Wednesday, September 21, 2016

After AfterEllen

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.


Helena said...

I feel so sad about this news. Not only will I miss reading all the news about gay women and what is important to so many of us , but I feel terrible for all the writers whose worked I so enjoyed. I wish them all the best for the future and may new horizons open to all of them. Now your blog has begun even more important in my life , thank you for writing for all of us - we need your voice.

Voo said...

Afterellen has been a daily part of my life for 10 years...I'm immensly sad it's going to close. The only silver lining is that I know this blog still exists and that you'll keep writing

Anonymous said...


Hello, rich lesbians (hey, I know you're out there. I've met some of you face to face!), please go put in a bid for AE right this damn minute.

Seriously, though-- AE might not be profitable for a corporation, but it will definitely be profitable for one/two/three 'net-savvy women. Hell, for even five or ten!

Is there something missing from the picture? Some restriction in place by the current owners? Because if not, then those well-monied lady-lovers should snap up AE lickety-split. Ahem.

freakysnob said...

Admittedly, I do not visit AE that much compare to the time I used to spend hours and hours reading the site because of Gro Hammerseng Thread. The news that I saw this morning (GMT+7) from Sarah's twitter, I felt really sad AE is the first site that I read and also gave me an opportunity to chat, making friends from around the world.

All the best to you and everyone at AE.

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Well, that's a shock. I met some really great women through AE, women that I am friends with to this day. It was such a wonderful, all encompassing resource for so many of us. It will be missed. I do hope that maybe somebody else comes along and takes it on. I'd hate to see it just gone, although I haven't visited the site in quite awhile. Still, it being gone, unavailable, is kind of like something you treasure being erased.

Anonymous said...


Carmen SanDiego said...

Thank you for everything AfterEllen. You were the first site that I visited, after my mother went to sleep and when I was done I would clear the computer's cache.
AfterEllen helped me through my coming out, helped me find you, who helped me find Autostradddle
I will be forever grateful
It's a sad day...

Carmen SanDiego said...

Not, Dorothy, I would love to see you join team Autostraddle
It would be a great fit

Anne-Katrine said...

As always tahnk you for the words. Through AE I came to terms with who I am. I'm devastated.

Briony said...

Afterellen has basically kept me alive for 10 years. I am stunned and devastated. Thank you so much for bringing that sense of community and visibility to us all for so long.

Unknown said...

Even though I am far from being its intended target audience, I have followed AfterEllen since shortly after Sarah Warn created it, and will be sad to see it go.

Do you know if any of the people behind the site are looking at a crowdfunding option to keep things going, even if under another name? From the outside, it would seem that AfterEllen is a near-ideal candidate for it. It's well-established, with a fairly large, active and dedicated following. It seems to me that setting up a Patreon for a successor might well be enough to support one or two people working full-time and paying writers. But then, I'm only guessing at the site's reader numbers. It would be nice to hear someone on the inside at least say "Yeah, we thought about it and the numbers don't work out". Or even "Yeah, we thought about it by nobody wants to do it". Which would of course be fair enough. I just don't want it to be a possibility nobody thought of :-)

Unknown said...

AfterEllen was definitely the first lesbian site I visited, and made me feel better about who I am. I laughed, I cried, I raged, I always came back.

You and your colleagues have done so much good work, Ms. Snarker (or Snarks, as my wife and I very affectionately call you). We'll always have Boobs O'clock ;)

So long, and thanks for all the fish. Gay fish.

Anonymous said...

So, wait! What about this:

It reads:

want the entire AfterEllen community to know that we had no prior plans nor do we have any future intentions of shutting down

I’d like to set the record straight and let you know what is happening. Evolve Media acquired from Viacom in October 2014 and proceeded to up the investment in the site by creating new features, franchises, and content to grow the site and its advertiser base. Unfortunately, those efforts did not result in increased audience or enough advertiser support to justify continuing to invest at the same levels. Therefore, we decided we could not keep Trish Bendix on as the full time editor-in-chief.

Rest assured that you will still be able to access the site, all of its content, and communicate with others through the forums. We will continue to work with our freelancers and contributors to cover the many topics and news that are important to the LGBT community.

I know AfterEllen has been an important place in many women’s lives over the years and with the right investment levels, we hope to continue to be that place for many years to come.

Emrah Kovacoglu
General Manager, TotallyHer Media

Alex said...

On a happier note, here's Cate to brighten the day. Oh you are such a lucky bastard, Mr. Upton.

Selket said...

As everyone, I'm sad and in mourning about AE.
I cannot recall how I get there for the first time, but it has been helpful. As a late boomer in a South America country, it's not always easy to find that sense of community.
Despite I have never use the forums -I don't have a users account either- AE give me a sense of belonging, even if part of the experience was not the same as mine. I could relate to so many experiences of queer women, and I found out about so many women I have never heard of before, even when they happened to had a great impact in History. It helped me realize how missrepresented we are in everything. Having a site where all the news were about women, make me realize how the regular news sites fail to represent us, and also how many times they just didn't care.
It has been an educational journey for me, and I will always be grateful for that, to you and to everyone who was part of it.
Thaks for all the content, for all the recaps and the series. I discovered Lost Girl for you (and so many others), I would never been able to thank you enough for that.
I wish there was somenthing to be done in order to save the site...
Thank you again, and good luck to all the people that has worked there, I wish you all the best.

P.S. Please excuse me if I missspelled something or made some other mistake, English is not my first language.

Mari said...

Oh, Dorothy, I'm going to say that the only reason I was still going back to AfterEllen at this point was to read your Rizzoli and Isles recaps (even though I've never seen Rizzoli & Isles. Never. Not even once. I just read your recaps. I'm probably unbalanced), and so from that point of view it's good timing.

But still! This is like having your local coffee shop get bought out and chewed out by a Starbucks that can't make it work, so then they abandon it and it sits empty and all the paint peels off. We've been regulars there for years! How can they do this?

And OF COURSE it's a big straight-white-men corporation doing the axing, and OF COURSE it's a bunch of funny queer women being axed, and I have to say that I love the way that pretty much all the AfterEllen writers are telling everyone to head over to Autostraddle.

Speaking of which, I hope to see you there soon. You're one of my favourite remaining AE writers (whatever happened to ScribeGrrrl??) and I'd be sorry if I couldn't keep on reading your content. (and looking at your tank top ladies)

In the meantime, this is a compelling story, isn't it though? Someone really should write it all out.

Michelle said...

Best wishes in whatever you find to do that scratches the same AE itch to create and write, and of course, we'll all still be here...reading and rooting for you.

Unknown said...

I'd believe Trish over this guy.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Why do some replies post twice? Oh what the hell, who knows.

Unknown said...

Why do some replies post twice? Oh what the hell, who knows.

AllTheThingsAreFree said...

Where do we go from heeeeeere?

Alex said...

Many thanks for all the insightful, enlightened, inspired, thoughtful, and amusing writings. Please keep writing- your words will live on.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say AE has been such a great website and source of support and comfort over the years. It really is a light to the years when I was so lost and confused as to why 2 women kissing can be so oh so freaking hot, and AE has had lots of it. :D

Will forever miss AE. That said, I will support AS, though really, AE is such a better name.