IT’S TODAY: Happy Happy Birthday, Riese!

It’s Riese’s birthday!

Today’s the day Riese turns one year older than she was last year, which was 29. HEY stop doing math for a second and pay attention: Riese is many things, but mostly she’s this muppet girl who lives in Oakland and cuts her own hair and eats fruit and reads and reads and reads and thinks the thoughts and does everything — almost everything, practically everything, at least in a tertiary sense she does all the things — that makes this space what it is. I mean, if we had words for how much we love this Riese Bernard — this love — we would spray paint them all across the Golden Gate Bridge and every tree in Michigan and probably, let’s face it, her living room wall.

I think we all would.

We don’t have the words for that though. Or at least no words that don’t feel really half-assed and trite when you hold them next to the thing that we’re trying to say. But Riese does! Riese has all the words. That’s what she does.

So we got together with the whole Team and chose some (not all! there are too many) of our favorites and well, here it is. This is what we have. It’s just a little bit of what Riese has given us.

30 Quotes We Love

“i don’t know why, but that line has always stuck with me.”
-emily choo

“i always end up watching some stupid crime mystery show but like, boring, whatever, predictable, bored of those now. and then there’s all these other channels with their own brands of crap, like some crap reality show, some news story about how your milk is gonna kill your child and steal your identity, men throwing balls on a field, sleep number, history thing you already saw in 3rd gade, the fast and the furious, crappy sitcom rerun, stupid film nobody ever wanted to see, shows about building walls or casseroles, buy shit, stupid shit for dudes, i mean really compared to the rest of the shitstorm that is, apparently, the thing i’m paying for when my cable bill arrives, whatever, i will watch this bullshit show. because there’s gonna be a lesbian in it who cares about civil rights, which is like a goddamn fucking miracle of life.”
Comment on The Playboy Club: 4 Things Lesbians Need to Know About NBC’s New Show

“The wind picks up. We put rocks atop our construction paper and our crayons throw caution to the wind.”
from Autoportrait 3.0

“Dearest Natalie,
I stood next to someone wearing
your perfume
and it made me miss you.”
– insomnia poem #22

cartoon by intern hot laura

“I don’t want my unborn grandchildren to listen to the story of how Taylor Swift won a Grammy she hadn’t earned. I want them to set pianos on fire.”
Why Taylor Swift Offends Little Monsters, Feminists, and Weirdos

“You deserve/need a giant girl with a heart bigger than your whole body — I’m not just talking about you now but also you and you and you. You’d sleep cradled in the scoop of her enormous ribcage, which’d be larger than a significant tropical body of water like the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Huron. Swan Lake. What you need is a heart bigger than a jet plane. Higher and faster and bigger.”
From Autowin

cartoon by intern hot laura

“a bunch of random college students in ohio are celebrating this? i think everyone is just tired of being upset about the state of the world and wants to party, is what i think. about anything.”
Comment on Osama bin Laden is Dead

“HEY LYING DUDES! The internet is the ONE FUCKING PLACE where so many gay girls can feel safe being who they are — unlike real life, where they are often silenced.
Something you wouldn’t know ANYTHING ABOUT, you fucking middle-aged white guy. CHECK YOUR MUTHERFUCKING PRIVILEGE.”
From “Lez Get Real” Editor Paula Brooks is Actually a 58-Year-Old Man in Ohio

The inside of riese's brain as envisioned by taylor

“The nice thing about Uh Huh Her shows is that they only have 5 songs, so it’s real short, and then you can go.”
– from this video

“I feel like moving to California would be admitting to myself that somewhere, deep down inside, I actually might want to be happy. I’ve wanted many things in my life; happiness has never been one of them.”
From Autowin

“Sometimes sex is like touching someone’s skin with your fingertip and feeling that you’ve accidentally split their lungs right open and then saying “It’s okay, I can teach you how to breathe.” It’s saying, “trust me,” and then leading them underground with one finger latched into their finger and a darkness only you understand.

