Rainbow Book Fair slated to return after two years off

Mitch Kellaway (right), then the publisher of Transgress Press, with brother Owen at the 2014 Rainbow Book Fair.
Mitch Kellaway (right), then the publisher of Transgress Press, with brother Owen at the 2014 Rainbow Book Fair.
Michael Luongo

An annual LGBTQ book event is returning to Manhattan on April 22 after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Under the theme “WEIRD AND QUEER,” the 10th annual New York Rainbow Book Fair will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 at the LGBT Community Center at 208 West 13th Street. There will be dozens of exhibits with books for all ages, two rooms filled with books, and a special poetry showcase featuring dozens of poets who will read poetry briefly. According to the Rainbow Book Fair’s website, exhibitors flock to the fair from all over the country. Previous editions of the Rainbow Book Fair have drawn thousands of people. 

Attendees can enjoy short readings by 30 different authors as well as featured readings by Curtis Chin, Brian Broome, and Felice Picano. Those interested in taking a deeper look at the books or authors can also check out panels throughout the day that will highlight books about topics like queer history, comics, and attacks on LGBTQ-related books. 

To that end, the book fair returns at a time when LGBTQ readers and authors are under attack. A study released last year by the nonprofit PEN America found that more than 1,600 books were banned across 5,000 schools during the 2021-22 school year — and many of those books pertained to LGBTQ people or race. Nearly four million students were enrolled in the schools that were known to ban books, but PEN American noted that the actual number was likely higher — and the issue has persisted well into this year.

The Rainbow Book Fair’s website explains the motivation behind the theme for this year’s fair.

“There has always been a thin line between queerness and weirdness,” the website states. “After all, ‘queer’ means not just not conforming to gender and sexual norms, but strange and odd. So we’re celebrating the ways that queer writing has transformed science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres, with panels and readings showcasing the best in weird queerness (or queer weirdness!).

Attendees are asked to donate $3, though that is voluntary and admission is free. The Center is wheelchair accessible and sign language interpreters can be available if requested. Learn more at rainbowbookfair.com.