32 Hours Of Autostraddle Fundraising Remain, We Hit $100K, Let’s Talk About It!

They said we couldn’t do it. By “they” I mean everybody in the entire universe, but especially our families, our colleagues and, well, each other. We said it to each other sometimes. We said it while crying or while screaming or sometimes both. We said it mostly in the beginning, and less and less over the years, and now we never have to say it at all.

I never meant it, though. I knew we could do it. I wrote in my journal ‘we can do this’ over and over again. I know sometimes I was the only one who still believed we could do it, and sometimes it was just me and Laneia, alone on our little raft of “believing we could do it,” eating pita chips and watching the boats zip by.

Fast forward to barely a day into our campaign and already hitting the $40k mark, when Alex g-chats me:

Alexandra: I seriously think I might cry. I just had a moment.
All the facebook posts. The things our friends are saying when they post the campaign… It’s overwhelming me and I felt like crying.
Riese: alex vega!
you never cry!
this is crazy
you should cry!
you deserve it
look what we made!
Alexandra: These people are so invested. It means so much.
Riese: i feel like they never cease to amaze me
Alexandra: i can’t imagine how you feel.
all of this. it’s crazy.
I finally believe i can do this full time and want to
Riese: YAYYYYYYY!
Alexandra: And like, Taylor’s post on facebook about the campaign hit hard because the thing she said about us having to figure this shit out as we went along… and like, how fucking hard that was. And that I couldnt see where I (or we) were going, but here we are trucking along happily.
Riese: it was so hard!
Alexandra: all the internal/secret breakdowns I had trying to figure out media kits, and advertising and what CPM fucking meant for the 8th time and well, I can look back and be like I overcame that and figured some shit out!
Riese: i know, it’s crazy, like to think back on it
because the reason we kept going was because we/i felt right now was possible
but it was so hard and frustrating!
but now like
we figured it out
Alexandra: yeah
Riese: it just took time
Alexandra: I think we knew it was there… somewhere… but it was still so hard to see. or believe.
Riese: i’m proud of you
the future is bright
Alexandra: I’m proud of you too.

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NOW WE’VE HIT $100,000!

Back in April 2011 when we did a mini-fundraiser and raised $20,000 in ten days, you were buying us time to figure out what to do next, to figure out how to turn money into more money. Things were very different then — we were still epically short-staffed, for starters, and Laneia and I were the only ones getting paid.

This time I already know how to turn money into more money and it’s such a thrilling feeling! It’s better than ice cream! We’ve got so much planned for the future and so many new initiatives to rock your socks off, and I can actually start putting together a budget for paying even more writers.

Huge change won’t happen next week because camp is next week and we’ll have a lot of perks to fulfill upon returning, but it will happen soon and we are so excited about the future and little things are already changing. Even the last few weeks have been different — due to a Murphy’s-Law-enabled timing situation, my girlfriend and I had to find and move into a new apartment by September 1st, which is a lot to do on top of camp prep and my 80-hours-a-week job at Autostraddle and writing endless Real L Word recaps! But I was able to pay Carmen “Broke as F*ck” Rios to take over camp emailing, Laura to take over camp transportation, Bren to take over merch shipping and Rachel/Laneia/Laura to take over a lot of the day-to-day editing and we hired these new amazing writers and therefore I managed to both move and sleep at least five hours a night last week! On a really personal level, I’m just enormously excited that in October I’m gonna be able to see my family in Ohio for the first time in over three years — I used to see them a few times a year, but that all stopped when Autostraddle started. It’s not just about the plane ticket, it’s also that now I have the staff who can run the website without me when I’m wi-fi free in the cornfields of Reeseville, Ohio, population 63. So I want to thank you for that.

You hear me talking about money all the time, though, and about what the site needs and how we can get it and what we’re gonna do with it. But you don’t usually hear from the other team members and I thought that today, as we approach the final 24 hours of this campaign, it’d be a good time for some lesbian executive realness from some of the many crazy motherfuckers who make this shit happen.

