Lesbian Site AfterEllen Pulls The Plug After 14 Years

The corporate owners of the popular lesbian pop culture site AfterEllen are pulling the plug after 14 years. Editor-in-chief Trish Bendix eulogizes the site for the Advocate:

Here are the facts: Evolve Media purchased AfterEllen from Viacom two years ago. 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. 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 outpriced by neighborhoods they helped establish, housing in queer meccas like Portland that is being turned into condos and AirBNBs.

At the very same time, queer women and culture are being celebrated on the Emmys, in the legalization of both mothers being included on their newborn’s birth certificate, and our namesake, Ellen DeGeneres, being one of the most well-known, well-liked, and undeniably profitable television and lifestyle personalities of our generation. Somewhere there’s a disconnect. AfterEllen is just one of the homes lesbian, bisexual, and queer women will have lost in the last decade. It was a refuge, a community, a virtual church for so many. I’m not sure that some people outside of us can really ever understand that.

AfterEllen and its companion site AfterElton were first purchased by Viacom/Logo in 2006. AfterElton morphed into The Backlot in 2013 and merged into NewNowNext last year.

  • Charlie 2001

    Its a Shame.

    This reminds me of profitable companies being closed (and their workers being put on the street) because they weren’t profitable enough. Not being profitable enough drags down a conglomerates stock price and endangers the bonuses that the managers get.

    I am not against capitalism. But our economic system stopped being that a long time ago.

    • Mark

      Oddly enough, I just had a heated discussion with another business owner as to how much profit is enough. I am perplexed by those that are absorbed in accumulating excessive wealth – but then, what is excessive wealth?

      • Charlie 2001

        You may be old enough to recall during the invasion of Iraq that there was a lot of worry about weaponized anthrax. The US government wanted the pharmaceutical industry to develop vaccines to counter biological warfare. The government guaranteed a 10% profit but industry said this wasn’t enough. Making on 10% profit would hurt their stock prices.

        The root cause of this is the way we finance our retirement. The trillions of dollars of retirement savings going into the stock market and the greed of investors has distorted the market so much it doesn’t really qualify as capitalism any more. Donald Trumps economic plan is to start putting Social Security funds into the stock market.

        My understanding is tha JMG is a single owner operation. If he had to satisfy investors this site would have disappeared long ago.

        • CanuckDon

          I would imagine that JMG has been approached by tho$e fascinated at its consistent popularity and its potential for so much more than just its civil rightist passion and voice. I suppose that struggle of strongly believing in something vs capitalizing on it is what largely divides all of us in the human race. Being aware and caring of sincere thought and message is our challenge.

          • Dazzer

            Yes, but I suspect that if Joe – for whatever reason had financial problems – he wouldn’t have to look around for buyers.

            I’m pretty sure that all he’d have to do is put up a post saying he needed money and it would be crowd-sourced at amazing speed.

            It’s not just the JMG community that appreciate Joe, he’s generated an incredible amount of good will in the world.

        • fuow

          One reason I continued to stay in the black throughout the really bad patch after the crash was my willingness to adapt to reality. I prefer a high profit. The market was not offering that. So – I took what was possible, focused on keeping old customers and making new customers with the firm belief that, together, we’d survive.
          Sure, some customers don’t remember the help, but the majority are still with me today because of my willingness to take less in a bad time.

      • JD

        Slightly more than one needs is all it takes to feel liberated from the worries that attend having somewhat LESS than one needs.It is not the same amount for each person, but as a measure of wealth, it would free trillions that could provide a similar benefit to all.

    • Dramphooey

      I agree one hundred per cent. This is not capitalism. That was not capitalism that Elizabeth Warren so eloquently attacked the other day. It is looting.

    • IcyFaye

      Charlie, as much as people like to think these are recent developments, they arent. The plutocracy has only made their usual shitbaggery easier. That’s not a corruption of the system, this IS the system.

    • JD

      This is a reaganesque interpretation of “fiduciary responsibility” in which growth is king … merely being profitable pales beside the behemoth … when the lowest paid employee remains in sight from the perch of the highest, it is “anti-amurrican”. Sadly, until attitudes change among the average folk tolerating this as “that’s the way it is” change is impossible.

  • Andy King

    I’m glad they got to tell their side. Too often financial concerns dictate that everyone pretend to smile and be positive, but this shows the ugly side of corporate buyouts.

