The Castro district is about to lose another gay business.
This time it's bookstore A Different Light that is closing. About two months ago, I walked past the once-bustling store and signs were in the windows hawking cheap-ass, bleach-based poppers for sale. Maybe 4 people, practically a crowd for the store, were milling about the place. When this bookstore started selling the amyl, you could just smell that its demise was approaching.
Over the weekend, Scott James at the Bay Citizen delivered the bad news about this shop and the socialist-leaning (that's a compliment) bookstore on Valencia Street shuttering:
The Castro’s A Different Light Bookstore, one of the few remaining LGBT bookstores in the United States, is apparently closing. This comes on the heels of the closure of the Mission's Modern Times, another independent progressive bookstore.
But in recent years the store has struggled financially. Some publishers have complained about the bookstore not paying its bills on time.
A Different Light has been the gathering place for the Bay Area’s gay literati for decades – the company was first established in 1979. Local authors like Armistead Maupin would often pack the store full of eager readers when launching their latest titles.
But in recent years the store has struggled financially. Some publishers have complained about the bookstore not paying its bills on time. ...
Add the soon-to-be-gone gay bookstore to the ever-expanding list of troubled or closed gay institutions over the course of the past year.
New Leaf Mental Health is gone, after decades of helping thousands with depression and addiction. Lyon Martin Clinic almost went under two months ago, is still struggling and needs a bailout from the city.
The SF gay community center last year petitioned the Board of Supervisors for a cash infusion, which it received, to keep the doors open, as they move from a non-profit to a for-profit operation.
Under One Roof, the Castro housewares and knick-knack shop that shares its profits with dozens of local charities, has seriously downsized its payments to the groups.
The SF Pride committee had major fiscal screw ups from the 2010 parade and festival at Civic Center, forcing the inept executive director resign. At the fundraising group Academy of Friends, they've been unable to make full payments to gay and HIV charities that they partner with for their annual Oscars' gala.
The Bay Times, our smaller gay weekly, didn't publish a print edition for three weeks and the editor remained silent about her troubles, showing unwise disrespect to readers and advertisers.
Our beloved Castro theater is closed every Monday and Tuesday night during April, a total of eight nights and the owner told the Examiner that the movie palace is supposedly in good shape financially.
Many financial factors and evolving community dynamics have contributed to the fraying or closing of these entities, including the bad economy and more gay-life needs being met through the web. Where is this change is leading, no one really knows, and yes, I wish to harp on my constant demand for town hall meetings as one way of assessing the changes.
Getting together at open meetings are one solution that could help us see why there is so much trouble among the agencies and businesses, the impact on our social fabric, and what this all means for our future. Sorry to say, I can't recall the last time any gay elected official or business group held a town hall in the Castro to discuss this situation.
Communication could go a long way to help the floundering entities, and the community.