AfterEllen Is Shutting Down

When I was hiding out under my covers watching lesbian movies in pieces on YouTube, I was reading two things: Riese’s personal blog and In June of 2008, not very long after I came out, AfterEllen founder and Editor in Chief Sarah Warn plucked me from the comments of a Hot 100 post and offered to let me write a few blog posts a week for AfterEllen, a gig that eventually came with a senior editor title. I met my future wife because of the Skins recaps I wrote on AfterEllen. I met so many of my dearest and best friends because of the Pretty Little Liars recaps I started on AfterEllen. My hero, Scribegrrrl, became my mentor and then a deeply beloved friend because of AfterEllen. As did my hero Dorothy Snarker, the very first real writer to tell me I had what it took to become a real writer. Trish Bendix and Karman Kregloe and Sarah Warn and Malinda Lo allowed me to find my voice. The dust of AfterEllen is in my very bones, and today Trish Bendix announced that Friday will be the site’s last day.

There’s no point in pretending that AfterEllen and Autostraddle have not existed in a competitive tension for the last several years, especially as our visions for the queer community and editorial ethos began to diverge, but I will tell you truly that I am shocked and heartbroken to hear that the site is shutting its doors. Countless lesbian and bisexual women have discovered their sexuality because of AfterEllen, have come out because of AfterEllen, have found community through AfterEllen — and for a very, very long time, it was the only website that held pop culture accountable. Sarah Warn founded the website with the tagline “Visibility Matters,” and AfterEllen’s contribution to the visibility of queer women is frankly incalculable.

AfterEllen’s announcement comes during a year when the media landscape is changing more rapidly than it has in over a decade. Every week, it seems, news breaks of another site laying off dozens of beloved writers, as sites with big time capital — the Buzzfeeds and Vices of the world — suck up more of the market and more of the advertising money. And as Facebook continues to change the way websites find readers. And as fresh-from-college writers are forced to devalue their work for “exposure” and veteran writers are deemed disposable. The most vulnerable websites, of course, are those who cater to niche markets, particularly ones who cater to women, and super particularly ones who cater to queer women. AfterEllen, it would seem, has been swept up in this tidal wave of change.

AfterEllen meant so much to so many people. It has meant so much to me. It will always have a hold on my heart. I would not be who I am today without it.

When the news broke, our inboxes, comments and social media lit up with one question: What does this mean for Autostraddle? I’ll let Riese answer that question.

From Riese: 

The current online media landscape is not friendly to the type of media we create. Since 2011, the percentage of our revenue generated from advertising income has been in decline, and since 2013, the actual amount of advertising-generated income has been in decline. In order to stay afloat, we bust our asses to run events, put on massively complicated camps, print merch, provide bonus insider-y content for A+ members — and the shuttering of AfterEllen is part of that same story. I never thought we would outlive AfterEllen. Never. They’re AFTERELLEN. They were the first lesbian website I ever read, they have an archive of writing about lesbian pop culture that was unrivaled for so long. Plus, they had Viacom! They got bought by Totally Her! They had that corporate money! But corporate money isn’t the answer, is it? Even with that money, they couldn’t turn a profit. I suspect the same would be true for us — actually, I know it would be, because Totally Her tried selling ads for our site too, and that didn’t work either.

There is only one way for sites like ours to survive and it is with your support. If you can’t join A+ or buy merch or donate, share our content on Facebook or other social media, or do your online shopping at Amazon or Wildfang or Babeland or wherever through our links. Tell your friends about us. Leave comments that bring joy to the hearts of our under-paid writers. I’m proud that we still exist, but we’re often on the brink of not existing anymore, and this job has never been easy. It’s always a struggle. But we love this work, we love you, and we are more determined than ever to do everything we can not to leave you. Also because I have abandonment issues.

We keep Autostraddle majority free-to-read, but it isn't free to create! We need YOU to sign up for A+ to help keep this indie queer media site funded. A+ membership starts at just $4/month or $30/year. If you can, will you join?

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1353 articles for us.


      • The advocate published the entire piece she posted on tumblr – I was happy to see that they picked it up. Afterellen was really my only queer community for a while. It helped me become comfortable with myself – reading things by and about queer women as a baby game from a conservative place was so important. I even met my first girlfriend through an afterellen message board. Places like afterellen and autostraddle are so important.

    • If you read some of the personal blogs of people involved in afterellen, they have been specifically told they cannot post their thoughts to the website. The only mention is a link to an external news source with an article about the situation in today’s Morning Brew.

    • To both sites. You have left out much about the older lesbians that fought for your rights. There are more important issues than who’s dating who and how a break-up effects your Saturday Night wet dreams. Ladies…think about the families, art,politics and literature that gave you some freedom.

      • I think maybe Lisa is referring specifically to historical culture and ‘older lesbians.’

        Lisa, have you read much of the Rebel Girls series? That’s a great place to start!

        It would definitely be great to have more content written by women in their forties, fifties, and sixties about their lives and what things were like for previous generations.

        But if you’ve actually read this site…like Miles says, it is definitely not about ‘who’s breakup affects our Saturday night wet dreams,” whatever the heck that even means. We get pretty serious here. On today’s homepage is an article about the dynamics of a poly family, an article about partners running a business together, an article about what is happening in Charleston, the list goes on.

