Riese Bernard Has Always Been Our Queero So We’re Really Glad She’s Featured In Them’s Queeroes 2018 Series

Feature image by Cheyne Gallarde for Them

Riese Bernard has been my hero for so long. Maybe the same is true for you?

She’s brilliant, for one, and she’s also hilarious. She has a genius brain, a huge heart, a creative soul, and she’s a diehard Shenny shipper. Riese is the co-founder and CEO of Autostraddle dot com; she’s the reason we’re all here! She has done so much for the queer community, for queer media and the way we all tell our stories in 2018 and the way we all connect and live and love and know one another, and honestly, I’m just gonna say it: she so rarely gets the credit she deserves. And I’m not saying that because she’s my boss or my friend or because I’m dramatic; it is simply true. But Riese doesn’t let that stop her – she just wakes up every day and keeps doing her damn job, no matter what’s going on in her personal life and no matter how many people make wildly unfair bad faith assumptions on Twitter and no matter what the fuck else is happening, Riese shows up for Autostraddle. She leads the revolution and she doesn’t stop and I often wish she knew how special she is to so many of us weirdos.

Which is why I’m so happy and excited that Riese Bernard is featured in Them’s Queeroes 2018 series! The project, put together in honor of Them’s first ever New York City Pride, features individuals who have served as inspiration to the queer community this year. “These are the modern-day queer heroes we so desperately need,” the Instagram caption about Them’s project reads, below a beautiful poster featuring all the queeroes being honored this year. Riese’s profile is headlined, “Where would queer media be without Autostraddle? We don’t want to know.” (The answer is queer media would be worse without Autostraddle, just saying.)

The profile includes an extremely cute interview with Riese, wherein she divulges that her super hero name would be Laneia (!!!), amongst other heartwarming things. The opening intro speaks bluntly about why Riese is on this list of queeroes: “Despite the corporate world’s puzzling reluctance to buy advertising in lesbian media, Autostraddle has managed to survive using a subscription model, creative merchandising, community fundraising, and a whole lot of dedicated bloggers. The world needs Autostraddle. And for making it all happen, Riese Bernard is our Queero.” To which I will say, as I believe the kids are saying these days: EXTREMELY SAME.

Riese is in excellent company with this group, hanging out on this queer superhero poster with her BFF Hayley Kiyoko, Raquel Willis, Janet Mock, Lena Waithe, Chani Nicholas, and Lindz Amer, to name a few.

Them debuted the series yesterday, on June 20, and ran profiles of each queer hero as well as hosted a dinner in New York City to honor them. Riese, in typical fashion, was pretty low key about the whole thing. She did not announce the honestly extremely exciting news on Slack, our virtual office space, and she didn’t send a group text with all-caps sentences ending in a million exclamation points to every single human in her phone, as I would have probably done. Nope, Riese just posted the Queeroes 2018 graphic to Instagram with a short caption: “Look it’s me! the blonde in the green tank top looking very severe and proud to be here!” That’s how I discovered the news, and I immediately got emotional and hopped on my computer to gush about Riese with everyone else who works here.

The Autostraddle staff, in contrast to our fearless leader, was decidedly not low key about the news. We were all very, very excited and also kind of crying because we were so proud, you know?!?! “Riese excuse me but this headline…made me tear up,” Molly Priddy, Autostraddle staff writer and Hot Soft Butch wrote to our Slack family channel at 5:20pm yesterday, linking to Them’s tweet that showcased the article about Riese. “Ok, good! I wanted to make sure that we were all talking about this and celebrating Riese and sharing this on Twitter, glad to see that we’re already on it,” Carmen Phillips, Autostraddle staff writer and Official Resident Janelle Monae Expert wrote back. “I cried, when I saw it,” was my personal contribution to our feelings atrium, and no one was surprised.

