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LGBTQ History in the Capital
Item 5 of 7
Deacon Maccubin founded this LGBTQ bookstore in Dupont Circle. The store and its parent organization, Earthworks, operated in this space until 1977, when the bookstore moved to 2012 S St NW. Lambda Rising was the first non-bar business in the capital to specifically serve the gay community, and in 1975 held the first Gay Pride Day block party. In addition to being a bookstore, Lambda Rising served as a hub for Washington's gay, arts, and leftist communities, and this building was known as "The Community Building." The bookstore operated from 1974 to 2010 at larger locations, eventually operating several satellite bookstores in Maryland and Virginia.

  • Inside the original Lambda Rising bookstore, courtesy of the Rainbow History Project (reproduced under Fair Use)

In 1971, Deacon Maccubin opened EarthWorks, a headshop that also carried LGBTQ books and magazines, at 1724 20th Street NW. EarthWorks was the first non-bar business in the capital that specifically catered to gay customers. By 1974, the business was doing well enough to found Lambda Rising as a separate bookstore business. The bookstore served as a community hub as well. In 1975, the shop hosted the first Gay Pride Day block party in the city, which has now evolved into Capital Pride.

Other gay, leftist, and art organizations also operated on the premises, such as the publications Off Our Backs, the Gay Blade (precursor to the Washington Blade) and the Gay Switchboard; gay youth groups; DC Switchboard; Defense Committee for the Black Panthers; the Youth International Party; the American Society for Theatre Arts; and the Playwright's Theatre. Businesses such as Alternatives, Androgyne, Bread and Roses Music, and Amy Horowitz's Roadwork also operated at the site.

The bookstore moved in May 1977 to a larger location at 2012 S St NW. The bookstore moved again in 1984 to 1625 Connecticut Avenue, where it operated until its closing in 2010. Its legacy continues in Lambda Literary, an organization supporting and awarding LGBTQ authors which arose from Maccubin's Lambda Book Report and Lambda Book Awards founded in the 1980s.

Lambda Literary. Mission and History, About Us. Accessed July 13th 2020. https://www.lambdaliterary.org/history-mission/.

Rainbow History Project. Places in Our History: 1724 20th St NW -- The Community Building [archived web page], Rainbow History Project. 2001. Accessed July 13th 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20070815180534/http://www.rainbowhistory.org/1724.htm.

Schwartzmann, Paul. Lambda Rising, gay bookstore and community center, closing, Washington Post. December 8th 2009. Accessed July 13th 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/07/AR2009120702117.htm

Image Sources(Click to expand)

https://web.archive.org/web/20070815180534/http://www.rainbowhistory.org/1724.htm