Fabulosa to host banned books reading marathon

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Tuesday September 26, 2023
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Authors Rasheed Newson with Jonathan Escoffery at a recent Fabulosa Books event; a stack of banned books to be shipped to LGBTQ community centers. (photos: Fabulosa Books)
Authors Rasheed Newson with Jonathan Escoffery at a recent Fabulosa Books event; a stack of banned books to be shipped to LGBTQ community centers. (photos: Fabulosa Books)

Books with LGBTQ themes are under attack while anti-gay harassment is spiking nationwide. To counter the book bans, Castro district Fabulosa Books has organized Read For Filth, a 24-hour celebration of queer literature, on October 7-8.

The event is a fundraiser for Books Not Bans, the store's program to send queer books to LGBT centers and groups in red states. It's timed with the national Banned Books Week, Oct. 1-7, created by the American Library Association, with bookstores and libraries highlighting censored books.

So far, Fabulosa Books has shipped 15 boxes to groups in Tulsa, OK, Cheyenne, WY, Charleston, NC, Ft. Meyers, FL, Hattiesburg MS, and Montgomery, AL.

"We fill each box with 20 new and popular queer books that are a mix of current titles and classics," said Bex Hexagon, events manager for Fabulosa, and the creator of Books Not Bans. "It is very easy to feel powerless, but books show us a road to what is possible, and stories save lives. This event is an affirmation of hope and our resilience as a community."

Fabulosa Books owner Alvin Orloff said, "We may be far from the worst of the book bans and anti-LGBT bigotry, but we can do our part to support our community. If I can help the kids of today weather the stupidities of Ron DeSantis and Don't Say Gay, you bet I'm going to do it."

Sister Roma (photo: courtesy Sister Roma)  

Fabulosa's round-the-clock series of events will include activities for all ages to celebrate stories with, and written by, LGBTQ authors. The various events begin on Oct. 7, 10:30am with Drag Story Hour for families, with San Francisco Library staff in attendance to register people for library cards.

"We'll have a parklet in front of the store for the day of the event and events in-store all night long and the next morning," added Hexagon.

From 2:30pm to 6:00pm, an expansive lineup of authors, performers and members of community groups will read poetry and stories, and musicians and attendees will perform and read as well. The celebration of books will include a diverse lineup of community leaders, Castro merchants, and other community members.

Queer Bedtime Stories and Sister Roma will be the guest MCs.

"How dull would the world be without our voices?" said Sister Roma in a press statement. "Our stories must be told, our experiences must be shared, and our history must be written! I'm thrilled to host this event to help get important books into the hands of our community who need them the most."

From 9:30pm to 2:30am, the bookstore will host a DJed party, with drag host Delilah Blackheart and special guest performers. A donation is requested to attend.

George M. Johnson's 'All Boys Aren't Blue: a Memoir Manifesto'  

The event will also include a full group reading of George M. Johnson's "All Boys Aren't Blue: a Memoir Manifesto," which is currently one of the most banned books in America.

At 9:30am Oct. 8, coffee and donuts will be served in the store.

Performers, participants, sponsors, and volunteers can fill out an online form to sign up.

Members of the community should reach out to [email protected] to learn how they can participate. Castro merchants and residents are especially encouraged to participate.

Fabulosa Books, the Castro's only bookstore, specializes in published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for, by and about the LGBTQ community. Fabulosa is LGBT-owned and staffed, and is dedicated to furthering queer culture and visibility, and is open every day at 489 Castro.

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