In the End, There Will Always Be Love

I’m the kind of person who keeps quotes written in notebooks or on Post-It notes. The habit started as something of an anxious tick when I was a teenager, a way to remind myself of positive vibes or self-confidence when I didn’t have enough growing of my own. It’s a routine that got me through getting my PhD, when love notes of “you can do it” covered my walls during the week before my dissertation defense. I even have my computer programmed to replace blocked websites with inspirational quotes when I lock myself off the internet to write, reminding me of Cardi B saying “Knock me down nine times, but I get up 10” or Serena Williams’ “You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.”

I know it’s corny, but it also works. I’m sharing this perhaps embarrassing habit because when trying to figure out the words to announce my departure from Autostraddle, I was reminded of this quote that I have scribbled in the margins of my most recent notebook. You will have to forgive me, because I forgot to write down the proper attribution, so I will paraphrase here. But the quote says that if you love something, then you pour all of yourself into it. If you love something — and I mean really love it — you will fight and sacrifice for it, but you’ll get back what you put in. And yes, if we are honest about how hard love can be, there will be humbling vulnerability and heartbreak, but in the end it’s always worth it. Because in the end, there will always be love.

Ultimately, that’s how I will always feel about Autostraddle. Autostraddle started as a group of friends huddled over a laptop, a lore that’s familiar to many of us who’ve been here for years, and fifteen years later it’s still not done growing. I’m not being facetious or grandiose when I say that it’s been the honor of my lifetime to be a part of this team for any length of that journey. It’s been an honor to pour myself into these pages, to serve the greater project of this community behind the scenes in keeping this website alive and here for its next chapter. It’s hard to write this letter now because the one thing I have always wanted as a leader was to listen, to center the needs of our writers, readers, and our other editors instead of shining a light on myself. I believe in grit and working hard, but I also believe that doing so only meets its highest calling when you are working towards something bigger than yourself. So, with that in mind, every late night spent falling asleep in front of my laptop, every canceled dinner plan or missed family outing, every time I had to postpone laundry or groceries — they were all worth it. YOU were all worth it. Because what we were all building was never about any one individual among us.

It’s also not sustainable for someone to spend years falling asleep in front of a laptop. Which I know a lot of you already know, because you have told me yourself! You’ve left comments on my articles, gently reminding me how important a work-life balance is in order to keep going (a lesson that I will admit, it’s taken me longer than it probably should have to internalize). If you’re going to grow a garden, you have to learn how to water yourself first.

I’m not sure where my next steps are going to take me, but I have known for a while now that the kind of personal life that I want for myself is hard to cultivate while you spend every waking hour staring into the endless blue light of a laptop screen. That feels painfully basic to say out loud. But for an over-worker and chronic overachiever like me, someone who learned early on to mask any self-doubt or worries of inadequacies (the kinds of feelings so many queer people wrestle with from the minute we realize we’re “different”) behind a impenetrable field of perfectionism — saying that you need to re-learn what’s become up to this point your defining trait in life in order to find what you most want next, well that is fucking scary. I finally feel brave enough to do it, and I finally value myself enough to do it. I learned how to do that at Autostraddle.

That’s how love works. You give and give of yourself, but if it’s done right, you get replenished in return. I am so grateful for everything that I was able to give to Autostraddle in my time here, first as a reader parked in the comments section with my very long opinions about television, then as a team writer, as an Associate Editor, Senior Editor, Deputy Editor, and now in my time as this website’s Editor-in-Chief. I hope I brought all of my smarts and humor to the table, my compassionate leadership, a willingness to do what’s hard, my passion for platforming Black and brown queerness, and an insatiable appetite for jokes about my love of Queen Latifah (maybe that last one more than anything else). I first became Deputy Editor in 2020 — barely three months into a global pandemic and so many uncharted waters ahead of us. I became Editor-in-Chief nearly one year to the day after that, and I said “I want to see us… into the next chapter. I want to build a platform that outlives us. That’s my goal.”

I’m so proud that together we have seen Autostraddle through the worst of the pandemic. What I’ve also learned is that Autostraddle will always outlive any one person at its helm. Because the magic of Autostraddle comes from all of us who have loved it, and will continue to love it, for so many years.

