But most of all, we were that big, prominent LGBT town square in a Southern city where everyone knew this was the destination place for information about our lives, organizations, and daily happenings of interest to all. When there were challenges in our community, such as the 1997 bombing of a lesbian bar, the Otherside Lounge, or there was a call for celebration, such as the end of the sodomy laws, Outwrite was the gathering place for our community.
Along the way, the world digitized and people began meeting and communicating online and with social media. Community spaces gradually seemed less critical to socializing as they were in the past. Amazon.com began dominating the retail world and bookstores around the country started to struggle. And, as in many of the LGBT communities around the country, our Midtown neighborhood gentrified. Many of the newcomers were not a part of the LGBT community.
Rafshoon also discusses how the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue, the landmark location for the LGBT bookstore for the past 15 years, now sits empty.
For now, we will not have that one centrally located place that an LGBT newcomer to the city knows where to visit. We will not have that visible spot where someone coming out can go to to find an ear, a helping hand or that one-on-one conversation about where to go, what to do, and where to go for help and services. There will not be a one-stop shop for great and unique author, community and celebrity events in such a high profile and highly trafficked location. And our regulars who came in on a daily basis will not have that central place to go that was part of their daily routine.
While there may not be such a prominent LGBT landmark at Piedmont and Tenth any longer, we can strive to make sure that the changes made by having Outwrite there for so long will be sustained. By supporting our own businesses and organizations first we can help maintain a cohesive, flourishing community.
In fact, today at 4:30 p.m., activists are gathering at 10th and Piedmont to celebrate the Prop 8 decision in California.
Rafshoon does not mention in his blog that his store filed bankruptcy and has not paid some $184,000 in state sales taxes and is also slightly more than $500,000 in debt. Donations to a “Save Outwrite” campaign started to try to save the store are being returned to benefactors or in the case of anonymous donations being donated to charitable organizations, Rafshoon has said.
Other local LGBT and gay-friendly businesses are hoping to fill the void left by the absence of Outwrite and serve as a de facto community center to host author readings and other events.