Carmen and I continued talking about our love for Riese via DM on Slack and she said, “I can never say thank you enough or repay Riese for what she’s given me, but I’m happy that for today at least, Riese Bernard is getting her damn due!” After I finally logged offline for the day I attended a Gemini zine crafting party (listen, we are who we are) and Sarah Sarwar, Autostraddle Design and Business Director and Noted Gemini, was in attendance. I asked what she thought of the exciting news and she said, “My boss started a revolution and has inspired countless humans in our beautiful community. Translation: my boss is infinitely cooler than your boss! I’m glad she was recognized for the genuine badass she is!”

Something you probably know about us here, if you’ve been paying attention, is that we have a lot of feelings, and something else you probably know is that we love each other so much. I truly do not believe this empire, this unbelievable community Riese has created, would survive without all of the love we have for one another. I think that’s our secret ingredient, I think it’s why people who work in traditional media have a little bit of a hard time understanding exactly what the fuck is going on at Autostraddle dot com. Like yeah, we’re a media company, and yeah, we’re changing the world, and yeah, we’d love someone to invest a lot of money into our website so we can keep doing our work and not have to fold because of larger mainstream queer websites popping up left and right with a lot more capital than we have (yes, I do see the irony, ahem, anyway), all of those things are true, and also…we’re here because we love each other and we love you and we love being queer and we love being together. It’s special.

Natalie Duggins, Autostraddle staff writer and My Personal Number One Source For All Things Related To Elections And Politics, wrote this when she shared the article on Twitter: “Riese gave me a space to be me long before she ever gave me a job.” And that’s the thing, you know? That right, there is the fucking thing.

RIESE CREATED THE SPACE FOR US ALL TO BE HERE, DOING THIS SPECIAL WORK, CREATING THIS POWERFUL COMMUNITY, AND NOW SHE’S BEING ACKNOWLEDGED FOR THAT AND IT MAKES ME SO, SO, SO HAPPY.

So, okay! Now you know how we feel about this great news and this cute interview. I’d love to hear how you feel! Head on over to Them to read Riese’s full profile (and the profiles of the other queeroes featured!), and then come back here and leave a comment! You could tell me how Riese has changed your life, or how much you love it when Riese posts photos of her dog Carol on Instagram, or how cute Riese’s hair looks, or which Riese essay you think about weekly (mine is this one), or how happy this whole situation has made you, or really anything you want!

I leave you with this excerpt from the Them piece, which is perfect advice from our fucking fearless leader in response to Them’s question, “What are your words of advice for young queer people who aspire to be Queeros?”

Read books. Know your herstory. Be authentic and open and be nice to your friends and open-minded to your not-friends. Don’t get too caught up in The Discourse or Twitter/tumblr infighting or Facebook out-fighting. Damn the man, save the Empire. Join A+. Be authentic. Love against all odds, and there will be odds! Incredible odds! Your friends are more important than anything. You can dress however you want, it’s fine, you look great. Eat vegetables.

Vanessa is a queer feminist writer and photographer currently based in New York. She really misses Portland. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 277 articles for us.

98 Comments

  1. I pretty much screamed when I saw that Riese was featured and Autostraddle/Riese/Laneia was a huge part of changing (and saving) my life

    BUT ALSO VANESSA CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS LINE

    “After I finally logged offline for the day I attended a Gemini zine crafting party (listen, we are who we are)” (I just love you)

    • TONIGHT INSTEAD OF SCREAMING INTO A PILLOW ABOUT [THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA] I AM GOING TO SCREAM INTO THE WILD NIGHT AIR ‘THANK YOU JEANNA!!!’ [and then maybe scream into a pillow a little bit after]

  2. I know many of us have some version of this same story, but I found Autostraddle during one of the darkest moments of my life. I am here today, alive, married to an amazing woman, living a life I thought was impossible, and it it because of this space you created. Thank you, Riese, from the bottom of my big gay heart!

    • ahhh is your name referencing my childhood hero and fashion icon marty mcfly? either way, i’m pleased as the punch you possibly served at your wedding (even if you didn’t, it’s okay, just play along) to hear that you are alive and THRIVING.

      and thank you for being an a+ member!

