When Katharine Milon saw Philly Aids Thrift at Giovanni’s Room among picturesque antique stores and small cafes, Milon described finding the LGBTQIA+ bookstore as “serendipitous joy.” After becoming the manager of Giovanni’s Room, Milon now directs the staff with another manager, Christopher Cirillo.
“I had grown up with gay bookstores being like a thing that you went to and a place where you found community and resources and connections,” said Milon.
Located in the Washington Square West and Gayborhood communities, Giovanni’s Room is a section of Philly Aids Thrift that houses records, art, books, DVDs and queer-oriented books. The store contains rare and thrifted books on different levels of its space. Milon described the literature curation process as community-focused and aims to spotlight local writers.
“We have a thing where if people are local, we try to keep that connection with the community, where we say, ‘Give us an email, tell us about your book,’” said Milon. “‘Maybe we can purchase a couple copies for the store.’ And if they sell, then we can keep up that relationship because that’s important to us to remain grounded, not just in the [local] community, but in the Philadelphia community.”
According to reporter Chloe Rabinowitz of Broadway World Pennsylvania, Philly Aids Thrift gave more than $300,000 in grants for 33 HIV/AIDS program organizations in early 2023. While Philly Aids Thrift connects with these organizations, Milon also believed that Giovanni’s Room has a significant impact on individual customers and people who volunteer at the bookstore. With book clubs, monthly genre-themed tables and outdoor celebrations, Giovanni’s Room is planning many exciting events for the upcoming year.
Approaching its 50th anniversary, Giovanni’s Room will be celebrating with an outdoor event on June 10th.
Looking to visit Giovanni’s Room? Visit them at 345 S 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Browse the bookstore’s website to see what’s in the shop.