Meet the regulars of Scotland’s queer bookshop…

BY DANIELLE MUSTARDE, IMAGES BY PAUL REICH

Located in the south side of Glasgow, Category Is is a brand spankin’ new, “fiercely independent” queer bookshop – and we’re a little bit in love with it. 

The literary lovechild of dyke-wife double act Charlotte and Fionn Duffy-Scott, the two opened the shop in order to “create a space for the LGBTQIA+ community and allies to learn about, be inspired by and share in their love of queer history, culture, writing and storytelling.” 

As London’s well-established Gay’s The Word bookshop celebrates its 40th year (grab a copy of our February issue if you missed that), how wonderful it is to see a fellow queer bookshop at the other end of the UK celebrating its first. Here we meet just a few of the regulars who’ve already come to call Category Is home…

ON THE REG

SOPHIE SEXON, 31, PHD RESEARCHER/DRAG KING

Favourite book on the Category Is shelves: CN Lester’s Trans Like Me and/or Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele

Category Is has brought something wonderfully unique to our queer-friendly city. Charlotte and Fi really care about the books, zines, comics, badges and everything else that they sell – you can really tell that the shop is a pursuit of passion for both of them. I love the variety; not only is there the best queer fiction but you can find all sorts of texts from academic books to cookery books. Cooking With Bears is a favourite!

Both Charlotte and Fi have made the space a comfortable place to meet others and their lovely dog, Moo, is often there to greet you when you walk in! They run a lot of nights; everything from poetry to queer barbering to a peer-to-peer support group for survivors of sexual violence. On top of that, they have a great personal rapport with the customers and authors that come in. I love that there are quotes from queer idols like Judith Butler and Sasha Velour painted on the colourful walls and that they sell Tom Of Finland cushions. 

A queer bookshop run by a lesbian power couple is exactly the kind of thing that you want Glasgow to be known for. They’re conscientious, engaged and overtly make sure the shop reaches out to the local community with greetings saying, “All welcome” painted in different languages on their door next to a big sign that reads, “Trans rights are human rights.” 

It’s one of my favourite places to hang out in Glasgow and I sincerely hope it continues to grow.

AB SILVERA, 35, COMEDIAN/SUPPORT WORKER/SUBTITLER

Favourite book on the Category Is shelves: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

I moved to Glasgow’s southside, near Queen’s Park, over five years ago now. At that time, it wasn’t “the queer neighbourhood” – just somewhere with good food, fellow migrants and rent I could afford. In the intervening years, it’s grown into to what a friend of mine has christened “Queers Park”. 

The shitty thing about living in queer communities for over a decade? You get used to disappointment. I was cynical when Category Is opened – I’m cynical about a lot of things these day. But now the place most of us just call “the bookshop” is practically my second home. It’s where I go meet friends and lovers. Where projects are constantly born and re-born, writings shared and lessons learned. And if you’re not feeling that culturally inclined, there’s always the personal columns, coffee on the pot and a delightful couple of charming wives (plus dog) to hang out with. 

When I have low days, which happens frequently in this late-capitalist-Brexit-hellscape we sadly inhabit, I know I can swing by with a packet of biscuits and have a quick catch up with Fi and Charlotte. Maybe we’ll recommend a book, magazine or a movie to each other or make each other laugh. 

That’s not just a shop, that’s a fucking home. That’s community.

MINA BAIRD, 24, TAROT READER/QUEEN OF CUPS TAROT 

Favourite book on the Category Is shelves: To My Trans Sisters edited by Charlie Craggs

When I had my interview for my current day job working on digital marketing at a charity, one of my tasks was to write a sample social media post about one of my favourite places in Glasgow. I chose Category Is.

Since it’s opened, the bookshop has been such a fantastic space for the local queer community – the southside of Glasgow has probably the most thriving one in the city. It’s a real hub for queer folks to come together, have tea, read books and chat. It’s so important to have community spaces for the queer community that aren’t based around alcohol and clubbing. Category Is has done such a fantastic job of helping fulfil that need.

Plus, the owners of the shop – the wonderful Fi and Charlotte – recognise the importance of offering the space to members of the community. I have done tarot readings in the bookshop but others have run poetry workshops, haircut drop-ins, book clubs, sexual violence support groups and more.

I’ve had so many wonderful experiences in the bookshop already, but the one that really stands out was Christmas Day last year. On a day that is difficult for so many in the community, Fi and Charlotte opened the bookshop for members of the community to enjoy each other’s company with food, board games and a film.

In the short time it’s been open, Category Is has made such a huge difference to so many in the local community and I look forward to seeing this continue well into the future.

Want more? Visit categoryisbooks.com, follow them @categoryisbooks or find them IRL at 34 Allison Street, Glasgow

This article first appeared in the March 2019 issue of DIVA – grab your digital copy right here!

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