    In the end this seems to be an unfortunate story of what happens to queer/LGBT industry when it’s not managed by members.

  • rednekokie

    On the other hand, LGBT people have always had to fight back and find ways around being knocked down. I do not doubt for a moment that all involved will find other ways to be themselves. And I applaud that.

  • I’ve been a fan of After Ellen for years. As a lesbian, I have been so disappointed to travel to what I thought was a lesbian bar, to only find it closed. The joke is that on the second date, lesbians hire a u-haul. If any lesbian would like to visit my site: http://stories4hotbloodedlesbians.com – then you are very welcome. It has been running for three years on a daily basis and the last time I looked at visitor stats – they were in the high 280,000 range. Thanks to all the staff of After Ellen for 14 years of enjoyment.

    • Tigernan Quinn

      Really? A U-Haul? I just had never heard that one before.

      • Todd20036

        The idea is that women want commitment far more often than men.

        So in a lesbian couple, the first date is the meet and greet.

        The second date is the compatibility test.

        The third date leads to a relationship

        I honestly don’t know how accurate it is, but I imagine there is some truth to it.

        • Dazzer

          You forgot the cats, so it can’t be true to real life 🙂

    • Dazzer

      That’s a good site.

      Not being a lesbian (gay woofter here), I’m not your target market. But there’s a lot of good stuff to read there.

      For your Famous Women section, can I suggest Aphra Benn? First woman playwright in the English language, also a spy and all-round wit. And a bit lesbiatronic from time to time according to contemporary sources. A good egg.

  • Phil in Colorado

    I hope the original organizers, or people equally as passionate can get the name back and start it over. It would probably start out simple and pretty bare-bones, but seeing it out there again could really be important to gay women to see that they are truly being represented in our society, especially the younger women just starting to find their way….

    • karen in kalifornia

      The original organizer is a woman named Sarah Warn. She started AE in the early 2000’s. It was a great site then with an active forum. She sold it to Logo/Viacom and it has never been the same. The forum disappeared and the site started becoming just a pop culture/tv review site. Then when Evolve Media bought it, it totally took a drive. Only recently I deleted the bookmark because there was never anything on the site I wanted to read. Mostly tv show recaps covering fake lesbian storylines. Bye.

      • JD

        Observation further to my post above–while recognizing that people have every right to sell out for a bundle instead of sticking with a profitable enterprise, that is the problem. Everyone knows that things will not carry on as before–the hard choice is, do I personally take advantage of the system I complain about, or do I not. Is it about me or my community? Facing that choice (albeit smaller scale) now and it is not easy … one way LOOKS like life will be a piece of cake, the other implies continuing to work past retirement age. So far, I’m choosing community … if I can, how many others do? How can we celebrate that?

  • queenplz

    how dare those evil White Heterosexual Men ™ demand that the website make money! it’s not like this is a business or anything!

    • Charlie 2001

      Think Martin Shkreli. He just wanted to make a profit.

      • queenplz

        lol there’s kind of a big difference between life-saving medicine and internet content

        • Tigernan Quinn

          The quality of the product isn’t at issue, but the managing behind it and their intent. And “lol”? Wow.

          • queenplz

            yes, lol. that’s a thing.

          • Todd20036

            This troll (queenplz) smells like Milo.

        • JD

          No, there isn’t. This is about a philosophy that values money over everything else and demands more, more, more. A Russian friend of mine believes there is no end to what a worker will demand in terms of salary (largely because that’s how he thinks). As someone who (in an earlier life) made far more than I needed, I can say that all it takes is a few bucks more than you need to feel liberated with choice in life. Chasing “more” is a sign of an empty life, imHo.

    • Friday

      Frankly, destroying a business because it’s not making you ‘enough’ profit’s the kind of destructive profit-motive that’s left us without very much economic…. or journalistic diversity in enough areas of life already. Eventually you end up with a corporate monoculture, that way. Stockholders may not care cause they get the short-term money, but eventually it does squeeze out a lot of the things that make the marketplace worthwhile on the other end.

  • fuow

    This is unfortunate.
    Media for gay men can be funny and trivial and serious and political all at the same time. Media for women has to square the circle of PC, unrelentingly humourless feminism and being entertaining without being trivial or, may the goddess forfend, fun.
    AfterEllen managed to be genuine far more than most, I’ll miss them.

