The Earth Is Not Doomed: A Weekend With Kristin Russo and Jenny Owen Youngs

Jenny Owen Youngs is your best friend. Kristin Russo is your big sister. Or Jenny is the teen dream whose picture you’d have cut out of Queer Tiger Beat if it had been a thing when you were a youth. And Kristin is your mentor. Or Kristin would have been in Queer Tiger Beat and Jenny is the person whose voice you turned to driving around with the windows down sing-crying about being in unrequited love (with your best friend). You still turn to Jenny’s voice when you want to sing-cry. Or her music is your Patronus. Kristin helped you understand your sexuality and explain it to other people. Together, they are the joy in your commute. Or they are who you aspire to be, as a married couple, or as artists, or as activists, or as writers, or as musicians.

Yes, their individual resumes are impressive — Jenny has toured around the world by herself and with renowned recording artists, released three full albums, and written a song Pitbull performed at the Grammys and the NBA used in their playoff commercials last year; Kristin co-founded and is the CEO of Everyone Is Gay and My Kid is Gay, has published a celebrated book for parents of gay kids, co-directs A-Camp, and hosted a PBS docu-series called First Person — but that’s not why you love them. They’re your pals. They’re your family.

I know these things because the only way to write a profile about your friends is to talk to other people who enjoy their work. And so, in late August, I followed Jenny Owen Youngs and Kristin Russo around FlameCon and chatted with the folks waiting in line to see them recording their beloved podcast, Buffering the Vampire Slayer; to the folks sitting on the floor in a ballroom waiting to hear Jenny perform songs from the podcast; to the folks who came to see Kristin on her Queer Storytelling panel; to the folks who stopped by their table to talk about gay stuff and trans stuff and love stuff and vampire stuff and to buy an Even a Werewolf Is Better Than Misogyny t-shirt.

FlameCon is New York City’s gay comic con. Two days. 3,400 attendees. Over 200 artists and exhibitors. A week before the event, Kristin sends me her and Jenny’s schedule. It’s rigorous. Merch signings, soundchecks, podcast recording, panels, interviews, a concert, a performance at the after-party. I check FlameCon’s official website and come to the conclusion that, with the exception of the event organizers and round-the-clock volunteers, Kristin and Jenny are doing more work than anybody.

“Heartthrob,” is the word FlameCon’s horde of Wonder Women, Batwomen, Lexas, Nicole Haughts, Alex Danverses, Willows, Garnets, Amethysts, Pearls, and Stevens use to describe Jenny Owen Youngs over and over again. And non-cosplaying queer humans too. “I would never do anything to disrespect Kristin Russo,” a Xena from Long Island tells me, “but Jenny Owen Youngs makes me understand why all my friends in high school taped pictures of Harry Styles inside their lockers.”

Long Island Xena isn’t the only person to compare Jenny Owen Youngs to Harry Styles. It happens enough that I go home and search for a Tumblr called “Fuck Yeah Jenny Owen Youngs Is Harry Styles,” just to see if there’s a fan experience I’m missing out on. I’m not. Alison from Brooklyn and Kate from the Upper East Side and Kaylah from Boston and Antiope from Themyscira by way of Connecticut all make the comparison organically.

They’re not wrong.

It’s the hair and the soulfulness and the singer-songwriter thing, for sure. But there’s something else. They’re both kind of like — well, puppies. I shared a s’more with Jenny Owen Youngs at A-Camp once and the next time I saw her she remembered the names of all my cats, my partner, and a joke I made about lasagna. She has never been more interested in anything than she is about my opinion on Shake Shake’s Shackmeister Ale, what’s on TV this summer, the proper way to fold a t-shirt, Judith Butler. “This is the perfect time to talk about Judith Butler,” she tells me after I apologize for monologuing, at length, about Judith Butler. It’s also the perfect time to talk about anything else I want to talk about, or anything else you want to talk about. You could call your mom to ask for a recipe, hand the phone to Jenny Owen Youngs, and she could go home and bake your family’s favorite cookies from memory.

