Welcome to Autostraddle Divorce Week! We’ve wanted to dedicate a week-long look into divorce for years and years, but the timing has never quite fit or we’ve kicked it down the road. No longer!! This week we’re going to look at everything from banishing husbands with magic, a flowchart to help decide when it’s time to start dating again, talking with queer divorce professionals (including a divorce doula! What’s that you ask? We can’t wait to tell you), the rise of divorcee-core fashion (is it a “rise” if we’re creating it ourselves?), personal essays wading through heartbreak and the muck of starting over, and so much more.
Carmen and Nico are your editors and tour guides for this package. They got together to discuss where they’re coming from all things queer divorce. Happy (early) Valentine’s Day!
Carmen: Hi, Nico!
Nico: Hey. Hi, Carmen.
Carmen: So, we are the editors of Autostraddle’s Divorce Week.
Nico: We are! And this is the first day of Autostraddle’s Divorce Week! We are here to intro the week with a little back and forth about our experiences working on this project.
Carmen: What are you hoping that readers take from Divorce Week?
Nico: As a queer divorcee myself, I hope that the week opens up a space for talking about a very particular kind of experience that isn’t necessarily given a lot of space in media, that isn’t really reflected back to us very much as queer people.
Being divorced as a queer person, whether you are (as many of our readers are) someone who perhaps came out as a lesbian and divorced a man, or you are someone who was married to another queer person who is no longer married to another queer person — it’s a really multifaceted experience. But it also… It can be a traumatizing experience. It’s definitely always a life-changing experience. We publish content about queer love and queer dating, and we’ve had some wedding content lately even. But this Valentine’s week we wanted to turn it around a little bit and look at endings.
Carmen: In one of the public calls for Divorce Week content you wrote, “You may be divorced but you’re not alone.” And that really touched me.
I think that for me, part of planning Divorce Week has been really tongue-in-cheek and fun. I should say, I’ve never been divorced — though I’m a lifelong member of Team Love Is a Lie. And I’m very excited to spend this Valentine’s Day week celebrating my own personal philosophy system, which is that there’s such a beautiful love story to be told in finding yourself again. So I was excited about that! Also, divorcees are hot, so I was really excited to celebrate that as well.
But when you said, “even though you’re divorced or not alone”… that’s what I hope readers take away from this week. I hope people who need it walk away knowing that there’s community even in the midst of something that I’m sure feels very lonely and very isolating
I hope those of us who have not gone through a divorce, gain some empathy and some insight. And that we all get to celebrate some really hot divorcees. Those are my dreams.
Nico: Also, I think Valentine’s Week in particular can maybe feel like an invitation to loneliness, depending on where you’re at and whatever kind of romantic situation you may be in. I really like holding space instead during this week for people going through something (or who have already gone through something) really tough, but important.
How do you normally feel about Valentine’s Week? And how has working on Divorce Week this year affected that, if at all?
Carmen: Great question! I know I literally just said I think love is a lie (still do! And will forever still do!) But I actually really like Valentine’s Day… mostly because I really like chocolate.
Nico: Because it’s pink and full of baked goods.
Carmen: You know me! Exactly! Because it is pink and full of baked goods and those are two of my favorite things.
The part of Valentine’s Day that is roses and forever will be to someone else, that’s not really my vibe. I try to live in a permanent fifth grade Valentine’s Day party. I want it to be very pink. I will even admit that sometimes I decorate my apartment, not a ton, but if I’m going to watch a good rom-com on Valentine’s Day, put a little pink light on, give it a vibe, and bake something good.
So, for me, that’s how I mark the holiday as a single person. And I’ve always found a lot of joy in that! It does help me kind of keep away the part of the holiday that can feel lonely. I think this year I’m going to make a three layer chocolate cake with a mocha cream cheese frosting.
Carmen: But I think working on Divorce Week has really helped me think about the different ways we care for each other during a season of love. And that has been an important reminder going into this Valentine’s Day.
