World’s Oldest Gay Bookstore Might Be Facing Its Final Chapter

Jan 02, 2012 by

Wanna buy a bookstore? The Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, the world’s oldest operating outlet for LGBT lit, is for sale.

The Toronto Star reports that John Scythes, who bought the store from founder Jearld Moldenhauer in 1991, has put a sign on the counter inviting anyone interested in buying it to contact him.  According to a staff member, he began looking about a month ago, reaching out first to friends and customers first.

Glad Day first opened in 1970, operating out of Moldenhauer’s apartment in downtown Toronto, and was a hub for the city’s burgeoning queer community. (Giovanni’s Room, the oldest gay bookstore in the U.S., opened in 1973.)

Moldenhaue moved the shop to a private home in Kensington Market before relocating to its current location, a second-floor shop on Yonge Street, in 1981. Scythes purchased the store in 1991.

In addition to its roles as a retailer and meeting place, Glad Day was key in changing Canada’s pornography laws: In 2003′s R. v. Glad Day Bookshops Inc.,  the courts found that requiring the approval of the Ontario Film Review Board before films could be distributed or shown in the province was a violation of the freedom of expression.

But the cost of legal battles, coupled with a flagging economy and the move toward online booksellers, has taken its toll. In 2010, Scythes told Inside Toronto he had to dip into his own savings to keep the store running.

We’re sure most of you don’t have a spare hundred thou lying around, but you might want to consider buying your next LGBT title from Glad Day’s website.