Glad Day in the Gay Village

Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop is an icon within the City. Created in 1970, Glad Day is not only Toronto’s oldest surviving bookstore, but is also the world’s oldest surviving LGBT+ bookstore. Originally run out of an apartment that also housed the LGBT+ news magazine The Body Politic, the store has also been run out of a house, a shed, and, beginning in 1981, it’s upstairs location on Yonge Street, at the edge of the Gay Village.

Started by Jearld Moldenhauer, and named after a watercolour painting by William Blake, Glad Day has expanded its offerings to include digital and e-zine downloads (some of which can be had for free), and it is transforming yet again.

Glad Day Bookshop's entrance, photo by Phil Villeneuve
Glad Day Bookshop’s entrance, photo by Phil Villeneuve

In 2012, the bookstore, suffering from declining revenues, was purchased by a group of 23 community members. While they have turned it around and book sales have increased by 30%, other important revenue streams like DVDs, magazines and erotic photography books have declined. Despite adding performance and rental spaces, more needed to be done.

Glad Day has decided to move from its current Yonge Street location to a spot on Church Street, where they will be a bookstore and coffee shop by day, and a bar by night. They will be offering wheelchair access, patio space, a private DVD lending library, performance space and walls for art. The launched an IndieGoGo project to raise the estimated $200,000 to cover the move.

A snapshot, now a couple of years old, of me at Glad Day Bookshop
A snapshot, now a couple of years old, of me at Glad Day Bookshop

If you haven’t been to the current Yonge Street location, go before the move (anticipated to be some time in August or September 2016). Glad Day will be moving into the space once occupied by Byzantium, a martini bar and restaurant.

I like to imagine that we’re going to create a little bit of a ‘back to Church’ movement… A lot of people have become bored with, or disenfranchised by, the street, and hopefully this can be a cool, queer place that represents the whole community and not just a fraction of it.

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