RuPaul sends a rainbow bus to give away banned books


In an era of book bans and efforts by state legislatures to ban drag shows, the television performer and producer who is arguably the country’s most famous drag star, RuPaul, is the co-founder of a new online bookstore that it will send a rainbow school bus from the west coast to the south to distribute the very books targeted by those bans.

It announced Monday that it was one of three business partners behind the Allstora bookstore, which will promote underrepresented authors and provide writers with a larger share of profits than other online booksellers.

RuPaul said this type of book website would fill an important void, especially in “these strange days we live in,” to support the ideas of people “who are willing to push the conversation forward.”

Enter RuPaul. Drag has been in popular culture for decades, but its reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which is airing its 16th season and has more than a dozen international editions, has brought the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of performers to the table. drag to domestic audiences.

For those seeking to limit access to LGBTQ culture in the United States, RuPaul said he offered a prayer.

“They have a lot of pain and they project it outward,” RuPaul said. “And the truth is, I just hope that the child that lives inside each and every one of them will rebel and have a voice and say, ‘I want to use every color in the crayon box. I will not be restricted.’”

“My heart goes out to them because they are clearly hurting so much,” RuPaul continued. “A pain that you and I could not even imagine.”

He said efforts to ban drag queen books and shows would ultimately “fall by the wayside.” History has shown that the more people try to restrict access to something, the more people are drawn to it, RuPaul said, adding, “You can’t control the imagination.”

He mentioned several books that had influenced him, including “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell and “Curious George,” the children’s classic by Margret and HA Rey.

“I wasn’t very good at school, but I read books and watched TV, and those are the ways I was able to find my way in this big world,” RuPaul said.

On Allstora, RuPaul will host a monthly book club, which will also feature themed playlists and author interviews. The first selection is, appropriately, his memoir “The House of Hidden Meanings,” which will be published Tuesday.

RuPaul is founding Allstora with Adam Powell, an actor and drag performer, and Powell’s partner Eric Cervini, author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated history book “The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America.”

Allstora is the new version of a company that Cervini and Powell officially started in October 2022 called, which sold books by LGBTQ+ authors and aimed to give writers a larger share of the profits from their books. The couple initially ran the business out of the garage of their Los Angeles apartment, but quickly outgrew it. Last year, Cervini said, they sold more than a million dollars worth of books.

“We were doing everything on our own and we realized we needed help,” Cervini said.

They were fundraising when they connected with RuPaul, who is the creative director of Allstora. The revamped company sells books by all types of authors and offers authors a share of the profits made from book sales on the website. Cervini is the CEO and Powell is the director of the company’s philanthropic arm, Rainbow Book Bus, which began business before Allstora was formed.

As part of Allstora’s launch, the Rainbow Book Bus will travel south from Los Angeles in March to fight book bans. In these cities, which will include Birmingham, Alabama; Tallahassee, Florida; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Allstora will partner with local LGBTQ organizations to distribute thousands of books. The goal is to give away 10,000 books in the brightly colored, 22-foot-long old school bus by the end of the year.

Local organizations have also provided guidance to the company on how to keep book fairs safe. “They have been very helpful and have worked with local authorities and volunteers to make sure everyone is full of joy and not afraid of being seen,” Cervini said.

Cervini, who grew up in Central Texas, said it would be important for young people to see that there was a space for them, even if they didn’t live somewhere with bookstores that had an LGBTQ section or were prohibited from reading those books. in their schools or public libraries.

“There’s an organization, there’s a community, there’s a family to them,” he said. “And even if we’re not always there, the books are always there. They are always available. “They are always a safe place.”

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