In DC, gay bookstore closes as same-sex marriage set to become law

Longtime Washington, DC resident Deacon Maccubbin is shutting down his iconic gay bookstore just as gay marriage is almost certain to become law in the US capital, despite the protests of religious groups.

 Washington, D.C. has many recognizable buildings and monuments, but within the US capital, the neighborhood of Dupont Circle has become monumental in itself. It’s where the local Gay Rights Movement began, and is also home to one of the country’s first gay bookstores, Lambda Rising. The store opened in 1974, after a Washington, D.C. resident named Deacon Maccubbin realized there was no place to buy books and magazines aimed at gay men and women. Maccubbin took it upon himself to fill the void.

A year later, Maccubbin and some friends decided to host a Gay Pride block party. From about 2,000 attendees that first year, Washington’s Gay Pride festivities have grown to include about 200,000 participants today.

Now, Maccubbin has decided to retire and close the bookstore. He feels his mission is accomplished now that gay culture has finally gone mainstream.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a general bookstore in the country today that doesn’t have gay books on their shelves,” Maccubbin said. “In many cases it’s in a special gay section. Do they have the stock that we have? No. They don’t have the selection that we have. But they have something.”

The closing of the bookstore comes just a few weeks after the Washington, D.C. city council voted to make gay marriage legal in the District.

But across town, a group is working to build momentum against gay marriage, gay rights and even gay bookstores.

“My question would be: What is a gay bookstore?” said Rev. Patrick Walker. “What’s a gay book and what’s a straight book?”

Walker is with the Missionary Baptists Ministers Conference of DC. His group is working to overturn the gay marriage statute and believes if it goes into effect, it could be opening the door, eventually, to legalizing behavior like polygamy.

“How can you give the rights to two men or two women to get married and you deny one man the right to marry two or three women?” said Walker.

But Maccubbin isn’t worried about what Walker’s group thinks. He said his church recognized his marriage to his partner 28 years ago. He just wants the government to do the same.