      • Lisa, this sounds like a great pitch to make if you feel like Autostraddle is missing that kind of content. There has been a lot of content exploring our past and what took us to get to that point, but there’s never enough of it.

        Let’s not forget that it’s a GOOD thing that the largest site for queer women is able to focus on a breadth of topics, including out celebrities and queer visibility in pop culture. Is that not what queer women and allies fought for, the right of visibility in both art, politics, literature AND being able to start to see ourselves reflected in popular culture? To borrow from the labor movement, give us bread, but give us roses too.

        Lastly, I urge you stick around here and see if your presumption that none of us are thinking about the past or appreciating all the hard work by those who came before us that allows us to enjoy this space.

  1. That’s too bad. I started with AfterEllen, Autostraddle and blogs all of which helped me to learn more about myself and the world.
    This is a wake up call to read more, support more and to appreciate other people’s work more.

  2. I am sorry for the narrowing of the queer women’s landscape, because that benefits no one. AE, thanks for your years of service, and AS, thanks for reminding me to put some more $$ your way so you can keep doing this desperately needed work :-)

  3. I hope people don’t flood these comments with opinionated commentary about the relative progressiveness of AE users compared to AS users because it’s super beside the point. This is sad news.

  4. This made me sadder than I thought it would. I discovered A fterEllen before I even acknowledged to myself that I was bisexual. It was a very important place for me and it’s how I discovered this website too. Will be very much missed.

  5. This is terribly sad. I met my wife on AE years ago and have gotten most of my lesbian news from that website (just learning of Autostraddle this year).

    I have to admit, I’m not a fan of where the main editor hs taken the website, but I would’ve thought that all the insane new advertising they’re doing would help a bit.

    I am very sad to see AE go, it was such a great place for queer women to be and read about our community.

  6. This is a huge loss, and even though I don’t frequent AfterEllen as often as I used to, I’m really sad about it. AfterEllen and Autostraddle were both so important to me as I discovered myself and eventually came out. It does remind me to renew my A+ membership now that I’ve finally got a little bit of disposable income.

    On a side note, does anyone know if this will impact AfterElton any? I don’t know how much the two sites are tied together, if at all, these days.

    • Okay, a little googling filled me in on the fact that not only have they been owned by different companies for something like 2 years now, but afterelton isn’t even called that anymore. Ignore my previous question, I’ll be in the corner wearing my dunce cap.

    • Afterelton became The Backlot a few years ago. Then they were bought out by Logo who pretty much destroyed the site as we know it. They haven’t posted anything in months so I’m going to assume it’s not coming back either.

      • I’m not sure about the relation between The Backlot and NewNowNext, but the latter has definitely taken over the gay content of the former. My totally sideline guess is that RuPaul’s Drag Race has in part kept the website alive b/c it’s also owned by Logo and NNN gets RPDR exclusives.

  7. Afterellen and The Toast were the two websites that helped me come out (shoutout especially to Heather Hogans PLL recaps, it wasn’t til Heather moved here that I discovered Autostraddle at all). I’m really bummed out that both of them have shut down in the last three months.

  8. It’s a bummer. I grew up on AE, it kept me afloat before I was out for YEARS, and I respect everyone who poured their hearts and souls into the site.

    It truly does seem like the quality of the journalism changed in its later years – they continued to cover pop culture but weren’t able to move beyond kind of basic topics otherwise, and it seemed to me that they were never able (willing?) to elevate the voices of trans writers and writers of color in the same ways that Autostraddle works to do.

    But what really pushed me away and over to AS was the fact that the comment section became an absolute garbage fire (i.e., a comment section just like the rest of the internet has to deal with, I guess). It didn’t used to be like that back in the day, but at least for the past few years, it was baaad.

    So…there’s all that. But then, based on Riese’s reporting in the Business of Art Fix and elsewhere, it sounds like AE might have had just as bad a go of it even if it had stayed or become the literal best queer lady blog in the world. The Toast shut down, after all. I don’t think AE shut down because it had become mediocre, I think it shut down because as Sarah Warn is talking about over on Twitter right now, advertisers and corporations still don’t see queer women as a community worth selling to. At all.

    I don’t even know what my point is! I guess I am just processing feelings and thoughts about the end of a particular era. Thank you to Sarah Warn and Dorothy Snarker and Heather and Malinda Lo and all of the early writers at AE who wrote such smart, intentional content, and kept me company before I could ever seek out queer community in person. So much <3 <3 to them!

  9. Oh WOW, …… I’m speechless.

    I haven’t been on AE in ages, but they were absolutely foundational to me when I was first coming into myself– I remember clearing out my queue on our family desktop after using it so I wouldn’t be “found out” lol. Much like Riese said, I thought they would always be around.

    I want to say more, to give them a proper “goodbye”, but I’m really gobsmacked here. Just. Wow.

    Even if my readership over there died down with the years, I’m sad to say goodbye to such an old friend.

  10. I’ve been reading both sites for several years, but remember AfterEllen when it first started up under Sarah Warn. For all of AE’s deficiencies – around trans and POC voices, for sure, but also their less-than-ideal response to the Clexa debacle this spring – this is a terrible loss.

    Anyway, this inspired me to finally join A+ for Autostraddle. We need you more than ever now!!!

