Reading has been one of the most popular pastimes over the past couple of years since COVID-19 hit, providing us with a form of escapism when our threshold for digital content was officially exhausted. But where local Matthew Cornford found there were a number of great bookshops in Manchester to help fulfil the hobby, he also found there was a huge gap in the market for LGBTQ+ literature, finding a major lack of dedicated sections within bookshops and online stores to browse.
From there grew his brainchild, Queer Lit, an online bookstore specialising in LGBTQ+ content that finally came to fruition in September 2020. And there’s nowhere prouder or more perfect for the store to call home but Manchester.
Kicking off with 700 titles and rapidly growing its collection to over 2500, Queer Lit has become a huge success, helping those looking for LGTBQ+ storylines, in particular, find a new world to get lost in. And it couldn’t be easier, either, with Cornford and his team doing the hard work for us and splitting the titles into categories such as LGBTQ+ history, Drag content, bisexual stories, gender stories, coming out stories, and many more. Just like sexuality, their category lists are pretty fluid – breaking down their collection in a variety of ways to help users shop.
Queer Lit hasn’t stopped there either, opening a brick-and-mortar store in Manchester just last year on the Northern Quarter’s Tib Street.
Speaking of the idea behind the store, Cornford said: “Like many people I love a good book and wanted to discover more Queer Literature.
“After heading into a store in Manchester describing itself as ‘the biggest book shop in the north’ I was shocked to be told ‘We don’t have an LGBTQ+ section. You’ll need to go home and search the internet for gay books then come and find it in its relevant category’.
“This just wouldn’t do… and the idea for Queer Lit was born. I didn’t want to just create an online bookstore. I wanted to create an immersive experience with everything Queer Lit.
“Even living in Manchester which has a vibrant gay community sadly there are still people who feel they cannot be open about who they are, or some are still on that journey of discovery, so I wanted to create a welcoming space where people can not only read about issues and characters that reflect their lives and experiences, but discuss it, and be inspired.”
In addition to its book offering, Queer Lit also hosts a blog community on its website, where book lovers can discover new titles to read and where LGBTQ+ book bloggers can even contribute. The website also hosts a ton of LGBTQ+ focused Podcasts, too, providing a one-stop place for content alongside its store.
To find out more and shop, check out Queer Lit here or visit them IRL at 38 Tib Street, M4 1LX.