    • Dazzer

      AfterEllen was a damn good site. It also had some amazingly funny writers who were both acute and able to knock out a world-class zinger.

      They’ll be sadly missed.

      • fuow

        I doubt there’s only two of us who feel this way. Maybe the creative talent from AfterEllen can regroup and succeed without this blindly profit driven backing.

        • Dazzer

          I hope so. The site has some brilliant writers and editors and the community there is cohesive, intelligent and witty.

          They deserve a new home.

    • Saki

      AE wasn’t the same after Sara left. It was a long time coming

    • JCF

      “Media for women has to square the circle of PC, unrelentingly humourless
      feminism and being entertaining without being trivial or, may the
      goddess forfend, fun.”

      Geez, thanks for the stereotypes. Do you make it a habit to kick people (female people) when they’re down? >:-/

      • fuow

        Hey, I’m going to miss AfterEllen, too.
        It is, however, beyond doubt that any lesbian site which tries to do what JMG gets away with gets nailed to the wall by the PC-Police. Look at Pam’s – one of the most important sites in our fight for freedom. Her blog was brilliant, her moderators…O!My!God! Bitches from hell toward any male and twice as mean toward any female who dared to take anything lightly, ever, at all. They threw me off so many times for not toeing the party line (and always forgave me because I was personally know to two of them as somebody who actually was a decent person). But, gosh, I think you’d have a hard time finding as many light-hearted feminist sites as gay sites. If you can, PUBLISH. We need more humour in our queer lives.

        AfterEllen managed to keep a light touch and to even point out the absurdities (occasionally) of the too PC tendencies of many very loud people on the feminist side of queer life.

  • VodkaAndPolitics

    Know what… I’m not having her nonsense. Lesbians are a notoriously bad audience to cater to, because they do not spend money. In Wilton Manors, the gay boys have to deal with a constant and unrelenting stream of guilt because there are no longer any Lesbian Bars, and Gay Bars now occupy the spaces they once had. Talk to any bar owner, they’ll tell you that Lesbians don’t spend money. If you like a website, if it’s truly your virutal church, your meeting place, your whatever, click the ads and patronize their sponsors. I go to the Island House a few times a year, in large part because they buy advertising from JMG…. (Also because they’re awesome). If you have something you love, and you want it to stick around, spend your money there. It’s as simple as that. This isn’t a charity.

  • ericxdc

    Just makes me realize once again how deeply I appreciate JoeMyGod, Joe Jervis and the JMG community; and the fact that JMG is owned and run by Joe, not XYZ Ltd.

  • Dramphooey

    Careful criticizing AirBNB! The very mention of it suddenly turns progressives into greedy capitalists.

  • bambinoitaliano

    It just reflects the reality of today media businesses. While the larger media line CNN, NBC and the rest destroy any journalistic integrity left in the business of news reporting, smaller one like After Elton and After Ellen are being kill off to make way for click bait sensational fluff piece. I’m just hoping JMG can survive balancing the need to increase readership and avoid being a target of acquisition.

  • Dazzer

    Just to point out that any remnant of AfterElton or TheBacklot has long since disappeared from NewNowNext.

    And getting rid off the writers wasn’t a pleasant sight to behold.

    NewNowNext is dross and edited/managed by some people with a lack of vision that is astounding.It took a solid, entertaining, intelligent and campaigning community and drove a bulldozer over it and then seeded the ground with salt.

    It’s a horrible company.

    • Garrett Sparks

      I agree. I was a big fan of AfterElton and even the Backlot, but it was painful to see it slowly get diced up and phased out. NNN is clickbait and not that interesting. I go to these sites for the community not the content. If you don’t have interesting conversation, stories can be boring. That’s why I like it here.

      • octobercountry

        And—just wanted to say I agree with both Dazzer and Garrett Sparks! I hate what happened to AfterElton—it was a real shame.

      • B Snow

        I used to spend a lot of time at AE but at some point realized I was more interested in the news stories than the entertainment, and most of that news came from JMG. So I started reading JMG first and never really went back to AE. They had some good writers, good features, though. I especially liked the recaps of Glee and other TV shows.

  • Sad. Instead of closing, Evolve Media could have considered working it as a spin-off – giving the now-unwanted property away to the employees, instead of killing it.

