We Need Help: I’m Throwing A Birthday Bake Sale For Autostraddle’s Writers!

Somehow, despite ingesting some really ambitious combinations of recreational drugs at various points throughout my twenties and repeatedly leaving my blowdryer plugged in long past its moment of usage, I am still alive. Not only am I still alive, but I’ll be turning 32 on September 23rd! How the fuck can I celebrate this momentous occasion?

Well, two weeks ago, I made up my mind:

I want to spend my birthday giving money to the weirdos who write for this spectacular website!


A little money could go a long way for these cats.


On a recent post about Bustle.com, many readers asked how they could help us fill the large gap between our budget and the budgets of publications with investors, brother websites, corporate ownership or venture capital and the answer is: YOU. You’re the ones who fill that gap when you donate, buy merchandise, and attend our events. But statistics show that most of you rely on a few of you to buy the merchandise, make the donations and attend the events — just imagine what we could accomplish if most of you, or even half of you, pitched in!

Donate Now!

Of course, it wouldn’t be fundraising without an incentive, and another suggestion made in the comments on that post was that we throw a bake sale. So that’s what I’m gonna do. My Mom is coming to visit me next week, and we’re gonna spend a day baking… for you! Yup it’s gonna be me and my Mom in a tiny kitchen for an entire day! It’s gonna be adorable.


If you donate $60 or more, I’ll mail you eight home-made cookies of your choice! I know eight isn’t a lot, but I’m just one woman who seems to think she can bake 600+ cookies in one day and is probably wrong. Here’s the little menu my Mom and I have come up with for you:


graphic by geneva armstrong

Here’s how it’s gonna work:

1. You donate. If you’ve already donated $60 or more (in one or several donations), you are also entitled to cookies!

2. When you get an e-mail confirmation about your donation, forward it to bren [at] autostraddle [dot] com and give her your cookie selection (if you’re picking cookies that could also be made vegan, be sure to say you want the vegan edition) as well as your mailing address.

3. I’m also offering the option of sending a hand-made thank you card to anybody who donates $50 or more — you can pick one or the other but not both!

4. You’re also welcome to simply donate and not eat any cookies. That is also totally fine.

Unfortunately, because the cost and time involved in sending cookies to another country is astronomical enough to negate the fundraising aspect of this situation, I’m gonna have to say that if you’re outside of the U.S., I can only send you cookies if you donate $100 or more.

But That’s Not All!

If we exceed $5,000, we will plan another International Meet-Up Week For October!


If we meet the $10,000 goal, I’m gonna do a Raffle with these prizes:

+ One (1) 20% Off A-Camp Tuition For Life Coupon

+ Two (2) $50 Gift Certificates for the Autostraddle Store


we need intern chelsey you guys

If we exceed $15,000, then this prize will be added to the raffle:

+ One (1) Whole Entire A-Camp Campership [If you’re already signed up for October Camp, you can use the campership to bring a friend, or save it for A-Camp May 2014]


Everybody who donates anything to this campaign will be entered in the raffle!

We’ve got so many esteemed and prolific team members that discussing all of them would take years, but I really want to drive this point home that these humans have been working their asses off for you for a long time, so let me just briefly discuss the amazingness of our present Contributing Editors who have written over 100 posts for you without ever receiving a regular paycheck!

The 100+ Club

Crystal Silvester

crystal tossing candy at a-camp

Where do I even start with Crystal? Crystal is a quiet riot and a wise strong soul who has written over 300 posts for Autostraddle. Also you guys, Crystal became the first-ever financial supporter of my endeavors when she dropped $20 in my personal blog’s tip jar back in January 2006. We’ve been friends ever since. Although she lives all the way over in Australia, Crystal was a founding member of Autostraddle, and has since introduced you to numerous up-and-coming queer artists, given you playlists and track stops, interviewed artists like Holly Miranda and Heather Peace and shared thrilling tales of life-changing/scarring events, such as fisting a turkey, undertaking The Tegan & Sara VIP Experience, exploring Sydney’s lesbian nightlife, attending Britney Spears’ Circus Tour, reading lesbian romance novels and watching the entirety of The L Word. Once upon a time we recapped Skins together. Were we ever so young? More importantly: were Naomi and Emily ever so young?

