How we met: ‘I ordered a book from his shop so I could give him my phone number’

Neil and Mark, both in their 60s, met at an LGBTQ+ bookshop in 1987, when Neil kept coming to browse the shelves and chat to the ‘hot clerk’. They hit it off on their first date and married in 2011

Coming out wasn’t easy for Neil. Although he’d been on a few dates with men while studying at medical school, he worried about people’s reactions. By the spring of 1987 he finally plucked up the courage to tell his parents. “I was living in New York, working as a pathologist, and they were based in Connecticut,” he says. Before visiting them, he stopped to pick up a book that he hoped would help his parents to understand and accept his sexuality.

When he walked into A Different Light, a popular LGBTQ+ bookshop, he spotted Mark. “He helped me to find what I was looking for and I went to see my parents,” says Neil. “When I told a friend where I had been, he asked if I’d seen the ‘hot clerk’. I realised it was the man who served me.”

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