The Nonbinarian Book Bike, a retrofitted bicycle carrying a big box of queer books.

This Brooklyn-Based Mobile Mutual Aid Initiative Is Handing Out LGBTQ Books for Free

In the wake of widespread LGBTQIA+ book bans and a desire to imagine joyful trans futures both for themself and for their community, career bookseller K. Kerimian asked: How could mutual aid play a role in distributing queer books to people who need them, and what would that look like? Thus birthed The Nonbinarian Book Bike, a queer and trans-led mobile mutual aid initiative that distributes LGBTQIA+ books for all ages throughout Brooklyn—for free.

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Earlier this year, after months of crowdfunding and donations from their community, Kerimian ordered the Nonbinarian Book Bike from Icicyle Tricycles, a company that builds and sells custom vending bikes. Within days of the pink, boxy trike landing in Brooklyn, it was vandalized while parked outside of Kerimian’s work—but the damage was quickly reversed and later that night, the bike made a scheduled appearance at a partner event. Since then, there have been multiple parkside pop-ups and partner events featuring the bike, including a successful book drive in August and a weekly community reading group at Riis Beach.

The Nonbinarian Book Bike founder K Kerimian organizes the display at a book drive
(The Nonbinarian Book Bike)

For Kerimian, the most surprising thing about the first year of The Nonbinarian Book Bike has been “the way in which it has sort of taken on a life of its own. When I first conceived of it, my wish for it was to be a collective project, but my network only being so big, the collective it started as were all folks I knew. But over time, especially more recently (once the bike arrived in Brooklyn), we’ve received lots of inquiries from folks I don’t know at all asking how they can get involved, how they can partner with us, how they can support us, etc.,” Kerimian tells me via e-mail.

“Now a number of people who actively have their hands in a lot of the regular operations and behind the scenes are people I met over the course of the year that I didn’t originally know. It’s been wonderful for the community to truly grow outside of my own little world, truly making it a project that belongs to the people.”

I met Kerimian when we worked together at an independent bookstore in Brooklyn. Since the bike officially launched in the summer, I’ve become the newsletter editor and book club coordinator. This has allowed me to see not just how much work Kerimian is putting into the project, but how much work everyone is putting into it. Booksellers, publishing professionals, cyclists, influencers, and more have reached out to work with the bike, both increasing its visibility and resources, as well as substantially bolstering its supply of free LGBTQIA+ books for distribution.

At the heart of everything is a desire to get more LGBTQIA+ books into the hands of people throughout Brooklyn, both to counter increasing hostility against queer and trans people and to counteract widespread book bans prompted by a vocal minority that are interfering with the ability of libraries and schools to provide these same titles to patrons and students. Those involved with The Nonbinarian Book Bike are also justice-minded when it comes to issues of representation, accessibility, and sustainability—for the project and its volunteers.

“In my own day-to-day (not related to the project), my pride would inhibit me from asking for help, even if I needed it, but with The Nonbinarian—because it’s not about me but about the mission—I have no qualms about moving forward and trusting that the community will respond when we ask for aid,” Kerimian says. “I firmly stand in the original choice for this to be a mutual aid project and it’s been everything I hoped it would be so far. I wouldn’t want it any other way (retail or nonprofit). Maybe someday, out of necessity, the initiative will have to adapt to another model to allow sustainability and longevity, but for now, I am committed to this model.”

Kerimian notes that large organizations like the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, and even the ACLU have the resources to fight against conservative hatemongering with legislative action. However, these organizations may feel out of reach to individuals who want to combat book bans in their area. The Nonbinarian Bike takes the idea that one person can’t make a difference and invites multiple individuals to band together in strength and solidarity.

“We are not directly under attack the way schools and libraries and teachers and library workers are, so let us do what we can as our jobs are not at stake and there is no threat to shut down our operation,” Kerimian says. “Mutual aid means we take care of us, and I think A. we fly under the radar and B. we’re not a business that has to worry about a bottom line in which we might waver on our values. We can push back and it feels empowering as fuck.”

Community response to The Nonbinarian Book Bike has been overwhelmingly positive, and the more people who learn about it, the more they want to get involved. Although the bike is based in Brooklyn, Kerimian hopes to continue increasing its reach—perhaps even investing in a sprinter van to do a coastal road trip and “bring this work to the most vulnerable populations and reach book deserts outside of cities. That’s a longer-term vision I hope to manifest over time.”

To that end, Kerimian encourages everyone regardless of geographic location to identify barriers to access and build from there. For example, if you want to start a book distribution initiative but can’t afford a brick-and-mortar location, consider doing tabling pop-ups at local parks or aligned events.

“Start with what you wish existed—if it’s building upon a pre-existing project, like Little Free Library, or starting something entirely your own, you don’t need to wait until you have every detail just right,” Kerimian says. “Trust that with community input and aid, it will evolve over time. No one is going to hand you the thing you want to see. If you want it, you can make it happen, little by little.”

To learn more about The Nonbinarian Book Bike, visit the website, follow the bike on Instagram, or sign up for the monthly newsletter. To donate funds for bike maintenance, storage, and other upkeep costs, you can subscribe on Ko-Fi, purchase books from its Bookshop storefront, and select the bike as your store of choice on, buy merchandise, or buy books from the bike’s wishlists.

(featured image: The Nonbinarian Book Bike)

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Samantha Puc
Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and editor who has been working in digital and print media since 2010. Their work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture and their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.