It’s been a rough year for lesbians in the media — from fictional deaths to real life online lady loving publications being shut down. As of Friday Sept. 23, AfterEllen.com will no longer be a thing.
Earlier this week, AfterEllen’s editor-in-chief Trish Bendix crafted a Tumblr post announcing the death of the 14-year-old digital platform dedicated to the representation of lesbian/bi women in popular culture. Bendix went on to share the reasons for the axe — which involves bottom lines, advertising and the sad state of online journalism (especially for lesbians).
Turns out Evolve Media, the company that owns the AfterEllen brand, is opting for periodic publishing and possibly some freelance (ad tech styles) in the future, according to Bendix, because the site just isn’t cutting it when it comes to the bottom line.
“They gave us two fiscal years to become their LGBT property and profit in that space, and they found we are not as profitable as moms and fashion,” Bendix wrote.
Though we’ve suspected that the journalism of AfterEllen has been compromised in the past due to the fact that Evolve Media has, y’know, the ultimate power when it comes to decision-making and would probably opt to avoid contentious content in a time of necessary reporting — this is still terribly sad.
Digital media is a scary beast — and very few publications are safe and thriving. The state of journalism has been in question for years — but the move to online hasn’t done the industry any favours. The market is saturated, advertisers and business is all over the place, no one actually knows what to do with ‘data’ and the focus is never on the content anymore.
It was obvious that Bendix did what she could during her reign. Obviously a feminist (who practices intersectionality quite nicely), it was clear she pushed for a more social justice oriented agenda and had pretty good politics. Of course, Evolve Media was never going to care about any of that and none of her good hearted efforts could save her from this professional fate. Who do you think Evolve Media is?
“And, yes, “they” are mainly white heterosexual men, which is important to note because not only is this the story for us, but for a lot of other properties—large-scale media outlets, lesbian bars out-priced by neighborhoods they helped establish, housing in queer meccas like Portland that is being turned into condos and AirBNBs,” Bendix said in her post.
Queer spaces are constantly being taken over or shut down — both online and off. Just last month Toronto’s queer-inclusive sex shop Come As You Are quietly closed its doors and earlier this summer, popular drag king nights ceases as the bar Zipperz called it a day. LGBT businesses are struggling to hack it despite the rise of queer culture on film and television.
AfterEllen has been there through it all — and though it has dropped the ball at times, the publication represented something important and often tried to do right. This loss to the Internet is a big one and it matters.