  11. I’m genuinely upset by this. Many years ago I was searching for Skins news and found Heather’s recaps on AfterEllen. It was the first exposure I had to any kind of queer media and really helped me to come out. Although I’ve not spent so much time there recently, I’ll still miss the site and its writers. On the plus side this does make me even more thankful for AS – imagine if all we had left was Buzzfeed.

  12. After Ellen is my root. I discovered AfterEllen after my mother went to sleep, when I was coming out to myself, back home in South America. It made me feel less alone and, in a funny way, like I was part of something, like I had a community even if it was a virtual one.
    Through AE I discovered Dorothy Snarker’s blog and through her I discovered Autostraddle.
    I am so very sorry to see After Ellen go.

  13. It is always sad to lose a community resource for queer women. I never got into AfterEllen because of its focus on entertainment, but many of you did.

    I was crushed with the loss fo Technodyke 8 plus years ago now, one more victim of the megasites on social media. I don’t often post here, but I see subscribing as vital.

  14. Utter disbelief and sadness. I’ve been a fan, a reader and commentator for over a decade and discovering AfterEllen when I did was a lifeline to a “visibility” where I mattered. Sarah Warn gave a great gift to a beleagured community and despite the loss of her much missed stewardship, I stayed with the site and continued to enjoy the television and film news, gossip, arguments and most of all the recaps. Rizzoli and Isles alone made the all the the years worth it. Golly, I’d say I looked at the site at least every other day. I am so sorry to hear this. You will be so missed. This is like losing a friend. Thank you, AfterEllen for the good times.

  15. i remember spending insomniac nights watching the archives of every low-budget vlog series on AfterEllen in the summer after my freshman year of college, when I was out, but lonely, deeply depressed, and worried that i was fundamentally unloveable. somehow, Dara Nai’s sock puppets of the L Word really helped.

    Like a lot of folks, I was thrilled when Heather came to Autostraddle (and more than happy to join A+ on a limited budget), but AE was the point of entry to her writing and to discovering so much queer pop culture.

  16. I am very saddened by this news. I haven’t followed AE as closely as I used to in recent years (I much prefer the voices and content on this site) but AE was SUPER important to me during the early stages of my coming out. It helped me find a community and it helped me understand who I was and how I fit in the world as a queer woman. I found some of my favorite writers there (Sarah Warn, Heather Hogan, Dorothy Snarker, Malinda Lo, Dana Piccoli) and lots of great TV, movies, and books to find comfort in. AfterEllen will be missed, for sure.

  17. It’a shame. Afterellen was one of the earliest (and for a while only) website to with writing on identity politics in media news that I regularly enjoyed reading. Partially because the how to balance a sense of fun with a serious mission. I know I wasn’t the target audience, but they provided view points on entertainment trends and comparative history that I couldn’t find on a regular basis any place else. All written and illustrated in a way that was easily to follow and appreciate even if you don’t always agree with it.

    I especially enjoyed Scribegrrrl hilarious and sometimes even touching recaps on The L Word. It was what convinced me to give the first season a try on DVD and why I should skip renting the third. Of course by that time youtube had become a thing, which for a while allowed you to pick and choice the best parts and avoid the rest at your choosing. That she was a fellow Muppet fan didn’t hurt either.

    Like others here I’ve rarely visited the site in recent years for various reasons; design changes was making it harder to follow, comment section becoming as combatively-ugly as other sites (which I fear may soon be happening here as well), never like the scrolling approach to digital media other page turning etc. Still there can be no denying it served a valuable service in it’s time. I still can’t decide if this the inevitable result of social progress with like more like minded site there were 15 years ago making it harder to compete or an unfortunate reminded just of how vulnerable LGBT oriented businesses still are.

    I don’t what else to say. Except maybe good luck to everyone still working there. Especially anyone who was trying(?) to make things better despite all the problems. Maybe some of them will have better luck elsewhere, I don’t know. Sad to see it go!

  18. hands up if you remember watching we’re getting nowhere with jill bennett, dara nai and karman kregloe. if you devoured bad girls reviews. if you click on season 1 episode 1 review of bad girl by scribegrrrl you’ll see someone posted a comment just last year even though it was posted 10 freakin years ago.

    i honestly have no words to describe what this lose means

  19. Lol every comment be like “I used to love and read AE, not so much anymore”. Maybe that’s why it’s shutting down.
    Anyway, I hope every afterellen reader switches to reading autostraddle and buys a membership. As long as they leave those terrible comment threads behind.

  20. Although I was never as big a reader of AE as I am of AS, especially in recent years, it truly saddens me to read this, and to see another site for us shut down. I hated seeing the toast go, and I honestly can’t imagine my life if Autostraddle were ever to be gone. This site is now truly the one safe space online.

  21. This is such strange news. I gathered the courage to flirt with a queer girl for the first time in my life on AfterEllen.
    It really was an oasis of queerness in a world that wanted/wants to shut us up and put us all in a corner.
    May the media world be much kinder to AutoStraddle.

  22. I also stopped reading AE as I found I did not like the change in editorial voice and also felt the quality of the writers they hired declined. (With many exceptions. They still had some great writers). But any loss of queer voices is significant. And I agree the most important thing is to do whatever we can to support surviving sites like Autostraddle. Like others, this news reminded me to renew my A+ membership.