It’s saying “look me in the eyes and tell me how much you like me,” and then crawling inside of that feeling like it’s a swimming pool you can sleep in without drowning. You can just dream and kiss forever after all.”

via: It’s 4 AM on a Monday Morning and Your Girl is Lovely, Hubble. (Obligatory SATC movie post)

“i wrote a haiku

omg om
g omg omg
omg om”

[via email]

“I never learned how to swim, but loved to tempt drowning.”
From Autowin


Here I Am,

I’ll say,

This is Me,

you’ll open your mouth, begin to speak, I’ll say,


don’t ruin it.
From Autowin

intern hot laura turned #10 into this massive cut paper project, because she loved it so much

“I feel some kind of deep patriotic affection, possibly enabled by Monopoly or educational computer games, for the American Railroad System, and therefore feel terrible about having to register this negative review. Christ on a Cracker holy mother of all that is unholy and inhuman GET ME OFF OF THE DEATH TRAIN.”
From Transportation Review: Amtrak Coast Starlight to Los Angeles

“things,;/”:ln r=129667867667877681`1″ [email subject line]

“Link Hogthrob is a Bear. I know he’s a pig, but if you know what a “bear” is, AND I THINK YOU DO, you will know what I mean.”
From Top Ten Gayest Muppets

“Hot Topic called and said you know what Effy, you make that bracelet work. You work it. It would look better removed by a gynecologist from my cervix where you accidentally left it, but moving on.”
From Skins Recap 402: “Emily” (and let’s be real – “Naomi”)


“To comfort myself about my overall failures in life, I like to really get into character, trudging up to Starbucks in my giant sunglasses thinking to myself “G-d I wish Mary-Kate would stop being so mean to me” or “I can’t believe Kevin thinks HE deserves full custody of Jayden!” You know?”
From How to Not Dress For Success: Top Ten Fashions For Being Alone in Your Apartment

“hello my most favorites people in the whole wide world”
“i am going to punch one of you in the eyeballs today for serious”
– [email subject lines dated the same day]


“I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience, but sometimes when I trust someone else with gravity it’s like my heart looks at me and is like, “really?” and then before I can answer it goes, it flutters away like the happiest bird of all time. It goes before I answer, like it has wings I’d never noticed before, I’d just thought “what nice shoulder blades you have.”
From Autowin

“I miss the night-fires, I miss the abandon and the rampant self-destruction. I miss knowing everything wasn’t right but not caring because I was so alive, because it was so fun or so vivid or so full or because I hit the streets with all I had. I miss absolving myself of responsibility for myself. I miss the future we used to talk about with such generosity. I miss the stories we believed in and I want to write the ones we never told. I want so many things.”
From Autowin

“90% of life is showing up”- Woody Allen
Riese: “I feel like that’s the unfortunate reality of life, rather than the strategy.”

[via email]

“I needed to get older and fast so that I could go look at weird things and scary things, too.”
From Autowin

“[i like the idea that pauses can be pregnant. that giving birth is sometimes speech not life.]”
From Autowin


“I kept thinking “I need to write a really funny recap!” because you know, that’s what you’re here for, right? Laughter? But as I was writing it I was like, “whoa, this isn’t funny” and then I was like “but it’s supposed to be funny” and THEN I was like, “maybe I’ll microwave a thing and stick it in my mouth and that will somehow make me funnier” and THEN I was like, “FUCK!”

Then I thought ‘maybe I should be wearing a zip-up hoodie instead of an over-the-head hoodie’ and so I changed and then I thought ‘did I break my funny bone the other night when i was drunk/sober?’ and then I hung out in downward facing-dog waiting for a joke to emerge from my spiritual center and then I gave up and so now I’m like, “HERE IT IS”
From Glee Episode 218 Recap: Born This Way, Everyone is Gay

“I’ve never bought into the idea that Ms.Chaiken desires a straight male audience — maybe she’s aiming for the illiterate?”
From The L Word Franchise: All I Wanna Say is That They Don’t Really Care About Us (Anymore)

“At this point it’s impossible to ignore the direct correlation between conservative Christianity, Evangelicals, right-wing conservative politicians and an inability to keep it in one’s pants.”
From Evangelicals, Rapists, Tramps & Thieves: Why Anti-Gay Leaders Love to Sin, Are the Sinners

From Autowin

photo by layla love

Happy Birthday Riese! We have loved you for so so long.