Jenny is enraptured with every fan theory anyone shares when they stop by the Buffering the Vampire Slayer merch table. Every story about how Buffy helped someone realize they were gay, or come out, or dive deeper into the world fantasy and sci-fi. She wants to know where you got that costume. Did you make it? You made it?! She wants to know where you live, whose music you’re listening to, what’s your favorite color.

It’s not an act. There’s nothing disingenuous about it. Jenny seems to get her power from other people’s voices, like Ursula the Sea Witch (if Ursula the Sea Witch were a Golden Retriever).

I can’t get Jenny to say anything bad about … anything. She and Kristin started dating in 2009 and lived in New York City for years before moving to Los Angeles. People who’ve lived in both NYC and LA love nothing more than explaining why one is a haven of intellectual, artistic, and culinary genius and the other is a cesspool of nightmares. Jenny loves the food (“bagels!”) in New York and the way the sun shows itself regularly in Los Angeles (“no offense to the sun in the northeast”); she loves the distinctly unique feel of different neighborhoods in New York and having space to open her refrigerator door all the way in Los Angeles; Shake Shack is better but In-N-Out is still really good. “Hamilton said New York is the greatest city in the world,” I prompt her. She says, “Oh, what’s your favorite song from Hamilton?”

Jenny Owen Youngs wants you to feel good. It’s that simple. In a world where it’s cool to extinguish the flame of other people’s earnestness with snark and sarcasm, Jenny Owen Youngs is honestly just happy you found something to make you happy. It’s not an obliviousness or a deliberate obtuseness about the way the world seems to get more terrifying by the day. It’s a choice to acknowledge that fear and fight back against it by infusing cheer into the lives of the people she brushes up against.

“Jenny used to tackle people,” Kristin tells me.

“What do you mean ‘tackle people?'” I ask.

“If she had too much to drink, or even if she didn’t, she would often just get really excited and tackle people.”

Kristin was doing merch for Ingrid Michaelson when she first met Jenny, who was touring and writing music alongside her. After performing, Jenny was hopped up from the energy of the crowd and the release of anxiety that surges inside her before every show, and so she would tackle people. She’s very small; it’s not like she could have hurt anyone. And anyway, who doesn’t want to be sacked by a puppy?

Kristin Russo, apparently.

“I was always just like, ‘Ugh, this girl, with the tackling.”

“What changed?” I ask.

“One day she sat down beside me at the merch table, sober as a church bell, and just started talking to me. During the conversation, I found out she was gay.”

“And that was it?”

“That was it.”

“You let her tackle your heart?”

“No!” Kristin says. Jenny cups her chin in her hands and bats her eyes at her wife. Kristin sighs and rolls her eyes. “Yes.”

Buffering the Vampire Slayer was inevitable. Jenny says she begged Kristin to create a Buffy podcast with her for years, but Kristin was convinced it would take too much time and where in the world were two people as busy as them going to find more time? Jenny has watched Buffy “precisely one zillion times,” but Kristin didn’t give it a try until they’d been together four years, and even then she shunned season one. And yet, when Jenny publicly came out on Everyone Is Gay’s Tumblr back in 2013 (by announcing she was engaged to the co-founder), she tagged the post, among other things, #Buffy. She owns every season of both Angel and Buffy on DVD.

Kristin had a custom set of vampire teeth made for herself when she was a teenager. She was always going to give in.

Buffering follows a traditional TV show podcast format. Jenny and Kristin watch an episode and then recap and react to it for their listeners. What set Buffering apart, from the very beginning, was Jenny’s talent as a singer and songwriter. They promised an original song at the end of each episode, and Jenny’s first two-parter, “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” was so catchy they soon found themselves featured in Entertainment Weekly, on the AV Club, and listed as a New and Notable podcast by iTunes. As they’ve tapped into their friend network to score celebrity guest spots — with Cameron Esposito, Rhea Butcher, Gaby Dunn, Brittani Nichols, Kate Leth, Mal Blum, Joanna Robinson, Brittany Ashley, El Sanchez, Mey Rude and more — their popularity has only grown.

