Somewhere is very proud to be supporting and mentoring Lavender Menace on its journey as a new Community Interest Company (CIC).
Lavender Menace opened in August 1982 as Scotland’s first LGBT bookshop in Forth Street, Edinburgh. Set up by Sigrid Nielsen and Bob Orr (pictured above), the shop grew out of several years of LGBT bookselling in the city, and in 1982, Sigrid and Bob’s vision of offering a resource of LGBT literature and a safe space was realised. Lavender Menace changed its name to West & Wilde bookshop with a move to Dundas Street in 1987, with its eventual closure ten years later. A revival in recent years, through the much-loved and hugely successful 'Love Song to Lavender Menace" play by James Ley, Sigrid and Bob are delighted that their legacy of community and literature is so strong that hey have been able to create a brand new venture, Lavender Menace CIC.
We are delighted that Lavender Menace will have dedicated pages in every issue of our Somewhere: For Us magazine, discussing queer books and bookselling, reviews of old and new books, and details of how you can get involved with their new Lavender Menace Queer Archive.
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Photo: Kathryn Pierce
by Kathryn Pierce
Part of Somewhere's history started in a radical bookshop. Growing up as a teenager in Merseyside in the 80s, moving to the big city (Liverpool) in the 90s, I would often go to the wonderful News from Nowhere bookshop on Bold Street, which is still going strong and is as fantastic as ever.
As a very closeted young queer woman, here was the place where my future identity would be formed, from pieces found in these precious books, and from the smiles of recognition and love from lesbian staff, who would serve me with a quiet understanding of how important those moments really were. In a strange way, I remember the bookshop feeling like a clothing shop for my LGBT+ identity, and both the books and the space itself helped me try different ideas on for size.
I also loved the Noticeboard - a mish-mash of community group notices, where I would spot the lesbian groups; and while I was far too shy to contemplate going to any of them, at least I knew they were there and they existed.
We all know that bookshops aren't just bookshops. They're sanctuaries, places to find ourselves, and even to find love. As Lavender Menace co-Founder Sigrid told me last year: "You can tell a lot about a person by their choice of books", and I do wonder about the magic and mystery of lesbian seduction over the shelves of bookshops and libraries everywhere, almost like love stories written in those moments, sitting in between the books on the shelves.
LGBT+ stories are part of all of us, and they connect all of us. Our community, as disparate as it is, shares so many common experiences, and the need to find ourselves in the pages of LGBT+ books, and the desire to connect as a rainbow family of stories is as vital now as it ever was.
We are beyond delighted to be involved with the Menace's return and to see where this journey takes us. It's the first chapter of a rainbow renaissance and we cannot wait to see what happens next.
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