A Different Light San Francisco Closing Its Doors

By: Joe Thompson
4.25.2011

A Different Light Bookstore in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood is finally closing its doors.

According to SF Gate, business partners Norman Laurila and George Leight named the stores after a gay science fiction novel by San Francisco author Elizabeth Lynn. The original A Different Light opened in the Silver Lake District of Los Angeles in 1979. Laurila's life partner, Richard Labonte, took over as manager in Los Angeles when Laurila moved to New York to open the Greenwich Village store in 1983. The Castro store opened in 1985 and Labonte became store manager there in 1986. "We preferred to call it a 'bracelet,' " says Labonte in the article. "The word 'chain' sounds so Barnes and Noble."

Over the years both the New York and Los Angeles—which had since moved to West Hollywood—locations closed, but the Castro location remained open because it was much more a part of San Francisco's LGBT community. Locals and visitors would consistently drop in to browse the shelves. They sold "just about any form of work on paper, either for sale or giveaway" so visitors knew they would find some interesting, cutting edge material alongside mainstream releases. They also hosted art shows and reading groups, at one time ACT UP meetings were held in the backyard, and if you were a gay author ADL's San Francisco location was a must-hit for getting your book on everyone's radar.

As Labonte says, "...the store was very much about the community in addition to selling books."

Sadly, with most readers now finding and/or purchasing their material online, A Different Light had difficulty keeping up with the times. Everything in the store is for sale, and sources predict the doors will be shut this week.

Read the whole story here.

DIFFLIGHTSFX390 A Different Light Bookstore in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood is finally closing its doors.

According to SF Gate, business partners Norman Laurila and George Leight named the stores after a gay science fiction novel by San Francisco author Elizabeth Lynn. The original A Different Light opened in the Silver Lake District of Los Angeles in 1979. Laurila's life partner, Richard Labonte, took over as manager in Los Angeles when Laurila moved to New York to open the Greenwich Village store in 1983. The Castro store opened in 1985 and Labonte became store manager there in 1986. "We preferred to call it a 'bracelet,' " says Labonte in the article. "The word 'chain' sounds so Barnes and Noble."

Over the years both the New York and Los Angeles—which had since moved to West Hollywood—locations closed, but the Castro location remained open because it was muchADifferentLight more a part of San Francisco's LGBT community. Locals and visitors would consistently drop in to browse the shelves. They sold "just about any form of work on paper, either for sale or giveaway" so visitors knew they would find some interesting, cutting edge material alongside mainstream releases. They also hosted art shows and reading groups, at one time ACT UP meetings were held in the backyard, and if you were a gay author ADL's San Francisco location was a must-hit for getting your book on everyone's radar.

As Labonte says, "...the store was very much about the community in addition to selling books."

Sadly, with most readers now finding and/or purchasing their material online, A Different Light had difficulty keeping up with the times. Everything in the store is for sale, and sources predict the doors will be shut this week.

Read the whole story here.

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