In Conversation with Charlie of This Ain't the Rosedale Library

I was two shakes from declaring This Ain't The Rosedale Library a traitor when I posted on Bookninja about their defection from gay Church-Wellesley Village to Kensington Market. So owner Charlie Huisken looked me up and offered to show me their new location and give me his POV. I admit, I hadn't been, so last Saturday, after bread pudding at Wanda's Pie in the Sky and lusting over Le Creuset cookware at The Good Egg, I hopped on over to say hi.

The new location is a mite off the beaten track, being west of busy Augusta, but it's an airy space with a neatly curated collection, much like you'd find at Type Books. Small press titles from the likes of Coach House and Anvil Press are well represented and there's a great selection of magazines, particularly of literary journals and culture/arts rags. Apparently the biz now incorporates rare books, though I did not see any.

As for gay/lesbian content, Charlie insists it was almost always mixed in, though they did have a special section for a while at the Church street location, but he found that people started coming in for that section alone and not browsing other areas. This is definitely not a LGBT store anymore - no section, no prominent display of various gay mags, no fun lovin' Church street vibe. I asked Charlie about the move and he said what I suspected - other than the increasing rent, Church was no longer a retail destination (hell, even skanky American Apparel couldn't hack it and has been replaced by a BMO).

My hackles weren't raised this time. Church Street's existence feels more and more like a ghettoizing of gay culture, a remnant left over when gays needed their own space to feel safe to be as they were. Now, I kind of just want to integrate, to not have to have my own bars, my own coffee shops, my own bookstore. Call me crazy.

I admit my browse was short, truncated by my +1's sudden almost-heat stroke. I did pick up a couple of goodies (shown below) - Fences In Breathingby Nicole Brossard and the latest issue of Matrix magazine (a very worthy Canadian publication now facing an uncertain future due to loss of funding from the government, as the Dept of Heritage will no longer spend on mags with circulations of less than 5000. So much for support for diversity and culture, huh?) All in all, a good trip. And I know I'll be back, what with my weakness for Wanda's pies!

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