Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Adieu, Oscar Wilde

On March 29, 2009, our nation's oldest gay bookstore will close its doors due to the ailing economy. The news article and a statement from current owner Kim Brinster comes via The New York Times City Room blog.

This past October, I made a special effort to visit The Oscar Wilde Bookshop in Greenwich Village where I bought an out-of-print art book. I had searched everywhere online before coming here and even once when I placed an order-the retailer later refunded me when they realized it was out of stock. I kicked myself for not buying it when I first came across it in the Castro District in San Francisco over a year ago. The owner and her partner both help in the operations of Oscar Wilde and it probably was Kim who sold me my prize after my long quest to re-find the art collection.

I've said it before, but it's incredible to think about all the history that has gone on in just a few blocks in New York-something one might say about any neighborhood in New York. Just down the street from Oscar Wilde is The Stonewall Inn, the location of the Stonewall riots that took place in 1969-which The Oscar Wilde predates by two years-when police raided the establishment, a sobering reminder of where we were then vs. today and how far the gay community has yet to go. This winter, Milk, too gave us a glimpse of the tumultous journey individuals and communities have embarked upon for the benefit of simple human rights, never able to fully grasp the long-lasting implications of their struggles.

Even if I was there for just one afternoon, I'm glad to have experienced the legacy, landmark and refuge that is The Oscar Wilde Bookshop. And I'll always have the book I had to go all the way across the country to get on my shelf.

Kim's full letter appears here on the bookstore's website with the quote:

"There is no truth comparable to Sorrow.
There are times when Sorrow seems to me to be the only truth."
-Oscar Wilde

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