Buffering boasts jingles for fan favorite characters and guests, catchphrases, a growing list of inside jokes, and evolving fan participation, including a recent March Madness-style competition to determine the overall winner of Season 2’s Sexual Tension Award.

Recording Buffering is, as Kristin anticipated, a lot of work. Wednesday evenings they do the first watch of the next week’s episode. Thursday or Friday they start writing the song. Friday night they watch the episode again and then record the podcast. Monday Kristin edits, Tuesday they do ads. Tuesday at midnight they post the podcast. And then they start all over again the next day. The most unknowable variable is always the song.

“If a melody is a mouse,” Kristin says, “Jenny is the cat who walks all the way around it, and around it again, paws at it, bops it on the head, lays down to stare at it, walks back around it in the other direction, sniffs it. I’m the human who’s like” — Kristin claps her hands together — “Hey, catch the mouse! We’ve got to post on Tuesday night!”

Jenny seems like she’s going to protest when Kristin starts comparing the art of songwriting to pest control, but once the analogy is complete, she just nods her head. She’s the cat and Kristin is the mousetrap.

Word starts spreading a few hours before Buffering is set to record at FlameCon that seating is limited and the volunteers won’t overstuff the room. The queue for Buffering starts before the preceding panel has even begun. “They’re running out of seats for Kristin and Jenny,” someone says inside the Mexican restaurant next door. Margaritas are discarded and tacos are left untouched as a gaggle of queer humans grasp for their checks and make a mass exodus.

Left to right (on the left): Jenny, Kate Leth, Kristin, and Mal Blum.

This is Buffering’s fourth live show. They played at Union Hall in Brooklyn last December, at the Nerdmelt in Los Angeles in February. They recorded a live podcast at A-Camp this May. Today they’re recording “Dead Man’s Party,” which guest star Mal Blum kinda hates because everyone is mean to Buffy in it, and guest star Kate Leth kinda forgets about because of what comes next (Faith comes next), and guest star Heather Hogan really loves because she read a lot of fan fiction about Joyce Summers and her doomed book club pal Pat in her younger days.

By the end of the recording, the entire crowd has decided, along with Kristin and Jenny, that Joyce and Pat were gay for each other. That’s just the way with this audience. They hate Xander and are ready to believe the best (and gayest) in every woman on the show.

“These live episodes are some of my favorites,” Kristin tells me afterward. “In most of the other work I’ve done on stage, I’m there to be a presenter of information, a teacher, a guidepost — but with Buffering I’m sitting up here with my wife being giddy about a TV show and the audience is out there being giddy about the same TV show. We’re sharing everything. It’s a really special kind of energy exchange.”

Today is extra special because Kristin and Jenny watched this episode with Kristin’s mom and dad last night, and now they’re here in the audience clapping and cheering along with everyone else.

The hour-long recording of Buffering is full of audience belly-laughs, shouts of injustice (at me, mostly, when I jokingly compare zombie Pat to Leksa kom Trikru), ripples of contented giggles, occasional whispers of correction, collective cries of “THE PATRIARCHY,” and a final werewolf howl in unison to bring us home.

Kristin and Jenny don’t know exactly why Buffering works as well as it does, but they feel it too, that they’re creating something special, at just the right time.

I have some ideas. One of them is that there are still so few shows about queer women on TV that really good representation creates a cultural touchstone across generations. Another one is that coming of age stories never fall out of favor with queer people because most of our personal decisions to come out didn’t overlap directly with our personal comings of age, in large part because we didn’t have pop culture representation that gave language or normalcy to our desires. In a way, engaging with those stories as adults helps us relive our own coming of age narratives and heal our childhood wounds.

“I’m my age when I’m listening to Buffering on the train on the way to work,” Valerie from New York City tells me. “But I’m in college too, and afraid people will realize me making out with girls isn’t just a drunken game to me. And I’m in high school begging my counselor to believe I can get into NYU. Or I’m in middle school feeling like I’m the only person in the world like me. Kristin and Jenny make me feel like me all the little Valeries are going to be okay.”

