Book Store To End Chapter Of Gay Life | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

: News

Book Store To End Chapter Of Gay Life

Play associated audio
Deacon Maccubbin founded Lambda Rising books 35 years ago.  The bookstore will close in January.
Sabri Ben-Achour
Deacon Maccubbin founded Lambda Rising books 35 years ago. The bookstore will close in January.

By Sabri Ben-Achour

The Lambda Rising book store in Dupont circle has been at the center of gay life in the region for decades. In January, it will close after 35 years.

When Deacon Maccubbin moved to D.C. back in 1969, at age 26, the world was a very different place for Gays and Lesbians. He remembers walking into a book store and asking the manager if there were any gay books.

"And he looked down his nose at me through his glasses and very haughtily said 'we don't carry those kinds of books'. To him and many people at the time, gay books were porn. That's all they could think about. What I was interested in was not porn, but books that would tell the story of our lives the lives of gays and lesbians who'd gone before us, the history of our community," says Maccubbin.

Those books were hard to find. Most publishers, Maccubbin says, wouldn't allow any books with gay themes unless they ended in suicide or tragedy. So Maccubbin founded Lambda Rising - the area's first gay book store.

"We had phone threats, we had bomb threats, we had our windows smashed on more than one occasion," he says.

Advertising was almost impossible at first. But he says there was always support from his neighborhood.

"I remember when our windows were smashed - the very day that happened some people came in with a check for 700 dollars from other business owners along connecticut avenue, most of whom were straight not gay."

From behind the counter, Maccubbin watched history - and made it. He pressed DC to pass anti-discrimination laws in the 70's, he held fundraisers at the store when his customers and employees began dying of AIDS in the 80's. He helped create DC's annual gay pride festival.

"Every day was a chapter in history in this bookstore. But really it was the day - to - day looking people in the eye and saying 'you're ok'. That meant so much more to me in many ways," says Maccubbin.

And now, at age 66, he's closing his store.

"It's a bittersweet moment for me, certainly. But I think it's the right time, and the right thing to do at this time."

The right time Maccubbin says, because just about every bookstore now has a gay books section. There are plenty of books available online. Gay communities are less ghettoized, in books as in life.

NPR

'Team America' Is Benched: Won't Return To Theaters, Reports Say

One day after some U.S. theaters vowed to screen Team America: World Police in the place of The Interview, whose release was canceled, word has emerged that Team America has also been pulled.
NPR

What The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

The decision to normalize relations is driving all kinds of speculation about American food companies opening up shop in Cuba. But analysts say: Don't expect to see McDonald's there anytime soon.
NPR

Two Of Colorado's Neighbors Sue State Over Marijuana Law

Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed a lawsuit against Colorado with the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that its law legalizing marijuana isn't constitutional.
NPR

North Korea Has Invested Heavily In Cyberattacks

American officials have concluded that North Korea was behind the hack of Sony Pictures Company. Melissa Block talks to James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.