Here Are Our They/Them Summer Mood Boards

Late in June, our very own Darcy made some waves in the Autostraddle Slack by dropping the following message featuring a viral meme:

Team writer Darcy sends a Slack message that reads "okay pals, I'll see you at the pool cause it's a" followed by a screenshot of a since-debunked Fox News fake headline saying "They/them" summer: a new far-left extremist plot to undermine American democracy

it turns out this headline was not real but WE HAVE FUN HERE AT AUTOSTRADDLE DOT COM

The headline has since been debunked as false and is just a digital alteration, but for at least one blissful day, many folks on the Autostraddle team hypothesized what a They/Them Summer might look like. The headline might be fake, but you can’t unmake a meme, and so we’re still gonna have some They/Them Summer fun, ok!!!!

Here are the mood boards some of our team members made for their sunny, lush, splashy, adventurous, hot, memorable, delicious They/Them Summers. What’s on yours? 🏖

Ro White, Sex & Dating Editor

A collage featuring a bear, hiking boots, cargo shorts, smores, a ghost, a beagle in a hat, a bike, a group of people around a campfire, and the words Home Sweet HomeHello. Here’s how I’m spending my they/them summer: I will be hiking. I will be biking. I will be petting dogs. I will continue buying my shorts in the Target boys’ department. For extra gay points, I will be moving in with my girlfriend. Our new apartment will have a backyard with a fire pit, so yes, I will be building fires and telling ghost stories with my friends and roasting marshmallows for s’mores with GLUTEN-FREE GRAHAM CRACKERS I MADE WITH MY OWN THEY/THEM HANDS. I will also be seeing a bear in the wild. I have no plans to travel anywhere where there are bears — but one will find me and hold me gently in their bear arms. I know it. I will also be feeling ambivalent about my own pronouns, so I guess it’s a they/shrug summer for me?

Darcy , Writer

A collage features Darcy in a stream, Darcy next to a pool, Darcy underwater, an orange, a dog on a kayak, a dog on a tree trunk, a pencil drawing of a mermaid next to a fish, a buff person in a swimsuit flexing muscles, a flower, and an orange-print shirt. It also features the poetry lines: "The rest of the day was quite easy. I did all the jobs on my list And enjoyed them and had some time over. I love you. I'm glad I exist. — Wendy Cope

The quote in my moodboard is from a poem called The Orange, by Wendy Cope. This they/them summer, I want to focus on the things that are simple and good. I want to remember that some things in this world still come to us in abundance, like oranges, like water, like love. This summer, I want to float on my back in the creek and stare at the blue blue sky for as long as it takes for that sky to reveal its full depth: up and up and up, forever. And now look at us again, so small and busy and sometimes happy, so far below.

Em Win, Writer

A collage featuring two people kissing, a set of watercolors, a splash of water, a drawing of a stick person, daisies out of focus, and an unmade bed, and lots of flowers

This mood more is more aspirational than anything. I was summer love! I want lots of water! I want to paint my feelings! I want to have crushes by the campfire and spend lazy summer Sundays in bed! I want to encourage my inner child to come out and play! However, my summer is shaping up to be one of a lot of drastic change. I’m hoping I can cling to the things I love (all pictured here) to help me work through transition, growth, and our collective trauma.

