set up, raising over £55,000.

In 2007 the shop was threatened with closure following increased rents and competition from online sales, but remains open following a campaign which received wide coverage in the press.

The shop is owned by Jim MacSweeney.

In August 2011, the shop was damaged in the London riots, the only shop in the street to be targeted.[3]

In July 2012 the shop was burgled, with a safe and computer equipment being stolen.[4]

There is a monthly book group meeting at the shop.

The shop featured in the film Pride, with Kingsgate Road in West Hampstead standing in for Marchmont Street in 1984.[5]

In February 2015 the shop was the venue for the London launch of Amiable Warriors Volume One.

Lesbian Discussion Group

The Lesbian Discussion Group is a friendly and welcoming group and FREE (although there is a donations box to help support the bookshop). It meets at the shop every Wednesday.[6]

External links


  1. Ernest Hole "The Birth of Gay's the Word", Polari magazine, 17 January 2012
  2. Gay News issue 160 8 February 1979
  3. Jonathan Jones, "London burning: history just went sci-fi", The Guardian, 8 August 2011.
  4. Stephen Gray, "London: Gay bookshop burgled", Pink News, 11 July 2012.
  5. Alice Hutton, "Dominic West and Bill Nighy help West Hampstead street go back to the 1980s for new BBC film", Camden New Journal, 31 October 2013.
  6. GTW website: "Notice Board - Lesbian Discussion Group", archived by the Internet Archive as at 27 January 2016.