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Aesop’s Queer Library
Aesop West 3rd Street, Los AngelesPhotography Kort Havens

Aesop’s free Queer Library is the best Pride campaign yet

TextAlex Peters

The skincare brand’s free book initiative is uplifting and standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community

Now this is how you do a pride campaign. Skincare brand Aesop has cleared all the products out of three of its stores in the US and Canada to set up a free Queer Library. Starting from last Monday and going until this coming Sunday (June 27), Aesop stores in New York (Bleecker Street), Los Angeles (West 3rd Street), and Toronto (Queen Street West), are spotlighting books that elevate the voices and stories of the LGBTQIA+ community around the world. 

This is how it works: every person who enters the store will be able to take home one book of their choice, completely free with no purchase required, because, as Aesop says, the initiative is a celebration not a profitable endeavor. “We are not simply changing our logo or launching a Pride-themed collection,” says Adam Kakembo, Aesop’s chief marketing officer. “This multi-layer gesture of generosity is aimed at supporting our LGBTQIA+ staff, customers, independent queer-owned books stores and the communities within these three cities.” 

When it came to composing the selection of books on offer, Aesop asked its retail and office teams across North America to recommend their favourite queer queer authors and titles. The company then purchased over 3,000 volumes from Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto – the longest surviving LGBTQIA+ bookstore worldwide – and Women & Children First in Chicago, as a way of showing support and solidarity with independent queer bookstores. Penguin Random House also contributed, donating 2,350 books by authors including Bryan Washington and Ocean Vuong.

Overall, the collection features over 150 titles spanning fiction, non-fiction and poetry, with an emphasis on BIPOC authors and on the trans community including work from authors Akwaeke Emezi, Brandon Taylor, and Samantha Irby. With so many brands these days capitalising on queer identities for profit without offering much to the community in return, Aesop’s campaign is a welcome change. By using its platform to uplift and support queer voices and stories Aesop is making a meaningful impact and being a true ally. So go on down to Aesop and pick up some fables!

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