Lavender Menace returns for Edinburgh Pride
- Megan Wallace
- 20 June 2019
Sigrid Neilson and the Lighthouse's Mairi Oliver discuss the return of Scotland's first LGBTQIA+ bookshop and queer spaces as they are today
June is in full swing once more, meaning that Pride parades are taking place from San Francisco to Sao Paulo. For the LGBTQIA+ community it's a time of celebration but also of reflection: rejoicing at the advances that have been made in recent years but also casting an eye back to the event's radical beginnings and queer struggles throughout history.
Edinburgh's Lighthouse is no exception, with the radical bookshop choosing to revive Scotland's first LGBTQIA+ bookshop from Friday 21 to Friday 28 June. Emerging in 1982 alongside a flourishing of LGBTQIA+ underground publishing from the likes of Gay Men's Press, the Women's Press and Brilliance Books, Lavender Menace served as important hub for resource sharing and networking.
To commemorate the earlier bookshop's achievements, Lighthouse will transform itself with a range of titles specially curated by Lavender Menace founders Sigrid Neilson and Bob Orr, alongside a range of events including Our Queer History in Cartoons with illustrator Kate Charlesworth, Reading the Rainbow: The LGBTQ Books That Shaped Us and SAY IT LOUD, a banner-making session before Edinburgh Pride on Saturday 22 June. Ahead of the unveiling of Lavender Menace Returns, The List sits down with Neilson and Lighthouse owner Mairi Oliver to talk alternative queer spaces, the corporatisation of Pride Month and queer literary heroes.
The decision to bring Lavender Menace back to life was partly motivated by the success of James Ley's 2017 sell-out Royal Lyceum show Love Song to Lavender Menace. The play was instrumental in demonstrating the shop's significance, as well as the wider value of alternative LGBTQIA+ spaces, where queer people can 'be ourselves and don't have to explain ourselves.' As Neilson comments: 'James [Ley's] interviews with former customers [informing the play] showed how important the shop was to people. Some said they had met partners in the shop or that they had been motivated to reach out to other LGBT people just because of the shop's presence.'