Countless hands touch the project of Autostraddle that as readers you never get to see. I want to thank each and every one of them, people who for so many years, every day, worked to make this website and community better with the precious care and tenacity it deserves. For nearly the last seven years, I’ve felt incredibly lucky to have known Autostraddle from the inside out, every corner and nook and cranny, because I loved it first as a reader, and I want to tell each of you reading this — no one does this magnificent hard work, hour after hour, day after day, without deeply loving this place. Editors, writers, graphic designers, brand partnerships and membership, our tech team. No one puts in the time here without believing deep in their bones that telling your stories, reflecting you back to yourself on your own terms, is worth it above all else.

The current editors of Autostraddle, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Drew Burnett Gregory, and Riese Bernard are just… There are just no words for what working with them has meant to me. I wish I knew how! And I’m a writer! I should! But the task is too mounting, too impossible. I hope they will forgive me for coming up short at this moment, and know that my lack of words is because of an abundance of deep feeling, not a lack of it, which has stunned me into silence. This team is something special. I cannot wait to see where they are taking Autostraddle next.

Nico Hall has also done so much for Autostraddle as our Fundraising and Membership Director to keep Autostraddle here and queer during a pandemic that ended the future of so many other small businesses and publications like ours. When I speak of the late nights I’ve put into Autostraddle, there is no one that I spent more of those late nights with than Nico or Riese, often with great sacrifice. But those hours also allowed Autostraddle to still be here today, and that is something that I am incredibly proud of. More than all of that, Nico has become a friend. I also want to thank Heather Hogan, the Autostraddle TV Team, the WNBA group chat, and a deep thank you to Natalie Duggins. You all became more than coworkers. It will always have meant more than you know.

And I want to thank the writers of Autostraddle because as editors, there is no greater privilege than being trusted with the words of another and to help give them life. Every writer whom I have known during my time at Autostraddle has left a mark on me and impacted me in such a way that I still wouldn’t know how to pay back. They laughed and joked with me, checked in on me when I was down, they pushed and challenged me to become a better leader and a better person. Thank you.

I also don’t want to lose touch with any of you reading this letter! Thank you to the readers of Autostraddle, thank you to our AF+ members, all of you are the reason we do this work and you are the reason this website exists at all. Thank you for allowing us to be the ones who tell your story. You can find me next on Instagram (where I swear I’m doing better about posting more regularly!) or on Twitter (I refuse to call it X). Please come hang! I’m going to miss you terribly. You’ll also be able to find some more of my writing here, where I’ll be pivoting to becoming a contributing freelance writer.

It’s funny. If you’ve read my story or about my relationship to this website before, you’ve maybe already heard me say this: for as long as I’ve been gay, I’ve rolled over in the morning when I first woke up, picked up my phone, and checked Autostraddle.

It’s true. And I’m excited for this next chapter, because I’m excited to also fall back in love with Autostraddle as I first knew it, as a reader.

I can’t wait to join all of you reading this, on the other side.

I love you,

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?

Join AF+!

Carmen Phillips

Carmen Phillips is Autostraddle's former editor in chief. She began at Autostraddle in 2017 as a freelance team writer and worked her way up through the company, eventually becoming the EIC from 2021-2024. A Black Puerto Rican feminist writer with a PhD in American Studies from New York University, Carmen specializes in writing about Blackness, race, queerness, politics, culture, and the many ways we find community and connection with each other.  During her time at Autostraddle, Carmen focused on pop culture, TV and film reviews, criticism, interviews, and news analysis. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. And there were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. To reach out, you can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram, or her website.

Carmen has written 716 articles for us.


  1. carmen it has been a fucking delight to work with you and to be your friend — it has felt and continues to feel impossible to know where to start, like …….. how do you measure seven years!?!? — laugh-screaming about Gen Q in that airbnb, talking on the phone endlessly about everything (‘do you have 10 minutes to chat?’ and then we realize the sun has set on both coasts and it’s been three hours), how genuinely you care for every human here and every word they write, your intuition and compassion, how closely you pay attention, getting full run-downs from you of the intricacies of characters on shows i never saw, zooming through the dark in vegas, deconstructing big and little ideas with you. you’ve transformed this website and all of us with your heart and spirit and talent and i’ve learned so much from you. it has been an honor to watch you love and treasure this place and to want more for it. thank you for everything you’ve given the world, here. i’m so glad we’ll still have your voice on this website. i can’t wait to see what you do next, which hopefully is “sleep a lot”!!!