 

Rachel:

rachel triumphantly raising a fist of beer in the air with laura, julia and lily – pride 2010

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intern // october 2009
writer // july 2010
senior writer // october 2010
associate editor // february 2011
senior editor // june 2011 – present

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Before the fundraising push hit $80,000, I made between $4 and $5/hr as Senior Editor at Autostraddle. My “day job” was and still is as a graduate student and instructor of freshman composition, which pays $11,300 a year. (Not per semester. Per year.) I don’t get paychecks from my day job over the summer, and so I babysat and took odd jobs (pouring beer and wine at a weird open-air community mixer thing! editing the memoirs of the wealthy elderly!) to pay my rent. Figuring out grocery shopping, both in terms of time and money, frequently seemed totally impossible. And now that we’ve managed to raise over $80,000, with some incredible person donating $1000 at once to push us over the edge? I know that I can go home to see my mother and brother for Thanksgiving, because I think I can afford the plane ticket. My working single mom with plenty of debt of her own asked if she thought I needed help to buy it, and I was able to tell her that I didn’t think I did. I can afford to fix the broken windshield wiper and AC in my car, which haven’t been working since May. I had set a goal for myself to try to pay down $500 worth of my unsubsidized student loans this summer, the ones that are still collecting insane interest even though I’m in school and can defer them. Last month I had resigned myself to not meeting this goal; now I think I might be able to pull it off.

I love my job, and the people that I work for and with, so, so much. When I even think about the possibility of not being able to do this work, I get physically uncomfortable and feel my eyes water and I want to make a drink. We try not to talk about it that much, but there have been several moments where we really thought we might not get to keep doing this, that we might have to call it a good run and go back to what we were before, whether that was temping or bagging groceries or trying to coax some thoughts about Maya Angelou out of college freshmen. Those moments were some of the saddest and scariest in my life. And more than anything, what this fundraising experience has done for me and for the website is show is that that isn’t the case. Whatever else happens, we’ve built a community of people that takes care of its own; we take care of each other. And now I feel so happy and lucky and confident about the fact that we can continue to make a space for people to take care of each other. We can afford to make more camperships for people trapped in unhealthy communities who need help, we can afford to make a website that actually works, and we can feed ourselves and also buy garbage bags, which is more important to the continuance of this website than you might think.

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Alex:

this is how alex was talked into doing autostraddle – march 2009

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design director // march 2009 – present

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The success of our redesign campaign has been extremely validating. I went home to my family recently and I was receiving “congratulations” on all sides… family, friends, and even long lost college friends knew of it and were congratulating me on the success. They were surprised, I think, that our readers put their money on the table for us like that. That our readers need us as much as we need them. They were as surprised as I was. And I bragged about how awesome our community is. This campaign changed how I felt about what we started, you see because when you start something — a new idea, a business, a shot in the dark — you have to talk about it like it’s real, like it’s a thing that’s going to succeed even though you’re not so sure of that yourself. This campaign means that I get to finally work for pay for a website I helped start, an effort that required a year and a half of free full-time work. This campaign is so validating we need to come up with a new word for “really super incredibly validating”.

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Bren:

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intern // july 2011
editorial assistant // may 2012 – present
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The amazing support of this campaign has allowed Riese to pay me to handle merch. I would totes do merch for free, but the monetary compensation makes my girlfriend tolerant of the shirts, totes, zines and stickers occupying 97% of our apartment and still willing to sleep with me. This benefits the readers because Riese doesn’t have to deal with merch and is free to write interesting things for their eyeballs to absorb!

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Laura:

laura gets a lift from katrina at pride 2009

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intern // may 2009
contributing editor // may 2011
associate editor // march 2012 – present

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Ooooh, the money helps like woah. I’m moving across the big bad ocean later this month and the fact that I get paid as an editor means that I will be able to keep some of my friends and the things I love when I move. If I hadn’t been promoted, I would’ve had to drop my contributing editor job at Autostraddle and spent my time finding some kind of semi-legal side gig to supplement my pretty tiny government income in España. Over the past couple of months, my extra set of eyes and hands means that, between the four of us, we’ve finally had the resources to bring on approximately 93 new writers and interns with Very Special Knowledge on everything from sex to Israel. And who doesn’t want more of that?

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Laneia:

laneia at dinah shore 2010

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writer // march 2009
associate editor // november 2009
executive editor // january 2010 – present
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I’ve gotten used to making lots of personal sacrifices so that my decision to work at Autostraddle, which is a low-income decision, wouldn’t negatively affect my two sons. For example, I haven’t had someone cut my hair in almost three years — which is fine, and not a big deal, because it just seemed like an obscene amount of money to spend on strictly myself, so I didn’t. There are other things too, like clothes — how could I justify spending money on pants that only would ever wear? But that’s not the point because what’s important to me is the two shorties and you guys, and this. Not haircuts or jeans. We all have to prioritize and sacrifice, this isn’t a unique situation.

