Message from Charles

Message from Charles

Posted by Charles Gregory on 21st Jun 2024

The Bookshop Darlinghurst has a new owner - read his message.

To customers and fans of The Bookshop Darlinghurst,

Charles Gregory here, writing to introduce myself. I recently purchased The Bookshop Darlinghurst from Les McDonald. Les founded The Bookshop in 1982 with Wayne Harrison, has owned it ever since, and last week, he handed the reins to me.

Photo: Miguel Sumera

I want to offer a huge thank you to Les. To run a bookstore, let alone one with a focus on queer literature, for more than four decades, is a major achievement. Everyone I know, or have spoken to recently about the shop, has a story about it or thinks of it fondly. It’s been a mainstay of Sydney’s electric and ever-changing queer community.

I want to say thank you, too, to all the staff that over its many years have made The Bookshop what it is. Graeme, Noel, and Paul, who are at the shop now and have been with it for many years, have never wavered in their belief in its purpose and importance, in making it such a precious queer space in the heart of Darlinghurst. There are many others who have worked at the shop over the years, too many to name. I know some of them personally and have never met others, but thank you to all of you. The Bookshop means everything to me and means a lot, I’m sure, to all of you.

Photo: Miguel Sumera

I worked for Les at the shop more than 15 years ago. I loved working there. Back then, the shop opened to midnight some nights, which meant I could go straight from the shop to the bars. Oxford Street was full of people walking to and from dinners, going out to clubs, ambling home in the morning light. It’s because I had such a good time then, that I still hold those days and nights working in the store as cherished memories, that I decided I wanted to see it continue.

Les had the courage to start The Bookshop two years before homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW. When I was working at the shop in the mid-2000s, age of consent laws were being aligned and non-binary and trans members of the community were fighting for the right to have their gender properly recorded on government documents. Things change, laws change, the community has changed.

What I want for The Bookshop for the future is to continue it as a place that focuses on queer literature and queer history. And going forward, I feel a deep responsibility to ensure it reflects the ever-growing diversity and full range of perspectives that make up our beautiful queer family in Sydney. I want to bring even more people into the store, make it a space where everyone feels comfortable browsing in it at length, and make it a space not just for looking at books, but for events, book launches, and author talks. I also want to experiment with new events and formats that cater to our next generation of queer customers and beyond. It’s my mission for it to continue as a special queer space in the heart of LGBTQ+ Sydney that will continue to evolve and grow alongside our vibrant community.

I’ve never stopped loving being immersed in The Bookshop’s full carton of queer stories. I’m an avid reader, and enrolled in a creative writing course, and queer stories are only some of what I read. But when I want to read about characters who I can recognise from the queer community in Sydney, The Bookshop never faltered, never falters, in giving me that opportunity. I’ve always felt its range of books, the diversity in its stock, allowed you to spend a lot of time there. That is something I want to carry on.

So again I say thank you to Les, Graeme, Noel and Paul, and to all of you, the customers, who have supported The Bookshop over many years and everything it strives to be. I also say hello too, and welcome, to all of you. And finally, I say that I hope I can continue to make The Bookshop as successful as it has been in the past, and an even better shop in the future. I hope to meet all of you over the coming months and years.

Yours faithfully,

Charles Gregory

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