One of the things that people will get to see as we go through the week is, yeah, there’s going to be a how to throw a divorce party for your best friend! You’re really proud of them that they’re making this big decision (a decision that already leans towards my own aesthetics of life being a pink party if you let it), so let’s go!!
But also, we’re going to get to talk to people who have dedicated their lives to helping other queer people get through divorce — and I think that’s really beautiful. It’s been eye-opening for me. We’re also going to get some good Autostraddle humor in there, and we’re going to hear from readers about the horrors of divorce. We’re publishing an article from a writer about what people react like when you tell them you’re divorced, and another about when to know to start dating again. And those pieces have still brought so much community to me! They’ve been a reminder that if queer people can queer up marriage, we sure as hell can queer up divorce!
We don’t have to make it this thing that’s not talked about, or this traumatic thing that you have to do alone. It can be as much of a celebration of what makes you unique and special as all the other things we’ve reclaimed as queer people, which has been great to see as an editor.
Nico: Absolutely. I was going to ask you, what surprised you the most about working on Divorce Week as a non-divorcee?
Carmen: The public response to it!! I really thought that this was going to be one of those niche funny theme weeks that people were going to find weird, until we published it. I knew once it was published that people were going to be like, “Oh, this is dope.” But I thought that it would be harder to get people on board, you know what I mean?
That’s what I thought was going to happen, and that has just not been true. Every single time we’ve publicly put out a call, every single time we’ve asked for help, we’ve had such an abundance of people being like, “Yes, divorce! Let’s talk about it. I want to talk about it.”
And what about you, Nico? What surprised you?
Nico: I’m currently looking at queer divorce horror stories and —
Carmen: Which we will be publishing later in the week —
Nico: Which will be published later in the week! And I think there’s something that’s… I know this as a queer person, as a person in the queer community, but I think that there tends to be a lot of high-minded discourse around how we approach relationships with each other. Especially on the internet, people in our community can be very careful, strategic about what they say. But within actual relationships we see such intense messiness, and communication breakdowns, and just people being in their feelings or maybe not bringing their “best selves” to the table. I think queer people have obviously not always wanted to showcase that publicly, because of respectability politics that are also wanting gay marriage to pass and stuff like that.
Divorce just really brings it out in people and it is a messy time! Delving into people’s personal intimate experiences with divorce has been giving me a lot to chew on in terms of the ways that we do and don’t show up for each other. The ways that we hurt each other even though we’re all queer.
Carmen: I think that one of the things that we’ve both taken away from this experience is that there’s so many ways that going through divorce, even within a queer community that you think is really welcoming, that you think is really loving… time and time again we keep hearing divorced people say, “It feels like my friends kind of walked away a bit. It felt like divorce was contagious and they didn’t want to touch it.”
And I’m really hoping that Divorce Week helps break up some of that stigma. Divorce doesn’t need to feel like a big failure. It doesn’t need to feel like people haven’t gone through it when we know that it’s something that statistically 50% of marriages will go through.
Divorce is a hot trending topic — which is a fun aside to know. Any regular Autostraddle reader knows we are always fighting for SEO as a smaller website. But divorce is hot, and not just because divorcees are hot (though I will maintain that is true). One thing I’ve learned in my research for this week is that divorce is going up! After a steady decrease between 2011 and 2021, divorce is now going up. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with post pandemic and people reevaluating their lives. But also I think that’s a sign for all of us, especially in the queer community, to know that we need to also have these conversations. It’s not going anywhere. If we’re going to celebrate gay marriage then we need to start talking about gay divorce.
Nico: And if we’re going to talk about healing interpersonal harm, and showing up for each other as friends and community members, and what it means to sort of have an abolitionist approach to the termination of relationships within our community and not ostracizing people… we actually have to talk about it, we actually have to talk about the hard things.
Carmen: And I love that. Maybe that’s where we end this. I think this week is going to be a celebration of the hard things, and I’m really looking forward to it. So let’s fucking go.
Divorce Week is a celebration of taking a life-changing step, of coming out the other side of devastating trauma and being all the better for it. It’s co-edited and curated by Nico Hall and Carmen Phillips. Remember, you may be divorced, but you’re not alone.