  23. AE was there when I just started to figure out my sexuality. When I watched their vlog Cherry Bomb it was the first time I felt like I could be gay and have a future. I read their recaps of the few shows that had queer female characters. I would watch the vlog Lesbian Love with the volume turned low so my mom wouldn’t hear. It’s heartbreaking to hear that the place so central to my coming out is closing. AE, thank you for all the great work you did over the years. We will never forget you.

    AE’s closing and the shuttering of the Toast have motivated me to get an A+ membership. I read an Autostraddle article almost every day but didn’t feel I could afford a membership on a grad student budget. Today’s news had made me re-examine how important women-centered online spaces are especially in a world that feels increasingly hostile.

  24. I’ve been going to Afterellen since 2004. ScribeGrrrls recaps of L Word were the only thing going and I DEVOURED them. It took me several years to become comfortable commenting and getting involved there, but it really was the first place online that felt like home. The heyday for me was your absolutely incredible recaps of PLL Heather back when it was new and exciting and Paily was in full force. The site has declined in recent years and the ads have become so bad, but I still go there daily to catch up on news and read Valerie, Elaine and Dana’s wonderful writing. This makes me so sad!It’s the end of an era. :'(

  25. I only found Autostraddle because of AfterEllen. Both sites’ communities were hugely important to my coming out as bisexual. And I hope Heather’s Skins recaps survive the transition, because they were hugely important to me in realizing I wanted to be a TV reviewer.

    RIP. I only hope that there are more queer women websites that sprout up in its wake. As awesome as Autostraddle is, we need more than one!

  26. I’m much more shocked than I was when I found out the only lesbian bar in my town was closing. What would I have done without After Ellen? (I was reading it long before I found out about Autostraddle – I think I found AS around when it first started, and came here from AfterEllen.) It really helped me come out and feel connected to the “lesbian community” before I was able to make lots of queer friends in real life.


  27. Holy fuck. I hated what the website became recently but damn it meant so much to me in my baby queer days…

    Just updated from cobalt to silver, AS is way too important for me to even entertain the thought of it not existing anymore.

  28. One of my first memories of reading queer things on the internet was an AfterEllen opinion piece about Willow in Buffy and how Joss Whedon had unwittingly compared lesbianism to drug abuse.
    This is a sad reminder that we can’t take anything in our queer little world for granted. I despise the media pull that sites like Buzzfeed are exhibiting with their total lack of journalism or soul. But hopefully the public in general will start to get fed up with being spoon fed lists of 17 Things That Only West Coast Stamp Collectors Will Understand and sites that actually deserve our time will be on the rise once more.

  29. I’m actually crying right now. I agree with some of the critiques of the site, and I do think that contributed to some of the declines in readership and everything else but it’s still a sad day for queer women’s media and a sad day for me personally. I got here because I followed your (Heather Hogan’s) writing here and am so grateful for everything this site has given me. In addition to that, like everyone else said–it was the first thing I read coming out that made me feel like “oh hey, I’m ok.”

  30. This is wretched news. Say what you will about the differing editorial policies of the two sites but Afterellen and Autostraddle have their own specific niches and complemented one another. Where Afterellen excelled in recent years was in *access*, in using their corporate resources/big media cred/own reputation after 14 yrs to get interviews with the people telling our stories – the actresses, writers, directors etc who portray us – and being able to ask them to comment on issues of representation. I will miss their reach. I will miss starting my day with both Afterellen and Autostraddle (like so many others, I found AE long before I found this place).

    And the worst part about it is, we were given no opportunity to rally around Afterellen; it is simply being taken from us because corporate owners can do what they want with their properties regardless of what community they hurt. I’m wondering if they shopped the site around before deciding to shutter, and would be curious to know more of the story.

    I was already planning on subscribing to Autostraddle in short order, and now it will be with an added sense of urgency. I hope many others will follow suit.

      • This isn’t Game of Thrones Lesbian Media edition, there was plenty of room in the world for both sites to coexist. If you don’t understand that we’ve lost something then I can’t help you.

        • Hmm…I don’t think that’s what Caitlin meant at all. I haven’t seen ANY comments from AS members or staff that in any way implies that anyone thinks it’s good that AfterEllen is shutting down. The more representation and places for queer women on the web, the better.

          However, my interpretation of Caitlin’s comment was that there’s a silver lining to this shitty news in that Autostraddle might be able to expand their reach and coverage and provide a new home for some AE writers. I’d be pleased if that happened, too, because I love Autostraddle and more than ever want to see it succeed—even if, like everyone else here, I feel the loss of such a heavyweight lesbian site like AE.

  31. Holy shit. I never got into AE (I seem to be younger than some here and got in AS per a friends recommendation when I was a baby bi) but this is still a -huge- blow.

    This is all the more motivation to make sure I get an A+ membership when I finish grad school and actually have an income starting next year. This is really the only place online I feel comfortable being my bi, queer and sapphic, self and I don’t know what I would do if it were to disappear ;__;

    • Yay for finding queer websites as a baby bi!

      Totally understand about the grad school/no money thing. Have you looked at the Cobalt level? Cobalt membership is *super cheap*, like Netflix membership cheap, so depending on your income style, maybe that’s a better fit…?