So obviously on Monday when I lost my shit and started crying in front of this stupid mirror because I was so tired of feeling sad about my hair, I felt even worse when I reminded myself what a terrible brat I was being for even thinking about my dumb hair, much less crying about it. So I stopped. But then I did some math and for the first time in longer than I care to recount, I realized that I could pay for a haircut without it screwing anyone else over. A couple of days later I booked a hair appointment with someone named Bonnie.

So it’s small but it’s huge. It’s being able to get delivery when I’ve had too many nights of emails and edits and tonight I just want to look my kids’ faces for some minutes or even hours between emails, instead of spending two hours preparing food to feed their faces. Or it’s a haircut.

It’s also big things that you have to make yourself believe that you deserve — like this new Macbook I’m typing on that Riese decided I needed after we hit $60k. I’d bought a netbook a few years ago — my first large electronic purchase of my life — because I decided that if I was going to work online, I should probably have a computer that actually worked and that I didn’t have to share. It was the most selfish $450 I’d ever spent. So anyway imagine my terrible crushing guilt when this zippy little netbook stopped being so fast, started overheating and was actually small enough that I eventually required glasses (the second most selfish purchase of my short life) in order to read things on it. But this isn’t a pity party! I’m sharing this to say that this Mac kicks that netbook’s ass. Turning on my computer isn’t a 10 minute-long process. I can have multiple programs running at once! I can edit a photo and insert it into a post while my coffee’s still hot.

I can do this job.

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You got us to $100,000, which means Alex is getting a tattoo of tinkerbell on her ass, we’re getting an ideascale account, and you’re getting a crazy awesome star-studded music video event! It also means everybody here is really fantastic and awesome.

If we make $110,000, there are queer girl city guides in your future, and if we hit $120,000, we’ll make Lesbian Literary Month happen which I’m personally really pumped about. I mean these could be 24 really transformative hours. (Here’s that link again!)

But regardless — thank you. Thank you thank you thank you thank you forever. This is the best job ever, we are so blessed and so committed to keeping this ship running without any corporate involvement. It’s still your space, it’s our space, and we’ll do everything we can to  make sure that never changes.

Avatar of Riese

Riese is the 32-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1741 articles for us.

63 Comments

  1. Thumb up 10

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    All of you are amazing and lovely, and I swear if I wasn’t a broke college student I’d donate all the extra money I had because you girls deserve it and coming to this website always brightens up my day. Finding this website is one of the best discoveries I’ve ever made on the internet and I don’t know what I’d do without it. Keep up the good work((:

  2. Thumb up 17

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    I just started a new teaching job two weeks ago and I still haven’t gotten a paycheck yet and now the teachers are probably going to strike because Rahm is a weird, wild-eyed crazymanmayor pulling the marionette strings of business-man-not-teacher-but-still-somehow-in-charge-of-Chicago-schools Brizard, who seems to be fundamentally incapable of realizing that a strike is terrible for everyone and calling his temporary student accommodations “Holding Centers” just really makes it clear that he sees my students as cattle and not little, adorable squishy people who need to be taught by people who aren’t constantly worried about having all of their collective bargaining rights and general workplace quality/security/safety stripped away.

    This is all to say that of course I’m giving you more money. Because fuck it, that’s why.

  3. Thumb up 18

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    I know I didn’t write a whole lot, but it really does mean the world. Honestly, the realness of this whole moving situation is finally settling in and the only thing keeping me even party sane is the fact that I have Riese and Rachel and Laneia and all of you in this little corner of the internet that I get to come to and spend time with. I’m going to work so hard for everyone because how could I give you anything less? I just feel so in love with all of your right now that it hurts.

  4. Thumb up 17

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    That validation Alex referred to, I think a little piece of that is in all of us right now knowing that we have such an incredible team of women willing to do whatever it takes to prove we are understood. We are heard. We hear you. This is more than a website, it is a labor of selfless love and a passion for connecting an entire community, WORLDWIDE. You all should be so proud of yourselves!

