‘Under The Umbrella’ is a Local Queer Bookstore Providing Community


Emily Rincon

Kaitlyn Mahoney walks by customers at Under the Umbrella Bookstore in Salt Lake City on Nov. 28, 2021 (Photo by Emily Rincon | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Whit Fuller, Arts Writer


Since opening on Nov. 15, Under The Umbrella has become a fixture in the queer community in and around Salt Lake City. The self-described “queer little bookstore” is one of Salt Lake’s locally-owned bookshops and a vibrant addition to the community.

A Queer Little Bookstore

Under The Umbrella began as a crowd-funding campaign on IndieGogo. With community support and the vision of store owner Kaitlyn Mahoney, the store opened to the public.

Portrait of Kaitlyn Mahoney, owner of Under the Umbrella Bookstore in Salt Lake City, on Nov. 28, 2021 (Photo by Emily Rincon | The Daily Utah Chronicle) (Emily Rincon)

The store carries everything from books, pins, and paintings to candles, art prints and more — all produced by or featuring members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Local queer artists are being given space to share their work and build community in a way that hasn’t been done before.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Mahoney and ask them about their vision for the store.

“I started reading more diversely in general at a certain point in my life. Reading really helped me figure out my sexuality and gender. I just wanted to read more and it was hard to find books that were queer that showed me queerness as a central facet of the story,” they said. “I should be able to find these stories all the time — not have to wait for the pride displays or the two shelves at Barnes and Noble. I kept thinking, ‘Somebody is gonna do this.’ Then I started thinking, ‘I’m gonna do it.'”

Mutual Aid

Mahoney implemented a variety of resources for the community in the store. There are naloxone kits and fentanyl test strips available, as well as a completely free gender-affirming closet. The store offers a pen pal program for incarcerated folx and a Little Free Library containing free queer books and accepting donations. There is also a used fiction section that features used fiction 50% off the list price. “I decided to create a space that, when I was younger, how wonderful it would’ve been to have access to this. My hope is that a space like this can help people feel comfortable with where they are currently and where they’re going,” Mahoney said. 

Another feature that I was in awe of was the store’s Give and Take wall. Anyone can pledge something for a specific identity. For instance — a book for a Latinx person or a sticker for a caffeinated bisexual. A pledge can be made and then if you identify with that pledge you can get the item for free. 

Mahoney expressed the overall concept as mutual aid within the bookstore, and I think that is exactly what Under The Umbrella is providing with the help of Utah’s queer community. 

Safe Under The Umbrella 

“If you’re able to find your way here, I’ll keep you safe here. And if you’re not able to find your way here, first of all I’m so sorry and also you’re not alone. You have this community, this family to tap into,” Mahoney said. 

Under The Umbrella is a wonderful space. I wholeheartedly recommend paying Mahoney’s “queer little bookstore” a visit and bringing or finding a friend to be in community with. 


[email protected]