Question about the Books-A-Million chain and homosexuality

(This is in the Pit because it’s also kind of a rant.)

So, my mother is the proud parent of a gay son. She belongs to PFLAG and is actually on the board of the chapter they’ve got out in the Chicago suburbs. Every month she faithfully goes out and buys and issue of The Advocate so that she’s caught up on some of the issues.

She related this story to me: Over the weekend, she went to a Books-A-Million (“BAM!”) store in Hinsdale, IL and couldn’t find the current issue of the magazine. She went up to the counter and asked one of the workers where it was, and he informed her that they didn’t carry it. Apparently he leaned in closer and quietly said that while he didn’t have a problem with the magazine, “the company” was a Southern company with “Southern values”.

My mother didn’t stay to debate this point, because she decided she didn’t need to patronize that store and she walked out. She was, in her words, “pretty steamed” and decided that she was going to bring this matter to the attention of her PFLAG chapter and was also going to draft a letter to the Books-A-Million corporate office.

When I heard her story I did some searching. The Advocate is available from Books-A-Million online, and I didn’t find anything on Google or Snopes that said anything about the chain’s take on homosexuality. There’s a Books-A-Million here downtown, and I was thinking about running by there and seeing if they carry it.

I wanted to see if any Dopers knew anything about it, especially since this really has the potential to be one of those circulating e-mails that says, “boycott Books-A-Million!!!” and later turns up thoroughly debunked on Snopes or something. If there’s anything my mom sends to the company, I want to make sure the facts are straight.

The Books-A-Million here in Greenville, South Carolina carries tons of gay publications, including The Advocate. So I don’t think so.

The Books-A-Million in Dupont Circle has the Advocate, as well as a “Gay and Lesbian Interest” section. It also carries copies of the Washington Blade, DC’s weekly gay newspaper. And I don’t think an actively anti-gay company would have a store in Dupont Circle…

Can’t really help you with your research, but I would like to say this: Your mother rocks!

God bless her strength of convictions and love for her son. On a slight hijack, I’ve got a friend who recently came out, and who’s mother is just about on the opposite end of the spectrum from yours. She’s almost disowned him. Does PFLAG have a support group or network of parents who help counsel those who are having some difficulties dealing with their child’s sexuality?

This is all contingent on his mother wanting to go to a PFLAG meeting.

Mine would not. Nor would she read anything about it.

She instead chose to be a martyr that sent me Focus on the Family articles and Exodus brochures.


I disowned her.

Hopefully your friend will fare better.

Rule #1: Never take a bottom rung employee’s word on the stance of a corporation.

It’s on their online store, so obviously it’s not true, so tell your mother to chill out before she embarasses herslef.

leander: hey, thanks on behalf of my mom for the kind words. She’s still pretty angry, so I’ll forward them on as a little encouragement.

As for the “network of parents / supporters” thing, one doesn’t have to go to a meeting, necessarily. There’s a hotline you can call. I don’t know if all chapters of PFLAG have them, but my mom was running the one for her chapter for a while. It’s for parents who are having a hard time as well as for the people who are coming to grips with their own sexuality themselves.

Based on the info so far, I’m wondering if it can be concluded that it’s not a company-wide policy to not carry gay literature, and is just the policy of this one store. That in mind, I’m confused - can a group of individuals who work at a national chain bookstore really selectively not carry certain items? I didn’t know that it could be at their discretion. Maybe they could stock additional materials at an area where a large subset of people would shop, but can they really NOT carry certain things and implicate the company in that decision?

Maybe they do carry it but not where it can be seen. I think I’ve seen posts around here about employees of other stores hiding materials which they find objectionable.

Mockingbird - sorry to hear about your predicament. That sucks. I’m afraid my friend may be headed down the same path. As it is right now, he’s pretty tortured about, and she’s pretty miserable. It doesn’t help that she’s also fighting cancer. And at one point, they were incredibly close.

I just hate seeing him suffer so much.

Barrytown - thanks for the info. I’ll pass it along to him. Unfortunately, I’m not sure she’ll do anything about it. She seems pretty set in her ways. Still, babysteps…

Never heard of that book chain, and I live in the south. Maybe not “deep” south. What I notice about bookstore chains, such as Barnes and Noble, or Borders, is that the closer to downtown, the more likely they have such publications. Even the Houston Press, the local weekly owned by the Pheonix Forward Times, like almost all other weekly rags in the U.S., the farther away from Downtown, the less likely you are to find it. I would like to go down to Sugarland (Tom Delay land) and see if any of the bookstores there have them. Actually, I have no reason anymore to go to Sugarland.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just that particular location using that as an excuse. Hinsdale is extremely conservative.

Former Books-a-Million manager here. I managed a store in a place as Southern as it is possible to be - Montgomery, Alabama - and I never heard the first hint of an anti-gay company policy. BAM is based out of Birmingham, Alabama. They never seemed to shy away from gay/lesbian books in the Relationships section, although I can’t honestly remember if they ever stocked the Advocate.

Of course, they ended up firing me because I was not committed enough to the 70-hour-a-week, no-overtime, $18,000 per year lifestyle they had me on and became embittered and irritable.

Not my happiest time, to be honest. I was a bit of a damaged, emotionally unreliable drunkard, and the company was an employee-unfriendly hellhole on par with Wal-Mart. Had a higher turnover than a revolving door. Nasty, nasty place to work.

But not anti-gay, as far as I could tell. Hope this helps. :slight_smile:

Now, beause I started thinking about those evil times, I need a drink.

Tell her to check out the B-a-M on Butterfield in Lombard, they might have it.

I suspect a branch manager enforcing his/her own morality at his employer’s expense.

But that’s just me.

The bigger problem was rooting out where the teenagers would choose to cleverly hide their surreptitiously opened porn mags. Would it be a Playboy in Self Help? Penthouse in Business, behind the Suze Orman? Or would it be Hustler (yes, Hustler) in the ever popular dumping ground, the Computer section?

Actually, the most effective turned out to be above the ceiling tiles in the men’s room. There were mags going back for years. It was incredible.

Ah, the stories I could tell.

I kind of doubt that any company that would go to the trouble to specifically include “sexual orientation” as a point of non-discrimination in their hiring policies and code of corporate ethics are crypto-homophobes. I suspect your Mom was being mis-informed or played by the clerk, and that there would be serious hell to pay if she wrote a letter to corporate about this.

Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (PDF format)

A gay newsmagazine is objectionable? A glossy newsmagazine no different in look than Time or Newsweek is objectionable?


I’m still trying to wrap my head around a Chicagoland bookstore that has any straight male employees. :confused: C’mon, boys, let’s not be such walking cliches! :rolleyes:

The BAM on Butterfield will probably be a better choice but both B&N and Borders by Oakbrook will probably more likely considering the number of gay publications I have to wade through to find a monster truck magazine so I can flaunt my heterosexuality while drinking overpriced coffee. :smiley:

And interface2x, that store’s in Downers Grove, not Lombard. In a brilliant business move the Lombard village fathers thought Yorktown was enough commercial tax base so Downers annexed EVERY other bit of land around there before anybody built the strip malls, the factories, and the office buildings. Whenever I pay my Lombard taxes I bless the foresight of those solons. :smack:

Well, except that it’s a GAY newsmagazine, and everyone knows about the Evil Gay Agenda to pervert marriages, turn your children gay, and bring down the wrath of god upon this, our good Christian nation.



Don’t forget that they will wreck my marriage and make me marry my dogs. All of them. And my refrigerator, too.