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[Updated] Outwrite Bookstore closes permanently; will not relocate

The bookstore that became an unofficial community center for LGBT Atlanta and also attracted visitors from around the world to its landmark location in the heart of Midtown officially closed today. Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse will not reopen and is filing for bankruptcy.

In an interview Wednesday morning, owner Philip Rafshoon said he knew it was a long shot that the store located at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue would find a place to relocate because of the financial duress the LGBT bookstore has faced over the past five years.

Rafshoon said the hardest part of knowing Atlanta would no longer have an LGBT bookstore like Outwrite was that it leaves a void in the city where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people can come to be safe and gather — and buy books targeted especially to them.

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Outwrite closes its doors at 10th and Piedmont

The last chapter of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse at its 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue is now closed.

The independent LGBT bookstore, located for the last 15 years at its iconic landmark in Midtown, held its "Last Tango" at the store last night featuring authors such as Franklin Abbott, Collin Kelley, Hollis Gillespie, Mose Hardin, Karen Head and Don Perryman.

Owner Philip Rafshoon confirmed the store is closing at its 10th and Piedmont location today. He said he could not say much more at this point. He said at the "Last Tango" event Tuesday night that there is no new location picked out yet. The store is open today and selling all of its infrastructure, including bookshelves, tables and chairs.

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Outwrite plans ‘last tango’ at 10th & Piedmont location

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The last author reading at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse at its 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue location will be Jan. 24 and tentative plans are for the independent bookstore to relocate in mid-February.

"Last Tango at Piedmont & 10th" is the name of the author reading on Jan. 24 hosted by Atlanta poet Franklin Abbott and will be just that — that last night of readings at the store's landmark location.

In November, Outwrite owner Philip Rafshoon announced the bookstore was going to close at the site where it has been located for 15 years in part due to high rent as well as a lackluster economy affecting sales.

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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 woes part of national trend for LGBT bookstores

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While popular with authors and LGBT Atlantans, Outwrite has publicly struggled financially. This morning, the gay bookstore announced it would close at its current location at the corner of 10th and Piedmont and try to relocate. The store's financial problems echo a trend for bookstores around the nation.

A press release from Outwrite owner Philip Rafshoon said he is looking for a new location and noted that the current space, which anchors the corner that is often referred to as the epicenter of gay Atlanta, was just too expensive.

"Our landlord has been extremely cooperative and has worked with us longer than expected. Our departure is amicable," he wrote. "The bottom line is simply we can no longer afford to rent this desirable space regardless of what business model we try to engage."

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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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[Photos] Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce celebrates business leaders

Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce community awards

The Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce filled the ballroom at the W Midtown Hotel on the evening of Friday, Aug. 26, to celebrate the organization and announce the winners of its 2011 Community Awards.

The AGLCC presented Philip Rafshoon, owner of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In remarks accepting the award, Rafshoon acknowledged his mother, who was in attendance, discussed the tough times facing Outwrite and the bookstore industry, and joked about feeling too young to receive a “lifetime” achievement award until he learned that Madonna won one at age 28.

The lifetime achievement award was announced in advance, while winners in the following categories were revealed during the dinner:

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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.