YOU DID IT! Thank you for $220,000, thank you for filling the gaps in our budget through July of 2021, THANK YOU for all that this means! Thank you from all of us here at Autostraddle. Your hair looks extraordinary today.
Carmen Phillips, Editor-in-Chief
My fingers keep doing that nervous twitching above the keyboard thing that they do when I have something important to say, but I’m not quite sure how to say it. But here it goes:
There are not enough words to say thank you. Not in a real way. Not in the way I need to say it. Not in a way that also says: You are better than magic, you are real, and without you none of this would be possible.
I am stunned all the time by everyone here — the senior staff, our writers, our illustrators, our tech people, everyone who gets up each day and takes this small part of themselves and gives it to our community. I think it was just six hours ago (we hadn’t yet made our fundraising goal, but we were starting to feel good about it) that I was saying to all of them “I love working for this team!” And it’s true. There is not a better group of human beings that I know, and every day that I get to wake up and edit one of their pieces or make a design call or workshop one of their ideas is a gift that I never take for granted. Thank you all for letting us hold on to that gift for even a little bit longer.
It’s also not about us, not really. It’s about all of YOU. Thank you for entrusting your stories to us. Thank you for showing up for our community. Thank you for quite literally putting your $5 or $10 or more on the line. Thank you for every RT, for DMing your group chat on our behalf. Thanks for reading our words with an open heart. I am so full to the brim right now, just absolutely wrecked, thinking about all three thousand (and counting!) of you who said: Autostraddle isn’t over. Not on my watch. Not yet.
Just… Thank you.
Rachel , Interm Literature Editor
I won’t say that I didn’t believe our community could fund this goal; I will say that when Nicole first told us the number they and Riese had confirmed we needed to raise – 220K! – my first, instinctive private thought was ‘that’s impossible.’ You all have shown up for us in so many ways countless times before, lifting us up and calling us in with incredible grace and generosity. But at the same time, we were almost a year into a pandemic and attendant devastating recession. Everyone I knew, myself and my coworkers on the fundraiser included, had suffered hardship, loss and painful challenges over the past year; everyone I knew was so, so tired. I couldn’t imagine asking anyone for anything, because I couldn’t imagine anyone having anything left to give. I am grateful beyond words that once again, as you have countless times already, you showed me that more was possible than I would have imagined, and that the grim realities we imagine are inevitable are within our ability to manage when we don’t force ourselves to do it alone. Thank you for the gift of this material support, and thank you for the gift of a tangible reminder that we can do so much more when we do it together.
Sarah Sarwar, Design & Marketing Director
I just took the deepest, most relaxing breath that I’ve taken in the last three months. I’m feeling emotional that in such a difficult time for my job personally, I witnessed this community showing up and bringing in the money that advertising couldn’t. It’s truly remarkable, and I am forever grateful. Thank you so so so so so so much.
Laneia , Executive Editor
Ok listen, it’s all over the social media graphics and the sidebar and everything else: YOU DID IT. But I want to just make sure that you really internalize that it was YOU. And it was you because it was so many of you. And it was so many of you because you get it, you know what we’re trying to do here and you believe it’s possible. The trust there, the hope, especially now, floors me.
I’ve done this job on so many different little screens and in so many little places — bedrooms and living rooms and kitchens (I can’t tell you how many times you’ve made dinner with me) and hotel rooms and airports (and airplanes) and porches and cars and music festivals and once on the beach — usually by myself there, sometimes in a mad rush or panic, often exhausted, very often doubting that I was doing it completely right, but still believing that we’d figure it out. That ‘we’ has always been all of us; it’s always included you. This fundraising goal seemed just shy of possible when Nicole announced the number. I cried about it, to be honest — and not because I thought you wouldn’t support us, but because I have never once taken for granted that you would.
Thank you so, so fucking much, you gorgeous weirdos.
Heather Hogan, Senior Writer & TV Editor
Two seemingly disparate memories.
When I was five years old, I experienced my first PBS telethon. Big Bird interrupted my Saturday morning Sesame Street episode to say if we wanted to keep seeing him on TV, we should donate to PBS, and that even the smallest amount would help make sure that Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster and Elmo had a home on Sesame Street and also in my living room. I gave my great-grandmother five one-dollar bills I’d saved from my weekly allowance — all the money I had in the world — and she wrote a check to WPBA, Atlanta’s Public Broadcasting Service. Big Bird was my best friend and I was happy to share my allowance with him.