      (BTW, I’m also in grad school, final year of PhD, so I know the monies are *tight*. Good luck with grad school!!!)

  32. This is really sad news. I spent so much time reading through afterellens forums while I was coming out, it was an integral part of the process. I haven’t enjoyed the website since the reboot, but that doesn’t make this less sad.
    Riese, this might be a question you choose not to answer and that’s totally okay and I apologize for asking in that case, but how much money does autostraddle need to break even every year? Because my new job’s going to bring paying me a lot more than this one and if there’s a lump sum amount that I could donate to help, I would like to do that.

  33. I found AfterEllen after watching South of Nowhere and google searching to find more about it. It helped me so much in my coming out process and figuring out my sexuality. I spent many hours in college watching those video blogs and even found my first girlfriend on AE.

    I didn’t read AE as much as I used to, but I still enjoyed reading the articles there from time to time. So sad to hear the news and now even more incentive to get an A+ membership like so many others have said on here already. A shame it takes something like this to get people’s attention to the importance of supporting queer media (myself included).

  34. If there’s content on After Ellen you want to save – important interviews, favorite recaps etc. it’s worth going and looking for it while it’s still online and googleable, and then checking the link is archived in the Wayback Machine (just pop the link for the page into the search box)

    Then if you have the link you can still share it with people, or look details up, even after the site is gone.


  35. In roughly 2006, I was googling an out Broadway actress (who I looked up to and admired as the only queer woman on Broadway I knew of at the time). I found her interview/video on the AfterEllen video series Cat on the Prowl. It was magical, and I probably watched it 50 times. Said actress has now become a friend and someone I work with in a professional capacity.

    A few years ago, someone from AfterEllen came to LezCab. My inner 16 year old wanted to scream/squeal, and also thank her, for AE helped me come out, especially to myself.

    Thank you, AE!

  36. Wow – I can’t believe they’re shutting down. Both Autostraddle and AfterEllen were there for me in a huge way during my coming out process. And I checked both sites at least a dozen times a day just to get through every day when I was going through a really bad time in my life this past winter. Though I’d stopped visiting the site as frequently lately, I’m still shocked and saddened by this news.

    Just upgraded my A+ membership from Cobalt to Silver – I can’t stand the thought of loosing AS.

  37. When I first started to understand myself as something-other-than-100%-straight, one of the first things I did was Facebook stalk my very few lesbian friends. On one of their walls I found an AfterEllen article – I still remember which one, it was titled “Jennifer Aniston rumored to play gay again, approaches the Lesbian Rule of Threes”. Through that article, I began exploring the rest of the site, and very quickly I found Heather’s Skins recaps, and then Pretty Little Liars started, and I devoured those recaps too. Honestly, Heather, those recaps are pure works of art, and they got me through a few tough years. Like many, AE was the first place on the internet that helped me to understand myself and my community, it basically taught me how to be a lesbian – that’s where I learned the lingo and the history and all the pop-culture references unique to our community.

    Honestly, since Heather moved to Autostraddle I don’t go back there that much, except for the occasional recap of shows AS doesn’t cover, and Dorothy Snarker’s hilarious Rizzoli & Isles subtext recaps. I still really love the writers (and AS Editors, please steal as many of them as you can!!!!!!) but the content isn’t always what I’m looking for, and like many others, I got turned off by many of their commenters. But even though I don’t visit much now, I’ll always remember the years I DID spend there, and I’m so grateful that I and so many others had that.

    First The Toast, and now AfterEllen. I honestly don’t know what I would do if Autostraddle shut down too. I was always planning to renew my A+ membership, but now I’ll definitely be getting myself some merch as well.

    Stay strong, Autostraddle. <3 <3 <3

  38. I joined AfterEllen at the height of the vlog era and like everyone else on here it was so incredibly important for my young queer self. It was the first place I was able to see actual queer women just BE, which was hugely instrumental in my growth and self-acceptance, and it was my absolute home for many years and the one true safe haven for me and so many others. The news isn’t entirely shocking, but it’s a sad day nonetheless. Thank you AE for all you were and those you helped along the way.

  39. Can someone explain something to me? Like I get that in this case AE sold a long time ago and the corporation made the decision to close it, but like in the case of The Toast, or if Sarah warn had never sold AE, why do sites either have to, or make the decision to, shutter completely? Instead of, say, going back to almost personal blog status written part time by a skeleton crew of volunteers or whatever? Like I get that it costs real money and most importantly REAL LABOR to keep a blog or website with this kind of content afloat, but it seems like a lot of times these sites are closing completely when they could possibly go back to a WordPress-hosted blog with 5-10 articles a month from the creators?

    This is kind of beside the point here, but is there a reason that doesn’t happen more?

