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Atlanta’s gay-owned bookstores strive to stay open

Charis Books and More

Sara Luce Look, co-owner of Atlanta’s Charis Books & More, remembers when the chain Barnes & Noble opened up a mega store in Los Angeles across the street from the small independent feminist bookstore Sisterhood in 1995.

Last month, that Barnes & Noble closed but not before it forced the closing of Sisterhood in 1999 — just a few years shy of Sisterhood’s 30th anniversary.

“Sisterhood was the oldest feminist bookstore in the country at the time and Barnes & Noble put them out of business. Now the major chain is closing and it’s sad that neither are there anymore,” Look said.

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Charis Circle benefit concert features Doria Roberts

Atlanta musician Doria Roberts

Lesbian activist, singer and bodega business owner Doria Roberts will sing at a benefit concert at First Existentialist Congregation on Saturday to help raise funds for Charis Circle, the nonprofit arm of Charis Books & More.

An update on plans for the  Charis Feminist Center and a new cornerstone campaign for the center are expected to be announced at the fundraiser that begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 each or $25 per couple and will be available at the door and also at Charis located in Little Five Points.

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Outwrite announces $1,000 donation to save the LGBT bookstore

Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse announced Friday on its Facebook page that it received a $1,000 donation from the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation to start a "Save Outwrite Books" campaign.

We are thrilled to announce that we we received a donation from the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation to kick off the "Save Outwrite Books" campaign and have set up a fund to do it. Stay tuned to hear how you can get involved!

"Pamm [Burdett] came in about a week ago with a $1,000 check for a donation and said she wanted to get [your] campaign started," said Outwrite owner Philip Rafshoon. Burdett is the director of the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides grants and contributions to various LGBT and leather community individuals, agencies and organizations.

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Outwrite Bookstore plans move from landmark location

Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse

A sluggish economy, a rapidly changing book industry and high rent in the heart of Midtown are key factors forcing Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse to move from its home at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue.

When the move will take place is not yet known, said owner Philip Rafshoon. The store’s lease expires in a couple of months, he said, and a “For Lease” sign now hangs from the side of the store’s exterior along 10th Street.

But Rafshoon believes there is still a need for LGBT bookstores in Atlanta — although his store also sells many mainstream books as well as novelty gifts, food and coffee.

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Outwrite owner: ‘Look forward to getting to a new location’

It was business as usual at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffehouse this morning as employees hung flyers indicating sales on merchandise and Dolly Parton's new CD played in the background.

The news that the store would be closing in the next few months at its iconic location at 10th and Piedmont, however, was on the mind of the store's owner Philip Rafshoon, wearing a red Outwrite t-shirt that stated on the back "Your community landmark since 1993."

"I'm ready to find a new space," Rafshoon said, while seated in his office at the back of the store, framed by a wall with the signatures of hundreds of authors who have read and signed books at Outwrite that serves as not only a book store but a major gathering space for LGBT people.

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Outwrite retrospective: A look back at some of the biggest authors, events to grace Atlanta LGBT bookstore

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Since the GA Voice began covering LGBT news in Atlanta in March 2010, we've spent hours at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse reporting on author signings, community forums and politically-themed rallies that have taken place at gay Atlanta landmark corner of 10th and Piedmont.

But after 18 years, Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse owner Philip Rafshoon says the financially strapped store will be closing soon at its current Midtown location because the rent has become too high. He also says he hopes to move the store to a new location.

Take a look back at our author interviews, photo galleries and videos from our coverage in and around Outwrite over the last 20 months.

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Atlanta police LGBT Advisory Board accused of being ‘puppets’ of mayor in heated meeting

Atlanta Police Department LGBT Advisory Board

A heated meeting of the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board on Monday night included shouting, accusations of the board being “puppets” of the mayor and palpable anger with the board and city administration for not doing more to heal the pain in the community after the unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle nearly two years ago.

Geoff Calhoun (pictured, inset), was in the gay Midtown bar the night it was raided on Sept. 10, 2009, and was a plaintiff in the successful federal civil lawsuit against the city. Calhoun got into a shouting match with board member Ebonee Bradford-Barnes at the two-hour meeting held at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse after he accused the board of becoming “puppets” of the mayor. Calhoun's statements came after much discussion about why the media was not allowed into the meetings the board had with Mayor Kasim Reed and Police Chief George Turner last month.

“I wonder if you could explain the rationale of the majority of the board denying the media into the meeting with the mayor. I'm trying to understand … is it because you thought you wouldn't be honest, the mayor wouldn't be honest?” Calhoun said.

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Trilogy offers unique books from a unique family

Trilogy Bookstore

Trilogy, which opened in October in the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates, is more than just a New Age bookstore. The serene, creative space also perfectly reflects the unique family that owns it.

Sean and Havilah Tonkin were married for 10 years and had two children together. But then Sean met Valentin, and the two men have now been married for three years.

When Sean and Valentin Tonkin decided to pursue their dream of opening a business, Havilah and her son moved to Georgia from Ohio to join them. The three parents now own the bookstore together, and live together with their three kids.