Collage containing a screenshot of Scully from The X-Files looking steadily at someone offscreen with blood in her left eye, a picture of Don Cheadle wearing a black t-shirt that reads “Protect Trans Kids”, a screenshot of Harmony_Holiday on twitter that reads: “We shall have everything we want and there will be no more dying.” A screenshot of Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham from Star Trek Discovery, hugging and laying her head tenderly atop of David Ajala who plays Cleveland “Book” Booker, as he sits down looking somberly offscreen. A screenshot of skai_theartist’s poster of Candice Patton as Iris West-Allen, Javicia Leslie as Batwoman, Meagan Tandy as Agent Sophie Moore, Anna Diop as Starfire, and Azie Tesfai as The Guardian in heroic poses against a black background with the title DC Queens in Orange font across the bottom. screenshot from Alessia Cara’s Here music video where she is at a party in slow motion with a pink tinted filter and she’s looking through her hair at the viewer. Over top is a quote that reads: It Is Puppetry? A digital catalog of unintentional puppetry from @isitpuppetry on Instagram, a quote that reads: “Show I be / embarrassed for trying to survive?” from Sally Wen Mao’s “The White-Haired Girl” published in Indiana Review. A screenshot that reads: “Don’t panic. Learn how it works [1] [2] [3]”. A screenshot of a video recording program on freeze frame of A.Tony looking away from the screen against a light blue background, a screenshot of a message that reads “Host: A.TONY is Quietly Vicious”… underneath.”. A screenshot of their their quote tweet of Richard Siken that reads as A.Tony: me to my family Richard Siken: “If you love me you don’t love me in a way that I understand.” A painting titled Come Outside by of three black women in various shades of black, brown, red, blue, and green look at the viewer unbothered, vaguely interested, and disturbingly excited and threatening. A picture of betnijah Laney, Diamond DeShields, and Arike Ogunbowale, three black WNBA players as they pose for the first issue of WSLAM. A screenshot of a tweet by strqmul_iskwist that reads, “I’m not “self made”. I’m community made, I’m family made. I’m land made. I’m ancestor made. I’m made up of everything and everyone that made me exist outside just myself.” A picture of a black woman from Drumline doing a one armed pushup while the boys in the background struggle to do regular pushups and she looks threatening to someone offscreen. A screenshot of my game in progress, we need that knife b, with art by Tulani Kiara of two characters, a black girl with cornrows wearing a blue shirt and black jeans looking neutrally at the viewer, and a black girl with huge afro puffs and a dark purple sweatshirt smiling gently at the viewer. The text across them reads: “You sit. Scootch back until your back is against your bed and you are settled in between her legs. Safe.” A screenshot from the game BIRDLAND that reads, “Mackenzie: “In your head” isn’t the opposite of “real” though.”. A screenshot from jb-blunk on Tumblr that reads: “in this terrifying world you continuously have the power to offer someone else a little relief. why would you withhold that. do you remember what a little relief feels like? it feels like a lot”. A screenshot of janelle monae and tessa thompson from monae’s pynk video where monae is wearing bright and hot pink and dancing against a desert background and tessa thompson is in between her legs looking like the seeds in a flower blooming, and also known gently as monae’s clitoris in the video.

For my they/them summer experience I’m leaning into the overwhelm! More black women! More black basketball players! More black queerness! More connection in places where they are least expected because that’s how to make a life worth living! More black women as superheroes even though the world is fuckdoor and wants to see the destruction of them! More fighting for freedom and getting free! More creating! More lesbian-ing! More horror especially black horror dictated by black creators so that we live to the other side of it, not perish less than five minutes into the story! More more more!

Summer is a hard time for me which feels absolutely ridiculous because I feel like I always end up going [this season] is a hard time for me, but I mean it. The heat, my asthma, the sweat that forces me to remember I’m in my body especially when I’m around *other* bodies? The thought of it makes me wanna bury under my pillow, but I’m gonna get on out there because connection! I mean not a lot, cause you see Alessia Cara’s Here, (which everyone in my life sent to me the moment they heard it because they were like “there has never been a song that fit you more perfectly”) but i’m gonna make sure that my summer is me carrying these things that are important to me, like all of em in a little universes I put in my pocket and even though they are not always bright or without pain, they are my heart’s and so I will do that with my summer: universe my heart, carry it in my important, even though sometimes it hurts, even though sometimes the hurt means it, I’m going to un-bury and reach out my hand and see what happens.

