Gay’s The Word

Gay’s The Word

Gay's The Word is the UK's pioneering independent lesbian & gay bookshop

Average Reviews

About

Gay's The Word, nestled in Bloomsbury, London, is a legendary spot in the LGBTQ community. Established in 1979 by a group of gay socialists, it has the distinction of being the UK's oldest LGBT bookshop. What sets this bookstore apart is not just its extensive collection of literature but its rich history and role as a community hub.

In the early days, when gay literature was scarce in mainstream bookstores, Gay's The Word filled a crucial gap by importing a significant portion of its stock from the US. The store has seen its share of challenges, most notably in 1984 when it was wrongly raided by Customs and Excise under the assumption it was a porn store. The charges were eventually dropped in 1986, but this event highlights the store's resilience and the community's support.

More than just a bookstore, Gay's The Word has been a vital community space, hosting various groups and events. It's been featured in the media, including the 2014 film "Pride," which depicts its role in supporting the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign during the 1984-85 miners' strike.

The store's ethos of reinvesting all profits back into the business and community continues to this day. With a team of passionate booksellers, including manager Jim MacSweeney, who has been with the store since 1989, and deputy manager Uli Lenart, an aficionado of literary fiction and non-fiction, Gay's The Word remains a cornerstone of London's queer community. Whether you're looking for the latest in LGBTQ literature or seeking a space that radiates history and solidarity, Gay's The Word is more than just a bookstore—it's a cultural landmark and a beacon for the community.

