Source: Allstora

CEO of Ru's New Bookstore Apologizes for Inclusion of Right-Wing Anti-LGBTQ+ Authors

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

RuPauls' new venture, online bookstore Allstora, had rotten egg on its face as soon as it launched thanks to the inclusion of anti-LGBTQ+ extreme-right authors among its selection. Now the brand is course-correcting, and apologizing for how its zeal to be "radically inclusive" led to the decision – roundly denounced in the LGBTQ+ community – to offer work by authors hostile to sexual minorities and their rights.

As previously reported, the announcement of the new venture coincided with the release of RuPaul's new memoir. An earlier EDGE article noted that "the online marketplace was previously called before the Emmy Award–winning host came on as a co-founder. It markets itself as author-owned marketplace, with over 10 million titles and a profit-sharing model that promises to double an author's income."

However, "Allstora's store includes titles by notable homophobes, including Riley Gaines, Robby Starbuck, Kirk Cameron, and other conservative authors," the earlier report detailed – with those "other conservative authors also including Chaya Raichik of "Libs of TikTok," disgraced former Fox News talking head Bill O'Reilly, and Adolph Hitler.

Allstora co-founder and CEO Eric Cervini – author of several books on gay history, as well as being the host of the Discovery+ docuseries "The Book of Queer" – explained what happened in a detailed post at the company's website.

Cervini recounted how "we saw the book bans that were sweeping the country," and explained: "With queer and trans authors under attack, we wanted to do everything in our power to promote and protect queer literature."

And not just "queer" literature, but its extremist opposite, as well.

"We decided to respond to the book bans with radical inclusivity," Cervini wrote, explaining that, "As a historian, I understood that even the most hateful of books can have educational value....

"But therein lay my mistake," Cervini admitted. "I wasn't, in fact, building a library: free, accessible to all, and funded by a government or university, where the principle of free speech is paramount. Rather, I was building a platform to champion underserved authors and create community around their stories."

The queer historian went on to say he had taken seriously the feedback from "RuPaul fans, marginalized authors, and readers who feel betrayed by the inclusion of hate-filled books in our catalog. And through these conversations, I've re-learned the difference between a library and a bookstore."

What's more, Cervini added, "I'm devastated that I've caused Ru's name to be even loosely associated with hate, and I take full responsibility for the decision to include these books.

"I'm horrified by the thought of a queer or trans youth accidentally stumbling upon a harmful book on our platform," the author added. "I confused my duties as an academic and a bookseller, and I brought pain instead of joy into the world. And for that, I am sorry."

Cervini vowed to do better. "While other online bookstores will continue selling hate-filled books, Allstora will not," he wrote. "We will be a community, a home, for all."

To that end, he added, "I hope you will consider joining us. We need your help as we build an experimental, ethical, community-based bookstore.... Help us empower authors and cultivate community at a time when our country desperately needs solidarity among artists and marginalized groups."

His apology having been made, Cervini, his partner, and RuPaul will now have to see how long, if ever, it takes for the reading queer public to put the early misstep behind them.

For the moment, Gay Twitter seems less than forgiving.

LGBTQ+ authors, though, need to get their work out through any channel available to them.

Of course, those who push library purges and the erasure of LGBTQ+ voices are all too happy to pushing a narrative about conservative books being "censored."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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