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A Conversation with Matthew Cornford – Social Refuge and Queer Lit

We spoke to Matthew about his huge ambition in setting up award-winning LGBTQ+ bookshop Queer Lit and the newest queer space in Manchester, Social Refuge.

By MattHaworth · February 13, 2024

Watch the full interview with Matthew here:

Three years ago, Matthew set up a website where people could buy LGBTQ+ books online after getting frustrated that his local bookshop had no specific section for queer titles. Having initially featured a selection of around 700 different books on the Queer Lit website, Matthew now has more than 4,375 different titles available at the fabulous Social Refuge on Great Ancoats Street – and the collection is continuing to grow. There’s also an in-house coffee shop, an events area and a co-working space.

He told the Manchester Evening News:

“I remember trying to find queer titles in Waterstones on Deansgate and I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t really find anything. I was told that they basically didn’t have a LGBTQ+ section besides in the summer during Pride. Even their own website made it difficult for you to find any queer books.

“I thought ‘let’s fix this’ as I was dying to read more queer books. I read a lot but I don’t always see myself in those books. I like crime novels – really dark and nasty stuff – but the detective never went home to a husband at the end of the night.