After After AfterEllen
Just a reminder, AfterEllen is terrible. Yes, it was my online home for almost 10 years. It discovered and cultivated some of the brightest queer women’s voices on the internet since its founding in 2002. But since September 2016, when its latest corporate overlord – Evolve Media/TotallyHer – decided it wasn’t profitable enough to run as it had been, it’s been a horror show. And if you’re wondering why nearly all the writers (myself included) quit after that decision, well, this is why.
And, this, too – published just yesterday. Don’t click it. Life is too fucking short and they absolutely do not deserve the views.
That a site I once loved and helped me find myself as a lesbian and member of the LGBTQ community has turned into a wildly transphobic cesspool is beyond disappointing, beyond tragic, beyond rage-inducing. But the thing is, from the moment Evolve backpedaled and kept the site open, instead installing an Editor in Chief whose past support indicated a strong transphobic leanings, we all knew it was going to be bad.
Look, AE was never perfect. It had its blind spots and its weaknesses. Heck, things I’ve written in the past I cringe at today. But I always knew its heart and the mission of its writers was one of inclusivity and equality. We wanted more and better representation, always. Because, you know, visibility matters. We welcomed everyone to come and be part of that community who shared that vision. Did we fight? Fuck yes, sometimes we fought. But that’s what happens in any big, sprawling community.
But now, now I can’t go to the site. Before yesterday, I honestly can’t remember the last time I visited AE. Because it hurts to go there. It really does. And it disgusts me to my core.
Whatever you thought of AE, you can’t argue with its importance as an early online LGBTQ community. For queer women it was at the forefront – and sometimes the only – place to go and find other queer women to talk to about pop culture and life in general. A place to learn about queer female representation in the media. A place to share about the shows, the movies, the music you loved that spoke to you. A place to talk about the things that made you feel less alone.
If I won the lotto tomorrow, one of the first things I would do is buy AfterEllen – split off all the content from after the 2016 ruining to a separate site – and preserve it as an online document of queer women’s history. Or, you know, the current editor and management could just stop being transphobic garbage. You know, as a suggestion.
p.s. I know I still have a link to my past AE work up here. I wrestle with it often. On the one hand, that’s almost a decade of work. A career in queer media. On the other hand, that site is terrible and should not get any clicks. Like I said, I wrestle with it.