Phoenix Rising

By Ayanna Christian
808 Spotswood Ave Norfolk, VA

“There are many things in life to be thankful for…We happened to think being gay is one of them.”

Here lies the location of Max Images, a gay owned bookstore that soon turned into No Frill Grill and Bar, which is known for great food, better service and soothing environment. But before No Frill, this was Max Images bookstore, a gay owned store that was a big part of the LGBTQ community here in Norfolk. Owned by Jim Todd and Rex Mitchell, this location is the first one that Rex and Jim owned, and as time went on other location were opened in Richmond VA, Roanoke, VA,

Along with the books, cards, and t-shirts, all of the Phoenix Rising’s stores in Richmond, Roanoke and Norfolk was a hotspot for people who needed to know more information about being gay and the gay community. While being interviewed about all of his bookstore locations Rex says, “I’ve had gay kids show up on our stores’ doorsteps. I’ve gotten calls, from retirement homes, from seniors who are only now exploring feelings of same-sex attraction. The stores are often a first resource to which straight parents, spouses and friends turn for information”. As the popularity of the bookstore grew it was stated by Rex Mitchell that as a person in the gay community Rex and Jim would “Give whatever immediate assistance is possible, and a referral to a qualified professional or support group.”
The bookstore contained Rex’s artwork, some small gifts and books. Phoenix Rising helped with communities in surrounding areas by implementing a mail order system that sends out books and gifts out to the LGBTQ community in other states. Rex and Jim made sure to fill all of their locations with the books, magazines and paraphernalia that reflected how it was being a part of LGBTQ. Issues concerning themselves as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans gendered. Articles that covered parenting, recovery, HIV and Aids, growing old, multiculturalism, sports, and radical feminists.


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