Alex Blaze

End of an Era: Thanks for the Good Times

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 09, 2011 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Site News
Tags: Managing Editor, resignation letter

I'm currently in Korea, and this past week I took a trip to Japan. While I was there, I had some time to think about stuff that wasn't politics, goodbye-boots.jpgand I've come to the conclusion that I need to step down as managing editor of the Bilerico Project.

When I started working with Bil over four years ago, getting published and having an audience for my writing was reward enough. For most bloggers, that's going to have to be reward enough since there isn't that much money in this business.

But my situation has changed and I can't continue to put in eight to ten hour workdays in a job that pays... well, I won't be so gauche as to discuss numbers, but let's just say it's well below the federal poverty line.

This work never supported me even though I put more time into Bilerico than any of my other work - I've had part-time jobs, teaching gigs, and freelance work to actually pay the bills. But if I want to invest myself in this business of writing, I really can't justify the time I'm spending on this site anymore no matter how proud I am of what Bil, Jerame, the other contributors and editors, and I have built here.

That's not to say there never was a benefit to me being here. Having an audience that sharpened my argumentation skills and having a commitment that forced me to produce two to five blog posts a day has changed me as a writer; if you don't believe me, go back in the archives to my 2007 stuff and see how much it's developed. I've grown and learned about the craft and about how the world works, but I can see now that I've probably grown as much as I can in this forum.

I still believe in this project and think that it's a positive for the community - we need a platform that promotes the voices of people who aren't professional writers, from people who might not otherwise be heard, from people whose experiences the rest of us can learn from.

I'll be staying on here as a contributor and I'll post from time to time, but as I'm inspired instead of on the site's demanding schedule. I currently have another project in the works and writing engagements elsewhere, and I'll keep you all informed. Follow me on Twitter and friend me on Facebook; I promise to be better with social media.

Working with Bil and Jerame has been a positive experience. Their commitment to this site is commendable, because, frankly, they're not doing it for the money. If Bil and I headed to McDonald's and put in as many hours there as we did on the site, we'd be a whole lot richer than we are now.

We weren't able to make this site profitable for anyone to live on in the time I've been here. The weird impression I've gotten in the last few months with all the discussion of donations and design is that people think we're rolling in money here, when if it weren't for my work elsewhere I would have starved. Independent media is hard enough, queer media has a fraction the income of straight media, but independent queer media? It sounds like a bad joke.

It was still worth it, though. There's a need for regular people in the community to speak up, people who have more loyalty to LGBT people than they have loyalty to a nonprofit or a specific player in the movement. It's painful - financially, spiritually, socially - to disagree with people who are powerful in the context of queer nonprofits, activism, and other institutions, which is why people who are heavily invested in that industry won't do it. There's a need for independent writers, just as there's a need for diverse writers, and I believe Bilerico partly met that need.

So some parting advice: if you come across a queer writer who isn't willing to disagree with the paid gays, who says to fight the homophobes and not each other, who bemoans the circular firing squad, who always picks on easy targets from the unhinged Religious Right while ignoring the beam in their own side's eye, who says we need to get along so that we can achieve "equality" (because we all got together and unanimously agreed on The Homosexual Agenda)... a writer who thinks that avoiding hard truths is better for everyone because it's better for her or himself, then you shouldn't waste your time reading that person's writing. There's enough reading material out there that writers who don't put truth and clarity first can be ignored.

It may be satisfying to think that the other side is filled with terrible people while we're pure and virtuous; it's comfortable to think that we don't need to be challenged while everyone else, wallowing in their own ignorance, needs to be lifted up by we the enlightened; and it's nice to think that political or moral questions come down to clear lines dividing right from wrong. We're human too and we want to live in that world.

But good writing is supposed to jolt people from too-familiar thoughts and give life to new ideas. It's meant to complicate what we know and simplify what we don't. Writing is meant to be transformative, and any half-way decent writing will add something, anything, to a person's understanding of how they're supposed to spend their time on this planet. I'm not just referring to blogging or journalism or nonfiction, but really every sort of writing. If writing isn't providing something new, then why read it?

Or: If you're nodding your head to everything you read, then you're doing it wrong.

It's a funny occupation, where we get paid based on how much we please people while our fundamental purpose is to shake our readers, and usually the former wins out. That doesn't mean that there aren't ways to work within that system for the greater good - it just means that it's harder to be a good writer and be successful than to be a bad, successful writer. Harder, but not impossible, and there are plenty of amazing writers out there who fully commit themselves to being modern-day Paul Reveres, informing people of what they need to know even if it's not in their own best personal interests.

I'm willing to give both of them - being good and being successful - a shot, but that's going to have to happen elsewhere.

My email address - alex(at)bilerico.com - will still be active for a little while, and feel free to get in contact.

(imgsrc)


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Alex--You will be missed! I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, and hope you do still drop by here to post or comment. It won't be the same without your voice.

