So that’s that. Yesterday news broke that Evolve Media had suddenly decided to shut down AfterEllen. After Friday, there will no longer post regular daily content posted. The archives will remain intact, at least for now. But the site, as we have come to know and love it, will be over.
I cannot tell you how heavy this makes my heart. This is terrible news for so many reasons. So many talented writers have lost their jobs. So many queer women have lost a place to go for news, information and community. So many voices supporting gay women have lost their home. In short, a legacy of advocacy for more and better representation of queer women in the media has come to a close.
On a personal note, AfterEllen changed my life. I started writing for AfterEllen in in 2007 – February 4, 2007 to be exact. When I started with AE I wasn’t just like so many of its readers, I was one of its readers. Site founder Sarah Warn messaged me one day and asked me to write for them. I had, until then, only been a frequent lurker and a sometimes commenter. And I was so deeply, deeply flattered and floored.
The first thing I wrote for AE was a picture post about hot ladies in red dresses. In retrospect, it could not have been more fitting.
For a time I wrote for the site nearly every day. I wrote news, reviews and all manner of silliness in between. You name it, I blogged about it for AE over the last almost 10 years. More recently my work has been largely recaps and interviews, with occasional commentary thrown in for good measure.
The site has evolved and changed hands over the years. Sarah sold it to Viacom and MTV/Logo. MTV/Logo sold it to Evolve Media. It’s focus and tenor has shifted some as well, but never strayed too far from its founding tenet: Visibility Matters. But now its corporate owner has decided that ensuring that visibility for queer women simply isn’t profitable enough, or important enough, for them.
Well, you know what, fuck that. Gay women need a site like AfterEllen. Gay women deserve as rich and robust a media landscape as possible. In fact all underrepresented communities deserve places that are made by them and for them. (So, while you still can and whenever you can, support existing queer women’s media - like, say, Autostraddle.)
Like for so many others, AfterEllen was a lifeline for me when it first started. I grew up in the Midwest and didn’t know a lot of gay ladies back then. For so many gay women, AfterEllen was the first site for gay women they ever visited. AE showed me that there were gay women out there with my same interests and ideas. The same aspirations and the same frustrations.
Through the years I've been humbled time and time again by readers who have written to say how the site, and my writing, has helped them through hard times. Who have said reading things written by gay women for gay women has been important to them, and reminded them of their own importance.
Hell, I am one of the people AfterEllen helped, too. It helped me find my voice and myself. It helped me become the writer – the person – I am today. Being a part of AE allowed me to meet and become friends with so many wonderful women, so many inspiring writers. I thank all the editors who helped mold my writing at AE from Sarah Warn to ScribeGrrrl to Malinda Lo to Karman Kregloe to Heather Hogan to Dana Piccoli to Trish Bendix.
Thanks to all my fellow writers, who did it for the love of celebrating, and when necessary critiquing, queer women’s representation in the media. Yes, I know am leaving so many amazing people out simply because there were so many amazing people who worked for the site.
Never stop believing that queer women’s stories deserve to be told. Lesbian, bisexual and trans women may not be “profitable,” but our lives matter. AE was a place that, at its core, always believed in and championed that simple fact.
So what’s next for me? Well, don’t worry, I’ll keep writing here at Dorothy Surrenders. I’ll keep looking for other outlets that care deeply about LGBT representation. I’ll keep pushing for more and better presentation of queer women in the media.
So thank you, AfterEllen. Thank you for so many things. But possibly most of all thank you for helping me find all of you. I will forever be grateful to AE for that and for you. Thank you for reading along all these years.