What’s your favorite Riese quote? What words of love would you spray paint on your local bridge? Will anything ever be better than the cookie post?

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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lnj has written 310 articles for us.


  1. Aaaaah happy birthday!!!!! I am excited to revisit such favorite expressions as the one about Effy’s bracelet or changing hoodie types. Those things stick with a person. And the cookie post will always be dear to me. THANK YOU FOR BRINGING THESE THINGS TO THE PEOPLE.

  2. Happy birthday, Riese-ling. I hope you have a wonderful time, because you are a wonderful people. I miss you and your face back in the Better Borough. Life is less exciting without the occasional Lesbian Rodeo. Keep doing you.

    Cheers, poet.

  3. Happy birthday Riese!!! My favorite thing Riese has ever written that I’ve read is when she said that sometimes “queer” feels right because she likes girls and is a fucking weirdo but then sometimes “gay” feels right because she likes girls and she’s happy. Seriously, that quote is on my Facebook page.

  4. If I had a nickel for every time Riese wrote something and then it became my favorite quote, I would give you guys ALL THE NICKELS and you’d be motherf*cking rich.

    Happy Birthday, Riese

  5. This feels more like its for us than anything. Because really, having all these beautiful words that Riese has given us is truly the most spectacular thing.

    What’s that there can be said though? To the person who changed so much for you, made you see things and think things and feel things all in new, wonderful ways. Just thank you, I think.

    Thank you, Riese. For every little bit. You’ve changed everything. If I had a mountain or a bridge or the sky to write on, it’d say thank you.

    Happy birthday, Riese. <3

  6. “but you should love yourself. i mean everyone should. everyone who wants to be loved is worthy of love and self-love because how can you hate a thing that is trying so hard. we’re all just trying so hard. it’s beautiful, what we do to be loved.”

    one of my favourites. of many obviously hahah

  7. This post is epic… LOVE YOU RIESE!!

    (ps i just wanna say i took that photo up top of riese holding all the essentials at dinah shore 2010 and it was the peak of my career in photography)

    • the most amazing element of that photograph is how much i hate it compared to how much everyone else is obsessed with it, which is a good sign of good art

  8. Yay Riese! I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again–I’m forever indebted to you for recapping the L Word when I was but a wee high schooler, back before there was this site and before I had access to Showtime. If you ever need someone killed, I’ll be happy to do it, that’s how much the L Word recaps meant to me.

    Happy birthday!

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you Riese! For all your beautiful, powerful words. Your gift of catching and haunting and reaching inside to grab the heart and say, look! feel this! breathe this! this piece of life that you’ve never experienced but will now forever feel that you know – this night fire on a rooftop, this subway, streetscape, inner world… Thank you for sharing some of your feelings and thoughts, experiences of depression and lightheartedness, alienation and friendship, trying, saving, losing, love, confusion, hurt and hope. You are your most amazing gift to us. Thank you for being you. Sara

  10. Riese, if you ever decide to come to Pittsburgh, let me know. I’ll totally give you a kitten in honor of this day.

  11. it’s times like these i’m reminded what a genius/wonderwoman riese is and how great it is to have such a special person around. happy birthday friend.

  12. ThanK you, Riese, for doing all of the things and for bringing your 30 years of collective awesomeness to the internet so that I have something to read everyday! Happy birthday!!!!!! I want to bake you a rainbow cake and have it delivered by a kitten in a party hat! Seriously, it takes one hell of a woman to do what you do, and on behalf of my sanity…and desire to hear about all things gay, thanks and KEEP DOING YOU!

  13. Happy birthday to yoooooooOOOOOoooUUUUUUUUUUUU

    invisible birthday cakes flying across the Atlantic from London town x

  14. favorite quote ever:
    “The good news is that Taylor Swift wasn’t nominated for anything. I’m guessing it’s ’cause she didn’t release anything new this year, probably because she was too busy writing that song about the sunshine-eyed boy who broke her honky-tonk pick-up heart in the backyard of her fennel farm, inspiring her to cry a river all over her guitar and subsequently get into a yacht and ride, Noah’s-Ark-Style, into the sunset/sunrise/duskdawn early twilightflash of her virginal youth where she was forced to swap out her damp guitar because she got pneumonia from all the walking/standing/dreaming in the rain and ruined her guitar and then she wrote a song on a napkin and it floated all the way down the river Moses-style and the Pharaoh anointed her with a burning bush which she said she’d really rather save for marriage.”

    happy day of birth to you riese!