I respect your decision to move on, however. I definitely hear you when you say it's hard to make a living while blogging. Hope you end up doing something that allows you to live the lifestyle to which you wish to become accustomed.

All the best!

Best of luck, Alex. We'll miss you! Thanks so much for your insight and your hard work, and thanks for recruiting me to Bilerico. I look forward to reading your next works.

I can't imagine your level of personal sacrifice over these years, Alex, in order build this site and express yourself creatively. And it's a sobering (and for many, educational) reminder that sites like Bilerico are made of real flesh and blood, powered by people who aren't being rewarded in any material sense.

I wish you happiness and fulfillment, Alex. Oh, and rent money. Lots of rent money!

Well, you know I'll say more when my head finally clears from this crappy cold, but for now I just want to say: your post above shows why and how your work has been invaluable here. Kudos to Bil for having the foresight to know how important you'd be in the development of the unique voice of this site. I can't really imagine TBP without you, actually, and perhaps it is simply meant to be a different site. You brought a certain kind of intellectual heft, coherence, and candour that will be extremely hard to replace. And utterly delightful sarcasm, I might add.

And...I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll write without having the constraints of being the Managing Editor.

See you in the trenches.

Finally got around to registering so I could wish you well, Alex. Your posts are always well-crafted and worth the read, and this one was certainly no exception. :) Good luck in all your future endeavors.

Alex, it's been an honor to work with you, and your words command respect in every quarter of our community. I look forward to seeing you on the site as a contributor. Much success in the future!

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | June 9, 2011 9:07 PM

I join all of those above and the many likely to follow below in wishing you well. Just one question: How do I break the news to Larry Craig?

Love this quote, my dear:

"So some parting advice: if you come across a queer writer who isn't willing to disagree with the paid gays, who says to fight the homophobes and not each other, who bemoans the circular firing squad, who always picks on easy targets from the unhinged Religious Right while ignoring the beam in their own side's eye, who says we need to get along so that we can achieve "equality" (because we all got together and unanimously agreed on The Homosexual Agenda)... a writer who thinks that avoiding hard truths is better for everyone because it's better for her or himself, then you shouldn't waste your time reading that person's writing. There's enough reading material out there that writers who don't put truth and clarity first can be ignored."

Good luck with everything – but, especially, the writing outside the business of writing…

Love –
mattilda

Aw hell.

Don't be a stranger, Alex.

I only just came across this site recently and have to say that even the brief period of time, it has become clear to me the extraordinary amount of work that must go into this site.

Good luck on your future endeavors!
-Jeremy

Alex, I especially like this: "But good writing is supposed to jolt people from too-familiar thoughts and give life to new ideas. It's meant to complicate what we know and simplify what we don't."

Thanks for everything you put into this site -- and for helping me be a part of it! Good luck in the rest of your endeavors, and I look forward to seeing what you write for the site when not under deadline. :)

Um, shit. I totally get it, but that doesn't mean I like it any more. Alex, it's been a pleasure, an honor, sometimes totally frustrating and sometimes an unmitigated blessing to be able to work with and for you. I know from personal experience that the immeasurable amount of work you've put into this site has been instrumental in it becoming what it is today, and I know how hard it is to have to choose between paying work and a labor of love, including this particular one. Just always remember that you're family here, and no matter how far away you travel, family always makes it a point to come home now and then, at least for a visit.

You're a big reason why Bilerico is what it is today, and how it's grown so much from what it was when I first started posting here. Of course we'll miss you, but I hope you won't let us miss you too much.

Safe travels, my friend.

Wintersong | June 9, 2011 9:59 PM

Your voice will be terribly missed here, but I am eager to see where your work takes you next. The candor of your announcement shows that even in leave-taking, you continue to shake up your audience and make us question our world.

Best wishes Alex. And thanks.

Alex, thank you so much for everything. I can't wait to find out where your career lands next. I can only imagine it will be monumental.

Brad Bailey | June 9, 2011 10:31 PM

I'm sad that you're going, Alex. Don't stop posting here altogether. You're a part of Bilerico, and always will be.

I really appreciate all your hard work and opinions and positions and patience with my learning the ins and outs of contribulating. I wish you every success and offer my hand should you need it.

You've been (are) an excellent editor and it's been great having you at my back. Um, wait. Uh, that didn't come out right... You're a peach.

Thanks. You'll do great(er) things.

You're one of my favourite writers on Bilerico, and I'll absolutely miss your posts. :(

I need hardly say, Alex, that you're going to be sorely missed. While practical necessities may mean that you're going to have to give up your "night job," earning a living and continuing to post, to express your views aren't inherently mutually exclusive, and why give up your Bilerico e-mail address?

In any event, "don't make yourself a stranger," and ALL the BEST of luck and wishes to you.

Alex, I'm so sad to hear of your decision. You have been such an integral part of Bilerico, a sane and comforting presence, a powerful voice, and a great blogger. It's hard to imagine the place without your daily presence but thank you for your incredibly hard and valiant work. Hope your financial fortunes improve SOON and I'll be following you on FB! love, respect, and hugs, G.