Kristin wrote the book on gay kids. Literally. The Ellen Show‘s website called This Is A Book For Parents Of Gay Kids, a Q&A book she co-authored, “the perfect guide for parents of gay and questioning children.” She published it with Chronicle, and from it My Kid Is Gay was born. Both the book and the website are resources for children and teens who are coming out and the parents they’re coming out to. And then there’s Everyone Is Gay, her organization that offers advice and education to individuals, schools, and communities that include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, and asexual people. Once a week Kristin hosts an advice Q&A called Getting In Bed With Kristin on Autostraddle’s Facebook live.

Kristin Russo has answers, and a vast network of experts to tap into when she doesn’t.

Kristin could also have written the book on hustle. The week before FlameCon, she and Jenny found out they needed to move out of their apartment. They searched out and secured a new place to live, packed their entire lives into boxes, moved, checked their new kitten into a cat hotel, flew across the country, spent 48 straight hours performing for and interacting with FlameCon attendees, flew back across the country, unpacked and arranged their new house — and then Kristin got the flu.

“I don’t know how I got the flu!” she says to me, while also explaining that she was learning the program they use to edit their podcast, describing her trip to the flea market in 100-degree heat, and outlining the weekly tasks she undertakes to make Buffering a reality. She built the website, manages merch, works with the ad team, edits, co-writes music for each episode and copy for the website and iTunes, watches each episode of Buffy twice, records the podcast, and dances five to fifteen minutes per week in the praying mantis mask she bought for Buffering live after the season one episode where Buffy’s teacher reveals that she’s a bloodthirsty shape-shifting insect.

“Too much dancing and the comedy is lost,” Kristin explains.

Jenny confirms that Kristin’s post-FlameCon flu is the sickest she’s been in the history of their relationship. Thirty minutes later she’s gazing at her and saying, “Everything you are involved in is better because you’re a part of it. Working on Buffering with you has helped me really understand that you can do anything.”

Kristin seems to believe Jenny’s right about her abilities. In 2011, she left her lucrative job at a hedge fund to make her way as a queer activist, and she’s thriving. Kristin knows she can do anything — with one caveat. She couldn’t convince the majority of her extended family not to vote for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Donald Trump. His is the name that comes up the most when I talk to FlameCon attendees about Kristin and Jenny. Buffering the Vampire Slayer aired only a handful of episodes before he was elected; every episode since then has been conceived, shaped, and recorded in real-time with a growing list of atrocities and injustices the President of the United States carries out from inside the White House.

Kristin has made a career out of unearthing the best parts of people, the hidden treasures of our shared humanity, and convincing her friends and fans to follow their most courageous and selfless instincts. She empowers queer people and they’re not afraid to say it. At FlameCon the tide of praise for her influence is unabated: “Kristin helped me realize I was gay.” “Kristin helped me come out to my parents.” “Kristin helped me come out to my best friend.” “Kristin nursed me through my first heartbreak.” “Kristin made me realize how cool and normal it is to be bisexual.” “Kristin helped me open up to my partner about sex.” “Kristin got me through my depression.” “Kristin made me laugh when I thought all hope was lost.” “Kristin inspired my work in the LGBTQIA community.” “Kristin helped shape my activism.” “Kristin Russo is the reason I’m alive.”

It’s not lost on her that her power for sowing goodness into the world yields exponential fruit, and that her work ethic has made even the most far-fetched dreams come true — yet that skillset, which has benefited her community beyond measure, didn’t produce results when she begged, argued, reasoned, hoped, called, wrote, cajoled, and pleaded pleaded pleaded with many of her relatives to recognize the dangers of Donald Trump and examine their own motives in planning to vote for him.

Kristin grew up around conservative religious family members. Some of her relatives didn’t even come to her and Jenny’s wedding. She got over that. But she’s still struggling to adjust to a reality where the people who’ve known her for her whole life, who know she’s a married gay woman, voted for a man who has been relentless in his attacks on minorities. She hosted a panel at this year’s A-Camp to talk with other people who experienced similar heartbreak during the election. She called it We Were Family. To her, Trump’s election will never stop being personal.