  15. my favourite quotes:

    “everyone is obsessed with gay people, it’s like a thing. They keep doing weird shit to us and you know what, it’s not our fault that they’re like, in love with us”

    “Instead of cleaning my room I am going to not clean my room”

    “I’m not rich or pretty or straight or sane or anything”

    There was also a fantastic one about New York being full of people “on their way to somewhere else” but sadly I didn’t keep it.

    Happy 30, gal.

  16. My favorite Riese quote, “The quickest way to lose your mind is to try to fit a crazy person’s behavior into your reality.”

    Truer words were never written. Happy birthday! The world is a much better place with you in it.

  17. “there are two kinds of people. those who think there are two kinds of people and those who don’t”

    This might not be yours, Riese, although it totally could be and I love it. It sums up my world view and also what this site does to the world.

    You and your writing are appreciated in many lesbian hearts and I keep spreading the word of this place. Happy Birthday!

  18. Riese, you are so, so badass. I’m pretty sure you save my life on a daily basis. Thank you for everything you do for us, have a fan-fucking-tastical birthday!


    Just so you know, you are responsible for some of the most amazing things and people that have happened to me (via Autostraddle).


  20. Happy Birthday Riese!!!

    You are so amazing and talented and important and heroic. Riese, you are my hero. I want to be like you when I grow up. Riese, you have touched me, and so many of us, so so very deeply and changed us and healed us and made us better and more whole.

    Thank you for leading the revolution and believing in us and changing our worlds and changing the world. Thank you for sharing yourself, so that we could see that we are not alone.

    Thank you for being you, and for doing you. Thank you, Riese.

    I hope you have a fantastic day :)

    Love, Me.

  21. Riese, you are the amazing. Happy Birthday and thank you for the magic work you do on Autostraddle.

    Really; it keeps me sane.

  22. Happy bday Riese! I’m glad to be a new Autostraddler, and grateful for this post which allowed me to discover a few hidden gems from the past!

    My fav quote, well, from an article I just read:
    “I do advise — and I’m being serious! — that if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to be seen without your pants on/makeup on/hair done, that you should do those things first thing in the AM, just like if you were going to work. Otherwise the prospect of answering the door, video-chatting, or running an errand will seem gradually more and more insurmountable, as “put pants/eyeliner on” is another overwhelming step strengthening inertia’s deadly grip. Putting on pants also helps your mind register the transition between “play” (the underpants you slept in and a ratty t-shirt) and “work” (clean sweatpants, a hole-free t-shirt) and enables you to take yourself more seriously. Because GIRL YOU ARE SERIOUS. BEING UNEMPLOYED AND/OR WORKING FROM HOME IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. And just because we don’t have to iron our pants doesn’t mean we can’t have our own share of the market! We are the future of America, everybody.”
    I work from home too, so that sounded like great advice…

  23. YAY YAY YAY Happpy birthday, Riese!! I don’t know how you do all that you do, but thank you for it! Hope you have a kick-ass day!!

  24. Have such a happy birthday, Riese! Have the happiest birthday, and enjoy ALL THE THINGS, because this is your day. Probably every other day is yours, too, because we appreciate you so very much.

    I don’t even know you and I have come to love you, in the non-creepiest, behind-the-mask-of-the-internet type way, so keep doing what you do because it is much appreciated. :)
    It’s nice to know that there is now a community that YOU started, full of people who know how to LIVE and not just exist. I give thanks for that!


  25. Happy Birthday Riese!

    I actually posted a Riese quote on my tumblr (the one about Skins that begins, “Skins always goes for the jugular, steering its narrative into the deepest cesspools of teenage desire and fear, the murky hideaways where adolescence is at its most wretched and hard-fought…” and now it has 350 notes, which is the most enthusiastic response ever to anything on my stupid tumblr.

    I really enjoy that quote, like most of the things Riese says, it sums up all the things I felt but couldn’t find the words for.

