Nation's oldest gay bookstore closing

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com January 08 2003 12:00 AM ET

New York's Oscar Wilde Bookshop, the oldest gay and lesbian bookstore in the country, will close by the end of the month, its owner announced Tuesday.

The store opened in Greenwich Village in 1967 with several dozen books on its shelves. It expanded as the gay rights movement in New York gained momentum and soon became the inspiration for other bookstores devoted to a gay and lesbian clientele.

The shop's owner, Larry Lingle, said it was difficult to maintain a gay bookstore in the city because of the behemoth book chains that offer a wider selection. "I have lost a quarter of a million dollars over the last six years. And I just can't take it anymore," Lingle told The New York Times in Tuesday's editions.

In 1970, the store's original owner, Craig Rodwell, helped organize a march to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The bookshop is one of only two gay bookstores remaining in New York. Creative Visions, also in Greenwich Village, is the other.

"It's sad that the New York community is unwilling or unable to support a gay and lesbian bookstore," Deacon Maccubbin, the owner of the Lambda Rising bookshop in Washington, D.C., told the Times.