A few weeks ago, I announced I had sold my marketing business. Towards the end of that same announcement, I made it known my “next adventure” would be opening up a bookstore. Or at the very least, start with a mobile bookstore and build up from there. Fast forward to the morning of September 14th, 2022, I feel the least amount of confidence getting started in the aforementioned adventure.
Well, the publishing industry kind of changed. And in certain cases, not for the better. However, an author friend assured me that now is the perfect time for building the mobile bookstore; “fill in the gaps” sort of speak. Those gaps come in the form of the publishing industry promising more diversity, and more inclusion. But, years later, there’s still a wide gap in representation. Does this coincide with book bans taking place in almost half of the states?
Arizona, my home state, unfortunately, has a history of book bans. That has also included the Latinx community as well. In recent years, ironically enough, these book bans fall in line with some of the least educated politicians.
“Christian” advocacy group, Family Watch International, is well known for its stances on homosexuality and anti-sex education views. And unfortunately, lobby against measures spreading awareness for children 10 and older. Thankfully, though, the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated Family Watch International as a hate group due to its vehemently anti-LGBTQIA+ views.
What does all of this have to do with opening my own independent bookstore?
According to the latest census data, the majority populace identifies as “conservative republican.” From that same fact, and given that party’s anti-LGBTQIA+ history, up to and including hateful rhetoric and book bans, I am much less confident in spending the time, effort, and finances, on building a bookstore where all are welcome regardless of background. I’ll be a target. Now, I must ask myself, “Am I willing to make myself an open target?”. Truth be told, I’m relatively used to being a target for hate.
In 2009, when I left the military, there was still plenty of hate. It wouldn’t be another nine years until I officially came out as bisexual. And another four years before coming out as genderfluid. Let’s not forget disabilities, too. At least these hate groups have a variety to work with, am I right (sarcasm)?
What does it say about me if I am afraid of opening a bookstore/cafe? Am I letting these hate groups, conservatives, and repugnicant’s win by not creating a safe space while following my life’s passion? Maybe. Maybe not. Because this goes beyond book bans and (mostly) empty threats. These same people wish for the erasure of my and my communities existence. It’s only logical keeping up with my life’s passion is a huge middle finger to their faces, right?
Or am I pouring gasoline on a lit fuse?