On November 8, after the election was called, Kristin and Jenny re-recorded an intro for their podcast about episode 108, “I, Robot… You, Jane,” to grieve with and try to offer comfort to their listeners. They still get emails about it from people who’ve just discovered their work.

Jenny and Kristin don’t talk about current events or politics much inside their podcast — but that doesn’t mean they’re not trying to dismantle the racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, and xenophobia that led the United States to the precarious place it’s in right now. Kristin believes they can help tear down the toxicity while also carving out a space for their chosen family to escape, even for an hour, from the punishing cycle of news.

“Life is hard and painful and every day,” Kristin says when I ask her about making Buffering in a post-Trump world. “Being strong is fighting.”

She doesn’t realize it, I can tell, but it’s almost word-for-word a speech Buffy gives Angel in the middle of season three.

The only thing Jenny Owen Youngs doesn’t want to talk about is herself. Her song lyrics are often bone-deep real and as intimate as any art you’ve ever experienced — the Washington Post once called her music “raw” and “exposed” and “full of curse words” — but if you let her, she’ll spend an hour of your interview about her entering your information into her birth chart app and relaying your deepest secrets and hidden fears to you. If you want to tell her something nice about herself, you’ve got to give her a heads up that it’s coming, or corner her.

I use the second method while she’s waiting to perform on the last day of FlameCon. I tell her how Long Island Xena compared her to Harry Styles and wished she could travel back in time to hang Jenny’s picture in her locker. Jenny asks me to tell the story to Kristin when she arrives a few minutes later, but she gets so bashful by the time I get to the end of the story she drops her eyes and flops her whole torso at Kristin, who catches Jenny’s head in her hands in an obviously practiced maneuver without looking away from me. Kristin pats Jenny on the back until she can resurface; her cheeks are still flushed pink.

Kristin and Jenny keep a note on their mirror; it was scribbled by an A-Camper and clothes-pinned to Jenny’s A-Camp mailbox. “You are hot,” it says, “And so is your wife.”

Kristin calls it a daily affirmation.

The truth is, even in 2017, there’s something subversive about a woman giving voice to a crush on another woman. Oh, we do it online all the time and straight women’s magazines have made it mainstream with their #GirlCrush and #WCW nonsense. But there’s something bold about the admission that Kristin Russo and Jenny Owen Youngs give you that sweaty-palmed, heart-racing, boy-band feeling. The audiences for their events give me lengthy, well-reasoned answers for why they follow Kristin and Jenny, but as soon as someone admits that either Kristin or Jenny (or both) make them swoon, a dozen more people chime in with nods and sighs and mmm hmms.

They both blush when I tell them about it and then both turn to each other and say, “Of course people have a crush on you.”

They’re not very good at understanding why people fawn over them, but they are very good saying nice things to each other. “Jenny weaves a magic spell around the audience when she plays,” Kristin says. “Kristin is the most compassionate, driven person I have ever met in my life,” Jenny says. “Every time you speak on stage, it feels like an incredible reward.” “I just feel better when Kristin is with me.” “Jenny is herself, unapologetically, and she creates a bond with every audience.”

“Hey, Kristin! Hold my cape out behind me like I’m flying!”

“Your cape is tucked into the back of your pants.”

Melanie drove all the way from Texas to watch Buffering. She can’t even stay the whole weekend. She has to drive right back for a shift at work. When I ask her why she’s here, she doesn’t even need to pause to think about it. “Everybody expects love to be a fairy tale,” she says, “I drove all this way to sit in a room with two women who make me believe that one day I’ll find someone who understands what it takes to intertwine your life with another person, and understands that it will be hard, and understands that the hard work will be worth it.”

Neither Kristin nor Jenny blush when I read Melanie’s answer to them. They tear up. Kristin says, “Yes, she gets it. We work harder on our relationship than we do on anything. It’s the most important thing in our lives.”

