Arrived in Washington in
photo © Patsy Lynch
"I feel really satisfied, really happy that I've been able to spend 30 years of my life doing something that has made a difference to so many people ... my goal, is to make sure that this store is always there for whoever needs it ...”
"We are proud of the history of gay culture and of the struggle for political and social equality. We want the shop to be a showcase for the wide variety of happy, healthy gay lifestyles found among the quarter of a million gay men and women in the Washington Metropolitan area." the 1974 announcement of Lambda Rising's opening
Gay activist L. Page “Deacon” Maccubbin, has given lesbians and gays in Washington a visibility, a public presence, and institutions that they had never before had. Well-known as the founder and owner of Lambda Rising Books, Maccubbin has also been the 'father' to many gay Washington, DC institutions including youth outreach, media, the annual Pride celebrations, community social and business organizations, and the Lambda Literary Awards. He has never stopped serving the gay community.
While still in the Army, Maccubbin became a gay activist, joining the Gay Liberation Front-DC briefly. In 1971, he took over a craftshop at 1724 20th St NW, turning it into the Earthworks tobacco and headshop. On June 8, 1974, Earthworks' shelves of magazines and books became the core stock for the new Lambda Rising, one of the nation's largest and most successful groups of gay bookstores.
As leader of the Community Building (a nickname from antiwar and counterculture days), Maccubbin turned the building into an incubator and haven for many new and struggling community groups, including the Gay Switchboard, gay youth groups, the Blade, off our backs, Roadwork, and many others.
Maccubbin was a founder and chair of the first major community group, the Washington Area Gay Community Council (WAGCC). In 1975 WAGCC launched the planning process for the second gay community center and published Just Us, the first guide to DC's gay community. That same year, Maccubbin organized the first official Gay Pride, held on 20th St NW in front of the building.
In the 1973, he was arrested with Cade Ware and Bill Bricker from Gay Activists Alliance at a sit-in protesting police entrapment. His protests and civil disobedience continued during the 1980's in response to federal inaction on AIDS research and funding with an arrest at the White House, and in the 1990's in response to Clinton's signing the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as additional arrests at protests against apartheid at the South African Embassy and against the Pope at Catholic University. Maccubbin has played important roles in the reform of D.C.'s sodomy law, passage of the D.C. Human Rights Act, and in responding to Bible-based attacks on homosexuality. In 1982, he and his life partner, Jim Bennett, were among the first to celebrate a Holy Union and they were the second couple to be registered as Domestic Partners in the District of Columbia.
In 2003, Deacon saved the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City (which had inspired him to launch Lambda Rising) from closing. Maccubbin commented, "The store never closed its doors. It was open right on through. Historically, that's important to me." In 2006, the bookstore was sold to a local manager.
Resources on Deacon Maccubbin: