Guest Blogger

Letter From the Editor: Goodbye, Hello

Filed By Guest Blogger | November 25, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, Media
Tags: Grace Moon, lesbian media, OurChart, OurChart shutting down

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Grace Moon is Editor in Chief of Velvetpark, and the former Managing Editor of OurChart.com. This statement is being reprinted from VelvetParkMedia.com.

gmoon_groll.jpgAccording to the LGBT News site the Advocate.com, "word came down Friday afternoon that OurChart.com will be shutting off all content effective immediately. Editor Grace Moon notified the staff of contributors and bloggers via e-mail on Friday afternoon. Moon said in the e-mail that the entire staff had been let go and that Friday would be her last day."

You gotta love it when personal messages become public. Friday, I did indeed send out a personal email to all of the contributors of OurChart to let them know of the abrupt termination of my employment and their contributions to OC. Since I did not have time to bid farewell to the OC community and deliver any transitional thoughts on my brief tenure there, I would like to take this opportunity to do so now. But first let me clarify I am not speaking in any official capacity for OurChart.com and its owners.

Almost a year ago I was hired by OurChart to be its managing editor. At the time the site, which had begun as a social networking space, was moving towards creating a more robust editorial component. I had previously worked for six years in the trenches of print, creating and managing Velvetpark Magazine. Moving from print to digital was totally illuminating. I realized that online content is actually a cacophony of live conversations that echo across the interwebs like yodelers on the Alps.

You know, the LGBT community and especially the L and the T's have often been ghettoized within our Acronym to varying degrees. What I began to see as we churned out blog after blog on OC was that our little marginalized demographic was actually participating in the National dialogue; politically and culturally. Stories move across the web and either pick up steam or change directions depending on the readers and writers who commune on any given site in any given moment. To me, OC had become one such destination. And I think all of you who actively participated or lurked in the background would agree.

The other thing I learned is that if you stop talking, your presence disappears. Staceyann Chin, who became a regular blogger on OC, includes in the signature of her emails, "If we do not speak, who will?"

Lesbian media came into being first in print under the might of Franco Stevens who almost two decades ago began the first lesbian print magazine Curve. GO magazine and Velvetpark began the same year in 2002 in New York City. In pure dedication and commitment and despite the incredible costs of a fickle print industry, Amy Lesser has continued to deliver newsworthy content and the lesbi cultural road map across dykenation.

And how about the forward minded Sarah Warn who in 2002 knew the future of lesbian community and culture was online. Afterellen.com grew quickly and remains the premier destination for lesbian media, celebrity and gossip. The rest of lesbian media has scurried to keep up with her, fumbling our way online in her wake.

Then there is Ilene Chaiken. It is with great respect and gratitude that I thank Ilene who gave me the opportunity to work on OurChart. My very limited experience of having worked as her editor is that she is woman of vision, insight and a million ideas. The L Word has so dramatically positively altered our visibility and self-image -- I mean really, she made being lesbian an A-list experience. High profile TV show, Paparazzi, red carpets --what? Had we ever felt so special before? And like seriously I still think TiBette should not stay together.

Even as I contemplate the loss of OC's contribution as we knew it, it's instructive to remember that the site does not exist in a vacuum. Established media giants like Time Inc. and Conde Nast Publications have both shed hundreds of employees recently, while newer ventures like the fits-and-starts prone Radar magazine finally folded entirely last month.

Okay now, I didn't mean to scare you with the eminent recession or depression, but take heart -- in the words of my dear friend and colleague Diana Cage "We are lesbians, we know how to survive."

And that, we shall do.

Now that I've come back to my dear little media company that could, I would like to first thank Tami "IT girl" Johnson, Elizabeth Koke and Anna Romer who kept the home fires on Velvetpark burning. Thank you to everyone who began at Velvetpark and followed me to OurChart as well as those of you whom I met through OC (there are so many of you, please for give me for not mentioning all of your names).

A shout out to Kelly McCartney whom I have known for over 10 years and I seriously could not have accomplished anything without. She helped me found Velvetpark and became an absolute pillar of constancy on OC -- editing, fact-checking and delivering consistent thoughtful informed posts ranging from green living to music to news and any number of topics we needed to cover in any given moment.

Thank you Diana Cage, my media girlfriend, the great illuminator of queer politics and culture. Cage, you've been one of my greatest allies and inspirations in keeping lesbian media alight. I look forward to setting up the lesbian commune (perhaps it can be right here on Vp), while we wait out this bastard economy.

And to you, OurChart readers who I really deeply felt became my online family; minniesota54, Tex, Lezbeth, Btfan2, my fellow dyslexic DeeDee, Rovermom, motaterz, peacekitty, Rusty, mysticsmb, CA_Medicine_Woman, and again the many others of you whose names escape me at the moment. I have thoroughly enjoyed our discussions even when we argued passionately. Nothing but love.

Lastly, I throw out a heartfelt thanks to Lisa Bang, who was really the linchpin in keeping OC running behind the scenes. She helped me ease into my position at OC and showed me the ropes. Her organizational, marketing, and managerial skills -- not to mention editing and creative talents -- will be an asset to any company in the future.

Going forward you can continue to find me at Vp, and I hope to be joined by a few other of my compatriots in short order. So come back soon. And please do comment and feel free to express your thoughts.

And if you'd like to join our ranks, make sure you read the fine print: we put the "free" back into 'freelance" and the 'Dyke" back into "DIY".

Long live lesbian media.


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Lesbian media came into being first in print under the might of Franco Stevens who almost two decades ago began the first lesbian print magazine Curve.

Lesbian media only came into existence two decades ago? What about Vice Versa? The Ladder? All the lesbian-feminist print publications? Yes, some of these were organs for groups rather than independent newsletters/magazines, but many were independent publications put out by collectives of volunteers formed for that purpose. And what about all the non-print media--music, radio programs, etc?

But I guess something doesn't count as "media" unless it's a glossy, apolitical celebrity mag?

Good God.

As for the rest of the post, I've never been on OurChart, but my understanding is that it includes significant aspect of social networking (posting profiles, blogs(?), relationship histories, etc). In your re-posting of your "private" email, you state that all content will be (has been?) cut off. Does this mean that your users lost access to the material that they posted? If so, don't you think that your users (the "public") as well as your writers some notification? It sounds like the decision to close up shop, and how to do so, came from above your level, but I think that you at least owe your users some explanation.

More broadly, the question of who owns, and has a right to expect notification of loss of access to, user-generated content is a major issue when looking at "web 2.0" trends.

Reformed Ascetic | November 25, 2008 1:06 PM

I always enjoy watching grace in action. Thanks for another opportunity.

Thanks for guest posting, Grace. It sucks to hear about OurChart. :(

Of course, there's always room for you at the Bilerico table!

You should issue an invite to Diana Cage as well, Bil. Both she and Grace would be awesome additions to the team.

Oh and hey, Grace? That last bit? You'll be hearing from me. :)

Grace: Sorry to hear this news. You might point your former blogging staff to the TypePad Journalist Bailout Program! We're all in this together. Good luck!