When I first joined Autostraddle in the spring of 2019, my TV Team colleagues often commented upon my expectations. When you come of age during Ellen or Queer as Folk, begin writing about TV during The L Word or Glee, the television of 2019 felt like a glutton of riches. But I was a baby — if not in age, then in queerness. I wanted to know why these shows didn’t have more trans women. I wanted to know why there were only a dozen great queer shows instead of two dozen.
It wasn’t just my youth. I came to criticism and culture writing as a cinephile and filmmaker. The 2010s brought a rise in mainstream queer film similar to the rise in queer television. But outside the mainstream, there have always been queer films. I raised myself on the international and underground cinema of the 20th century that’s more radical than anything still in Hollywood. And as a filmmaker, the only limits are budget. As a screenwriter, the only limits are my imagination. Spend enough time in your own fiction and you start to expect more from the fictions of others. You start to expect more from the world.
When I came out in early 2017, my expectations were high. I wanted people to completely reimagine their understanding of sexuality and gender. I wanted our film and television to not just be representational but to be made by us and for us. I wanted the queer world I knew was possible to exist. Now.
But my expectations began to shift during the past couple of years. The recent cultural and legislative backlash against queer people — especially trans people, especially trans youth — has had me settling for less. I’ve started mistaking a lack of outward hate for love. I’ve started accepting the bare minimum. That has to stop.
My promise to you as the new Senior Editor at Autostraddle is this: I’m going to start dreaming again. And I’m going to do everything I can to make those dreams a reality. My expectations — for myself and our world — have never been higher.
The more I’ve thought about expectations, the firmer I’ve grown in my belief that we have to create the world we want to live in. It’s like a culture-wide version of the cliché “fake it till you make it.” We can’t always be our truest queer selves, but we can in certain places and around certain people. That’s why gay bars and other queer spaces are so important. As a reader and a writer, Autostraddle has been one of those spaces for me. I want to make sure it continues to be that space for us and I want to keep our expectations high.
At TIFF this year, I went to a talk with one of my favorite queer filmmakers, Pedro Almodóvar. He said, “When you’re the director, you have the power to impose your point of view, to impose your outlook on life even if it’s not the same as everybody else’s.” The same is true when creating a space like Autostraddle. We get to decide what this space looks like. We get to decide if we’ll devolve with our culture or keep pushing toward a better future.
I started writing criticism and personal essays on an anonymous Tumblr. It wasn’t meant to be a career — it was just my version of a journal during my early days of transitioning. That’s the kind of person I am. In order to reflect on my own burgeoning femininity, I had to watch and rank every movie starring my personal paragon of femininity Nicole Kidman. To process my experience of transitioning while in a relationship, I compared myself to the sexy fish monster in The Shape of Water. These musings were just for myself — and my handful of followers — until one day Heather Hogan tweeted that she was looking for a piece on Supergirl. Minutes after emailing her a link to my Tumblr, Heather responded and my life was changed forever.
Over the past half a decade, I’ve been lucky enough to learn about nonfiction writing from Heather and the other past and present editors of this site. I’ve become stronger in my writing about film and television. I’ve learned to write about sex and dating and family and politics. I’ve written profiles and interviews and longform personal essays that let go of criticism as pretense. I was just a young queer trans woman who loved movies and now I’m a seasoned nonfiction writer. I want to provide the trust and guidance to young writers that I so generously received.
One of my favorite things about Autostraddle is we never have to explain ourselves. Other publications make me define “cis” in the middle of a personal essay — not Autostraddle. My greatest hope as an editor is to provide queer writers with a place where they can be artists, be thinkers, be their full selves. I want writers to feel free to live in their own worlds as they invite others into their stories and perspectives. Whether in a silly list or a heartfelt essay — or a combination of the two! — I want people writing for their own communities first and foremost.
This doesn’t stop at queerness. Or, rather, for me, queerness encapsulates so much more than sexuality and gender. Sure, I dream of a queer world where I’m not misgendered every time I go to the grocery store. But I dream even more of a queer world where police and prisons don’t exist. If we settle for the liberal fantasy of modern queerness rather than engaging with our lived realities, we’ll continue to backslide and our most vulnerable will be left behind.
We might live in a world where the Disney corporation is too supportive of queer people for Florida governor Ron DeSantis. But we don’t have to live in a world where they’re supportive enough for us. I mean, Elsa still doesn’t have a girlfriend and we’re supposed to believe those boys from Luca are straight! Come on! We can expect more than that. Goodbye exclusively gay moments — hello exclusively gay lifetime.
The media landscape is an increasingly homophobic, increasingly sexist, increasingly capitalistic nightmare. Every day we get to keep dreaming at Autostraddle is a gift. So, hey, let’s dream big!
Join me as I raise my expectations — for myself, for this site, for our community, for our little world, and the world beyond.