    I want Rachel to go on a Whole Foods shopping spree, Laneia to get a haircut AND jeans, Laura to explore abroad and tell us about all the things, and Riese to stop by and say hello while she’s in Ohio. I hope you all do all the things, because you ALL deserve it.

    Thank you for giving us so much, I know there are big things coming up. I only wish my available donation funds had been proportionate to the love I have for this place!

      • Thumb up 5

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        It’s not ridiculous at all. Its just really amazing to me that all of these women were willing to sacrifice things that they easily could’ve had for the sake of staying here at Autostraddle and creating this beautiful space for us. That determination deserves much more than a cart full of groceries…..that deserves everything.

  5. Thumb up 14

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    I wore my AS shirt to a queer party. Nuff said.

    That single fact is something that AS is responsible for. I never felt queer, I never felt at home, I never felt like my queerness was something that was legitimate. And now I do.

    <3

  6. Thumb up 4

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    You all deserved it. Your readers are proof of how awesome you all are, their donations (and my puny $25 contribution) are a testament to the fact that we too BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT!! So happy to know this website is going to reach its full potential, and excited to see the difference!!! I’ll be here in NC, waiting for my You Do You sticker so I can put it on my laptop. Love to you all!!!

  7. Thumb up 8

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    for the past month i’ve been holding off donating because i was afraid to take a paycheck from my business account. i started it a few like 7 months ago and i was always on edge. this is the first month i’ve actually been able to take home a regular paycheck : D and then my only means of transportation broke down, i have to start paying people who loaned me monies, pay for upcoming surgery, pt sessions, put off moving, etc. but i can finally afford to pay this off on my own, that alone makes me happy, so i can imagine how proud and surprised you guys are to see the thing you love and struggled with grow this much

    i can’t hold out on you guys anymore, i have to donate now. you found my feelings button

  8. Thumb up 8

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    I’ve never really felt so much love and happiness for people I don’t really know. But I kind of feel like I do know you after reading the website for almost 2 years. I feel like I belong somewhere. I belong, thanks to all of you.

  9. Thumb up 8

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    “Whatever else happens, we’ve built a community of people that takes care of its own; we take care of each other.”

    YES.

    “It’s still your space, it’s our space, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure that never changes.”

    i love you guys so much. like, so, so, so, SO much. thank you for not giving up. we’ll never give up on you.

  10. Thumb up 11

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    I’m in complete shock that we made it past $100,000! I feel like I’m just going to burst into tears when I see everyone at camp again because, you guys, you built this. You built us. You have changed so many lives, and if it wasn’t for this wonderful community and website, I’d be so miserable and unhappy and confused with my life. So whenever you need money, I will throw it at you and thank each and every one of you for just existing.

  11. Thumb up 14

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    CONGRATS ALL!!!
    I didn’t donate until this week because I hadn’t yet set up a bank account that my parents can’t see. The first thing that I did with my “independent” checking account was donate to AS! AS has been my safe space while I was at home and I truly appreciate, value, and love you all for giving me that. I’m from North Dakota, not the greatest place for queer visibility, and AS reminded me that I was not alone. This is my first year away from home – wooo college! On the day that I donated to AS I also attended my first Intro to LGBTQ Studies class and it about blew my mind. I attribute my having the guts to take this class to my daily reading of AS. I’m so happy that I decided to take the class and to attempt to be more open about who I am in college. What I’m trying to so in-eloquently to say is Thank You for all you have done for me and others. You are inspiring and I can’t wait to see what you do in the future!

  12. Thumb up 2

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    Well done!!! There is nothing more impressive and pleasing to watch than people who set themselves a challenge, work out how to make it happen all by themselves and then realise their dreams… and get paid! So inspiring – and Autostraddle is an amazing project. So pleased for you all.

  13. Thumb up 3

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    Oh sweet lord, I am so happy for yous. $100,000!!! ($103,000 as I type this.) It is beautiful, and thank you for your words about what it means for you. I’ve been so stressed out of my mind for a month that I haven’t had time to get excited about A Camp at all, but this has just pushed me back up to Complete Autostraddle Joy and I am the happiest.

    Also, Riese and Rachel getting to spend time with their families because we all gave money to this thing <3 <3 <3 too much love I can't.

