Hometown Bookstore is A Haven for Marginalized Authors

Exploring diversity and inclusivity in the literary landscape.

(Olena Yakobchuk/ Shutterstock.com)

In the heart of the Indianapolis community lies a treasure trove of literary diversity, a haven for book lovers and a champion of marginalized voices. Loudmouth Books, a queer, Black, woman-owned independent bookstore and community space that uplifts banned books, has emerged as a beacon of inclusivity, proudly showcasing the works of authors often overlooked by mainstream literature, according to Esquire.

Freedom and inclusivity in the literary landscape
Loudmouth Books was opened in September 2023 by author Leah Johnson and was very well received by the local community. The Indystar reports that the bookstore will highlight books that have been banned by government and school systems, and books written by and for Black, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized people.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Leah Johnson. (@byleahjohnson)

“We're trying to build something here that's sustainable, whether it's sustainable here at Loudmouth or sustainable industry wide,” Johnson told Esquire, adding, “My interests are in making it possible for queer, BIPOC authors to continue to do this work and do it in a way that offers them some measure of freedom, of stability—the same way we have offered that to cis, straight white folks for decades.”

Loudmouth Books focuses on the belief that book bans of queer books or black books are never just about the books themselves, but rather they are an attempt to remove queer people or black people from public life. But Johsnon believes there is no way to get rid of queer stories or black stories that have been passed down through the generations by communities who depended on the oral storytelling tradition. 

Community-based empowerment
“One of the things that was a driving force for me when I decided to open a bookstore was modeling some of our programming after other community-oriented bookstores that had appealed to similar communities. We’re taking the air out of capitalism. We're giving the power back into the hands of the people we do this for, and saying, yes, books are a luxury item, but that does not mean that they should be prohibitively expensive. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't be accessible to you. That was a huge inspiration for me,” Johnson explained to Esquire. 

In a world that is increasingly recognizing the importance of diverse narratives, Loudmouth  Books stands as a testament to the impact a community-driven initiative can have. It is not merely a business; it is a movement, reminding us that literature has the power to unite, educate, and inspire when we make space for all voices to be heard.

“For me, Loudmouth is and always will be an assertion that no matter how hard you try to eliminate us, no matter how hard you try to silence us, we're not going anywhere, because we've always been here and we always will be here,” Johnson stated. 

This Traveling Woman has a Bookstore on Wheels
Americans Still Love Libraries in The Digital Age
Helping Imaginations Soar this Summer