I thought I knew what I was doing up until I got fired from my associate editor job at a “luxury lifestyle” gay and lesbian magazine. My white lesbian power boss sat me outside in the green chairs, where she and her partner delivered bad news to employees, and told me I wasn’t meeting my job’s expectations; so they had to let me go. It was a bullshit answer, and I knew she didn’t like my “radical” politics. What’s so radical about wanting to include more queer people of color, trans people and young people in the magazine anyway? I was devastated because it was my first job out of college and I’d felt like I was “making it” with my starting salary and free PR dinners and happy hours at fancy restaurants. Now it was gone. I wasn’t sure what was going to come next.
I had been reading Autostraddle since 2010 and when I saw them post a job for an associate editor the summer I was laid off, I thought I should at least apply. I remember crying the entire time I wrote my cover letter by the pool on the 4th of July, and stuffing my face with hot dogs after I pressed send. Like a dumb Capricorn rising who was just fired from a job, I felt lost, worthless, and unsure of my abilities as a journalist. I was 22 years old! I want to go back in time and just slap some silly sense into myself and tell her you could literally do whatever you want!
It was to my great fucking surprise that Rachel replied to my application and set up an interview with the rest of the editors at the time: Riese, Laneia and Laura Wooley. I don’t remember much from the interview except that they asked if I had watched a cool new show with lots of lesbians called Orange Is The New Black yet. I had not.
I still got the job, though.
I was thrilled. I had a purpose again! I was gonna work for a publication I loved! I wrote in my cover letter that I wanted my voice to be heard, that I wanted to write about issues that represented me, a young queer Latina. I wanted a do-over from my first job to be more inclusive in my work and Autostraddle gifted me that second chance.
For more than five years now, I’ve been able to tell the stories that mean the most to me, the ones where I got to showcase queer and trans people of color, especially queer Latinxs and write about the issues important to us. This second chance has been greater than 22-year-old me could’ve even imagined. But now it’s time for me to give myself a chance to take a leap into the unknown.
I’m resigning from my position as senior editor at Autostraddle; my last day is November 16. I’m stepping down so I can sharpen my reporting skills and challenge myself in new ways. I’m applying to journalism grad school and reporting fellowships and taking some time to reevaluate my career goals. I hope to refine my skills and learn some new tricks so I can continue reporting on LGBTQ issues and serve my community even better. I just got married and cut off all my hair so I’m ushering in all these huge changes and hope it makes way for some exciting opportunities in my life.
But before I go, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my time here and to thank the incredible team and community I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over the years.
When I first joined Autostraddle, I was a wee baby who knew some things about queer theory and the internet but it was here that I was thrown into the deep end of queer internet culture full of hot takes, feelings, and a highly engaged comment section. I’m not gonna lie, there were many times when I cried and felt defeated because the internet can be very loud and mean, but the conversations I’ve had as a result pushed me to grow and think more critically.
But most importantly, Autostraddle taught me how to harness my voice — one that’s uniquely mine — and gave me space to truly embrace it. I had the wonderful opportunity to immerse myself in the art of personal essays and culture writing and learn from some of the finest queer writers of our time. This environment led me to produce some amazing work that I’m extremely proud to have published including my Taco Tuesday series, this A+ personal essay about gay heartbreak, and this longform feature on how queer and trans women took care of each other in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
A large portion of the work I did at Autostraddle was edit many compelling personal essays and longform feature journalism pieces that I’m proud to have helped midwife into the world including a Latinx essay series I curated called Our Pulse. Thank you to the writers who ripped out their hearts and put it on a page and trusted me to edit it.
Back before we had Slack, the Autostraddle team did everything over Skype and massive email chains and I was intimidated af at how fast everyone typed and how everyone was just so fucking cool??? Getting to know this group of weirdos through their writing and irl has taught me so much about myself and have made me feel less alone. Thank you, team. I’m super grateful I was indoctrinated into this loving, happy
To the senior editor team: y’all are fucking wild and I love you.
Riese, you’re a genius writer and visionary. Thank you for creating this website and a whole world where many of us can be our best selves. You’re one of the best editors I’ve ever had; thank you for pushing my writing to the next limit.
Laneia, your stylishly keen eye, knack for spot-on analogies, weird brain, and Airtable skills are treasures. You’ve pushed me to think outside of the box because you always do. Thank you for leading the way.
Rachel, your writing will always K I L L me. You’ve been a calming, reassuring force since day one. I’m grateful for your companionship while writing depressing news fixes and staying up late to make sure the next day’s articles are scheduled. Thank you for your constant encouragement and sharp editing skills on like 98% of my pieces (probably including this one.)
Heather, I admire your dedication, loyalty, and expert time-management skills. I’ve learned how to be a better manger and human because of your Hufflepuff self. Thank you for saving the day multiple times.
Sarah, it’s been an honor collaborating with you for the past couple of years. Your ability to connect the reader to the words through art is a gift. Thank you for brightening up my day many times.
Last but not least, I would like to thank you, the Autostraddle community, for making my five years here such an amazing and worthwhile experience. You’re the reason I’m here! To write stories for us! I’ve met some of my best friends and some strangers who are now my Instagram friends through Autostraddle because they read my work here first and felt connected to it. The Autostraddle community is incredibly special and I’m grateful for your gracious benefit-of-the-doubts, your praises, and your all-star hilarious comments. I’ve met some of you at A-Camp and you’re as delightful in person as you are online. Thank you for your support. I literally couldn’t do what I do without you.
Autostraddle’s future is so bright and I’m excited for what’s to come for the site. I’m pleased to announce that taking my place beginning November 16th is Carmen Phillips!
Carmen has been ride-or-die for Autostraddle from day one and started off as a reader and commenter known as CP. Heather Hogan recognized her insight and wit and brought her on to write about queer TV where she has excelled and then some. In addition to recapping Black Lightning and Vida, she has written some of your favorite posts including this masterpiece investigation of Janelle Monáe and Tessa Thompson’s relationship and this list of movies about friendship and misandry. Carmen has proven to be an invaluable team member and has kicked ass here, all while earning her PhD in American Studies from New York University. Carmen will introduce herself further at a later date. For now, I’m so excited for Carmen and I wish her all the best! Carmen, you’re a star!
I wish I had better words to close this whole thing with but all I can think of is the goodbye song from The Sound of Music??? Anyways, I think I’ll just leave it at: Autostraddle has changed my life. Thank you for being part of this journey. I love y’all. Bye for now.