    • Sally, I must confess [and possibly have already confessed at some point on this website, who knows, i’ve written so many things!] that despite my apathy towards taylor swift the character [which i reversed course on temporarily circa “bad blood,” only to be thrust back into my previous camp by her music video for “wildest dreams”], i have often considered her for fashion inspo b/c we do have seemingly almost the same body? i’d never considered a facial similarity but you know, maybe the artist knows something that i don’t.

      also thank you always for everything sally!

  3. <3 <3 <3 Autostraddle is part of my Baby Queer Starter Pack of recommendations I give to every baby queer I meet (and also every grown up queer and everyone else), and I am so, so damn grateful for it. So glad Riese is getting the recognition she deserves!

    • thank you ever-so-kindly for indoctrinating a new generation into our low-key cult, many blessings will bestow upon you in the coming years!

      thank you for being an a+ member!

  4. <3 !!!!!!!!
    It's so good to see Riese getting some recognition! I think I might love Autostraddle more than I love pizza, which is a big statement for me to make. While pizza is a consistent love that has been present my whole life, Autostraddle has been that since I found it AND continues to surprise me and help me grow and expand and find new loves.
    I've been reading When We Were Outlaws by Jeanne Cordova the last two weeks and the power of her leaving part of her estate to Autostraddle so y'all can continue your work makes me feel a lot of things <3 Truly life and world changing

    • jay in celebration of my celebration i think you should try eating pizza while reading autostraddle, this is a wish i have for you! also man yes it’s a trip, who jeanne cordova was and who she thinks we could be / maybe are.

      thank you for being a true believer and an a+ member !

    • mary this sentiment has NEVER been more true than it is right now this minute, thank you for putting this intention into the air

      also thank you for being an a+ member and for being mary!!

    • we are forever & always pleased to be an anecdote to the experience of mainstream media and to continue taking a keen erin-shaped eye towards the goings-on of the straights. we are gonna do our best to not ever go away! on that note thank you for being an a+ member!

  5. This is great news, congrats! Thank you and all the wonderful staff for creating this community that has helped many of us be our best and true selves! Oh and thank you to the L Word.

  6. Autostraddle is life. I stumbled across the occasional article back when I didn’t feel gay enough,and still read stuff furtively. Then I read the ‘we see you’ open thread about bi folk, and for the first time ever I felt like I had found my tribe. There were others like me, and there was Autostraddle who were consistently and fiercely inclusive, day in, day out, and I could stop feeling guilty about being me. It was a very important step towards self acceptance and I am so grateful to Riese and everyone at Autostraddle. Thank you Riese! ❤

    • That’s the thread that finally made me feel Queer Enough and like I had found my people too! Then I went down the rabbit hole and stayed up until 4am reading AS instead of sleeping because there was so much great content to catch up on (something I still do sometimes). I live in a major metropolitan area but still found my queer community online and that speaks volumes of Riese’s commitment to inclusivity. And now I just went to my first A-Camp and it made me feel whole in the most marvelous way, so thank you for that too Riese!

      • “Then I went down the rabbit hole and stayed up until 4am reading AS instead of sleeping because there was so much great content to catch up on (something I still do sometimes).”

        So much this!!

    • i will tell you WHAT that thread was a catalyst for so many bi women to feel here and queer in THEIR TRIBE in a transformative way and i am so glad we did it and that y’all found it and then found more and more here for you! that one single post has also been used by haters to categorize us as a site that cares more about men than lesbians, and in addition to that being a ridiculous case to even try to make, it’s *especially* sad to me because it meant so much to so many!

      i love autostraddle rabbit holes, i love the sentence “riese’s commitment to inclusivity,” congrats on your first a-camp kalasin!

      thanks to all 3 of the humans on this lil comment thread for being a+ members!

  7. So I guess crying at my desk is just gonna be a regular thing? Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

    Riese and Autostraddle have certainly changed my life and it just. keeps. getting. better.

    THANK YOU RIESE BERNARD!