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Reviews

Gay's The Word
4.9
Based on 1246 reviews
Gareth Williams
09:19 28 Apr 24
This spot is a haven and I've always felt so nourished every time I've gone even when just window shopping. Really knowledgeable and invested staff who can advise and suggest about any kind of LGBT book. Would love to attend some of the events affiliated with it.
TFT
01:27 19 Apr 24
A marvellous LGBTQ+ book shop with so many shelves to browse. A wide variety of sexualities and genres can be found: Gay’s the Word is a must-see when in the area.
Cindy Garza
00:54 15 Apr 24
Warm & welcoming with diverse selections. My happy place in London.
Planet Grom
15:46 25 Mar 24
What a lovely bookshop! The person running the shop when I took my son is was very kind, patient, and knowledgeable with all the other customers that were in the shop - truly impressive as he seemed to know all the details for all the books and was able to help with answers to their questions and provide recommendations. You really got the feeling that he cared about the entire operation; the store, sure, but also customer satisfaction and continuing to provide a queer-friendly atmosphere.I loved it.If you’re ever visiting London or just in this part of town, you should definitely stop in and see this treat of a bookshop!
Starrifyx
11:13 16 Mar 24
Lovely people and a great selection of books! I asked for book recommendations, they were so helpful and had great suggestions. Definitely one of my favourite book stores to visit.
Shannon Stewart
02:13 16 Jan 24
such wonderful staff, he was telling us stories about alice oseman! impossible not to buy from and I got choked up seeing a whole wall for lesbian fiction! such an important precious place!
Natasha Moon
17:03 15 Jan 24
Having to use my partners account, I came to the store last Tuesday I’ve been wanting to come for ages. I easily could of walked away with 20+ books. The selection is incredible. I ended up walking away with a copy of Gwen and Art are not in love and Endpapers, which the lovely sales assistant said was meant to be really good and it indeed was. Cannot wait to visit again.
Jacqui Benson-Mabombo
08:36 09 Jan 24
2nd visit here and like the first it is an emotional experience. That an entire bookshop exists for queerness is sensational. Its a little overwhelming as there is so much to engage with.Unless you know exactly what you want, plan to spend a couple of hours browsing, and of course make sure you have budget because you wont leave empty handed. We bought 6 books!
June A
19:22 08 Dec 23
Lovely spot! While it's fairly small, they have quite an impressive selection of books, including history, biographies, fiction and graphic novels. The staff is very friendly and helpful, and you get a real sense of community just wandering through the store.
Denitsa Gugova
08:16 05 Dec 23
I'd wanted to visit Gay's The Word since my London trip in 2022 when I couldn't make it before closing hours. This bookstore is everything I thought it'd be and more!🏳️‍🌈 The range of LGBTQ+ literature is fantastic. There's fiction and non-fiction; little notes with recommendations from the staff on certain books; books that aren't necessarily on LGBTQ+ topics (or at least it looked so to me) but are written by LGBTQ+ authors, which is immense support.I honestly wanted to buy everything!, but I got a couple of the recommended reads and some more.💳 Can pay by card♿ Step-free entrance but a small step inside; lots of space between the shelvesHighly recommend!
Marina Conradsen
14:15 22 Oct 23
Absolutely adored this bookshop! A lovely wholesome inclusive book store with books about and for queer people. And for everyone else for that matter. They have a wide selection of both fiction and non-fiction. They're second hand book shelf was amazing as well, with a lot of older books written by queer people. Will definitely be back🌈
Hilary Espinosa
10:16 04 Oct 23
Loved how they organised the books, and the recommendations are spot-on!
Savan Gandecha
16:26 21 Sep 23
Lovely bookshop and friendly staff. I don't know why I didn't go here before tbh. A lot of variety of books too.
Lokes -
07:13 01 Sep 23
Such a sweet treat! Though the shop is rather small, there are so many books in there, and all of them about and for queer people. They are also often about feminism, anti-racism etc - it truly is a great collection and it’s very hard to choose which books to buy. Signed copies can be found, as well as pins, badges, postcards and good book recommendations (some of them are written on little cards next to the books), but the bookseller can answer almost any question and it’s truly a delight to listen to and read all of the reviews.10/10 would go again!
Grace B.
06:41 14 Aug 23
One of the few LGBTQ+ only bookstores in the world, Gays the Word might be my favorite. It's small and cute and has everything from mainstream queer lit to...
Evie Gorham-Job
15:28 04 Aug 23
Absolutely 10/10 the best place staff are amazing!! I was helped by a beautiful human, who found to find the book I had been been looking for all day. Brilliant and made my day
Billie
12:10 04 Aug 23
I love this store with all my heart, all the staff are super friendly, the atmosphere of the store is everything you'd want and I mean the books are the best thing ofc. Every queer book you could possibly dream of, my little gay book paradise lol
Marco Piccari
20:50 13 Jul 23
Really great selection of books (classics, novels, essays, magazines, etc) under the plaque commemorating Mark Ashton. The shop is a bit small and gets often crowded, but that's because it's an iconic place. Definitely worth a visit and a browse. You will find books that are censored in the majority of other shops.
Piggy Pine
19:59 23 Jun 23
Daughter has wanted to go here for the longest time. And it was worth the visit. She was very restrained only buying the 5 books, as I feared the whole store was coming with us 😂It is tiny, but great selection 🙂
Patryk Cegieła
22:55 18 May 23
