No lie: I was the editor of my college yearbook.

I’ve been thinking about 1998 a lot lately.

I thought of the bedroom that I hand painted two different shades of candy pink (what? yes) and my Rocky Horror Picture Show poster and watching Carson Daly interview Britney Spears TRL while I painted my nails a thick, chemical-smelling electric blue color I got from Claire’s. I thought of Lauryn Hill The bad education album, TLC’s “No Scrubs”, how my mom never let me buy JNCO jeans because they scratched the floor, and the euphoric rush of a new DELiA*s catalog in the mail. I’ve thought about these things so much because Autostraddle is, in fact, 13 (whaaat? Again, yeah).

The funniest thing about all this is that I didn’t turn 13 in 1998? I didn’t turn 13 for two years later in 2000. When butterfly hair clips and platform Sketchers were already replaced by the Y2K panic about the end of the world and Destiny’s Child had his first chart success.

Oh wait. OH, WAIT. I didn’t turn 13 in either place. I turned 13 in 1999. Time passes and mixes and sometimes at Autostraddle we can’t understand when exactly something happened in our 13 years… was it in 2014… 2011?

But let’s get back to what’s important, to the matter at hand! It’s true! 13! OUR ANNIVERSARY!!! Autostraddle is now brace wearing, chipped black nail polish, pointy tattoos and drawing on our sneakers, whole ass 13. THIRTEEN. Just full of hormones and potential (maybe that should be our new tagline). I keep watching from my laptop and telling anyone in the air, 13. Thirteen. I asked Laneia if she could believe something she and Riese started would go to high school next year and she covered her face in her hands.

How did we all make the trip for so long??? One day you logged onto this website because there was a show you couldn’t stop talking about and you were driving all your friends crazy, or because you were shy about how to have relationships sex with your girlfriend – and now here we are a million inside jokes and gritty, bare-knuckle enthusiasm later. Together.

If you can, will you participate in the discovery of this space from this chipped nail polish, brimming with potential, of young teenagers and up to our always more mature 14th grade? (HA! 14! Can you imagine!?) To keep this real, we need more money than we ask for. We always do. But we’re asking for something that feels doable, something that will help us move forward so we can keep planning and dreaming for what comes next. And if there’s one thing I learned at Autostraddle, it’s those little thumbs? When we engage in serious gay planning and continue to feed them together, they become miles. Whether you can, will you donate to our birthday fundraiser or join A+?

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Let me tell you about this little 13 year old nerd, she loved to plan the future. She sat in the front row of each class and filled notebooks (yes, various) with footnotes. If a project was going to happen on September 30, then baby, we’d start working on it on the 12th. She was the editor of her college yearbook (I know) and her favorite after-school activity was buying litle cakes Debbie Zebra at the vending machine and to sit cross-legged on the desks of the English class which also doubled as the “yearbook desk” to crack extremely horny jokes with her friends. But she never did the exciting jokes she wanted to do, because the last thing she wanted to be was gay. She wore her sleeves so long they covered her fingertips and that year, out of nowhere, she got into the habit of saying “sorry” before every sentence…apologizing for what exactly? His existence, probably.

If 13 is about being on the cusp of what comes next, stepping out of who you were before and heading into what lies ahead and hanging on, the fullness of unrecognized potential – then it’s about almost certainly to be alone. There’s nothing more lonely than being between who you were and who you’re about to become.

College was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at dusk in the late afternoon, I stayed home alone (my secret recipe involved “toasting” the bread very lightly first, so the peanut butter melts from the heat and the bread never gets soggy) and I searched for porn on AOL while watching MTV before my mom got home. He finally decided to pack my Barbies in the basement. But that’s also when I started another tradition after school, crying to myself as I stared out the little kitchen window above the sink. There was a longing to belong buried so deep inside me that it burned a fire that erupted around the ventricles of my heart. Then I furiously wiped away the tears as suddenly as they had sprung from my eyes. Tears and porn – things #1 and #2 I eliminated before my mom’s keys rattled the lock on our apartment door.

This search for belonging? He has not disappeared. I think we all still have it, we’re adults with rent owed and still on some level, we’re just horny, insecure little nerds looking for a place to call home. For me, this house was Autostraddle. Maybe you turned 13 in 1999 like me — maybe it was 1984, maybe 2005 or 2010. But maybe too, just maybe, you also found your home here in Autostraddle. If so, I really hope you consider becoming an A+ member today. A+ members make up less than 1% of our readership, but that small group of individuals who are willing and able to put their money where their hearts go also make up 50% of our budget (fundraisers and the people who support them accounted for another 26% last year).

It’s what allows us to make Autostraddle a home where we can make a porn joke and talk about depression in the same breath, will you join us?

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Hormones and thrills – welcome to 13. The best part about that school dance, that skate party, that birthday party slumber party is that we’re so far from done.

Let me tell you what potential we are sitting with, how strong the need for this space is. As we celebrate our anniversary, Autostraddle is gearing up to bring in a whole new class of writers. In fact, we started just before the New Year, when we welcomed five new writers to our virtual team that we had worked with and loved before, and then in February, we launched an open public call to recruit five to seven. others. I started writing this letter on the last day of our new writer applications and y’all – there’s been nearly 600 APPLICATIONS!! This is a new Autostraddle record. Kayla and I will read each of them (I have 424 left!). I wish I could hire them all, but just the idea… there are so many strange stories left to tell.

There are plenty of writers jam-packed to tell them. Established writers who want the chance to work for a gay editor who will eventually “get it” for once, after having their work ripped up by straight cis editors of a mainstream magazine. Brand new writers without a byline to their name because no one will give them a chance yet because they’re the “wrong type of trans”. Gay babies who think no one wants to hear stories about their first real heartbreak and what it has to do with Spongebob Squarepants. But we will. We always have. And that’s why, rambling paycheck to paycheck, I know what we are still building here matters.

I hope today is the day you join A+ or, if you can, consider donate to our anniversary fundraiser. Autostraddle has so much to do and I can’t wait all of us be part of it. Will you be part of it? Every person who signs up makes a difference for this 13-year-old independent queer media site.

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This! This article you have just read would not be possible without the support of readers like you. In fact, we wouldn’t be here AT ALL without the support of readers. We keep Majority Autostraddle free to read, but its creation is not free! We need YOU to sign up for A+ to help maintain funding for this independent queer media site. A+ membership starts at just $4/month or $30/year. If you can, will you join?

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