brittani-and-carmenNobody has been quite as prolific as Carmen Rios, who has written a whopping 402 posts since I scouted her from tumblr in February 2011! Carmen has made it her mission to make Autostraddle — and the world — a better place. This crazy hardworking lady makes time in between speaking at SlutWalk and appearing on CNN to write hard-hitting pop culture analysis, bring new female idols into your life, and then provide carefully curated cute animals for days when the patriarchy is bringing you down.

Plus she’s got feelings to spare: feelings about heartbreak, coming out, brunch,drugs and, of course, Eileen Myles. She’s a member of the ALL-CAPS FEELINGS CLUB with Vanessa and will definitely show you photos of her dog.


Clearly Canadian Carolyn has written over 300 posts since joining the team in October 2010. Ever since I retired as NSFW Sunday Girl in early 2012, Carolyn has been feeding your cravings for Executive Lesbosexy Realness every Sunday — which she balances out with Literary Realness every-other Thursday as well as in-depth Book Previews and Romance Novel suggestions. Carolyn is a fierce sex beast who looks very small and quiet on the outside but is actually a BDSM expert who isn’t afraid to talk about libraries and typewriters and every author all over the entire world.

brittaniOnce upon a time —November 2010 to be exact — I met a girl named Brittani at an Autostraddle Meet-Up in Oakland and then she started writing for us and then she moved to Los Angeles like a month later and became a television star with an Ilene Chaiken parody twitter account. Brittani has written 200 posts, covered actual athletic events (“sports” I believe is the popular term), survived several lesbian pool parties, recapped multiple painful episodes of Two Broke Girlsgotten real about race, recommended cheap beverages and every week throws you a massive video party. Brittani didn’t write the article about having no fucks to give, but she lives and breathes it every day. She’s also a rising rap star and the star and writer/producer of the legendary webseries Words With Girls. Also: she’s fucking hilarious.

lizzProving that it’s not just me who can transition former hookups into Lifelong A-Team members, Senior Editor Rachel dropped the brilliant and dynamic and super-funny (Future Doctor) Lizz on our proverbial doorstep in April 2011, where she stepped in as Fashion Editor and quickly informed you that you need this blazer and later gave you the lowdown on dressing like the stars and being a visible femme. Lizz has live-blogged The Emmys, The Golden Globes, The VMAs, the MTV Movie Awards, The Oscars and the ever-enchanting Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. She’s recapped or fashioncapped a billion episodes of Pretty Little Liars and a few episodes of GleeShe’s provided fashion inspiration for all your major holidays, from Halloween to New Year’s to Valentine’s Day. But of course, most importantly and above all else, Lizz has gifted you with the definitive guide to Texting Your Ex-Girlfriend in Five Easy Steps.

I have a dream that one day Lizz will finish the post she started about how there is no time or seasons in Rosewood and The Liars’ school schedule is eternal, haphazard, and totally confusing. ‘Til then, you’re free to feast on the 242 posts she’s already written.


Ali (Ali Oh if you’re nasty) has pulled off an impressive 162 posts since joining our team in July 2012, including all those drinks she showed you how to make and all that tech she taught you to queer. Ali’s complete willingness to be open about All Things Sex has enabled Autostraddle to get progressively sexier this year: she gave us the lowdown on double-headed dildos, strap-ons and floggers, collected seminal masturbation tales, recommended the best queer feminist porn and even shared her own erotica with the group. She liveblogged the election last year like A CHAMPION. Also Ali is one of our most reliable and hard-working writers ever, consistently approaching her Autostraddle work with the seriousness of a paid gig. Ali has great stories about things getting stuck in orifices, and the most endearing laugh of all time.


