Selling books and promoting human rights – well, here’s a bookshop that can do both. The Glasgow bookshop, Category Is Books, has been at the heart of the city’s LGBTQIA+ rights movement since opening in September 2018.
Described as a “fiercely independent queer bookshop”, the only LGBTQIA+ bookshop in Scotland was set up by wusband and wusband team, Charlotte (they/them) and Fionn (‘Fin’) Duffy-Scott (they/them). They both founded the bookshop with the aim of creating a space for the LGBTQIA+ community to learn about, be inspired by and share in their love of queer history, culture, writing and storytelling.
Taking this love for books, magazines, comics, zines, films and art created by or with the LGBTQIA+ community, Charlotte and Fionn found an ex-furniture shop up for sale just round the corner from their home in Glasgow’s Southside and spent a summer DIY-ing it to create Category Is Books. The Govanhill bookshop, which was launched with help from famed London LGBTQIA+ bookshop Gay’s The Word, stocks both new and second hand queer books, magazines, graphic novels, zines and (lots) of badges!
Every book stocked at the store is either written by someone from the LGBTQIA+ community, contains at least one LGBTQIA+ character or has an LGBTQIA+ narrative. Charlotte and Fionn both grew up under Section 28, which was a British law brought in under Margaret Thatcher, prohibiting local authorities from “promoting homosexuality”, making the couple often unsure of LGBTQIA+ history and culture until later in life because of this.
As well as being able to pop in and browse the literature, Category Is Books has also been used to host many events such as yoga, queer tarot reading and a transgender-friendly pop-up barbershop, plus act as a non-drinking space for the LGBTQIA+ community. It also offers a home delivery service so you can get some cracking reads to your door, and during the pandemic, the team were delivering queer books to the people of Glasgow via skateboard and bike (but they also offer worldwide postal delivery too).
Plus, Category Is Books has a brilliant scheme with their pay it forward shelf. It’s a system where the community pre-pay for books and gift vouchers to use in the bookshop, so that fellow queers can still take a book home if they are low on cash. And if you can’t make it to the store, you can also purchase books stocked at Category Is Books at Bookshop.org here.
Category Is Books is the sort of place where everyone is welcome and staff are just happy to have a chat with anyone feeling scared, lost, confused, jubilant, or inquisitive. Owners Charlotte and Fionn are always happy to give recommendations of queer books to read and you can find plenty of books new to the store’s shelves on their Instagram account.
Category Is Books, 34 Allison Street, G42 8NN