Queer artists find other queer artists, fall in love, and change the world together. It’s a tale as old as time. Edith Anna Somerville and Violet Florence Martin wrote books together, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas wrote poetry and collected art, Gerda Wegener and Lili Elbe painted, Florence Wyle and Frances Loring sculpted, Frieda Belinfante and Hilda Bosmans composed music, Ruby Lucas and Tiny Davis sang, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West penned novels. The list goes on and on.

Queer art and queer publications have long relied on the support of other queer people, outside of the mainstream, to stay afloat. Kristin and Jenny sell t-shirts, CDs, run Patreons, and have both used Kickstarter to crowdfund various projects over the years. Most of the people I talked to at FlameCon own Buffering or Jenny Owen Youngs or Everyone is Gay merch or support at least one of their Patreons.

When Cameron Esposito — who also makes art with her wife, Rhea Butcher — guest starred on Getting in Bed With Kristin a couple of weeks ago, she and Kristin spent a significant amount of time talking about how queer women are coming together like never before to connect with each other, empower each other, and offer each other career opportunities.

“I feel like we’ve all just made this unspoken agreement that as we climb, we are taking everyone else with us,” Kristin says. “There’s something extremely powerful about taking your profits and putting them back into the communities you know need support.”

“I can buy three cups of coffee a month or I can help my idols take over the fucking world,” Amanda from Brooklyn tells me. “I’ll just drink the shitty coffee at work for fucking free.”

“Did you know the Washington Post once said Jenny swears too much?” I ask Amanda.

“No,” she grins. “But fuck yeah.”

Later I see her buying two Smash the Demon Lizard Patriarchy tank tops.

It’s the queer economy our great-great-foremothers dreamed about.

“Kristin would never murder Jenny,” Kate from Hoboken assures me when I talk to her at Jenny and Kristin’s merch table. “And Jenny would never murder Kristin.”

“Good Lord, Kate from Hoboken!” I exclaim.

But no, not like that. Not like real murder. What Kate likes about Kristin and Jenny is that sometimes when she’s watching Getting in Bed With Kristin or Jenny’s live online shows or any of the other countless things they film in their home, a shadow will appear in the doorway behind whoever’s performing. Kate grew up on Buffy and has watched “just about every TV show” that features lesbian and bisexual characters. “A sinister shadow and the gay girl is—” Kate from Hoboken makes a slashing motion across her neck, a stabbing motion in her eye, and mimes being shot with a stray bullet in the back from, say, a window directly behind her, blood splattering all over her girlfriend’s shirt. “I’m always like, ‘No!’ when I see the shadow but then I remember they’re real people and I never have to worry their art is going to hurt me and the I know shadow is just the other one and I relax. They’re really good at moving around each other.”

It’s true: Stray bullets are bullshit, and Kristin and Jenny really are good at moving around each other. In the tight space where their display table is wedged in on the FlameCon floor, setting up recording equipment for the podcast and taking it down, getting Jenny’s live show ready to go on an unfamiliar stage with a music stand made out of what looks like pixie sticks held together with chewing gum. Kristin and Jenny have been on stage individually for a decade, but they’ve only been working on a project together for just under a year.

What have they learned about each other that they didn’t know before?

“I can now identify the waveform of Kristin saying ‘um’ from 50 yards away.”

“Jenny pauses in ways you couldn’t even begin to describe.”

That’s the only thing they edit their podcast for: ums and pauses.

In their live show, though, there is no editing. Kristin is on and off the stage as Jenny performs the songs they wrote together. She and Mal Blum are singing backup. She’s finding a clock so Jenny can keep track of the time. She’s dancing. She’s making jokes. She’s explaining the context of the songs. She’s telling everyone where to find them and their merch. Kristin sits down in the crowd and Jenny weaves her magic spell around them, just like Kristin said she would. Jenny plays and sings and chats and sings, landing finally on “Prophecy Girl,” a ballad she and Kristin wrote that took on even deeper significance after the election. “Just keep fighting,” Jenny sings, eyes closed, standing on her toes. “Just keep fighting, that’s what I’m supposed to do.” Some people mouth the words. Some cry.

As Jenny strums the final chord, she opens her eyes and releases everyone from their trance. “I need a wife!” she calls out. And Kristin is off the floor and on the stage beside her.