    • i think crying at one’s desk is queer culture. as a queero, i am qualified to identify and classify elements of queer culture so thank you for being the culture expert, if you will, of your office today!

      THANK YOU MEL FOR BEING AN A+ MEMBER

  8. Congrats Riese!! Autostraddle has changed me from a socially awkward anxious sad loner into a socially awkward anxious person with friends and happiness so thank you for all you’ve done! You deserve all the awards!

    • hello, fellow socially awkward anxious person! i would like to give YOU an award for finding not only friends (which i believe i’ve stated up top there the immense importance of) but also happiness. it’s not easy!

      thank you for being an a+ member priscila t!

  9. Riese and Autostraddle changed my life exponentially for the better. I don’t know where (or who!) I would be today without her hard work in creating this amazing community. I’m thankful for it every day. <3

    • gavin gavin gavin thank u for being such a consistently supportive force within the autostraddle and a-camp community for so many years and for being an excellent gender traitor tank top model // started from the ani mixtape and now we’re here // grateful 4 u // and also also also thank you for being an a+ member!

  10. i love autostraddle and riese’s writing and to the extent that i can, because i don’t know her as a person, face-to-face, i love riese

    i am happy this happened

    i am trying to comment more because i know it is important for like, website metrics reasons, so even though i don’t have anything Fresh to say, thank you and keep it up

  11. I literally just made an account because I had to take this opportunity to rave about Riese.

    Like so many others, Autostraddle has been instrumental in my development as a queer as well as as a human. I still go back and reread Riese’s old first person essays like “Going Mad in New York City” or “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About My Sexual Orientation and Weren’t Afraid to Ask” because they are so honest and poignant. Her writing is so truthful and inspiring which as a gay with a lot of feelings helps me feel less alone (honestly that’s the heart of what Autostraddle does, make people feel less alone). Being able to read someone else’s thought process as to how they identify and came into their own was revolutionary for me as a baby gay. Then beyond Riese’s talents as a writer, is her gift for educating. I’ve learned so much about our community’s history from her and the other writers she’s given platforms to. And that’s my next point. Riese has built such a remarkable space for other writers. She strives to uplift diverse voices and perspectives thereby giving space those who might not get published elsewhere. I am so grateful that I’ve been able to read those kinds of articles and gain that kind of perspective. And it’s all thanks to Riese.

    She is an inspiration and without a doubt a real life superhero.

    Thank you Riese for all you do for our community. Thank you for helping a little baby gay learn to love herself. Thank you Riese for giving the world Autostraddle

    • i read this with a pleased facial expression, feeling seen and heard and connected with. thank u b/c i feel “going mad in new york” is one of my best and most underrated works, if i may take a break from crippling self-doubt / modesty for one moment, and knowing someone out there is re-reading it touches me. thank u for paying attention in class and making an account to make me smile

    • I LOVE YOU VANESSA! this post was so sweet, i felt that feeling i feel where i am like “nobody can possibly feel these wonderful things about me when i am so [insecurities]” when i first opened it and had to read it in several affirming bites but when i did damn. thank you, i feel very honored to work with everybody who said a thing for this post and happy to have you back and doing some jewish cheerleading <3 <3 <3

  12. I read autowin in college, I read autostraddle when it was an l word recap blog, I’ve been there through the vlogs and ourchart- although I don’t know Riese, she’s been a huge part of my life as a queer woman and I’m so excited to see her recognized in this way. The way that autostraddle has expanded and progressed is mind blowing, and it’s been very cool to watch the growth. Thank you for all that you do, Riese.

    • i have a whole rent-controlled building in my heart where i keep everybody who has been here since the start as close to my ribs as i possibly can, thank u for living here through every evolution and renovation. it must seem so weird sometimes right! i guess mind-blowing is indeed the word. maviland vloggetry and all the breakups and breakdowns and and breakthroughs.

      thank you for being an a+ member!!!

