It Was Like Living on the Moon

Thanks to an outpouring of support, we made our fundraiser goal in JUST FIVE DAYS!!! Thank you if you’re an A+ member or if you donated. This support means that Autostraddle can survive through January, that we’re okay for now. But as we look ahead to an actually pretty scary 2023, we have to acknowledge that we need more monthly A+ members on our side in order to continue to keep this space around. So many of our incredible writers and team members wrote posts for the fundraiser, and we’re going to run them through the 12th, during our Monthly A+ Member Drive. If you sign up at the $6/month level or higher as a monthly member before the midnight PST on the 12th of November, you’ll get a bonus pack of 4 stickers, too, on top of the usual perks. So, what do you say? Will you join?

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Buried deep in my archives, there are two emails that I particularly treasure. Sent and received three and a half years apart, they bookend a time in my life where literally everything changed.

The first one, sent with shaking hands in 2013, is an email to the counseling program at my local LGBTQ center, asking for help.

The second is an unexpected email from Laneia Jones in 2017, asking me, an Autostraddle reader and prolific commenter, if I would like to take over the Comment Awards.

***
When I tell people now that I was closeted for over a decade, it sounds throwaway, somehow easy. “Oh yeah, it was hard,” I say, forgetting just how hard it really was. But when I really make myself remember, when I get myself back to that place — it was like living on the moon. It was like watching life happen on the other side of thick glass. It was like needing food, and eating a pile of smooth, round stones instead. It was almost a life.

Each day, things got just a little bit heavier, and as I neared 30, it got to be too much. And so I asked for help. Stonewall paired me with a therapist, a lovely woman who I mostly stared at, crying, in her tiny office just above the Birkenstock store. She’d pass me a box of tissues and ask me questions I couldn’t answer, questions I didn’t want to answer, and then I’d go home, and I’d go online.

It was while I was in therapy, for what my therapist and I called “it,” because I couldn’t say the word gay out loud, that I found Autostraddle.

At a time when I was profoundly scared of being judged and pigeonholed by straight people and queer people alike, Autostraddle was the first queer space I ever found that told me, in no uncertain terms, that there was no wrong way to be myself. I’d always been a lurker, but now I signed up — I called myself Queer Girl — and I started commenting here and there. As I struggled to find the words to say “I’m gay” in my therapist’s office, as I wondered if I would ever be able to come out to my loved ones, at Autostraddle, I was safe. So I poured my heart out. I started commenting every day. Every day I was able to show up somewhere and learn and read and see people I knew and say it, in a million different ways: this is who I am.

By the time Laneia emailed me three years later, I was out to everyone. I was dating. I’d had some amazing first kisses. I’d had my heart broken at least once. And I’d been to A-Camp! I had a group chat full of queer friends who knew real things about me, and liked me all the same. By the time Laneia emailed me, I could breathe. I could see my future ahead of me, full of people who knew the real me. A future full of love. For the first time in over a decade, I was living a real life.

Being a part of the Autostraddle community? It got me there.

How has the Autostraddle community stuck around? With the help of A+ members, who fund our indie queer media space, that’s how.

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Having a space to read and learn, to feel safe and seen, was profoundly important to me during my journey. And now, after so many queer spaces and indie media sites have closed, it’s clear that we need to actively support the communities that matter to us. We need the many voices and perspectives that Autostraddle publishes. We need to preserve our history. We need to make space for an evolving and sustainable future. And we need your support to do that.

Earlier this year, Autostraddle’s Editor In Chief, Carmen, asked me what I would do for Autostraddle if there were unlimited funds to do it. I thought of the first time I showed up in the comments, eyes puffy from therapy, typing things I wouldn’t be able to say out loud for years. I thought of the first time I went to A-Camp and saw 400 queer people sitting around one camp fire, rosy with expectation and firelight, and thought: if only everyone could see how fucking beautiful we are. “I’m not sure what I’d write,” I told Carmen. “I just want to show everyone we’re here.”

We’re here. We’re still here. And we’re fucking beautiful.

Thank you for being a part of this with me. Thank you if you’re an A+ member keeping this space here for all of us. If you haven’t joined A+ yet, we’re having a Monthly Member Drive right now to help make sure Autostraddle can stick around into the future. If you’re not already an A+ member, A+ starts at so little, just $4 a month. Will you consider joining?

Love,
Darcy
(Queer Girl)

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P.S. Until the 12th, monthly members who sign up at the $6/month level or higher get some additional fundraiser limited-edition bonus stickers as thanks! All A+ Members get bonus content, bonus Saturday games and access to the A+ Discount Marketplace where new partners are added on a rolling basis. Not to mention, every A+ member gets the deep satisfaction of knowing they’re a part of helping indie queer media survive.

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Before you go! It costs money to make indie queer media, and frankly, we need more members to survive 2023As thanks for LITERALLY keeping us alive, A+ members get access to bonus content, extra Saturday puzzles, and more! Will you join? Cancel anytime.

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Darcy

Darcy, a.k.a. Queer Girl, is your number one fan. She's a fat feminist from California who doodles hearts in the corners of her Gay Agenda. They're living through a pandemic, they're on Twitter, and they think you should drink more water! She also wants to make you laugh.

Darcy has written 332 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. I really recognise this experience. I’m (hopefully, dear god, hopefully) coming towards the end of a similar amount of time in the closet, and you absolutely nailed what it’s like, and how badly we need that little bubble of space somewhere where we can be seen and express ourselves.

  2. Darcy, I remember the exact DAY you started running the comment awards and I was SO EXCITED that this anonymous-ish “Queer Girl” from the comment section (whose commenting I so enjoyed) was now going to be a regular part of the website! 🤩 Your contributions here are so appreciated, and I’ve loved getting to hear more of your voice in the pieces you’ve been writing recently. 💛 Thank you!!!

  3. My second favorite part of Autostraddle after Heather Hogan. I also remember when you took over the comment awards and it was like, “Yes this will be brilliant they had all the best comments” and then you wrote this! and it is also the best.

    PS PLEASE TELL YOUR DOG THAT I LOVE YOUR DOG

      • AH YES MILO! I was like “I know it’s a name I always think should belong to a blues musician”.

        aww it brings me so much joy that my precious TyLoup is still loved so far away. he was one of a kind.

        My new precious boy is Buddy. He’s been a million times more difficult than TyLoup because he had a hard life before he found us, but he is also perfect.

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