  26. awwwwwww thank you everybody you are such lovely snowflakes! !!!

    (secretly being quoted is my favorite thing of all time, probably because i’ve been obsessed with other people’s quotes for so long so it makes me feel like i’m super important/wise/funny and is the greatest gift you could give me)

    i love you like i love raspberries, approximately

  27. Happy birthday Riese.You are the greatest being on all of the interwebs. Thank you for changing my life, and I think the lives of most people on here. As far as I know, we all love you.

    • thank you for linking that. Been a long time since i read it.

      I read autowin for a year before that but that was the time i was smitten. To see someone soul layed out on print in such a beautiful way. I search for words but find none.

  28. There was an article you wrote about your life and as I was reading it, I thought “Man I can relate to this so much.” That whole post was my favorite “quote.”
    Happy birthday Riese!

  29. LOVE.


    Thank you for making me a better and happier individual. I am forever grateful, and whenever you sneak into Chat I feel like I’m basking in the presence of some Higher Power, ‘cuz, honestly, you’re beyond mortality.




    • ¡que linda está la mañana
      en que vengo a saludarte
      venimos todos con gusto
      y placer a felicitarte
      el año en que tu naciste
      nacieron todas las flores
      en el pila de bautismo
      cantarn los ruiseñores!

  31. Happy 30, O Fearless Leader of the Revolution!

    But seriously, thanks for giving us this awesome place to play in. Happy b-day!

  32. Happy birthday! And there’s a good one from yesterday! “We’d both held off on actually investing in the relationship until confirming that the other was actually talented.” lolz

  33. Happy birthday Riese!! I hope it’s filled with fantastically fun times and all the whiskey your heart desires.

  34. Happy birthday! This post has made you my new idol, so I’m going to have to call Tina Fey and tell her she’s been replaced and also I need that tiara I sent her back.

  35. riese i am so glad you were born, sometimes i get confused and scared thinking about what if you hadn’t been and then i never would have read that line about getting effy’s bracelet back out of your cervix. you know?

  36. I don’t know why you aren’t some massively famous acclaimed writer because these quotes belong in the greatest novel never written. Or something.
    Your writing makes me happy and sad and every other feeling. And I’m very glad you were born so I could read your words and have my feelings.

  37. happy birthday, riese!

    this is my first comment here (well actually the first on the internet in general) and I just wanted to say, that you and this site truly enrichened my life and made me more sure about who I am, and who I can be

    so have a great birthday:) you (and of course the others at autostraddle!) really make a difference for, I think, many of us

  38. happy birthday riese!!

    i remember the first time you responded directly to one of my comments (it was to fight with me about norah vincent in 2009 i’m pretty sure) and my heart skipped about three beats. you make the internet a better place! the best is yet to come! happy birthdayyyyyyyy

  39. Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m weirdly glad that we sort of were born on almost the same day. So much in fact that I’m adding another quote:

    “Lesbians are weirdos. It took me so long to not be afraid of women — to not be afraid to need them, to be close to them, to associate too strongly with them. Men somehow seemed safer, I guess, despite all evidence to the contrary. Boyfriends – unlike women – were things to be counted upon, things you could get on lockdown, a guaranteed ride when your car gets towed.”

  40. 25.
    “[i like the idea that pauses can be pregnant. that giving birth is sometimes speech not life.]”

    I like a lot of what you say Riese, you’re definitely one of my favourite writers on autostraddle (not to imply that I dislike anyone) but I feel like there’s always a skip and trip to your writing that I really feel. That chick up top said you sounded drunk, but one can always sound a little ridiculous but still mean every word said. Sometimes articles are mad fun (which we all love), but also you’re good at relaying sad news and making it not quite the burden it might be while still pulling us together.

    Happy Birthday Riese, we all appreciate what you do and have done so much.

  41. Have a fanfuckingtastic birthday Riese!

    Thank you for everything, ever. This site, these people here, have engaged me in ways I never expected.

    You don’t happen to have a single older sister I could date, do ya?

  42. Riese, you are an awesome person. You have connected queers all over the internet with each other, and made this awesome thing that we love called Autostraddle, without which I would be a very sad gay kitten. So, thank you.