Every week Hansen spends hours upon hours of her time researching and making the most adorable things you’ve ever seen just so that you can copy her and impress your girlfriend. She puts in tons of work before even sitting down to write the article itself, because she is a fucking champion. This former sorority sister and creative human also has it bad for short-haired lesbians with guitars, gay rights legislation in Middle America and the Southwest, books by dead people, baby animals, skinny ties and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s fashion sense. Hansen is the kind of person who decides she wants to do something and then does it, quickly and well, which is rare, but she’s also humble, so you wouldn’t know it. That’s why we’re telling you.

kristen, photo by vanessa friedman

How many humans do you know who go on weekly Panty I MEAN PANTRY Raids, draw you a bunch of pictures, and tell you how to make crazy-ass shit like Meat Cake, Lasanga in a Jar and Edible Undies, how to eat garbage and what to do with Daikon? One. You know one person who does that and her name is Kristen. (Also her Grilled Cheese post is epic!) Perhaps Kristen also affirmed your femme feelings with her seminal essay Femmes: Beyond Lipstick (and Heels and Dresses) or how to cut your own hair. She also rocks to beats including online dating, France, Canada, and gender-neutral toys for children. She’s like a dyke reader’s digest, infused with genuine excitement whenever she gets to explain things to you like salt and giving blood.

dress-dance.jpgIn the spirit of saving my best 24-year-old Jewish Grandmother for last, this brings me to dear dear Vanessa Friedman. Vanessa has put her whole heart and soul into Autostraddle and its readers, and she has about 650% more heart and soul than most people do. From her never-ending crushes on all of you readers to her hard work to let all of you become best friends IRL, Vanessa is a big part of the reason Autostraddle is getting better and more 3-D all the time. She wants you to Straddle Her Street, talk abut Buffy, have brunch with you, gush over floral print and attend every Autostraddle Live event of all time. If flowers grew on the sun, then I could safely call Vanessa a genuine ball of sunshine.

Two days ago Vanessa noted that “I am really enjoying this “baking jewish stuff in suburbia” beat i’ve got going on, just in case anyone was wondering how i’m feeling right this very moment,” which I’m telling you because you might be wondering how she feels this very moment. I always am.

And that’s just some of the many people your money could help! For example, Cara‘s More Than Words column is actually one of the best columns ever written on Autostraddle and the certified Sleeper Hit of the Summer. Kate‘s validated your baby butch feelings and your crushes on the cast of Bomb Girls and Orange is The New Black. We’ve got all these new humans who just joined our team, and all these other writers who have been contributing to Autostraddle for years.


One Final Plea

Here’s the thing: I honestly love these people. I love them so much and think they’re so talented, and I know that if anybody understands how amazing these humans are, it’s you guys!

That’s why you came out in droves for last year’s fundraiser, which enabled us to pay the Senior Staffers who put in so many hours for Autostraddle that we’re unable to take on additional full-time employment (and who get stuck with the less-fulfilling and non-creative tasks we’d never expect a human to do for free.) And no, it’s not like Senior Staff is living in the lap of luxury – when you break it down hourly we’re still short of minimum wage, budgets are tight, and I don’t have any of the things I’d always hoped I’d have by the age of 32 (e.g., a car, a baby, a savings account, the ability to pay everybody else’s bills for them.) (And yes I realize that even expecting those things is a reflection of privilege.) But all that stuff doesn’t bother me as much as I’d expected it would, because I get to work with these weirdos every day, and read their work and hear their ideas, and watch them grow up and evolve as writers and thinkers and humans within this rag-tag family we’ve established. At this point, I have been offered other jobs that would make things easier financially, and so have other Senior Staffers. But we stick around because we can’t imagine life without you and this, and because we have faith in a prosperous future. Because we have faith in you and these kids. The redesign will launch so soon, y’all!

