Epilogue bookstore and coffee shop opens free queer literature library

Epilogue Coffee Shop offers more than just macchiatos and mochas at its Chapel Hill location. The store has launched a free queer library of accessible literature for LGBTQ youth.

This Latino-Owned Queer Indie Cafe Doubles as a Bookstore Most recently, it opened Reading Rainbows, a free queer bookstall.

Gaby Lori is a 2021 UNC graduate and Events Coordinator for Epilogue. After hearing about another bookstore offering a free queer library, she said she was inspired to bring her own library to Epilogue.

“I was like, ‘There’s no reason we can’t do this. This is awesome,'” she said.

To make the show, Lori said, she repurposed a carousel that previously featured young adult books for Reading Rainbows.

People can donate to the booth on Epilogue’s website. They can buy young adult, middle grade or non-fiction queer books that Epilogue staff showcases, Lori said. Customers can also buy a book to donate in-store by letting associates know the book is for Reading Rainbows at checkout.

“The idea is that queer youth, or anyone who wants a free queer book, can pick it up,” she describes.

Lori says being able to provide young people with accessible queer literature is important to her, especially since many LGBTQ books are banned from public schools.

“I’m a Southern lesbian,” she said. “I figured if I had access to a lot of the same games, I probably wouldn’t have waited until college to come out. I wanted to make it a weird, safe space in a lot of ways.”

The booth quickly became the talk of the Epilogue.

“I’ve seen young people take books off the shelves,” Lowry said, “and they sometimes look a little shy. Sometimes they ask questions. But everyone who donates a book can rest assured that it will go to someone who needs it.” people.”

Epilogue manager Terrance Hudson said they believe queer teens should be allowed to see themselves represented in as much media as possible. Hudson added that making queer books available for free is one of the best ways to do that.

“It’s a really nice thing to have in the community — a small free library that you can pick from without fear of judgment,” they said.

Hudson said Reading Rainbows has received strong and positive feedback from the community.

“We had queer teens who would say, ‘Wow, I’ve never read a book that represents me before.’ Some parents would ask, ‘Can I bring one of these for my kid?’ We’d Like, ‘Yes, absolutely. Please do.’

Julia Baddley, a senior at UNC, is a frequent sponsor of Epilogue. When she saw the booth, she said she was impressed by the store’s efforts to uplift the LGBTQ community by offering free books.

“As a queer person, I really love that Epilogue is able to showcase all these different types of books that are sometimes banned or unavailable in other areas, such as education in our country.”

Baddeley said she loves how Epilogue uses literature to help people understand different identities—even themselves.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published and aired through the Carolina Connection program at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

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