Kristin clears her throat, smiles at Jenny, turns to the audience. “Imagine I’m wearing a praying mantis mask…”

Jenny Owen Youngs wears a red cape from my closet the entire weekend of FlameCon. I brought it for her to borrow but she looks so right in it I know I’ll never ask for it back. That doesn’t stop her from offering. I snap a few final pictures of her and Kristin on Sunday evening, give them a wave, and turn to head toward home. Jenny sees me leaving and darts out from behind the merch table. She chases me down the aisle of gay comic creators and reaches up to her neck to undo the clasp of the cape. I hold up my hands.

“No,” I insist. “You keep it.”

Jenny smiles and rushes back to the merch table. Kristin doesn’t break eye contact with the fans she’s chatting with. She reaches down and picks up three enamel pins, dropping them into Jenny’s outstretched hands as she skids to a halt. Jenny offers them all to me — Cordettes, Slayerettes, and a classic Buffy stake — but I only take one, the original. They send me t-shirts sometimes out of the blue. The queer economy isn’t greedy.

Before I can blink Jenny has hugged me and is standing back beside her wife. They’ve been interacting with fans for two straight days: talking, singing, listening, dancing. There’s a crowd of people three-deep around their table with just an hour left to go. I hear Kristin laugh and Jenny say, “Did you see the person dressed as VampWillow? They made their own costume!”

Buffy’s mentor, Giles, was right, of course: It’s not terribly simple. The good guys aren’t always stalwart and true; the bad guys aren’t easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats; and we don’t always defeat them and save the world.

But sometimes we do.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. I cried reading that, it’s literally all true – Kristin helped me come out to my parents, spoke at my university, let me translate for her website, inspired me to help people. Jenny’s music makes me cry, and lets me cry, she inspired me to learn guitar. The two of them are doing so much good in the world it’s unreal. And I have crushes on both of them :p

  2. This made me cry like I hadn’t cried in weeks, but the good kind of cry, the same kind of cry from when I was listening to Buffering and I realized I finally understood what “#relationshipgoals” really meant. I’m so deeply grateful for you, Heather, and for Jenny and Kristin, and for what you all do every day to make the world a better and safer and more welcoming place for queer people. Thank you. <3

  3. I went to the FlameCon live taping and it was amazing. Afterward I went to their booth to say how much I liked it (I had already bought a lovely Slayerette pin from their friends before the show). As I was waiting in line, I saw Jenny talking to some girls who had to have been her friends, and then they said thanks and walked away. I can’t accurately describe it, but she was talking to these people like she had known them for years and was taking so much time that I was so surprised they were just fans saying hi. You do a great job of conveying that here, Heather.

    ….and then I talked to Kristen for two seconds and scampered away before saying hi to Jenny. Hi Jenny!! You two are so so wonderful <3

  4. I want to thank Autostraddle for giving me a much needed Kristin and Jenny fix during the Buffering down-time. Also, I want to submit that Kristin and Jenny are who I aspire my best friends to be, coming over for informal couples dinners and animated conversation.

  5. HELP I can’t stop smiling.

    Made the last minute decision to go see them at FlameCon and I’m SO glad I did.

  6. This is beautiful, I teared up and got chills! Thank you so much for writing this Heather!

    The podcast and Jenny and Kristin make me feel happy and safe and hopeful!

  7. First, THANK YOU.
    Second… actually second and third and fourth and on are also thank you.
    Penultimately, thank you.
    Finally, THANKS.


  9. Holy power couple! Kristin and Jenny are fucking dreamboats.
    Kudos to Heather Hogan for this great profile. I’ll favorite this so I can read it again the next time I’m feeling a little low, which is something that increases exponentially each day Donald Trump is still the president.

  10. I was teary-eyed the whole way through this, Kristin and Jenny are two of my favourite people in the universe that I don’t actually know, they are truly idols in our community that enrich it so, and that we can all work to be a little more like! Thank you so much for this, it’s exactly what I needed today!