We’re not a normal website and we never have been, have we? We maintain a level of normality that enables casual readers to find compelling material on the regular, but we also do stuff like this. I think it’s fun. If you think so too, pitch in! Giving to these girls is the best gift you could ever give me, and we’ll be accepting donations ’til midnight on September 23rd.

if i could bake apples like the one i apparently enjoyed at my 6th birthday party, i totally would bake apples for you

if i could bake apples like the one i apparently enjoyed at my 6th birthday party, i totally would bake apples for you

Donate Now!

[and you can read more on GoFundMe about how the money will be distributed!]

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3198 articles for us.


  1. ILY Riese. I read this and cried. And then looked through all my old articles because I am so self involved. #everyconversationaboutyouisactuallyaboutme

  2. Friends say I use the word “awesome” too much, but sometimes it’s the only word that will do. This is awesome. Worthy of awe. Awe-inspiring. I can’t wait to see what happens.

  3. I’m not even eating flour right now and I donated. THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVE AUTOSTRADDLE.

    Also, fuck. I miss flour.

    • I don’t eat flour either, but I can help you get a commercial kitchen to cook flour-y things if need be.

  4. So as a regular reader who has enjoyed Autostraddle for at least 3 years now I have to say I have done little to contribute to this ABSOLUTELY AMAZING place. I have visited the merch store only once! (what a shame)

    Though I am not out to many people I love my AS shirt and my “You Do You” bag because it helps me comfortably (secretly) represent myself around family…okay wearing “straddle this” on my back at family events can get weird, but I think y’all get what I am saying…maybe?

    If I’m not being clear I love this site because it has helped me when I was discovering myself and I keep coming back to it because it continues to help me! AND FOR THAT I CAN TRY TO HELP YOU GUYS!

    Consider a donation being made as soon as I get back home.

    Thank you, ALL OF YOU, that make Autostraddle a thing. I love it and I love y’all! I want to see AS continue to be wonderful and grow.

    And also happy almost birthday!

  5. Aw, I love all you guys so much. I really wish I could donate something. Summer has been so hard and now I’m trying to move to Portland. But when I have some form of income again I defintiely will. *hugs* for everyone.

  6. I found Autostraddle in January of this year, so haven’t been reading all thaaat long, but I have grown to love all of the articles and writers on here. You all have shown me that I am not alone. That my feelings have been felt by someone else. Since stumbling upon Autostraddle 9 months ago, I have gone from a very very very closeted scared girl, to an almost completely out, unafraid, confident woman who is going to A-Camp in a month by herself and is so excited to meet people I don’t know. Which I would have never done before.

    So, THANK YOU to every Autostraddle writer for helping me find my confidence and figure out my feelings, through every article you wrote. <3

    oh also, just donated =)

  7. My bank account is completely and utterly maxed out at the moment (i am living off my housemate’s generous leftovers)… but I get paid on the 25th and would love to donate some money! Will there be a way of donating after the 23rd?

  8. So glad the bake sale idea panned out! But for real, I’m pretty sure autostraddle bake sales are the only bake sales in the history of man that can actually generate any kind of interest.

  9. THIS is amazing. Riese is amazing. ALL of the writers are amazing. I will now be spending my night reading all of Crystal’s thrilling tales of life-changing/scarring events.

  10. Does anyone else feel like Riese is Lindsay Lohan at the end of Mean Girls, breaking up the crown and passing it out to all the other students? Only the crown is money and the students are writers.

    Or possibly the crown is baked goods and we are the students. This metaphor is getting away from me. Either way, this is excellent.

  11. riese, i love you with my whole heart and soul. all 650% of it and then some.

    you are my ultimate hero. i will work for you for forever, i promise. happy early birthday. <3


  12. Oh my goodness you all! I may have donated in the wrong spot?! I need reassurance that it’s all going to the same place! Orrrr imma have to bust out the credit card once more!
    Help? I went to the “donate now for a better autostraddle” because I don’t always pay attention -_-

    • it’s ok, i can register your donation on gofundme as an “offline donation” — you’re not the first person to do it! thank you stephanie!