My first Christmas in New York City, I was sitting in a gay dive on a Saturday night with Valerie Anne. We’d known each other online for years, but we’d only been knowing each other in real life at that point for a couple of months. It was toasty in that dive corner, and we were tipsy, and there were multi-colored twinkle lights hanging behind the bar. A group of drag queens came by singing and collecting money for homeless LGBTQ+ youth, and of course we gladly gave all the cash in our pockets. It was one of those magical moments in NYC where you feel connected to all the gays before you, who left their rural lives and came here to find a different kind of family. Valerie was feeling it too, I could tell, which surprised me a little but because she’d been living here ten years by then. But now I know that kind of awe at the bewitchment of this place never really goes away. I had never not been home for Christmas, but then, I was home, wasn’t I? In a way I’d never been before.
Those were the two memories I conjured again and again throughout this fundraiser. I could never, in a zillion years, ask for this amount of money if Big Bird had never been my closest companion, if Riese’s personal blog hadn’t empowered me to come out and chase my dreams, if I hadn’t experienced the comfort of generations of gays who came before me while I was building my own found family in the places they’d built theirs too. I am deeply humbled to be a part of your experience of family, to be invited into your living room like Snuffleupagus week after week, to laugh with you and grieve with you and continue to build a space that defies all odds and is all our own. Thank you for believing in what we do. Thank you for living it with us, day after day, year after year. Grateful isn’t a big enough word, but I am. And I thank you.
Nicole Hall, A+ & Fundraising Director
Going into this, I was faced with two realities that seemed incompatible. The first reality was that we needed $220,000 from somewhere and since it wasn’t likely to come from any other source, it needed to come from fundraising, which meant you — our community. The second reality was that our fundraising goal was over $100,000 more than the last time we did this, and that goal in August had felt like asking a lot. It was a moment where we truly had very little left and no one else to turn to but you. It was a moment where we had to take a leap and just say that we were going to try something that seemed kind of impossible. I believed from the start that we could do it, that if anyone could do something like this — it had to be this team and this community, but I also knew that it might not be easy, that we would need a sizeable number of people in our community to help if we were going to achieve this.
And then, you made a decision. I want to emphasize that. You made a choice. You chose to keep Autostraddle around. That’s what fills me with awe and with gratitude. This queer community decided that you were all going to put your collective foot down and say, “Market forces be damned! WE want this! WE are going to keep Autostraddle around for us and people like us!” And so you did it. No one gave you Autostraddle this year, no one rich celesbian came down from on high and bestowed it on us. (A reminder that 70% of gifts are $50 or less). You made it happen. I am not sure I’m articulating how much it means to me that we have again stayed standing during an extremely dark time that has taken so much from so many of us. This queer space might well endure for years to come because you buoyed us up when we were so vulnerable. It’s a story queer people have lived again and again, making our own spaces, insisting that WE ARE HERE when our culture and the places we call home are threatened with erasure. And then — we find ways to endure. Thank you for being a part of this story and of this community/publication’s survival and of what’s next.
OKAY, and so many of you have been asking about this: yes, we are going to take some time off (staggered, Autostraddle will keep running as usual) and we have a meeting on Thursday about it! Carmen and I have a stand-off-style deal that will involve each of us taking time off OR ELSE and so will Heather, Sarah, Laneia and Rachel and Riese. No one will escape getting their rest. I’m on it.
And then we are going to get back to work. Thank you for this gift that has bought us so much time. We don’t have to scramble, now. We have the space and the breathing room for strategic thinking and mindful decision-making. This gift is so much more than the sum of the funds raised because of the room it will give us to make plans. Thank you thank you thank you. Thank you for making the impossible possible, for manifesting queer magic into a new reality.
Riese Bernard, CEO
When I started Autostraddle the goal was not to make an idea succeed; it was to see if an idea had legs. I thought there was an appetite for something like this place. I wasn’t sure. (I wasn’t sure of anything at all back then, really.) I was sad about a very weird friendship breakup and the economy had recently imploded and I chose to distract myself by finding out if this big dream I had — but even at that point it was becoming a “we,” other people were dreaming it too — was possible. It would be good to know. If it turned out to be a flop, then I’d go back to school and then become a teacher and maybe write a book one day. Is there an appetite for this? Is this possible? Some days the answer seemed like “no” but not enough days in a row to make us quit.
12 entire g-ddamn years later, we still wake up every day and ask those questions. Is there an appetite for this? Is this possible? We are not here to impose ourselves upon you, but to dream with you, to make sure we’re still serving you and each other. You’ve watched us fuck up and grow and do good stuff and bad stuff and beautiful stuff and together we have been messy, yearning, curious, scared, okay, sometimes even great.
And for the past six weeks there was a tremor of panic in those questions (Is this possible?) but everyone swallowed it and our incredible team and our awe-inspiring A+/Fundraising director Nicole Hall have worked so fucking hard and you have given us everything you could afford to give. Our biggest goal yet by a long shot, and during a uh, pretty unpleasant period of human history.
So thank you weirdos for your hunger, thank you for your belief in us and in this community and in our collective queer futures. This, at least, remains very fucking possible.