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'World's oldest Queer bookstore' in Toronto on the brink of closing

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Toronto's Glad Day Bookshop, operating in the heart of The Village, is in the midst of a turbulent chapter — hoping to turn the page and avoid closing forever.

“There’s this mix of hope and people coming together but also this fear that Toronto’s changing,” said lead owner, Michael Erickson in an interview Tuesday.

Opening nearly 55 years ago — the business holds the title of the world’s oldest Queer bookstore. The space is also run as a non-profit.

Now COVID-19 setbacks and debt, coupled with inflation, threaten to end its story.

“We’re all struggling to make ends meet so we’re seeing this decrease in revenue and increase in costs, this is just coming to a head.”

In an attempt to write its next chapter — Glad Day is fundraising. Erickson said it needs $100, 000 by early July. It’s demise is not a reality locals want to mourn.

“I really love this community and I really hope we can really band together and make stuff happen so im hopeful that’s something we can do,” said one woman passing by the shop.

“When they had their store on Yonge street it was one of the first places I went to buy my first gay book, so I was quite happy it moved to Church street and became and inclusive space,” said another man.

“It’s just a sad thing our Glad Day is closing and I foresee the future as a lot more closing,” said another man.

Craig Jennex is an assistant English professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and author who has written about Glad Day. He said Glad Day has gone from a man named Jerald Moldenhauer selling Queer literature out of a bag at events to a vital community hub.

“What’s special about Glad Day is both it history but also it’s focus. So this is a space I come to books launches, erotic poetry readings, trivia, bingo and so it’s so much more than a bookstore,” said Jennex.

“I think a lot of people underestimate how many LGBTQ people live in the neighbourhood. It’s also a first stop for a lot of newcomers and people from rural Ontario, so while it is safe for people to go out of the neighbourgood, it’s not safe for everyone”

Erickson said Glad Day evolved to sell coffee and alcohol as a way generate revenue. A high school teacher, he said he doesn’t make a salary at the store.

The positive news, he said, Glad Day raised $58,000 during the first 24 hours of its plea.

“In the short term, there’s an immediate need to avoid eviction and the hope is then to have enough in the next year to figure out what’s next.”

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