There’s a big celebration happening for the country’s longest-running LGBTQ+ and feminist bookstore, and it’s taking place right here in Philadelphia.
Kicking off later this month on Saturday, June 10, Queerapalooza is a new music festival and party commemorating Giovanni’s Room’s golden anniversary. For 50 years, the Philly bookstore has remained an icon for the community , and has even survived potential closures in recent times.
Opened in 1973 by Dan Sherbo, Tom Wilson Weinberg, and Bern Boyle – the store was named after James Baldwin’s classic gay novel and at the time, it proudly sold gay, lesbian, and feminist periodicals, literature, and nonfiction when most venues of the same caliber in the community were rare.
Then, after 41 years of serving the LGBTQ+ community in Philadelphia, the store was set to close on May 17, 2014, a release states. Prior to that deadline, however, Philly AIDS Thrift (PAT), a local nonprofit thrift store, stepped in to keep Giovanni’s Room open. The new venture was renamed Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room and it continues to sell new and used LGBTQ+ books, as well as clothing, bric-a-brac, housewares, collectibles, and art.
Next Saturday’s celebrations will all be in memory of that.
“Giovanni’s Room has been a pillar of the community since it first opened its doors five decades ago,” said Philly AIDS Thrift Executive Director Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou in a statement. ‘To this day, it serves as a welcoming and educational space for LGBTQ+ people and for their families and friends. It’s an important local institution that also happens to be a friendly neighborhood hangout that puts out the welcome mat for everyone.”
Queerapalooza itself will feature local queer bands, musicians, DJs, and drag performers, as well as vendors selling artwork, crafts, and vintage items., and of course, books and other merchandise from Giovanni’s Room—which currently spans a wide assortment of new and used books, as well as vintage and camp items and collectibles.
“Queerapalooza is a celebration of the legacy of Giovanni’s Room and a way for us to thank everyone for supporting us,” Kallas-Saritsoglou continued. “We hope that new and old customers alike will join us in expressing our gratitude for this history, our joy in our present, and our hope for the future.”
The all-day event will kick off from noon to 5 p.m. on the 1000 block of Pine Street, just outside Giovanni’s Room in Center City Philadelphia.
And for those who can’t make it in person, there’s a way to support the business online by heading to QueerBooks.com.
“We’re in the business of giving things new life, and we were delighted to do that with Giovanni’s Room,” finishes Kallas-Saritsoglou. “Sales in the store and online are doing well, thanks to support from the local community and people from around the world.”
For more information on Queerapalooza or Philly Aids Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room (345 S. 12th St.,) visit queerbooks.com