RuPaul’s new Allstora bookstore drops Libs of TikTok, other anti-LGBTQ+ authors after public backlash

Author: Christopher Wiggins

Allstora, the online bookstore co-founded by The evolving decision to remove titles from right-wing extremists has sparked outrage among conservative media figures, who accuse the platform of censorship and hypocrisy, challenging its initial commitment to fighting book bans and promoting a broad spectrum of voices.

In a statement posted on the company’s website Saturday, Eric Cervini, CEO of Allstora and author, addressed the initial controversy.

“I want to take responsibility for our mistakes, and I want to apologize,” Cervini said, acknowledging the backlash from customers, RuPaul fans, marginalized authors, and readers who felt betrayed by the platform’s decisions. Cervini wrote that he neglected to maintain a platform for queer people that served as a safe haven for marginalized voices. “In building that space, I failed,” he said.

The initial criticism against Allstora emerged after The Advocate highlighted the platform’s sale of books with extremist content. Following The Advocate’s inquiry, Allstora responded by updating its website to flag controversial titles as “contrary to our core values” and committing proceeds from these sales to fight against book bans through donations to the Rainbow Book Bus, a philanthropic arm of the venture. However, the company said it stood by its decision to sell books from all points of view in a stand against censorship.

This move, however, did not quell the dissent, with prominent figures like drag queen Lady Bunny voicing skepticism and disappointment over Allstora’s approach on Instagram. “Ru has a new, just announced book company called Allstora…But when you look at the site, you can buy Hitler’s Mein Kampf…Those ain’t MY people, Ru,” Lady Bunny wrote. She further questioned the platform’s reliance on community feedback to filter objectionable content and critiqued the essence of “rainbow capitalism” that seemed to underpin the venture.

Cervini’s apology shed light on this response, detailing the platform’s initial broad inclusion of literature.

“We decided to respond to the book bans with radical inclusivity… But therein lay my mistake. I wasn’t, in fact, building a library… Rather, I was building a platform to champion underserved authors and create community around their stories,” Cervini wrote.

Right-wing media outlets like The Daily Caller responded to Allstora’s change in policy by claiming hypocrisy. Conservative backlash was further fueled by social media posts from accounts like Libs of TikTok, which criticized the removal of conservative books, suggesting Allstora had capitulated to pressure from the left.

“RuPaul created an online bookstore to fight against ‘book bans.’ On his website, he claims ‘the censorship of ANY book is incompatible with the survival of Democracy,’ and promised to carry ALL books,” Raichik wrote on her Libs of TikTok account on X, formerly Twitter. “The Left was so triggered and forced them to remove my book… and many other Conservative authors. The anti-book banning site is banning books!”

In his apology, Cervini elaborated on the corrective measures Allstora is implementing, including introducing a reader-based flagging system to identify and remove objectionable content. “Going forward, we are committed to re-centering these tenets,” he promised.

A spokesperson for Allstora said he could not provide The Advocate with a statement before publication. RuPaul, who is currently traveling on a book tour to promote his memoir The House of Hidden Meanings, has not commented on the controversy.

Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins

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