  13. Well, if I wasn’t already going to donate, the kitten graphics would have pushed me over the edge, as usual. And all of the words in this post were very lovely as well. You have some really great people working here.

  14. This is so beautiful. <3 I don't have much money but I'm off to donate what I can now. Also also, those cookies look amazing! Any chance there'll be a post with recipes for some of them? ^_^

  15. This was the sweetest and best thing. Thank you so much for the kind words. It is so awesome to be counted among the amazing writers on this site.

    I’ll have you all know that I very specifically remember that I was actually writing an Autostraddle article (the guide to skinny ties) in the picture included in this article. How did you KNOW, Riese?!


    Those kitten graphics tho.

    Already donated, and looking forward to a handmade card! I’m really weird about gifted food so I’d rather not have to freeze cookies made by Riese and preserve them for sentimental reasons oh god this comment just got a lot creepier which I didn’t think was possible considering the first bit.

  17. HOLD IT are you saying that Lizz and Rachel used to be a thang? Omg. That’s cute as all get-out.

    Also can I send NZ money? Does it go to you as NZ dollars or will I get hit with bank fees? Maybe I’ll ring my bank. “hello, I’d like to donate money to help some American lesbians become famous lesbians, is my money gay enough for them?”

    • i think you can send moneys from all the currencies! it’s through gofundme so i am sure they have a way of working it out!

    • I sent my Australian money just fine. Visa takes care of the conversion (my credit card has like a 1% conversion fee but whatever, it’s fine).

  18. You guys are all the best and I so wish I had more money to give.

    I pledge to throw money at Autostraddle if I ever win the lottery or inherit well. (This could potentially happen – my grandmother is a sneaky thing.)


    can our card include a picture of a cookie?

    • I will be in between addresses in the next few weeks so I’ll stick with my card, do I need to tell somebody that? True story for my birthday instead of hitting the bar I donated here, to this very fundraising effort. Happy Birthday Riese :)

    • if you already donated $60 or more, you can still get cookies! (or if you donated a smaller amount and now want to add more $$ to bring it up to cookie-level) just forward the confirmation email to bren with your request, like it says in the post! i will not penalize those who donated before this post went up!

  20. Take my money! Thanks to everyone that contributes to this life saving website.

    Looking forward to meeting you all next month at camp :)

  21. Aww. This post kind of felt like a giant tingly hug. I’m really happy to be part of this weirdo family. Also, I think we should just continuously punctuate our posts with Kid Riese photos.

  22. I still haven’t recovered from this post, but I just want to say I love everyone and everything going on here.

  23. Autostraddle could probably qualify as my online best friend. She’s the smartest and the sassiest, she always looks great, she holds my hand when I’m heartbroken, and takes me out for margaritas to celebrate my accomplishments. She compliments my hair, she’ll go with me to that new queer dance night I’ve been dying to try, she doesn’t mind that my legs are hairy, she respects my pronouns, she calls me out on my privileges. We read the same books, enjoy the same food, she gives me a voice to issues I had previously no know-how to express. Autostraddle (and A-Camp) make me feel all the feelings which sometimes I hate but I’m growing to like it.

    Sixty bucks is so doable. It’s a little more than I usually spend when I take a girl out (50-cent beer night at the local VFW) but she deserves it. Drinks are on me tonight, babe.


  25. I just gave Autostraddle my money and it made me so happy I wish I could do it every single day! I love every single person that makes this website happen <3

  26. how does it work for queers that are not from u.s who wants to order something from your shop? can i just pay you through western union? can someone tell me what to do?

  27. I am always crazy broke when one of these things comes up (no surprise, cause I’ve been broke for 6 years), but I’m actually getting a real-person job next month, and I can’t wait to contribute after that! I mean, I own some merch and I went to the first A-Camp, but my actual financial contributions have been so ridiculously minimal compared to what Autostraddle has given me, which includes some of the best days of my life, amazing friends, and awesome content that makes me think in new ways about stuff. xoxo AS.

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