Cincinnati, OH Closes Landmark Gay Bookstore Over “Nail Polish Remover”

Cincinnati Closes The Pink Pyramid

The Pink Pyramid, a gay bookstore that has operated in downtown Cincinnati for over 21 years has been closed.

“The City of Cincinnati closed us down!” sign now appears in its empty storefront  window.

“They pushed us out because we are a gay business,” said George Vanover, who owned the business for nearly 25 years with his partner, Gary Allgeier. “Some people have told us they think it’s because of the streetcar and because of development. But I don’t think that. I think they just wanted us gone.”

“This was a concerted effort to get rid of us,” he continues. “And they won. They got rid of us.”

It all began in 2013 when cops made a few undercover visits to the store and they were sold “nail polish remover.”

Problem was the crime lab called what he was selling isobutyl nitrite.

“Poppers” or “rush,” an inhalant used to get a short burst of euphoria and to increase sexual pleasure. The state of Ohio calls it illegal when the chemical is packaged and sold as an inhalant, says Allgeier’s lawyer, Bill Gallagher. But it can be used as a nail polish remover.

Undercover cops busted The Pink Pyramid again in 2014, selling its special brand of “nail polish remover.”. This time, they also got a search warrant and found 634 bottles of the inhalant at the store. They found others, mostly used, during a separate search at Allgeier’s home. The cops said he knew exactly what he was selling.

There were more criminal charges. But this time, the Cincinnati Police department asked the city’s law department to begin additional court proceedings to declare the bookstore a nuisance and to shut it down.

And the cities lawyers did just that.

Cincinnati’s only gay city council member Chris Seelbach weighed:

“They’ve been a fixture in the gay community. A lot of people are upset to see it go,” he said. “But you have to follow the law and not disobey it. That is the number one issue here. They’d still be open today if they had stopped selling illegal products.”

Vanover scoffs, calling the city not nearly as progressive as it likes to make believe it is.

 

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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