Semester of Graduation
Master of Arts (MA)
Looking specifically at the South’s first gay bookstore, Faubourg Marigny (FM) Books, this thesis will connect the existence of gay literature and space as impetuses of gay community identity within New Orleans. It will use the political, social, and cultural histories of the 1970s through the 2010s to contextualize the gay bookstore as a microcosm of its time and location. In doing so, it will examine how FM Books’ New Orleans location affected its function and its relationship with its community. It will also analyze how the bookstore fit into the city’s history of social tradition and aversion to flagrant activism while examining how these aspects worked together to forge a New Orleans-specific gay identity.
The store was a microcosm of the inherent complexities of New Orleans’s gay community and its unique identity formation. It is impossible to understand New Orleans’s gay community without interrogating its spaces, and no space more clearly demonstrates the shifting realities and priorities of gay New Orleanians than their bookstore. Over the span of four decades, New Orleans’s first and only little gay bookshop had three owners and two names. Its proprietors were a former priest, a fervent activist, and a former businessman turned neighborhood eccentric, all of whom shaped, and were shaped by, the city’s gay population and the shifting landscape of their neighborhood. These men were the cornerstones of the store, and this thesis is organized around their ownerships. FM Books may have been a single link in a chain of gay bookstores that appeared throughout the nation during the 1970s, but it was anything but uniform. New Orleans is often dubbed a “city like no other,” a designation that equally applies to its gay community, and FM Books was nothing if not a product of its geography. While none of the store’s owners were native New Orleanians, the store was a microcosm of gay community development within the city as its most visible cultural institution.
Spencer, Katelyn N., "Setting Up Shop Down South: Gay Visibility and Identity Formation at a New Orleans Bookstore" (2022). LSU Master's Theses. 5671.
Catherine O Jacquet
Available for download on Friday, October 30, 2026