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Aesop queer library pride LGBTQ books
Photography Ollie Thomlinson for Aesop

Aesop’s gay book giveaway is back

Celebrate Pride by picking up a free LGBTQ+ book from Aesop’s Queer Library in Soho

Books are powerful tools, transformative in their power to broaden minds, share the experiences of people you might never come across otherwise, and open up your eyes to the possibilities of the world. It is these beliefs that are foundational to Aesop’s annual pride initiative – the Queer Library. Returning to London for a third year in a row, Aesop’s Queer Library sees the skincare brand clear the products from selected stores around the world and fill the shelves instead with books by LGBTQ+ authors and allies.

In the UK, starting from June 29 until July 2, visitors can head down to Aesop’s Soho store on Lexington Street in London where they will find queer books with a focus on texts once forgotten amid cultural shifts and evolving prejudices. The books will be completely free with no purchase required, because, as Aesop says, the initiative is a celebration not a profitable endeavour.

Once again, the brand has purchased the books from legendary London queer bookstore Gay’s the Word, as well as three new partners: Pilot Press, a non-profit imprint specialising in contemporary and historic queer art and writing; Fourteen Poems, a London-based triannual queer poetry journal; and Cipher Press, an independent publisher of fiction and non-fiction by queer and trans-identifying writers.

“We unfortunately still live in a society where the LGBTQIA2S+ community experiences unprecedented levels of discrimination, oppression and violence,” Nelson Derry, Aesop’s head of culture, diversity, equity and inclusion, told Dazed last year. “There also continues to be a rise in hate crimes and anti-trans legislation, and therefore we have chosen to amplify BIPOC trans voices within the LGBTQ+ community in solidarity, recognising that those of colour and trans face compounded adversities as they navigate multiple layers of oppression.”

This year, Aesop has also extended the library to the digital realm through a collaboration with A Vibe Called Tech. Excerpts from two of the historical queer texts featured in the library will be available to read online: A Place for Us by Isabel Miller (1969) which tells a tender story of a lesbian relationship set in early 19th-century New England; and Escape to an Autumn Pavement by Andew Salkey (1960) which explores sexuality in Caribbean culture against the backdrop of a changing London.

Amid a growing boycotting campaign by the American right against any company that aligns itself with LGBTQ+ people, it’s important that brands step up, show up and support the community this Pride season, and all year around.