Full disclosure: Two years ago, Cosmopolitan reached out and asked me to write something about coming out, and how to know when you are truly questioning your sexuality. It was accompanied by a piece written by Ariel Schrag, and I was thrilled to see how respectfully it was all put together. (You never know with magazines!) That move signaled to me that mainstream women’s publications might finally be making moves to being more inclusive of queer readers, who share many interests with our straight peers—you know, things like health, fashion, beauty, financial advice, family issues and stories from other women.
This past February, AfterEllen and Cosmo surveyed queer women together on the moment they knew they were in love, and Cosmpolitan.com, specifically, has been running a lot of lesbian/bi content in the past year. That’s due to their out Sex & Relationships editor, Lane Moore.
Photo credit: Mindy Tucker
Lane, a stand-up comic and writer based in New York City, tells us she wants LGBTQ women to find a place on the site and how she’s helping to make Cosmopolitan.com more than a place straight women go for tips on pleasing their boyfriend.
AfterEllen.com: How did you get your sweet gig?
Lane Moore: Oh man, that’s a long-ish story. My background is actually in comedy. I’ve been a stand-up comedian since I was a teenager, then I wrote for The Onion and McSweeney’s for a long time. Anything I did outside of comedy in terms of writing was as an editor for feminist and LGBT websites, and I also wrote/directed/starred in a comedy web series with queer characters, Gold Stars. Basically I want to change the world. When I saw the Sex & Relationships editor position at Cosmopolitan.com was available, I went to the site and noticed they were using the word feminist a lot, and a long time ago I saw one story, “How Do I Know I’m Gay?” so I knew if that small grain of lesbian content was there, this could be an amazing opportunity to be able to talk about queerness and consent and gender and body positivity in a funny, relatable way on a massive brand like Cosmo, which is mind-blowing.
AE: Cosmopolitan.com has been trying to up its queerness—why? And how do you see yourself as part of that?
LM: Cosmopolitan is a women’s brand, so I write for all women—straight, lesbian, bisexual, or any variation of gender or sexual identity. All of them. As someone who doesn’t identify as straight or cis, I’m excited that I get to bring different viewpoints to Cosmopolitan.com. I hope I can reach some of the women who may be questioning their sexuality or their gender identity, or have a crush on a female friend and don’t know what to do about it. I can’t imagine how invaluable it would’ve been for me as a teenager to read about genderqueerness or what to do if you have a crush on your female best friend in a massive women’s publication. That would’ve changed my whole life.
AE: What do you want people to know about your work at Cosmopolitan.com?
LM: That I work really, really hard to making it as inclusive as possible. I try my best to make what I write gender-neutral, because I’d love to see the world adopt that in general. We have a lot of really cool, progressive readers and some of them are questioning or queer or they have lesbian and gay friends. So they’re interested in LGBT people in a real, human way for a variety of reasons and it’s really amazing to help educate and make people feel less alone.
AE: So many women see Cosmo as a place for learning how to “please your man.” Convince us it’s not!
LM: Haha. Okay! Since I started at Cosmopolitan.com, I’ve advised women not to shave their legs if they don’t want to, and to eat like a monster. I’ve written about the age-old problem of being a lesbian in love with a straight girl, how to tell if your girl crush is actually something super gay, how people should stop saying “it’d be so much easier if I were a lesbian,” things I wish I knew about being gay when I was younger, the best things about being genderqueer, butch lesbian problems, femme lesbian problems, and had lesbians at The Dinah draw cunnilingus tips on paper vaginas. I even wrote “Sex Things You Don’t Need A Guy For.” I never write about how to please your man. I don’t think I could if I tried. And if you read the things we’re writing for the site today, you would see that’s a pretty outdated misconception.
AE: What kind of feedback have you gotten from LGBT women about Cosmopolitan.com?
LM: At first, there was a lot of hesitation, which I completely understand. You see a major brand covering lesbians and it’s easy to jump to the conclusion of, “Ugh, a straight person probably wrote this,” but that isn’t the case. Thankfully, people are reading the things I’m writing every day and have really responded to them! I get a lot of comments like, “I wish I’d had this article when I was growing up” which is exactly why I’m so excited to be doing what I’m doing. Whether a woman is gay or straight or struggling with her gender identity, if she’s reading Cosmopolitan.com, she’ll see herself reflected there in some way. That makes me super happy.