RuPaul runs rings around LGBTQ+ book bans in the best way: With a giant rainbow library bus

RuPaul Charles is going up against LGBTQ+ book bans in the US in the best way: By launching a giant rainbow mobile library bus. 

The Drag Race host took to Instagram on 5 March to announce that he has co-founded an online book marketplace, Allstora. “We are moving the conversation forward,” he told followers.

“Allstora is supporting authors, it is supporting all voices everywhere. This is a platform that I am in love with, because the conversation needs to move forward through books, through conversations, through community.”

A second video saw the rainbow-coloured school bus abruptly reversing before the doors opened to reveal RuPaul in the driver’s seat. “You wanna talk about reading?”, he quips in the clip.

The platform he is promoting is an author-owned, independent marketplace which is home to over 10 million LGBTQ+-friendly titles, and offers fair fees for women and writers of colour, as well as up-and-coming, self-published authors.

RuPaul, who is the Chief Creative Officer, co-founded the platform with LGBTQ+ advocate and best-selling author Eric Cervini, and actor and drag king Adam Powell.

The launch of the site comes at the same time as the first cross-country tour of the Rainbow Book Bus, a non-profit organisation which distributes LGBTQ+ titles to marginalised communities who have limited access to queer literature. This could prove life-saving to those who struggle to see themselves represented in popular media, especially in light of the book bans across the US.

Powell said via a statement: “The Rainbow Book Bus began as a dream that has since developed into our flagship bookmobile program, and we are beyond excited to take these books on the road and bring them to communities who need them most.

“We must fight censorship and attempts to reduce young people’s access to inclusive stories, and our colorful and joyful bus loaded with amazing books is an antidote to hate and discrimination.”

However, Allstora has come under fire just one day after launching, after users on X (formerly Twitter) accused the store of listing books by writers known for their anti-LGBTQ+ views, including those written by Riley Gaines, Robby Starbuck, Kirk Cameron, and other books from the conservative publisher Brave Books.

The site has since added a disclaimer on its controversial titles, which reads: “Allstora Note: With the help of our community, we’ve flagged this book as contrary to our core values. All proceeds from this title will go towards protecting diverse literature and marginalized communities from book bans through the Rainbow Book Bus.”

The FAQ page explains that the company doesn’t believe in erasing ideologies of hate, writing: “At Allstora, we believe that the censorship of any book, perspective, or story is incompatible with the survival of democracy. We cannot fight the ideologies of hate if we lack the ability to study, understand, and react to them.

“For this reason, like university libraries and online book marketplaces across the world, Allstora has made the decision to carry all books.”

It instead notes that they will rely on the community to flag titles which go against its “core values” and vows to donate all proceeds from such books to fight book bans.

PinkNews has contacted a representative of Allstora for further comment on the matter.

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