    • because that’s actually really difficult to do as well, i imagine. like… i used to think i’d keep up on my personal blog once i started autostraddle, but even one post a month felt ambitious when so much of my writing-mind was focused on autostraddle. i guess i’m saying that i can relate to that feeling, of thinking you can keep up with something and then you just realize you can’t — like your brain can’t? And writing like a really good thing can take days or weeks, so they’re probably hustling to fill their writing time with paid gigs, I imagine, and it’s hard to fit the other stuff in — or to even have more energy for writing after doing so much paid writing — or to not want to figure out how to sell what writing you do do. but i literally have no time for most anything, really, so maybe i’m a bad person to ask! and i still fantasize about writing my blog again. but also part of that is ’cause so many of my friends work here and therefore are known people that i feel like i can’t talk about my personal life like i used to.

      but i think sometimes it just works better to make a clean break. like it fits better into your life. a thing ends and you start moving forward, for whatever reason, and even though that thing you left behind was so marvelous in its time, going back to this smaller, less important sense of it … i think it’s difficult, emotionally.

    • There’s also the issue of cost. I’ve run a fansite for longer than AE existed, and I’ve added another to the mix. Updating them is a trial, but the cost of the servers due to TRAFFIC is incredible sometimes.

      You have to handle software upgrades, network administration, security (especially if you take donations! YIKES!), and many web hosts put caps on how much traffic the site can take. If you don’t want the site to crash when people visit, you end up spending a lot of money or becoming a server admin. Admittedly, server code (and writing WordPress) all happened to me because the fansite was slow and crashed every time there was a new episode of CSI.

      Doing it on your own is incredibly hard! Forget the writing (which is hard), the administration stuff will kill you :(

  40. What a fucking year… I’m gonna go and cover my head with a blanket waiting for the end of all this shit.

    I was a 22 year-old woman when AE was founded, so it wasn’t as much as my root as it was for many others, but yes I did loved the idea of not going crazy around the web looking for some lesbian coverage. It was all there in one single place. Thank you, Sarah Warn, for making AE happened.

    The last few years were very painful but I’ve never wanted to see AE disappear because I knew how much it meant for a lot of people. So, it a very sad day for our community.

    I think I need to give a very big shout out and a big thank you to Dorothy Snarker, she brought me here.

    PD: I want to give you my money so much, Riese and AS, but I have none to spare. But I can give you my word, first chance I get some extra money it’s coming here. That’s a promise. In the meantime my ad-blocker is out and every single friend I have already knows about this great place.

  41. Damn. I never engaged much with afterellen personally – I think it’s because I came out to myself a little late, after having been deep in the internet for years, and my reading habits didn’t quite change quickly enough to for me to witness its glory days – but what a loss. It’s not as deeply personal for me as many folks, but it gives me that same pang as when I look at a list of queer bookstores, only to find nearly all of them closed, and closed before I came out. An echo of sadness at the loss of my community in potentia, I guess? On the plus side, it got me off my ass and signed up for A+. We need autostraddle, man. We *can’t* lose them all – but particularly not this place.

  42. Man, this sucks. I forget sometimes, but I really used to LIVE in that place. I use to go there erry damn day for years and years, having found it right in its infancy (and mine!) after surreptitiously googling Angelina Jolie Bisexual and finding online queer media for the very first time. The direction it had begun heading in a long time ago made it feel less like a home I wanted to have, so I packed my bags and migrated over here instead, but SO MUCH GOOD STUFF came out of there over the years (not least the inimitable, eternal StuntDouble), and for a while it really did feel like the most wonderful place on the web. At least to me.

    Praise be to Sarah Warn (god among queers) for creating it in the first place. Praise be to the AS team for this beautiful home we still have here. And PRAISE be to monalisa for handily posting the ‘We’re Getting Nowhere’ vlog links upthread so that I have ample opportunity to laugh/cry/say goodbye…

  43. I was never really part of the AfterEllen community, but thanks for the reminder to buy my A+ membership! Autostraddle was my first queer online community and seriously thank you guys for everything you do it’s wonderful. Also hi from a longtime lurker!

  44. Ah, shucks.
    This is unexpected and it stings, too, unexpectedly.
    Afterellen was just what I needed, when I needed it most.
    Even though it upset me more than it did me good in the last few years, it was the most important website for me for many years, almost from its beginning.
    Fare the well, Afterellen, and its staff, may we meet again in another internet incarnation.

  45. I spent an entire week the month before I came out obsessively reading Afterellen articles thinking it would somehow “prepare” me for my new openly lesbian life. After Ellen and effingdykes taught me literally everything I knew before I came to auto straddle. So glad this place still exists and so so so upset about the magnitude of this loss. Thanks for all the reminders to get A+. I had been meaning to sign up and just subscribed for the year.

  46. I read this article, then immediately bought an AS shirt. Wish I could buy all the shirts. My fiancé was so very sad to hear about AE – that’s the site that helped her come out. AS is the site that helped me, and I know I’d be devistated if the site shut down. I’ll try to do my part and help prevent that from happening! Love you AS!

  47. I came to AutoStraddle because of you, Heather. I stayed for Mey and her comics insights plus the political, social, cultural, and just plain silly content produced by this incredibly talented team of writers. Like so many other commenters, I am saddened by the news of AE’s passing, but am also aware that I have spent less time there this last year. AS has become my go-to for queer content and coverage of things that matter to queer women. So, it’s high time I paid for this service. Add me to the list of new A+ members.

  48. While I can’t pretend AE didn’t have its problems, it’s still sad that a queer media outlet — and, for many, an important community, even if that role is in the past — is shutting down. And somewhat scary that it’s happening with so little warning.