We've been to London just for a short trip but we couldn't miss the opportunity to find something here to complete our book collection. Lovely place and lovely seller with many stories to tell you!
Taylor James
11:40 20 Apr 23
I actually went here with a friend at the start of 2022. At this point I was still wearing a mask quite often, hence the mask.This bookshop is a one of a kind. It is a trailblazer for high streets and bookshops, because of the immense inclusivity and variety of books there are inside. Not to mention other interesting buys too.I’ve since been to 1 other queer bookshop, in Manchester. The UK and the world need more of these places to enhance the inclusion of high street stores, and also increase the amount of safe places for queer people to go to and visit.The selection of books was amazing. I personally bought one on homosexuality in ancient Greece. My friend bought some queer movies, and there was also a great selection of vintage picture books, life modelling magazines and collectors items too.It’s only small, but it brings a very great and vibrant energy. If you’re in London for a day trip, take a visit there! 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️
Thomas Fogg
05:42 08 Apr 23
Genuinely one of my favorite places on the planet. Such a healing place and full of LGBTQ+ people of all types and ages. From books about exploring asexuality to queer novels, this place has the full spectrum. Helpful handwritten tabs on book shelves help guide visitors towards unique titles. I especially appreciated they have many titles that include intersectional perspectives, including AAPI and Black queer voices. A true joy no matter your interests or identity. And for those on a budget, they have a second hand section which I’ve found good reads in.
Gladys Chong
13:11 11 Mar 23
My favourite place in London. They sell the best queer + feminist + minority books at market prices. Some are a few pounds more expensive than Amazon but honestly I just pay more because I want to support independent bookshops
Hélène C
22:06 27 Jan 23
Love love love this place. It has so much history, and a fantastic selection off queer books, both new and second-hand. There is also a pay it forward scheme. I highly recommend going there, worth a detour.
Lyn
20:31 27 Oct 22
What a lovely safe space for us queer book lovers! They have a pretty good curation of lgbtq+ books and secondhand copies. There are badges and postcards for purchase too. And you get a Gay’s the Word bookmark with a book purchase. Grateful to have had a quick chat with the manager Jim and expressed appreciation for the impact that the bookstore has had on the community. I would totally be a loyal patron of the bookshop if I were a resident in London.
Nick Totin
13:24 12 Sep 22
VISIT. THIS. BOOKSTORE. When I travel, I try to find a bookstore in every city I visit. This one is by far my favorite in all my years. Finding an LGBTQ+ dedicated bookstore was such a treat and their staff is remarkable and kind. I would move to London just to call this my home bookstore.
Alice Kiff
20:43 31 Aug 22
My favourite bookstore in London. The staff make this bookstore outstanding. One of the few places in London I chat to strangers, the other clientele are just great. A really cozy, well stocked bookstore! 10/10.
Craig Kirkwood
21:11 27 Aug 22
Visiting London and decided to visit today. Smaller than I thought it was but thats not a bad thing, has a really good selection of books (got two myself) and sub-genres so plenty to appeal to the masses. Staff member was really nice as well. Really recommend a visit.
Yuna Court
22:59 17 Aug 22
a marvelous bookstore! i felt very good inside. there's a large selection of books, and everything is organized in the various categories available.i would definitely recommend for the book worms! the seller is very sweet, thank you again 🙂
Julia Morse
01:45 10 Aug 22
One of a kind.....Perfect sanctuary for the diverse book lurver....Titles ya really DO wanna read! Cool, inclusive n authentic. Fits in with the vibe n modern energy of Marchmont Street. Community feeling. Warm n friendly.
Elle Mac
08:18 12 Jul 22
Great experience here. They have a really good selection of books. Very friendly staff. It’s small but mighty! I have donated some LGBT books here as well, as they are able to provide them at a discount upon resell. They had a great variety of LGBTQ topics for their books. Highly recommend the visit xx
Ava S.
03:45 11 Jul 22
i adored this bookstore! the range of LGBTQ books was so lovely and everyone who worked there was really nice. also they give free Gay's The Word bookmarks...
natalie kate
14:54 07 Jul 22
An absolutely wonderful bookshop, with a lovely staff and so many great options. The books are properly organised and easy to find, and the staff is always happy to order for you if you cannot find what you are looking for. They also regularly hold super interesting events!
Alicia MPerez
11:23 05 Jul 22
Wonderful bookshop in a very cute area of London. The staff were incredibly knowledgeable about the books I heard them helping quite a few folks with their selections. Even though it is quite tiny it has a lot of diverse choices.
Fevronia Kirkmali
10:01 04 Jul 22
Amazing bookshop! The staff was a lovely guy who helped me find what I was searching for and also gave me a postcard as a gift when I left! Loads of love from Greece ❤️.
LadyCity
13:36 02 Jul 22
Friendly staff, large selection. Will definitely be coming back when I can. Picked up two books and a Lucille Ball card for a good price.
Thom James
04:55 13 Jun 22
