Proud Bookstore, one of the last remaining LGBT bookstores in the U.S. is closing April 17, according to its owner, Jocques LeClair.
LeClair, who has operated the popular store since 2007, shortly after the closing of Lambda Rising’s Rehoboth store, where he served as manager, is moving back to his original hometown of Gettysburg, Pa., to be close to his children and grandchildren. Lambda Rising had its main store on Connecticut Avenue in D.C. for many years.
He felt that his store was a welcoming place and that he “helped a lot of questioning youth and helped their parents understand more about LGBT issues.” According to LeClair, “Proud provided a safe haven for young LGBT people
The store also provided a venue for local artists to sell their work, and he provided opportunities for many local and some national authors to promote their books. Richard Barnett, a local author who had readings of his books at Proud, said, “Jocques was always willing to lend a hand and help gay authors promote their work. As a gay writer, I always felt Proud was sort of a home, a living link to our LGBT history, and an asset to Rehoboth. We’ll miss him.”
Another local author, Fay Jacobs, commented that, “Proud Books has been so important to residents and visitors, not to mention their support for me and other local writers.”
Although LeClair hoped he could sell his business to another party interested in selling LGBT items as has been done in Rehoboth since the late ‘80s, both he and Jacobs acknowledge that despite Rehoboth Beach being a destination for LGBT individuals the need for specific LGBT venues has diminished. Proud’s closure follows the recent closing of the Double L gay bar in Rehoboth.
Jacobs, however, predicted that Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue, which has hosted book signings for LGBT authors for years, would increase its offerings of LGBT books.