    • I wish i’d made note of how many members we had before today because memberpress only tells us about how many transactions we process every day, not how many were new members.

      that being said… i think we’ve acquired around 150 new members so far, which is HUGE! this is the biggest boost to the A+ membership ranks since Dannielle interviewed her ex-girlfriend Allison Weiss.

      i have to be honest i was feeling really bleak this week (especially ’cause i found out i’m losing my health insurance yesterday and i don’t have a new plan) but we are so encouraged and inspired by everybody’s support and help! like my inbox has been exploding with donations and new members and every single one puts a pep in my step. we are taking the responsibility of being the last womyn standing very seriously. i hope we can make you proud. (after camp, that is. after camp!)


  49. Oh so sad. I love After Ellen. Even though the content was mainly from the US and about the US it was a wonderful escape for us Aussies. AE opened up a world of tv shows, movies, actors etc that were not on the radar down under

    I introduced my partner to AE nearly 7 years ago and we used to jump into the site on weekend mornings to see what was happening. VERY SAD.

  50. What a disappointing year. Shit, at this point you could have a “Dead Websites Haunted Hayride” in addition to the “Dead Lesbian TV Characters Haunted Hayride” at camp.

    I read AfterEllen constantly during shop in high school (~10 years ago). It was time well spent. RIP both queer girl websites I read before finding AS, AfterEllen & OurChart.

  51. I remember so clearly finding AfterEllen for the first time when I was still deeply in denial about liking girls… Autostraddle has probably helped me more in the long run, but AE was still hugely important to me in working about who I am. Visibility is important, I’m sad we’re loosing some of it :(

  52. Shit. This is really hard news. I have also moved away from AE a long time ago, but that was the first and only queer website I really found I could run to for so many years. I used to start all my days off there and loved the community there back then. It was the place I’d go when I needed to feel like I wasn’t alone in the big world. It was the place that covered and highlighted moments in culture I was dying for.

    It also introduced me to Heather Hogan – someone I adore and read the hell out of to this day – and who scored me a writing job back during some incredibly dark days in my life…for AE.

    I found the cultural changes there hard to say the least, and in the end not for me, but I will be eternally grateful to AE for existing, for starting something, for giving me a bit of a lifeline back when I was really gasping for air.

    Just on my way to purchase more merch and sign up for A+.

    AS you are NEEDED.

  53. So I’ve never really used the AE website but I HAVE always followed the Tumblr, which is why when I woke up this morning I got a far worse version of the story…

    So AE is going to be held as an archive by its parent company (Evolve), using the ad revenue generated to put money into its other subsidiaries (Bro/Mommy/Makeup blogs); to quote Cloe on this one:

    Gays are buried.

    So that’s enough to make me sick to my stomach and then I go and read how much this site has meant to so many people… I think I need a lie down.


  54. I’m heartbroken by this news.

    I discovered AfterEllen soon after its launch in 2002. I’d been scouring the web for recaps of All My Children and while I found a lot of sites that went on ad nauseam about Greenlee and Kendall’s latest romances, all I wanted to read about was Bianca and Maggie. There was finally a storyline on a show I watched (and, perhaps, more importantly, that my mom watched) that showcased this part of my life that made me feel seen and AE gave me a chance to revel in that.

    Ultimately, though, AE became more than a place that cataloged those pop culture moments, it became a place where I was seen. Sarah was so intentional about making AE a truly inclusive space. Where most LGBT sites, at the time, defaulted to telling the stories of white women (real or fictionalized, queer or not), Sarah made sure that AE showcased the stories of women of color and she recruited a diverse set of writers and contributors to tell them. It was invaluable…and I am forever grateful for it…

    I’m sad the next generation of queer women won’t have AE as a resource but I’m cherishing memories of Scribegrrrl’s brilliant L Word recaps and her criminally underappreciated podcast with her girlfriend…the vlogs! (Sarah and Lori! Dee and Jenn! Malinda and Sarah!)…and the beginning of my love affair with Heather’s prose. I’ll miss it all.

  55. AE meant a lot to me. So sad to see it go. I have been a loyal reader even though the site has changed. I really appreciate the work of all the writers and editors. Loathe the profit-maximizing corporate logic that spoils everything it touches. Autostraddle has been my new home for a while and I will continue supporting it. We need these spaces.

    p.s. I think Trish wrote beautifully in her blog (which AE did not let her post).

  56. The South of Nowhere vlog era of AE was my life for a year. The forums were a lifeline.

    AE gave me Malinda Lo’s writing.

    And brought me to Autostraddle.

    And made being a homogay sound like fun instead of just this big thing to deal with.

    I haven’t read AE regularly in years and had more than a few critiques in recent years, BUT I always hoped it might turn itself back into something magical. After all, there was a period a few years ago when Autostraddle was kind of having some growing pains/burnout and I wondered if you’d jumped the shark, but now this site is better than ever. Too bad AE won’t get the chance. Sigh.

    God I wish someone could backup the entire website somewhere else. I don’t trust this company not to just erase it completely in a few months. Which would be tragic.

  57. I am devastated.
    Afterellen was a site I followed religiously, when I was still a teenager and they maybe put up one post a day. I am still so grateful for the vlogs, the critical articles and all the queer girl culture they fed me with.

