When the organizers of the fl edgling Rainbow Book Fair (RBF) came to CLAGS in 2010 looking for a co-sponsor, we jumped at the opportunity. The RBF was at that time the only LGBT-oriented book expo in North America, heir to previous literary festivals like Pink Ink and OutWrite. This was a perfect chance for CLAGS to partner with a growing community project that gave valuable exposure to queer publishers in the wake of the closings of numerous LGBT and feminist bookstores.
The second annual Rainbow Book Fair, held at the The Graduate Center, CUNY, was a huge success. Dozens of vendors and over a thousand visitors thronged the GC. The following year’s fair was an even greater hit: the third floor of the LGBT center was overflowing with exhibitors, so much so that we had to set up extra tables in hallways. Our annual poetry salon featured scores of poets, from luminaries like Eileen Myles and Tim Peterson (Trace) to emerging writers at their first reading. The excitement was palpable, and vendors were already signing up to exhibit at the next year’s fair. And the fair’s success inspired a similar event, the OutWrite LGBT Book Fair in Washington, D.C.
This year the RBF is larger than ever. On March 24th from 11am to 5:30pm, we’ll be taking over the entire LGBT Center with panels, readings, and vendors. We’ll be presenting a terrifi c array of panels: “Queer Literary New York in the 1930s,” “LGBT Latina/o Writing in the 21st Century,” and “AIDS Writing Now,” among others. For the fourth year, Nathaniel Siegel and Regie Cabico will curate another marathon poetry reading by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer poets. Exhibitors are already lining up for space, and we’re expecting thousands of visitors.
The Rainbow Book Fair is a unique project for CLAGS. A true community experience, the RBF brings small publishers, university presses, and queer writers to a large and enthusiastic audience of book-lovers. CLAGS is helping fi ll a growing vacuum where LGBT bookstores used to be, in sponsoring both the Rainbow Book Fair and, for the second time, the Lambda Literary Foundation Awards. Most importantly, the Rainbow Book Fair is a vibrant, exciting, and fun day: see you there!