Historic and prominent bookshop just off Russell Square tube station, a couple of minutes walk away. Gays the Word played a prominent and important role, not only in LGBT history but also with its connection to the miners strike in the 1980s, it’s campaigning and activism that saw a bridging of the divide between cultures and communities that once seemed so far apart. Being from Wales, the story was one I was familiar with, despite not being from a prominent coal mining area. But the shop, and the story has taken on more recent significance with the release of the film ‘Pride’ a few years ago.The shop itself is a great source of LGBTQ+ literature; from fiction to self-help, coming out and political discourse. They also sell memorabilia and some small items like badges and totes. I brought my daughter to the shop. She has just begun to learn about gay pride in school and we were in London anyway so we decided to make a quick stop off, buy a t-shirt and immerse ourselves for a few minutes in a small but historic place. The people in the shop could not have been nicer and were very welcoming and supportive, speaking to us about the history and characters.Go here. It doesn’t matter what your reasons are, go here and learn something about a part of London that’s not on the tourist maps.
Marie C
10:16 22 May 22
What an absolute gem of a shop. Brilliant collection of Queer literature. Well worth a visit if you are in London. Has also got a fab little preloved book section
Stephen F
11:09 17 May 22
Brilliant bookstore with such a wide variety of books, badges, and cards. Lovely staff, too, who are more than welcome to engage in some LGBTQ+ chit-chat and tell you about upcoming events.A must-visit shop 🙂
Tom Canning
09:14 17 May 22
Not just a book shop, but a community and cultural space with warm helpful staff. The selection is wide with little recommendations on the shelves to help your browsing. You can sense a conscious effort was made to give representation to different sides of the community.
Megan Keen
15:17 04 May 22
Amazing. Staff are lovely, the selection is somehow perfect, despite this being a small shop, it has a wide range of books for and based in the LGBT+ community. I felt so welcome and at home, and spent far too much money which I see as a very good sign! Please support them by popping in a grabbing a book, it's well worth it 😊
Rodrigo Portman
13:50 19 Apr 22
🎶 What the world needs now 🎶 ....are bookstores like this.There was a line out the door, made me so happy I could have cried. So so so happy a place like this exists and the people keep it thriving!! Such an incredible range of offerings. Really kind and knowledgeable workers. I love this shop and it's my #1 stop every time I'm in London.
Zac Chavez
02:17 29 Mar 22
I spend at least 100£ everytime I come here. The best selection of contemporary queer literature around. I seriously come from America just to visit this place any chance I get. I swear I had to buy an extra suitcase for books the first time I came here, and three visits since, I am never disappointed.
Gordon Thomas
13:37 15 Feb 22
Great shop! Definitely call in. Friendly staff. Must be a quality shop because my book, 'It began in Florence' is on sale there, thanks to Ooli the manager!
Paige Tysoe
08:01 15 Feb 22
It may be small but how it is mighty! Very cute shop with the greatest staff! Nicest place for all your gay books! Definitely worth a check out!
win task
22:31 11 Feb 22
Visited to see the really nice, well-kept bookshop with titles covering all ranges from informative through entertaining, to cheeky and even explicit and much in between. Then I was told that this actual shop was featured in the film "Pride". Great staff giving u pleasant service with a smile.
Emma McCutcheon
11:01 02 Feb 22
I love this bookshop so much!! I managed to find LGBTQ+ books that were inclusive!!The staff were so helpful and were able to find me a few books on being Arab and queer. Being represented in literature is really important and it makes me so happy to see that they obviously care about making this a safe place for everyone.
Mila Hakdu
18:29 14 Dec 21
Many many books to chose from. So many different genres. Staff absolutely lovely! You're most likely to find what you're looking for and if you do not I'm sure they can find it for you 😉
Jae Lissamore-Spooner
07:24 07 Dec 21
It warms my heart to see this place so busy still. It's a true hub for everyone in London's Queer community and an essential resource for us all. I love discovering new reads here, seeing so many others and having a space to call our own that isn't focused on drinking but rather thinking. This place is a big part of our history, and still has an important role to play for us.
Mubeen Ahmed
22:55 27 Nov 21
A unique staple in London. Much needed for the community. Close to Russel Sq station. Friendly staff, always happy to recommend books.
Jin Peh
19:52 31 Oct 21
I always enjoy visiting this bookshop and this time I picked up a book from 1991 Dangerous Desires by a New Zealand writer Peter Wells from the second hand section. It's great to support this community bookshop. There was a very good communal atmosphere.
Jack
07:18 27 Oct 21
Visited London for a few days and this was one of the best places I visited! Staff were so friendly and gave me great recommendations for the kinds of books I was looking for. Overall one of my favourite bookshops ever and a warm welcoming environment.
Dean H
22:34 25 Oct 21
Very easy to find, close to the underground. Small inside but a great selection of books and some very cute postcards. Really worth a visit for anyone lgbt. I go every time I'm in London. The staff are always friendly.
Zoe MB
23:35 20 Oct 21
A queer London staple, great selection and for a small quirky shop the wheelchair access is thoughtful and pretty decent!I loved their comics and graphic novels selection, special mention to the YA as well AND the photography books. Will absolutely be back on my next London trip!
Sarah W
17:14 09 Oct 21
Lovely little LGBTQ+ bookshop selling an abundance of fiction and non fiction, including a children's and teen section.Girl behind counter(Erica?) Was lovely warm and friendly, and very pregnant!! Very helpful too.I will be sure to go back in the future when next in London and support this fab place.
Nick Cox
21:13 01 Oct 21
Fantastic place. Steeped in history. A must see. Staff/owner is Fantastic
Alejandro Piña
15:39 01 Oct 21