    • This chimes so strongly for me, I had to chip in. I feel such an oldster sometimes, but back when the L word recaps gave this UK weirdo some glimmer of belonging it was always Riese shining that light. Her efferfescing righteousness – to be so present – despite the crazy and the injustice and the mad f*cking weight of it all – she was somehow making it happen, brilliantly. I’ve watched this autostraddle thing grow, with astonishment and deep, deep respect. I still treasure my stickers from the indiegogo campaign, I still feel the joy of getting to witness this sheer force of will in the world. I’m such a goddamn fan Riese, you’ve been inspiring me for more than a decade and if only I had access to a mountainload of cash because goddamn you deserve some payback, somehow, for all you’ve achieved. In lieu of that, I can only offer this: you have made a difference. You made a movement. You are a true shero ms Bernard. thank you.

  13. Once Riese looked into my actual eyes and told me I was one of her favorite commenters(unfortunately as a dyed-in-the-wool Autostraddle commenter, I became flustered instead of Responding Appropriately, my b)

    It was awesome.

    • amanda my level of internal fluster is always so secretly (maybe not-so-secretly, i have no gauge with which to determine any of these matters) off the charts that i did not even register your fluster, only my continued conviction that i appreciate you in the comments, and the mean girls reference

      thank u for being an a+ commenter & a+ member amanda!!!

  14. This makes me so happy. I also found autostraddle/autowin when I was young, closeted and sad and it has been a comfort to me every since. Reading autostraddle was basically the only good thing I did during my own personal depression years, and it shaped my young brains and made me a million times better as a human. Millions of thanks and piles of love!

    • i said it before and i’ll say it again: special special place in my heart for the lovers of autowin. thank u for participating in my brain-modling activities, the truth is i have very long fingers, which helps. from atop the piles of love i say: thank u for being an a+ member!

  15. Autostraddle has been with me since frantically googling “how to have lesbian sex” while on the metro to a date I was sure was gonna end in my first time with a girl (it did)…..through coming out to my parents, getting my “alternative lifestyle haircut”, and many other gay-related things…..to this present moment in which I am considering ways to propose to my girlfriend or how we can both propose to each other…..and will (hopefully!!!! Give AS all of your moneyz!!) be with me for everything the future brings like gay marrying someone and having babies and all of the things…

    Basically what I mean to say is I LOVE YOU AUTOSTRADDLE and also RIESE IS AWESOME AND THE QUEEN OF QUEER MEDIA AND THANK YOU FOREVER!! <3

    • this is the power of the lesbian sex moon, vicky, once you tap into it, it follows you through life, providing guidance and radiance every step along the way, i think. thank u for being with US every step of the way, for reminding everybody reading this to give us their money! i hope you had decent lesbian sex after your ride on the metro, which could maybe be a euphemism for lesbian sex in and of itself.

      thank u for being an a+ member! it is an honor to be ur queen!

      • The power of the lesbian sex moon is clearly super strong as it has lead me to a point in my life where queen @riese has told me she hopes I had good sex! (It was mind blowing and life changing, just to let you know)

        All of the love to you and the AS team ?

  16. Yessss thank you Riese for creating this space and the Autostraddle tribe. AS has BEEN THERE for me through so much; I learned a lot and really benefitted from the online and real-life community.

    Thank you! <3

  17. This kind of credit is long overdue and Riese should be in every all-star queero list until the end of time.

    I love the comment about her awkwardness; I felt similarly heartened when I finally saw her in action at A-Camp. It was a very “Celesbians: they’re just like us” moment. This whole magnificent ecosystem exists because Riese was clever enough to recognize that the world needed a place for that awkwardness in all its glory. Thank you, Riese, for everything.

    • truly thank u for the feedback on my awkwardness as it is the most positive spin on my a-camp awkwardness that i have ever heard and i treasure this line of thought, just as i treasure donna martin, who it seems has graduated, and i dream one day as you do also of maybe being on the out 100 MAYBE JUST ONCE GUYS JUST ONE TIME and thank u for Rosé Canseco, and thank u for being an a+ member!!