  2. I am also out of words. So I’ll just say thank you thank you thank you for everything you’ve done for me, for Autostraddle, and for our communities. I love you lots and lots. <3

  3. You’ve always been so good at capturing the spirit and meaning of this place through your work and words. I’ll miss the dynamic we had before but am excited about the next stage of our friendship and creative collaboration!!! I’M SO HAPPY YOU’RE GONNA KEEP WRITING because you’re very good at it, as evidenced by this letter and your entire body of work. LOVE YA, C!

  4. Carmen, there are no amount of words to sum up the depths of my love for you! In the very brief time we’ve known each other, you’ve become a person who means so much to me. You are the kind of writer and leader I aspire to be one day: absolutely brilliant and with a well of empathy, love and care that knows no limit. I’m so excited for you to move into this next phase of your life, and I will be here to root you on every step of it. I love you so much! ’86 babies just do it better ;)

    • Carmen I didn’t have the pleasure of working with you as much as I would have liked but have a deep respect and admiration for you and your work at Autostraddle. I have always loved this line in your bio: “there were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow.” ❤️

  5. Carmen, your work on AS has been utterly transformative! Your interview with Lena Waithe is one of my all-time faves, and I don’t know if anyone else in the world could have had a conversation like that with her.

    Thank you for everything you have given this community, and I truly hope that you get some much deserved respite! Looking forward to following you wherever your next steps take you.

  6. As someone who found Autostraddle when still closeted, I have journeyed with you. You guys work incredibly hard in challenging circumstances to create a diverse queer space. You are treasures.. Long live Autostraddle. Go well Carmen – you deserve all the success out there in the freelancing world.

  7. Have appreciated your writing so much – you inspired me to watch some of my favorite tv. And I know being an editor involves even more work than we readers ever see. Thank you thank you.

  8. I’ve been following your writing since back when we were fellow commenters discussing Queen Sugar, and I’ll continue to follow your writing wherever it takes you post-Autostraddle. I’m glad you’ll be taking more time for yourself, but please know that all the time and energy and love you’ve poured into this place over the last seven years has been deeply felt and appreciated.

  9. Carmen, delurking to say how much I’ve enjoyed your writing over the years and just your presence on the site, your contribution to Autostraddle culture. When I’ve seen your name in the byline the article has instantly become a must-read. I wish you well and am glad you’ll be back from time to time!

  10. Carmen, thank you for taking the helm when we needed it most. Your service to us during tumultuous times will not be forgotten. Godspeed on your next venture, whatever it may be!

  11. Carmen…girl…GIRL!

    No!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *insert gif of Caesar from Planet of the Apes*

    When you joined the team, I think I read one of your very first articles and thought “I dig this woman”. Why? Because your writing is often both subjective and objective, doesn’t belittle its audience and invites discussion. I have truly enjoyed your humor, honesty, fallibility, relatability, and engagement with posters like me over the years. I haven’t logged in/commented much in recent years, still, I have made it a point to read whatever you’ve written even if it’s not my thing because you have maintained the ability to show genuineness and respect towards your audience regardless of how unpopular or dissenting your opinion might be. That truly is a gift in this current era of media which chooses not to engage but to thoughtlessly incite.

    Thank you for sharing yourself. Thank you for thinking of us. Thank you for the provocation. Thank you for showing queer POCs are not a monolith. And lastly, I want to personally thank you for the laughs. I should’ve led with that because you did make me laugh…out loud…a lot. Thank you. Thank You. THANK YOU!!!!

    All the best of luck with any endeavor you choose to pursue and 100% good juju for anything that comes your way. You will be missed.

  12. Carmen, your work speaks for itself. Thank you for sharing so much of your skill and heart with us over the years – wishing you all the best in what comes next ❤️

  13. Thank you for everything you’ve done, Carmen – you’ve been a stunning EIC and I hope you’re as proud as what you achieved as I’ve been delighted to get to enjoy it (extremely!). I hope the next stage treats you well, and I’m pleased we’ll still get to see your work! Your League of Their Own coverage, Everything that matters is stuck in the back of my throat, the sapphic table (feel free to return to this as a column, i loved it!): all these made Autostraddle so special. Fare thee well!

