Letter From the Editor: Fresh Vision for Autostraddle

I first came across the pages of Autostraddle in 2009 when I was living in Chicago and was sort of in love with my best friend at the time. We had set up an “office” in her living room that was a folding table decorated with a few plants. When we were not re-watching The L Word to marvel at how bad it was, one of our favorite things to do together was Google image search women and backpacks that we thought were hot, and then put the former on our blogs and go pick up the latter at Target — though we tried really hard for it to be the other way around.

In so many ways, even though I wasn’t a baby dyke, I was still trying to figure out how to be queer as a real adult — one who was trying to grow beyond the post-college Portland house that my friends and I called “The Mature Women’s Co-op” in jest, and be taken seriously as a writer.

At that time, even if Autostraddle was not the place where I was going to find out who I might become, it did furnish me with lots of things to discuss with my best friend as we mapped our desires, and decided what we did or did not want associated with our brand of gay.

At 35, I have still not yet to grow into a “mature woman,” in a conventional sense, but I have very much learned to be a real, queer adult, in my own way. A couple of years ago, I was at my job in a brainstorming meeting, and the legal counsel interrupted me to make a joke with the group about how my ideas weren’t that important because my perspective was weird, and nobody else shared it. I am never here to refute that I’m weird, so that was fine. I’m also aware that I’m unexpected, and I’m used to making my own space to belong. But I think all of this is very important!

Not just for me, but for all of you too. That’s the driving fire behind what I hope to build more of at Autostraddle: space for lesbians and queer people — especially people of color — to be our entire selves, to be known for the multi-dimensional ways we move in the world.

We are the ultimate authority on who we are and how we live — not anyone else. We’ve long been responsible for ensuring our own survival, for keeping and passing on our own histories and for showing each other how to imagine beyond the confines of what seems possible.

The shape I give to lesbian and queer culture in my mind is a network of mycelia fibers — invisible, powerful, ancient, connected on more levels that we can know. The heart of my vision is that I want to use these collective wisdom and resources to open up our community and make it a home for more lesbian and queer voices, so they too can become staples of Autostraddle. So you can get even more perspectives from weird, singular, real, queer people, who write that sentiment you always felt but never found words for; who challenge our status quo; who share thoughtful reflections on personal journeys; who make you laugh at hilarious bullshit; who remind us that we have every reason to be confident and empowered in who we are.

So I’m inviting every reader — YOU are the reason that we have been the biggest and most beloved site dedicated to lesbian culture & queer women on the internet, and YOU are an integral part of us — to join me in learning and evolving, in listening and adjusting, as we make our way into a bright, new future!

This is the first key element of our new vision, but keep in mind that this is one part of a larger, longer, collaborative team process. There are other pieces, specifically on accessibility and gender inclusion, that we are developing to make all parts of our vision actionable and to hold ourselves accountable — we’ll be sharing those when they’re ready.

Vision #1: Black Up + Brown Up Queer Culture:

Intersectional Black and Brown queerness is the center, the norm, the future of our lesbian & queer culture — white gay culture is not the default, but one square of the fabric of our site. We actively work to manifest an explicitly intersectional feminism that centers the freedom and joy of queer, lesbian and bisexual women and all genders of trans and nonbinary people of color as well as people living with disabilities. We recognize and support the multiplicity of struggles and unequal, disproportionate impacts our community faces — our fights are not separate, we embrace them as a whole.

How Will We Bring This Vision To Life?

To support this vision, we’re setting internal goals to increase the percentage of total posts on our site by queer writers of color and the percentage of the freelance budget we pay to queer writers/artists of color, PLUS we’re designing new plans, micro and macro, to better distribute and bring more traffic to our work. We’ll be reporting on this progress as we go.

If you do have extra resources to share, we would love your help in our latest fundraiser to support this vision, and other goals to make Autostraddle even better for everyone. Thank you for being an indispensable part of our community!

Kamala Puligandla lives in LA and is the writer of various autobiographical fictions. She is the distinguished recipient of her parents' leftovers and hair compliments from strangers on the street. Her first novel is forthcoming from Not A Cult. Find her work at kamalapuligandla.com.

Kamala has written 34 articles for us.

5 Comments

    • Hey Kamala, it was interesting to read about your internal goals– and this actually prompted a follow-up question, if you don’t mind sharing some wisdom. At my job we’re also giving ourselves a very concrete goal to increase the percentage of $$$ that goes out to BIPOC writers and freelancers. But we’re struggling with writing a “call for BIPOC writers” that does not come across as tokenizing. Whay would you recommend?

      {I ask this because we tried the “we want to build a diverse and inclusive network, can you recommend someone you know?” route without singling out the BIPOC element… and 98% of recommendations turned out to be white men. So that’s definitely a lesson learned)

      • Hey Lana! I ran into a similar but also different problem trying to fill a software engineering position last year where I wanted to ideally hire a non white candidate and/or woman and for a number of reasons couldn’t say so explicitly. And… we ended up hiring a cis white man… Not sure if this carries over to your field but one lesson I learned from this experience is that it’s really important to be extremely intentional about where / how you post opportunities. In retrospect, I realized that I should have sent out the position to orgs that focus on under-represented groups in computer science in addition to posting it on our job board. I’m guessing there are comparable things for writers and the freelancers you’re trying to hire.

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