  11. I love everything that Heather Hogan writes and I love Kristin and Jenny and someday queer women will rule the world and everything will be fine.

  12. This profile is outstanding! Heather, you wonderfully capture the energy and heart behind everything Jenny and Kristin do ❤️

    J&K seem like such lovely people and I’m grateful for all the goodness they bring into the world through their work! I especially find some much-needed solace and joy in the Buffering Podcast and Getting In Bed With Kristin.

    I’m also thrilled that I met Kristin and Jenny at A-Camp this year. Even though I was too shy to talk to them much, their work, workshops, and presence there helped make it an incredible experience for me! Some of my best memories of 2017 involve joining a group sing-along with Jenny and attending the live A-Camp Buffering taping.

    Last but not least: Heather, you gave Jenny your cape! It feels right that you should be the one to pass it on to her. Not all heroes wear capes, but some of them certainly do ?

  13. After the election, I turned off NPR and turned on this podcast. My commute has never been better. I enjoyed learning a bit more about these two amazing women.

    I see their show as a turning point where I realized that I could listen to people talking about something we all loved and find community in the crazy fucked up world. In other words, it was the first of many good podcasts, and still my favorite of all.

    So, like, how many more days til season 3 comes out?

  14. Heather and Kristin and Jenny all in one article – today is a good day! Three amazing people who all do so much for others and make the world a better place. Thank you to all of you.

  15. I love this! Somehow I missed the podcast despite being a fervent old buffyphile; I can’t wait to catch up. And I do feel a little less doomed just at the moment (& definitely want that smash the lizard t-shirt…) Thanks so much for this profile!

  16. i grinned through this entire profile and it feels so surreal to have a celeb profile like this on the website i own and it’s about some of my favorite friends and written by one of my favorite friends and i love it so much from top to bottom so much!

  17. I love this profile and it encapsulates everything wonderful and beautiful about these two perfect human beings. I was lucky enough to meet Jenny at a small show in MA last fall and my photo with her is the only photo I will ever need (sorry wedding pictures!). They inspire me to be a better person in my own life, to be open and unapologetic about who I am and what I love. As others have said, absolutely the embodiment of #goals. Thank you!

  18. This is so perfect!! My heart is so full!

    Also maybe one day someone should write a profile like this about Heather Hogan just saying.

  19. Heather this was simply wonderful. I couldn’t help but smile while I was reading everything.

    Jenny noticed my Sunnydale Phys Ed shirt at A Camp this year, and I wish I could have remembered to tell her how much Buffering means to me. Attending the live taping was a dream come true getting to geek out with everyone about a show we hold close to our hearts. I watched Buffy with my dad growing up and he gets a kick out of hearing about the podcasts.

    Thank you very much to Heather, Jenny, and Kristin for all of the amazing work each of you do. Y’all always manage to brighten my day and for sure the same can be said for many others. The world is a better place because of you.

  20. Oh my goodness… my poor heart could hardly take in so much goodness and joy. This was the love letter to end all love letters and only Heather Hogan could have written it.

    What a treat! I feel so inspired now and have just subscribed to the podcast, finally! I’m looking forward to rewatching my favorite show, this time with friends in my ear.

  21. Heather Hogan profiling Kristin Russo and Jenny Owen Youngs is the Platonic Ideal of Internet Content. I have reread it three times this week, and every time I have been filled with fresh joy. Thank you.

  22. Heather Hogan, truly one of the most quotable queers in all the land. Thanks to this power couple for so conveniently making a queer Buffy podcast that coincided with my very first Buffy watch, really appreciate that synchronicity

  23. I have a lot of feelings about this article and I can’t hope to put them all down but 1) Heather you’re an amazing writer. Phenomenal. I just, wow. You write the way I hope to one day. 2) I reread this every time I’m upset or down or overwhelmed or feel like the earth is doomed. And this article reminds me that it’s not. It takes two people I already admire and teaches me more about them, makes them more familiar, reminds me about the good in the world. It inspires me to be as kind as Jenny, as fierce as Kristin, as amazing as they are combined. It gives me hope when I have none and for that I can’t thank you enough.

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