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Gay's The Word is the only specifically bookstore in the UK. It is located in . 2016 marks the 37th anniversary of the founding of the store, which first opened its doors on 17 January 1979. Inspired by the emergence and growth of lesbian and gay bookstores in the States, a small group of people from Gay Icebreakers, a gay founded the store in 1979. Various locations were looked at including which was then being regenerated before they decided to open the store in Marchmont Street. Initial reluctance from to grant a lease to the bookstore was overcome with help from , then a Camden councillor, later .

When the shop was founded 35 years ago, gay books weren't generally available in ordinary bookstores. The early newsletters listed the few radical bookstores in the country where gay books were available and had an excellent and pioneering service. The gay movement at this period in the was particularly vibrant and stimulated an immense amount of literature with many small being established. Gay's The Word had to import a large part of its stock from the US as not enough gay books were published in the UK. Lesbian and gay publishing houses which were later established in the UK include Gay Men's Press, Brilliance Books, and Third House.

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