I will actually miss you.

CRAP!
That wasn't easy to say.

All the best to Alex. Seriously enjoy life... it's amazing.

Alex, Jerame, and I were the original forces behind Bilerico Project and we've struggled every day to build it, grow it, and keep it afloat financially. We wanted to provide an authentic media source that was more than entertainment and pop culture but not exclusively political or movement-oriented either.

As midwesterners, we felt ignored by the larger movement and wanted to bring some struggling and overlooked voices to the conversation and put them on the same stage with longtime leaders, activists and thinkers. We wanted to carry the stories and thoughts of the entire community - no matter our age, our race, our gender, or ability of body or mind - because we're proud of being queer in all our shades and sizes.

Unfortunately, we've never been able to pay a liveable wage for anyone while doing that. All three of us have done consulting work, taken second jobs, and generally gone without to stay focused on the project. For as many years as Alex has worked on the site, he hasn't been paid nearly enough to repay his dedication and loyalty.

The small salary that Alex was making here at Bilerico, while more than most bloggers will ever make, isn't enough to live off. And, quite frankly, for as little as he makes, we can't pay that based off our advertising revenue.

Thankfully, Alex will continue to be a contributor and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board. He's not going away, but he is stepping back from the daily grind and challenges that comes with running the site.

He is our friend. He is part of our family.

But he's not responsible for all of you meatheads any longer. :)

Andrew Belonsky Andrew Belonsky | June 10, 2011 8:28 AM

Good luck with all, Alex! I'll miss working with you like whoa. Great job over all these years,
Andrew B

GayHermit | June 10, 2011 9:00 AM

Alex,
Thank you for all of your work and effort here. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors.

Hoping you survive and grow well. I have loved your style since I first viewed bilerico three years ago. We will miss you.

Best of luck Alex!

Let's see. Works well under pressure. Team player. Excellent writing skills. Well informed.No problem with regular deadlines.

I would guess that many newspapers or magazines would be glad to get you. Since you are used to working for little compensation, I suggest you offer your services for free (like giving out a sample), make yourself indispensable, and then negotiate an acceptable level of pay with the outlet.

look, i know i send in these stories with the weird titles, and you have to fix them and everything...but can't we work this out?

ok, seriously...we are so gonna miss you as our voice of reason - but you could not have picked a better time to be the outsider voice in a community that you well note can always use some shaking up, and while bilerico might be the poorer for your leaving, with any luck the wider world will be the gainer.

I was wondering if that was going to happen, as you havent posted in a while. It sucks, I mostly come here for your columns, which tend to be very holistic, and not just centered on what is immediately best for gay ppl. I love the way you look at society as a whole, and how it could be.

I really hope that you are able to find work that is fulfilling to you as well as more financially renumerative. You are so bright and insightful, and have such a massive work ethic, I am sure you will be awesome in whatever you do. I will miss your columns horribly, though, as I already have.

Carol :)

Uendellino | June 10, 2011 12:25 PM

Unfortunately, Bilerico has always valued quantity over quality - something I pointed out several years ago and for which I essentially have been blacklisted ever since. If you're writing 2-5 posts per day, you're writing too much, without time to digest, reflect, research, think. I get it: I get that the blogosphere demands constantly new content, but that's where the laudable objectives of Bilerico run aground on the shores of trendy. I hope Alex's understandable overwhelm will lead to more and better editing; more attention to quality; and more careful, well researched writing on the site.

Thank you for all you've done for this site, Alex. I wish you the best of luck, and don't be a stranger!

Alex, thank you for your voice of leadership and the modeling for others, the courage to question our own establishment. I have valued your insight and support. As an infrequent Bilerico contributor, I am continually impressed, and intimidated, with the quality and sharpness of talent.

Thank you for challenging our community in your closing post to question our own community's voice.

Simon Aronoff Simon Aronoff | June 10, 2011 2:22 PM

Alex -- Thank you for your service to TBP and to the larger cause! And best of luck on your continued adventures.

It's been amazing working with you for the short time I was able to, Alex, and for everything all the insights you and your posts have given me. You are incredible, best of luck with everything

Alex, all of your hard work here is noticed. Good fortune on your new adventure.

Alex - I'm relieved to read that you will be contributing and still part of the site. I make a point to read everything you post. Thank you!

I've always loved reading your works. Don't be afraid to share more cooking recipes, too, those are awesome, too :) Hope to see you around, soon!

Dear Alex,

Thank you for being a trailblazer, a insightful and thought-provoking read, and for your great research and advocacy. You deserve the best, and I hope you find it.

Michelle Marzullo Michelle Marzullo | June 13, 2011 1:37 PM

Dear Alex, Thank you so much for your commitment to this project over the years. I cannot believe it has been four years! Wow. Good luck on your new adventures! Michelle Marzullo