About Us

More than a just bookshop...


Gay's The Word is the UK's oldest LGBT bookshop and a touchstone for the broader LGBT community. The bookshop was set up in January 1979 by a group of gay socialists as a community space where all profits were funnelled back into the business. This ethos continues today with shelves bursting with books and the space used for book and community events, all stewarded by five members of staff: Jim, Uli, Erica, Brooke and Jem. Across the website, we have included details about our history, features in print, radio, and film, photographs and recordings from past events and our new online shop.

Our Booksellers


Jim MacSweeney

Jim is the manager of the bookshop, working here since 1989. 

He has been a voracious reader since he was a child, and now enjoys reading history, fiction, memoir, and biography.


Uli Lenart

Uli is the deputy manager. He loves literary fiction, literary non-fiction, and vintage homosexual smut. He is also a book reviewer, literary event coordinator, and author interviewer.


Erica Gillingham

Erica is a bookseller, writer, and poet with a PhD in lesbian love stories in young adult literature. She's always keen to read the latest in poetry, short stories, novellas, and graphic novels.  


Brooke Palmieri

Brooke is a writer, printer, and educator. When they're not at Gay's the Word they run Camp Books (@camp.books), a platform for widening access to gender non-conforming history, art, and activism through zines, prints, and workshops.

Jem staff pic_edited.jpg

Jem Nash

Jem is a bookseller and writer who can usually be found with a cup of tea in one hand and a novel in the other. He'll happily read across any & all genres but has a passion for science fiction & trans writing.


"It's not just a bookshop, but the hub and affirmation of a whole community."

—  Sarah Waters, author



Website creation: Erica Gillingham

Staff/Bookshop photos: Vera Jacquet