PETER DOREY was a British bookstore owner who died on this date. Dorey was born in London in 1947 to Frederick and Irene Dorey, the eldest of three boys. His father’s family had roots in Dorset in the small village of Kingston near Corfe Castle – the region remained close to Peter’s heart throughout his life.
On his mother’s side, the family, originally Jewish immigrants from Russia in the mid 19th century were noted Quakers. One of his uncles was a founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), as well as being the proprietor of the Ham and High Express. Two great uncles had been prosecuted for conscientious objection in World War I.
Peter attended Preston Manor Grammar School in Wembley. At university in Leeds, Peter became involved with student radio and then with BBC Radio Leeds before returning to London where he worked for over 20 years as a sound engineer on BBC Radio, spending time at BBC stations in Bristol and Belfast.
In 1979, Peter was one of a small group of LGBT+ activists, including Ernest Hole and Jonathan Cutbill, who established a small, specialist bookshop on Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury.
Gay’s the Word was one of Britain’s first queer bookshops, opening when LGBT+ titles were generally not available in ordinary bookstores. Peter provided the very necessary funding for it.
The founders were members of Gay Icebreakers, a gay social group that ran a helpline and later held meetings at the store, a safe space for the LGBT+ community. Without their vision and commitment Gay’s the Word bookshop would never have existed.
Following the raid on Gay’s the Word by HM Customs and Excise in 1984, Dorey was one of the bookshop directors charged with conspiracy to import indecent books under the Customs Consolidation Act 1876. After their arrest and charges being brought, the names and home addresses of the directors were published in the press and they faced hefty fines and potential prison time.
The groups that met at the store included a lesbian discussion group, a black group, Irish gay people in London and, for a period in 1984, a lesbians and gays support the miners group. The movie Pride is based on the incident and shows the bookstore.
Dorey died in February 2021 following years of poor health, his family confirmed.