  14. Carmen! Thank you for your vision, leadership and service, and your thoughtful, thought provoking and generous writing.

    And thank you for writing about everything from Queen Latifah and Brittney Griner to WNBA thirst traps and how to dress like weird Barbie. <3

    I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself and look forward to reading whatever you write next. All the blessings on your next chapter.

  15. Ahh Carmen! What a beautiful job you have done as EIC and I am so glad we’ll still get your incredible voice here every once in a while. I hope the next stage of your journey is full of rest, joy, and inspiration for what is to come.

  16. Carmen!!!! I’m excited for you to take the plunge into your next phase but you’ll be very missed. I’ve learned so much and laughed so much from reading your work. I look forward to seeing more articles pop up with your byline. We’ll be rooting for you in your next steps! 💛💛

  17. Dear Carmen,

    Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it, as I’m sure all of us are feeling right now. I always felt personally addressed by your writing, what a strong connection you created every time. How ?!?

    I’m glad we’ll still read you from time to time because when I saw those fateful words… “my departure from Autostraddle”, my solar plexus gave a little yelp of sorrow.

    My admiration knows no bounds. I’m so grateful for your work and for, well, *you*.

    Definitely on Team “Love is not a lie” where you are concerned.

  18. Carmen, you have been an amazing EIC and this news saddens me greatly, though I understand your need to step away from the screen. Your editorial vision has been a godsend, especially over the pandemic’s first years and in the current historical moment. You brought everything to this table. Thank you for your courage and integrity and endearing love for Queen Latifah.

    You’ve written so much that I’ve enjoyed; I will never forget the piece you wrote about your aunt who founded the theatre company, it’s one of my favourite essays about grief and legacy.

    All the best to you as you journey forward.

  19. Any departure of someone who’s done as much great work as you have is gonna be bittersweet, but mostly I’m so happy for you as you start your next step! Thank you for everything you’ve done here and I hope you get some really good rest <3

  20. Carmen I didn’t have the pleasure of working with you as much as I would have liked but have a deep respect and admiration for you and your work at Autostraddle. I have always loved this line in your bio: “there were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow.” ❤️

  21. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of seven years for the world at large, and AS in particular. Thank you for bringing so much love and dedication to this place for as long as you did, and continue to do in a different capacity. Good luck and have fun finding what you’re looking for.

  22. Thank you so much for building such an awesome community space. I’m a lurker around here but there aren’t many safe queer spaces on the internet like Autostraddle. I’ve always loved reading your work and the editorial choices made on what to put forward. Glad you’re going to be getting more sleep and looking forward to reading your future writing

  23. Carmen, thank you so much for steering this editorial ship with such skill and love. It meant a lot to me as a daily AS reader. I look forward to reading your freelance contributions!

    Question for the current leadership: I’m also curious who will be the future EIC?

  24. So sad to see you go and so happy for you on this new journey. I feel like sometimes we are just surviving through overworking, though the work we create through it can be beautiful. I love your writing and look forward to seeing it in the future, in whatever medium.

  25. Thank you, Carmen, for all your hard work and dedication, and for your excellent writing. Best of good luck to you now and always. Glad you’re taking time to care for yourself.

  26. Carmen! I’ve rooted for you at AS and I’ll root for you wherever your career takes you next. It’s incredibly brave of you to recognize that, even though we have benefited endlessly from your hard and sometimes thankless work for Autostraddle over the years, you deserve to save something (time, energy, space, etc) for yourself.

    I’ll miss getting to cheer you on in the EIC position, but I’m glad I’ll still get to read some of your work here, and I’m sure I’ll stumble across your comments again sometime soon. Thanks for everything!

  27. Yours were probably the articles I look forward to most on this site especially the ones on Queen Latifah. Pretty sure I started watching the equalizer because of something you wrote a few years back. Thank you so much for sharing your work and enthusiasm and care with us for all of these years. It’s been so fun and so real! Wishing you all the luck and light in the future ❤️

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