    Plus, I would have never found Autostraddle if it hadn’t been for Afterellen.

    I haven’t really liked Afterellen for years now, but I am still so, so sad. It’s money being taken away from queer women, it’s writing gigs, it’s diversity in queer media landscape being destroyed, and that’s making me so fucking angry.

  58. I was also one of the people who read through pretty much After Ellen’s whole archive, after I found the website (which was around 2005 maybe?).
    And Sarah Warn’s articles about representation of women and especially queer women in the media was so essential to my own critical thinking and analysis of tv shows and movies and also a big basis for my discovery and ideas of feminism. So, wow…

    Seeing their vlogs when I was sooo not out to anybody gave me confidence that you can be a happy, confident lesbian in a happy relationship.

    Also, I met my very first gay friend through AE and the first girl I ever kissed! And yeah, that was the same person ;)

    I completely switched to AS around 2012, but for those years inbetween AE was so so important to me.
    And I’m even more glad now, that I decided to support AS through the membership once I got my first real job after university and I will continue to do so!

  59. If their final post on Friday isn’t titled Worst.Lesbian.Week.Ever and split into 83 pages I’ll be very disappointed.

    Slightly more seriously, like many here, I haven’t been a frequent AE visitor for a long time. At least half the site comes off as a less self-aware version of Vapid Fluff, but unlike mainstream media where there’s thousands of sites like that, for us it’s really just After Ellen.

    We need the voices and representation, even if flawed. Plus, I don’t know where I will go for guaranteed lesbian trash fixes now, when I’m feeling insufficiently evolved for some of AS’s worthier posts.

    Finally, if you need to introduce A+ Platinum level to go poach their writers, I AM READY

    • “Plus, I don’t know where I will go for guaranteed lesbian trash fixes now, when I’m feeling insufficiently evolved for some of AS’s worthier posts.”
      (It should be said, I’m so grateful to AS for pushing me and it’s readership to think more critically of our privilege and for giving us access to beautiful trans, POC, and other points of view.)

  60. I just wanted to say thank you to Heather for writing about AE with so much heart and for everyone who has commented and shared memories of finding AfterEllen and the things you loved about they site or why it was important.
    I’m very sad but these shared memories have made my heart full.

  61. Hi Heather, I’ve enjoyed reading you since I found you on AfterEllen with the PLL recaps (back in the day when AfterElton had other recaps…and content, and existed). So when I heard PLL was going, my first thought was “what will Heather say”. Thanks for those recaps. Good luck here and with the future! Sad day for LGBT entertainment news.

  62. Oh God. A whole year before I came out to myself (straight people can read queer stuff too y’know!!!) I discovered the ‘How to be a Gay Lady’ series which was revolutionary in my eyes because I’d never come across people just having fun with gay stereotypes and it also have me an alternative to the word lesbian, which I’d been told was the only word a monosexual queer gal could use.

    I’ve not actually been a reader of AE in quite a few years, since they allowed anon comments of I remember rightly. This is still super sad news. Super sad.

  63. Also, I was reading this column feeling guilty that we weren’t sharing out stories in AE itself. But then I read the blog post which says it wasn’t allowed to be posted on the website. That is a real shame, because whatever you think AE became it meant a lot to do many people. And the fact that we can’t share that as a community in their space is just not right.

  64. This is heartbreaking. But I’ll cry later; right now, I want us to act: we can’t lose the site, even if it isn’t updated anymore. It is all of our history!

    We know that TPTB can’t be trusted, it was obvious even during the “relaunch”. I knew the promises to restore the old forums wouldn’t be kept then, and that turned out to be correct, unfortunately. We’ve already lost tons of great stuff, so much original writing for example…

    They won’t leave AE’s archive up either.

    Can you guys (people with more authority on the matter / skill than me) reach out to the Wayback Machine so they create a full mirror of the site ?
    The folks over at also specialize in saving sites that are going off-air.
    And then, someone who’s very familiar with the site creating a map of the site as it is now would also be very useful to navigate the future mirror more easily.

    • After the redesign most of my old links — I kept bookmarked, for example, their timeline of gay milestones on television — stopped working too. I often google things and when I land on AfterEllen, it’s an error page. I hope they make it easier to find stuff in the archives. :-/

  65. Wow! I haven’t been on afterellen in years but this is nevertheless sad news. I’ve never found vloggers I enjoyed as much as Jen and Dee (Come With me if you want to live etc) I was a young, black queer woman in my first full time job with ZERO other black wlw in my small, English village that I knew. Those 2 were lifesavers, they felt like my friends so down to earth, funny, relatable and had this great reliable platform with other cool stuff on the site. Visibility matters indeed! RIP afterellen, you meant a hell of a lot.

  66. “Chloé”, the girl who runs the AE tumblr, seems to have gone rogue lol:

    What a mess, really… Not even allowing Trish to post an explanation on the site… What their plan to just not say anything, and block new comments/content from Friday on? That’s probably what happened with the Backlot then, which went without even a goodbye… How fucked up…….

  67. So this leaves . . . autostraddle and nothing else as far as lesbian websites? As much as I enjoy autostraddle, I’m not sure 1 website can be all things to all dykes. (If there are great lesbo sites I’m overlooking, please reply letting me know what else I can look at for my online lesbionic reading)

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