The North Recommends: The Queerish Bookshop

The Queerish Bookshop opened in October 2023 to create a dedicated space for the LGBTQ+ community in Darlington. We asked its founder, Megan Hemsley, to tell us about how the bookshop came about and what she hopes it will achieve – as well as some exciting upcoming book club events!

The Queerish Bookshop was created out of necessity for a queer space in Darlington.

It started out as a dream in 2022, something I thought would be cool but I would never, ever do (right?). Then at the start of 2023, I designed a logo (but definitely wasn’t going to use it), took a wander around town to look at all the vacant spaces (just for fun!), and then all of a sudden I was getting the keys to my shop, painting it bright pink, and organising books on shelves.

I was possessed by my passion to help cultivate the queer community in Darlington and the North East of England. Like many towns across the country, there are few queer events, and zero dedicated spaces where LGBTQ+ folks and allies could go to connect with one another. The bookshop was created to fill this gap, and also to prove a point: queer people are everywhere, and we deserve to take up space in towns, not just cities.

Since opening in October 2023, we’ve hosted The Queerish Book Club every month which specialises in, you guessed it, LGBTQ+/queer literature. We’re currently reading All About Love by bell hooks which is our first non-fiction read for the club and is a book I utterly adore!

In it, hooks explores society’s failure in teaching us how to love, and offers a proactive new ethic for our polarised culture by showing the interconnectedness of love and its power in uniting us. It’s absolutely an essential read, and if you’d like to join the club all you have to do is pick up a copy in store or online, then pop on down to The Queerish Bookshop (39a Bondgate, Darlington, DL3 7JJ) on Monday 25 March at 7pm to discuss.

Alongside this, I’m currently establishing a Young Adult Book Club at the Tees Valley YMCA in Darlington for those aged 12-18 years old, creating a virtual book club for those who can’t/are unable to attend the in-person events, setting up a writing club, building a second-hand book section, and so much more! To stay up to date on all the cool new developments, you can subscribe to our newsletter, The Queerish Agenda, via our website. (It’s like The Gay Agenda™️, but better.)

I can’t wait to see how the community in my hometown grows and connects as a result of the bookshop. I can already see it nurturing the roots grown years ago by our queer elders and ancestors, how it’s allowing new buds to sprout, and shining a much-needed nourishing light that our oppressors will never be able to snuff out. We may just seem like a bookshop, but we are so much more than that.


Find out more about Queerish