  43. I love #12 so much that I wrote it on my undershirt with a sharpie and wore it under my uniform all day.

    Happy birthday, Riese! Thank you for everything you’ve given us. You’re one special lady. <3

  44. Happy birthday! I wasn’t part of this “favorite riese quotes” email thing that apparently happened, so I will instead quote from this new Autowin post:

    In lieu of deleting/starting-over over and over, I’m just gonna do that thing where I write down all the words as they announce themselves in my brain and then publish this blog post and then if nobody comments I will feel really insecure and delete the post like it never happened and eventually get over it and then one beautiful December morning you’ll wake up to a brand new comment-worthy Sunday Top Ten about muppets or citrus fruit.

    go read it, motherfuckers.

  45. you’re the most awesome-est person on the whole entire internet. your writing is a gift to the world. i can’t wait for your novel/memoir/short story collection. also, you’re one of the few people whom I actually trust when it comes to book recommendations. i’m looking at my shelf right now and oh look! there’s a stephen dunn book and two eileen myles collections.

  46. Riese, I hope that you had the happiest of happy birthdays. You are probably the best thing that ever happened to the internet, ever. Thank you for being you.

  47. So I’m up in the Bay Area and every time I see a hot homoqueer I wonder DO THEY READ AS? Also, today (yesterday) I almost wore my AS shirt but thought: MUST SAVE FOR AN AMAZING HOMO OCCASION. And then I see that today was your birthday. DAMN IT. I will just have to wear this shirt continuously for the next 365 days.


    thank you for autostraddle & for your words & for this space & for everything. i wish you the happiest most creative days in the future–i can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.

  49. Happy belated birthday to you, happy belated birthday to you!
    Happy belated birthday, dear Riese.. Happy belated birthday to you!

  50. Happy belated birthday, Riese! Thank you for sharing your life with us. You have created something amazing here.

    My favorite quote (among many): “But — if you dare to let go, if you dare to stop thinking about what box you fit into and just start being who you are and letting yourself want what you want, then I think you’ll wake up one day and find yourself sitting in the right box which might not be a box at all.”


    My favorite thing you’ve ever written was on formspring this past year; someone asked you why you left new york and it solidified everything for me and gave me courage and i saved in a word doc called ‘quotes’:

    “75% of the time I felt like I was fighting just to stay standing

    i realized life didn’t have to feel so fucking hard every minute
and i realized i was no longer feeling romantic about the idea
 of life being really fucking hard
i grew out of masochism, i think
also there were too many ghosts
and i was sick of winter”

  52. Happy Birthday (yesterday),
    Since discovering autostraddle, it has become something of an internet home for me. I haven’t succeeded in making any real world connections from it, but i still come her feeling like i’m visiting with people i know and love and people who care about me.
    Sometimes Riese posts make me laugh, and sometimes the way you put into words so eloquently the feelings that were swirling inside me is just so amazing, i will keep supporting autostraddle and everything you do as long as it and you are around.

  53. Happy belated birthday Riese! ^ took the words right out of my mouth. This website is like my favorite gay bar and it just feels like home. Thank you for being born :)

  54. RIESE RIESE RIESE YOU HAVE THE SAME BIRTHDAY AS ANI DIFRANCO. Two of the most important feminist/queer women in my life were born on the same day. Oh my god.
    Happy birthday!

  55. Happy Birthday Riese I know it’s late yeah I’m bad at remembering birthdays BUT right in front of my eyes there is a post provided for me with easy access commenting. No excuses but when I saw it I reread the Taylor Swift post. Again. Because your writing is that damn good.

  56. dear riese.

    thanks for being born.

    there aren’t words enough to describe the things you do for your readers.

    i have laughed and cried while reading you. and felt more than i knew i could feel.

    im waiting for the book. ill buy at least two copies for me and one for everyone else i know. you’re not just good for the gays. you’re good for the literate.

    thanks for you and hope your birthday was the happiest laughter & smile-filled day possible!

  57. Belated, but you’re still 30, so: HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY REISE! You are an enormous gift to the internet in general and queer gals (and those what love them) reading it, in particular. Thank you for choosing to throw yourself into this place. I hope this year is a fantastic one for you. Well deserved.

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