  18. I keep trying to word an adequate comment and nothing seems sufficient. Riese is a true inspiration to me, and a literal hero not just for the queer community in general, but for many marginalized subgroups under that umbrella as well.

    Rhetorical hyperbole is popular these days, but I mean it in a 100% literal sense when I say that this is the best place on the internet, hands down.

    • CHANDRA chandra thank you for being a daily part of making this the best place on the internet hands down, and for meeting ur wife through autostraddle b/c whenever that happens i feel like i just prepared a 12-course meal or even, honestly, a three-course meal. and of course thank you always for being an a+ member.

    • MUFFIN THANK YOU FOR THIS VERY IMPORTANT PSA IS EVERYBODY LISTENING TO MUFFIN, COBALT CAN BE ONLY $2.50 A MONTH! what a small amount of money.

      thank YOU for being an extremely happy a+ member. <3

  19. RIESE IS SUCH A HERO <3 please, if you have the means, join a+ — we have to support each other and queer content and autostraddle not only is making queer content, it is also amplifying the content of other queer creators. there's so much great stuff out there i wouldn't know about without yall pulling it together into this beautiful, neat little package.

    • yes yes yes join a plus join a plus listen to dixon!!! ‘make sure the whole world knows about other queer ppl doing incredible things’ was part of my mission statement so thank u for noting that element of the work is taking place. and thank YOU for being an a+ member!!

  20. Riese is my hero for enduring the never-ending and spectacularly predictable cycle of angry comments nitpicking things that are often explained in the article or outside of AS control or just ridiculous (WHY ISN’T XENA ON THE LIST?*) that prove that the internet is just never happy. I would have shouted WE JUST CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS and wandered off into the woods years ago. But Queero Riese is a stronger woman than I am.

    *I understood y’all’s Xena feelings though, TBH

    • thank you rachel! weathering those storms is for sure the hardest part of the job besides the money and my reaction to those angry nitpicky comment incidents is has often been very intense and probably one of every single one of my ex’s least favorite things about my personality and maybe why i have so many exes BUT a thing i try to do to keep my head on is remember days like these and threads like these and people like YOU and the people who stick up for us. it means a lot. AND LISTEN I ADDED XENA TO THE LIST, file under a situation that i apparently needed to be educated on. i am a better lesbian because of it, alas i am to admit it.

      thank u rachel for being an a+ member!

  21. I don’t even know where to start as nothing I can say will be enough to thank this wise, kind, generous and noble woman. I have a debt towards Riese that I’ll never be able to repay.
    Riese changed my life to the better. Riese helped me through my darkest days (and nights). Riese made me a better person.
    So Thank you, Riese Bernard, from the bottom of my heart. Eternally grateful

  22. I can’t say it any better than all the wonderful commenters above, but I can add my voice to the magnificent Hallelujah Chorus for Riese !

    I’m more myself on Autostraddle than anywhere else, which is so mind-blowing.

    Thank you.

  23. Autostaddle has really changed my life this past year, and I am so very grateful to Riese and all of the amazing contributers who make AS such a wonderful, inspiring, and quirky place <3

    Praise be to Riese <3

  24. This is so awesome! I am woefully behind on literally everything lately, including reading AS, so I’m about 3 days late with this comment. BUT I finally stopped procrastinating on renewing my A+ membership because of all of the comments telling everyone to join, so there’s that.
    ANYWAY. I’ve been reading this site for a lot of years now, and have learned so much from it. It’s opened my eyes to so many experiences that differ from mine, and I can honestly say it’s made me a better person. So thank you Reise for making this place what it is today.
    Also thank you for recapping Glee even though it was objectively ridiculous/terrible, because I’m pretty sure those recaps were why I finally made an account here.
    PS – A thank you is also in order to Vanessa for linking to that essay. It had been a long time since I’d read it and it also gives me a lot of feelings.

    • it’s my absolute favorite, i think about it all the time and read it approx once a month! i’m so glad to have brought it back to you! and THANK YOU for renewing your A+ membership, WE APPRECIATE YOU! xoxo

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