  14. Thumb up 3

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    When I read posts like this one, I feel like it completely validates every single donation. Autostraddle is not only a website with amazing content, both enlightening and plain hilarious, it’s YOU guys. You have this pull that makes people who don’t even know you admire and respect you and that’s why it’s so successful.

    xx

  15. Thumb up 21

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    This is only tangentially related, but I was just reminded of when I still did things here 100,000 years ago, and I was a poor, unemployed student slash Autostraddle intern, and I wanted to go to the Monster Ball because AS convinced me to like Mama Monster, but I had no food and almost no money so I was basically just sitting in front of my laptop all sad. There had just been a third Monster Ball date added here in Chicago, and I posted a picture of my empty fridge with a caption that was basically ‘Food or Gaga?’ Common sense/the internet told me food, but I wasn’t 100% convinced. Next thing I know I get an email from Riese/Alex telling me to check my paypal. They had magicked me some money toward a Monster Ball ticket, provided I wrote about it for AS. So I got a ticket and I got some food and I took pictures and wrote about things and here we are.

    My (vague) point is, there doesn’t seem to be anything that these women won’t do each other and for you, and that is something to appreciate and cherish, you know? And being able to do anything for them in return is worth only half a fridge of groceries.

  16. Thumb up 3

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    Damn, Autostraddle! You all rock, and this article about your monetary struggles made my struggle feel not only less lonely, but made me donate $25 before I looked at my budget cause I got paid today. YOU and sharing your experience are essential! thank you. xoxox

  17. Thumb up 5

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    When I had to do a little budget juggling to donate the chunk that I did, I stopped to think about all the non-existent budgets ya’ll have been working on for so long to give us Autostraddle, to give us this indispensable gift. To me, this website has been my queer community, my ONLY queer community for so long. It even helped me get laid for awhile. I don’t even what to remember what a hot mess of an uninformed baby dyke I was before I found this place.
    So when I saw the donation number top 100K, I did a little fist pump in my dark little apartment and thought about just how fucking proud and happy I am to be a part of this.
    Thank you for your sacrifices, thank you for your awesomeness, and thank your for all the giant pieces of your hearts that end up here.

  18. Thumb up 3

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    I…can’t believe this is a thing we did. WE did it. Us. This community of fucking beautiful people. I am so insanely busy that I almost never have time to comment during the school year, but I read religiously and NOT contributing was never even a thing I considered. I LOVE YOU GUYS IS WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY.

  19. Thumb up 3

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    I never ever ever donate moneyz but was seriously considering donating to you guys (even though rational brain was all GET A JOB FIRST) and then I started reading this article and didn’t even finish Rachel’s bit when I donated some moneyz. Because you guys made me feel FEELINGS.

  20. Thumb up 3

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    YOU GUYS! I said I would donate like weeks ago, and then life & car problems happened. I was a sad sad pandaface. But NOW. 4 hours to go and I get to donate twice as much as I wanted to (thanks extra babysitting hours!)! YAAAAAY SHIRT! :)))))))

    Anyway. This site means so much to me, and I’m so happy to be able to back up my feels with monaaay! Eeeeeeeeee!

    • Thumb up 3

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      I mean, seriously. All the feelings. Ever since I realized I’m pansexual, I’ve been living in countries where being out isn’t ok. This site is really my only LGBTQ community, and it’s really meant a lot to me.

      Thank you guys so much for sticking with it despite all the struggles. It means so much to so many of us.

  21. Thumb up 3

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    AHHHHH
    This made my day, even though it was published three days ago. I just cannot believe it. I donated $10 about a week ago and felt great about it, but also terrible because I didn’t donate more. But then I realized that we all had the same beautiful spirit to donate and now this all feels like CHRISTMAS without the unnecessary burden of ridiculous relatives and fruit cake.

    We WON something, you guys! It’s almost like we won the chance to be what we are without noise or compromise. Autostraddle never wanted corporate sponsorship, and it never wanted to distribute ads to the same people that kept it relevant. And now it doesn’t have to.

    Overall, I’m just so proud of the team at Autostraddle. I’m proud of the initiative it took to get it started, the wonderful, talented women who put it together and put in hard work to keep it running, and the fact that it’s something I love telling others about. I’m proud that Autostraddle is a thing that I want to let influence my life, instead of being something I feel obligated to take part in, (i.e. facebook, etc.)

    And this is just getting started, you guys. Good things come of good things, that’s just the way it works. :)
    100,000 thank you’s to the team at Autostraddle! You have no idea how you’ve impacted my life and the lives of so many others!

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