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

Aesop’s free Queer Library has arrived in the UK

TextAlex Peters

Londoners, head over to Aesop and celebrate Pride with an LGBTQIA+ book free of charge

London’s Pride parade may have been cancelled for the second year in a row, thanks to COVID restrictions, but that doesn’t mean the celebrations and solidarity can’t continue. 

In support of the LGBTQIA+ community, skincare brand Aesop has devoted two of its London stores to the amplifying of queer voices and stories. Aesop Soho and Aesop Borough have both been cleared of all products and transformed into free queer libraries, filled with titles by LGBTQIA+ authors and allies from the UK and around the world.

The initiative follows in the footsteps of the brand’s US and Canadian stores which launched the Pride campaign back in June across New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. As we saw then, from 5 to 12 September every person who enters one of the London stores 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,” Adam Kakembo, Aesop’s chief marketing officer, said in June. “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.”

To create the library, Aesop asked its retail and office teams across the UK to recommend their favourite queer authors and titles. In support and solidarity with independent queer bookstores, the company then purchased 3,500 volumes from he oldest queer bookstore in the UK, Gay’s The Word. Penguin Random House also donated more than 3000 books. 

Overall, the collection features over 80 titles and has a particular focus on the underrepresented voices of BIPOC and trans authors including Bernardine Evaristo, Mohsin Zaidi, and Shon Faye

While many brands use Pride as an excuse to capitalise on queer identities for profit without offering much to the community in return, Aesop’s campaign uses its platform to uplift and support queer voices, and make a meaningful impact. So go on down to Soho or Borough and pick up some fables!

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