    Too many RL friendly places are gone, and some of the virtual ones have gone, or are going – Pam’s House Blend and Bilerico, to mention a couple of my missing favorites.

    We still have JMG, Autostraddle, and many others, providing virtual space for us.

    Thank you Joe for keeping this little corner of the interwebs cozy and available!

    • EweTaw

      Yes. Thanks, Joe. And we hope the rumors that Disney has been pressuring to buy this site and turn it into a carnival ride are not true. /s

      • Isn’t that Disney ride something called “The Second Avenue Subway?”

        I hear rumors that it (or at least a “phase” of it) will be open to the riding public on December 25th of this year.

  • robirob

    RIP AfterEllen and AfterElton.

    But that doesn’t mean that something as equally good or better can come along. All it takes is some people with vision and someone who can pay the bandwith traffic fees for a while until the site (through ads and sponsored content) can carry itself and maybe a little more further down the road.

    I strongly believe that a good site for Lesbians and / or Gays will find a loyal community, because the potential for a loyal community is there.

  • octobercountry

    I wonder how many other AfterElton refugees are here on JMG?

    I wouldn’t really describe what happened to AfterElton as “[It] morphed into The Backlot in 2013 and merged into NewNowNext last year.” Rather, Logo/Viacom systematically and deliberately destroyed the site so as to promote their own lousy version of a gay website, the vapid NewNextNow.

    And it’s a real shame, because the old AfterElton really was one of the very best gay sites on the web. It featured real journalism and a true sense of community. The message boards and ability to private-message other members meant that a lot of people became real-life friends through the site… And honestly, I haven’t found another gay site yet as good as it was. (Oh, don’t get me wrong—JMG is great, but it’s inherently a different sort of site than the old AfterElton was.) And even after all this time, I’m still ticked off at Logo for doing this—why buy a successful property just to kill it? Only thing I can do to express my displeasure is avoid both Logo and NewNextNow, which isn’t difficult to do.

    • karen in kalifornia

      Same thing for AE (afterellen) once Viacom owned it.

    • Dazzer

      Logo and MTV are truly vile organisations (obviously straight owned and run).

      It wasn’t even the deliberate destruction of a vibrant and happy gay (and bi and straight and lesbian and trans) community that annoyed me the most.

      It was the belittling and crass, vicious way in which they treated the staff that really got my goat.

      I don’t have the words for the contempt in which I hold some of the senior editorial staff and management of NewNowNext.

      Utterly disgusting people.

  • jsmukg

    Here in Mammonworld, the only thing which matters to corpofascists is the *last quarter’s* earnings and profits. Not even the last year, the last *quarter.*
    Highway to hell.

  • JCF

    For all the narrative of “it’s been going downhill for years”, it was still a favorite place on the net of mine (I admit I’ve been visiting it a little less frequently the past few months, because it’s a pop culture site, and my mind’s been more on politics).

    After 14 years (I was there over 10), I will miss it terribly. 🙁 [Yes, maybe many of its best writers—Dorothy Snarker, Elaine Atwell, the aforementioned Trish Bendix—can reconstitute. But I’m already thinking “Where am I going to get my queer female Morning Brew fix? Jonesing, jonesing… ]

    ETA: I already missed AfterElton/Backlot.

    • Avenger280

      I know *sigh* Where am I going to go to find Elaine Atwell’s “Wentworth” recaps????

  • TheManicMechanic

    Just about every site I have been involved in/with that began as a small, often personal site that begat a decent sized yet fiercely strong and committed community was ruined after being sold to some corporate concern. JMG is one of the few that remain true to form. I’d miss y’all if this place met such a fate.

  • Avenger280

    I’ve been a regular visitor to After Ellen going all the way back to the
    first couple of years when Sarah Warn was at the helm. A few years ago, I
    even joined After Elton just for their “Spartacus” recaps. I am gutted
    and I will miss this site tremendously. I want to thank Sarah Warn, Karmen Kregloe, Heather Hogan and Trish Bendix for guiding AE so well in light of corporate interference and persistent bean-counting. I wish all of them (and AE’s many past and present contributers – Dorothy Snarker, Elaine Atwell, Dana Piccolli, Punkystarshine, The Linster, Scribegrrl, Malinda Lo, and many many more) all the best in their future endeavors.

    As for Evolve Media, Wynonna Earp says this