AfterEllen’s Response to NBC OUT (Full Statement)

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Yesterday,  NBC Out published a few excerpts from an exclusive statement they requested from me, which I granted. Below is the original, full statement I provided to NBC.

I first read the original DIVA article (and published “Not in Our Name” statement) when NBC Out brought it to my attention. AfterEllen was invited, by DIVA, to sign the statement as well, the day after it was released.

I’ve had several of our writers submit their thoughts to add to this response. AfterEllen is a voice for lesbians, and while my voice is a part of that, there’s a whole team behind me working for AfterEllen to really listen to, often one on one, the concerns of their community. 

Several individuals, who’ve actively been working to attempt to shut AfterEllen down, are involved in that “Not in Our Name” statement. Attempts to shut down the last mainstream lesbian publication, that focuses on issues as they specifically pertain to and affect lesbians, in and of itself, is an aggressive act of homophobia. Being on a statement with them, given their consistent attacks on AfterEllen, just for having the audacity to focus on lesbians, would have sent a bad message to our readers, which is why we declined.

Several of the individuals involved are disgruntled ex-employees of AfterEllen and have led an ongoing campaign, calling upon celebrities and followers to unfollow AfterEllen, making blatantly false allegations, resorting to slurs and blanket statements. Furthermore, the statement, in and of itself, is a continuation of a false narrative that’s been created to perpetuate division and anxiety within the lesbian community.

On the surface, the statement appears to be support for the transgender community. But then it goes on to state “we strongly condemn writers and editors”…. and that isn’t a positive statement of support, it’s rather an attempt to demonize anyone who has views they don’t deem acceptable, to call them “hate speech” and in particular our colleague Arielle Scarcella, who has been attacked for her response videos over the last couple of years.

If 10 YouTubers put out a video telling young lesbians that same-sex attraction is a “preference” and “bigoted” and can be “unlearned,” and a lesbian leader, such as Arielle Scarcella, puts out a response, telling young lesbians that innate same-sex attraction is not a “preference” and it can’t be “unlearned,” she’s faced with tremendous backlash and homophobia.

Given those underlying details, the statement is a very clear manipulation to throw women under the bus. This virtue-signaling by some extremists on the left is not something that AfterEllen wants to be a part of. Arielle has done a lot for the community and she has support from thousands of LGBT followers.

In culmination with what’s been happening politically outside of the statement, there are other underlying messages we simply don’t want to perpetuate. This idea that lesbians are not allowed to have an opinion, or feel anything for that matter. That we can’t have any autonomy. That we must bow to groupthink at every turn or be subjected to homophobic slurs, attacks on our jobs, doxing. 

Since AfterEllen is the only mainstream lesbian publication still remaining, that focuses on issues as they specifically pertain to and affect lesbians, we have a moral obligation to give young lesbians (who are feeling scared or depressed and filling our inboxes) a voice. When lesbians are called “vagina fetishists” with “genital preferences,” AfterEllen should be allowed to address those issues without backlash. Resorting to name-calling and bizarre accusations as a means of silencing the lesbian community needs to stop.

Since you first wrote me about the statement release it’s come to my attention that several LGBT media outlets such as the Advocate have published articles about AfterEllen specifically, and these contain both misleading information and patently false accusations. The truth is AfterEllen published some Op-Eds that a few writers at a few publications claim are “hateful” because they disagree. If that is the case, they would surely debate each point per article or write articles addressing each point on their own? But I don’t think that is their intention. Quite often these individuals have pulled things out of context to start a sort of homophobia campaign that exclusively targets lesbians. It’s bad for morale, as well as physical and mental health.

Thus far, NBC Out has been the only outlet that has expressed interest in hearing our side of the story. The others are simply engaged in a witch hunt. They aren’t reporting; they are spinning a false narrative to attempt to “other” us as the “bad people” which is exactly what the Advocate did this week. 

There is a quote about this mentality by journalist Dan Fisher, who said, 

“The purpose of a mass witch hunt is not primarily to destroy the lives of the women identified as witches. Rather, the purpose is to instill the fear of the accusation of being a witch into everybody else, so that they denounce others and publicly profess their own loyalty.”

Lesbians should absolutely be “allowed” to have a mainstream publication. We should absolutely be allowed to discuss issues (documented and evidence-based realities) that lesbians are currently facing, as they specifically pertain to and affect lesbians. 

Being an ally should not require lesbians to deny their own reality. It should not require lesbians to relinquish all autonomy, to believe exactly as others do, or fall silent.

This goes much deeper than a simple statement. There’s been an ongoing campaign of homophobia directed exclusively at lesbians, and when our writers try to cover these issues, as they specifically pertain to and affect lesbians, we’re shouted down by non-lesbians with slurs and anti-lesbian sentiment. Enough is enough.

Promoting this kind of false narrative only creates more anxiety in the lesbian community, a community that’s already suffering. Lesbians are by far the most statistically unrepresented and underfunded letter within the acronym.

AfterEllen is with everyone, but first and foremost we have a moral obligation to provide a voice to the most silenced group within the acronym, and right now that is Lesbians.

Lesbians have been attacked and witch-hunted throughout history. It’s nothing new. It’s just that this time, the threatening calls are coming from inside the house. 

-Signed Memoree Joelle, Julia Diana Robertson, Jocelyn Macdonald, Claire Heuchan and the rest of the AfterEllen team 


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