Stef Rubino, Writer

A collage featuring a photo of Stef on the beach, a photo of Stef in a pool, a smore, a slice of key lime pie, ice cream, an aperol sprtiz, the AS logo, the logo for the podcast Fat Guy Jacked Guy, a movie theater, the band Bikini Kill, and a stack of books

I guess this isn’t a moodboard so much as it is a “This is what I’ll be doing ALL summer long board” but we’re goin’ with it. I’m a teacher on a 12-month pay schedule, so I generally have my summers to myself. I do a lot of other organizing work all year long (which I didn’t include on this board), but I also use the time to rest and recharge and do whatever the hell I want. So, this summer, in addition to hanging out with my partner and my friends as much as humanly possible, I’m doing all this stuff. I’m going to the beach and to whatever pool will have me whenever I can. I’m eating foods—like key lime pie, s’mores, and sno-balls and Italian ice—and drinking cocktails, like Aperol spritzes, that remind me of summer until I get sick of them. I’m getting through my summer TBR pile and seeing movies at my favorite movie theater in the world. I’m making it out to see as much live music as I can. And lastly, I’m working on other projects I truly care about like my work here at Autostraddle, my podcast, and volunteering at Miami Girls Rock Camp.

Nico , A+ Director

This collage features several elements. The most prominent are Mya the dog, a nearly 15 year old malamute mix looking smiley and happy, nicole, a white genderqueer human with bleached hair and shaved sides wearing a tropical print shirt and aviators and sipping from an iced tea. There are collaged elements - a sticker from their sister that says "himbo vibes", two bottles of kombucha, the scrivener logo, an axe set into a log, a typewriter and books, jars of homemade red colored jam, the back of a seed packet of corn, and a pile of tomatoes. in the background is an image of nicole wearing a headlamp and dust mask in their attic, a photo of mushrooms growing in the forest, and a photo of their partner gazing out over a river in the forest. the whole effect is bright, colorful and both grounded and chaotic.

This is both aspirational and littered with real photos of things I am currently doing! I’m gardening (and I recently expanded the vegetable garden I had, about doubling my veggie-growing situation in terms of size), teaching myself to can and making jams and pickles, brewing kombucha, helping Sadie fix up the house, escaping to the woods with Sadie and Mya whenever possible, making sure Mya has a really, truly excellent summer (she’ll be 15!), seeing fireflies which are a wonder I’m always grateful for as I didn’t grow up with them, volunteering, reading physical books outdoors in the shade and working on my fucking novel. (OH AND WORKING AT AUTOSTRADDLE YOU ALL, but that goes without saying!) Besides all that, a personal goal for me with my they/them summer is to be more present in my body. No time like the present to get better at that.

shea martin, Writer

A collage featuring the books Bitter and Gender Queer, a mixtape of summer jams, an ESPN Fantasy Women's Basketball logo, shea wearing sunglasses, a black top, board shorts, and a blue button down that is open, The Chicks, a drill, a pair of hills with Mabel the dog on top, a name badge that says HELLO My Name is shea martin pronouns: they/them, the words BRUNCH BRUNCH BRUNCH, an egg, a lime slice, and a waffle.

More days than not, it’s hard for me to get out of bed as a “they/them” in this world on fire. When I do, I try to fill it with all of the things that bring me joy like music, DIYing everything around the house, road trips with my wife, and cuddling with my dog, Mabel the Pig. During the school year (and almost always), I am always going hard — reading, writing, teaching, going to classes, etc. I’m hoping my mood board reminds me (and all of us) to take an intentional break — hike a mountain, play some good music, read a book, say “yes” to brunch, and celebrate that we are still f*cking here.

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  1. I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO HAVE A GOOD SUMMER. We’re working, yes, we’re fighting, yes, but also I hope we all get to touch plants and watch movies and eat good summer food and sit around campfires with fellow queers. All the good things!

    I love everyone’s mood boards and how they reflect each person’s individual style. You all are so creative <3

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