About Us

The Lavender Rhino, founded in 2023, is an online independent bookstore, specializing in LGBTQ+ authors, characters, and topics. We aim to solve the discoverability problem in queer literature with carefully curated lists of LGBTQ+ books, sorted by genres, identities, bestsellers, new releases, staff picks, and more. In the coming months, we also plan to provide community forums — a safe space in which LGBTQ+ book lovers can discuss books and their passion for reading. Our long-term goal is to open a brick-and-mortar location, where we can foster the same sense of community in person.

Our mission

Our mission is to provide a wide selection of queer books across many genres and a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to gather virtually and share a love for reading. The Lavender Rhino welcomes queer people and allies of all ages, races, ethnicities, disabilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations with open arms. Our values are steeped in mutual respect and intersectional advocacy for marginalized groups. We live these values in the way we treat our partners and customers, the way we select our merchandise, and the way we engage with our community.

What's up with the name?

Our name was inspired by LGBTQ+ rights activists in 1970s Massachusetts. Boston artists Daniel Thaxton and Bernie Toale created a lavender rhinoceros for a public ad campaign intended to promote visibility of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community in the ‘70s. They chose a rhino because "it is a much maligned and misunderstood animal” and lavender to represent a mix of "masculine blue" and "feminine pink."

Controversy surrounded the ad campaign, and as a result, the lavender rhino became a symbol of queer resistance. A papier-mâché lavender rhino appeared at Boston Pride in 1974 and 1976, and in 1987 a flag depicting a lavender rhinoceros was raised at Boston’s City Hall.

Meet the founder

Dylan wearing a suit, standing in Shakespeare & Co Bookstore in NYC.

Hi! I'm Dylan Lyons (he/him), founder and CEO of the Lavender Rhino. Growing up queer in Louisville, Kentucky, I found comfort and companionship in books. Over the years, as I moved from Kentucky to New Jersey, and finally to New York, my love for books only grew — and reading LGBTQ+ books after coming out was a game-changer. If only there were more queer stories with happy endings when I was coming of age.

I went on to study journalism at Ithaca College, and worked in TV news and content marketing, before getting my MBA at New York University. I've been a proud resident of New York City for nearly a decade.

It's a scary time to be queer. As state legislatures and right-wing pundits ramp up their attacks on the LGBTQ+ community — and on queer youth, trans people, and Black queer people in particular, I believe it is more important than ever for people to read intersectional queer stories, to educate themselves about LGBTQ+ identities and lived experiences, and to gather in solidarity and community with their queer friends and loved ones.

I have always found bookstores to be magical places, and what could be more magical than a bookstore dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community? I genuinely hope all queer people can feel safe, joyful, represented, and at home at the Lavender Rhino.