Amazing LGTBIQA+ store. It’s important that we have places like this - to feel safe and understood. The employee helped us with some recommendations and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. Very recommended!
Rebekah Fryer
20:39 19 Sep 21
Perhaps my favourite shop in London. Such a welcoming place with an amazing history and book collection. Every time I visit it feels like connecting with the 40 years of queer culture it has been a part of and helped shape.
Sergio Perdiguero Corullon
11:27 10 Sep 21
Went this morning to find a kids book with a story that shows being trans it’s ok.The staff member was extremely helpful, good atmosphere inside the shop at all times.Will come back next time in London to get a book for myself.Thank you!
E
14:34 30 Aug 21
My number one must-visit whenever I come to London. I love this bookshop so much - they always have such a great selection of new books and the second-hand shelf has some real gems (such as the signed 1st-ed I found of Fingersmith last month!)
Angela Johnston
15:51 04 Aug 21
I arrived on Monday to discover the book shop was closed. To my appreciation the man opened the shop for me. He was very helpful and helped me pick out age appropriate books for my daughter. Thanks so much you’ve no idea how pleased you made me after a 3 mile walk that you did this for me 😊🌈🏳️‍🌈
Lizzie Backhouse
17:21 31 Jul 21
Fantastic book shop, a really vast selection of books covering a multitude of topics in the lgbtq+ space. The tabs on the shelves marking out particular recommendations were really helpful. I could have happily spent even longer in here than I already did!
molly kate
19:22 30 Jul 21
Aside from the fact it’s objectively a 5 star book shop, I felt very safe and welcome there. There was an excellent selection of queer young adult books which can sometimes be hard to find and are very important for young queer people such as myself. I felt so well represented and happy there 🙂
Daizee Young
18:41 17 Jun 21
good selection of books, they have everything for everyone, from entertaining fictional books to historical educational ones. I felt so welcomed in here, will definitely visit again!
L. Acadia
11:07 11 Jun 21
Fantastic selection of new and used books, and remarkable customer service! Jim in particular was so generous and patient, helping me not only order books all the way to Taiwan, but even recommending titles I might enjoy: the definition of 5-star service and 5-star selection! Highly recommended!
Myranda Hernandez
23:54 04 Jun 21
What a magical, safe place to be. Would’ve purchased way more than I did if I had the space, but will happily return and order from the website
Carrera-Leigh Dix
23:17 03 Jun 21
An absolute gem. I now feel guilty if I buy queer literature from any other place, as I love this shop so much!Handily located near a plethora of used book shops so you can go on a spree.The staff are always friendly and helpful, there’s always plentiful stock and the categorisation of books makes it really easy to find what you want - and sometimes what you didn’t know you wanted.Please support this historic indie bookshop.
Luckyjj60
11:26 04 May 21
Well stocked and super friendly and helpful staff. Cannot recommend highly enough. Can order from home too, my order arrived in strudy packaging with beautiful tissue paper. Staff always have good recommendations on what to read. 5*
Brian T
08:26 06 Apr 21
I love this shop! History lesson (adapted from their social media posts): On 10 April 1984, the shop was raided by UK Customs and Excise, who seized its imported books in a bigoted attempt by the government of the time to silence queer voices. A community campaign to support the shop was supported by a range of publishers, bookshops and writers, who helped fight this act of state censorship. Eventually the community won and the bookshop lives on to this day.Today, they have a wide variety of queer books. Plenty of fiction, memoirs, LGBT+ history and more. Plus fun queer themed badges. The small staff are friendly and keep the spirit of its founding in 1979 alive. Support your local independent bookshop!
Andrew Hodges
18:35 04 Feb 21
This is a unique store with a rich history, packed full of LGBT titles. The staff are knowledgeable and willing to help. I'll be back!
Body Mind Co
16:18 04 Dec 20
I came there yesterday, and wow! Wonderful experience, great choice and amazing staff. The woman working there had to deal with an angry, verbally violent client and handled it very well, stayed nice and patient despite his harsh words. I’ll come back for sure.
D. M.
09:55 05 Nov 20
Absolutely wonderful service by post to keep us all reading during lock-down. Receiving the books wrapped was a lovely surprise. Keep reading, keep supporting!
Jeanne Clack
11:36 16 Oct 20
I’ve discovered many new books that I’ve loved through this bookstore. They also have a secondhand books section. Their entire collection is AMAZING!
Savanna R.
14:58 17 Jan 20
London is a hub for amazing book shops, but this one is by far my favorite. It is my happy place. The selection is unparalleled, the location is great, and...
Sam C.
07:38 26 Nov 19
Well worth the visit to support and experience a queer independent bookstore. They pack a nice selection into a small space, and the staff is warm and...
Maria J.
12:01 09 Apr 19
I stopped into GTW while in London for work and it was such a delight! The atmosphere was warm and inviting and the staff helped me find interesting YA...
Marguerite M.
02:57 04 Sep 14
Who knew places like this still exist!? Wonderful little book shop with absolutely charming and helpful staff. I was in a hurry to leave for a gay wedding...

Gay’s The Word reviews from Google Maps, Yelp and WhereIs.Gay

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  • Monday
    11:00 AM - 06:00 PM
  • Tuesday
    11:00 AM - 06:00 PM
  • Wednesday
    11:00 AM - 06:00 PM
  • Thursday
    11:00 AM - 06:00 PM
  • Friday
    11:00 AM - 06:00 PM
  • Saturday
    Day Off
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    01:00 PM - 06:00 PM

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