AfterEllen to effectively shut down this Friday, one of the earliest websites dedicated to covering entertainment and news of interest to and inclusive of LGBTQ women, will be largely shutting down this Friday after 14 years of publishing. Editor-in-Chief Trish Bendix first broke the news in a post on her personal site alongside the announcement that she will be leaving the site. The site's owner, Evolve Media, has said they will leave the archives and discussion forums available, and publish freelance content with no clarity to what that will include or how regularly. This is the latest in a line of smaller media outlets who have been forced to close or scale back due to lack of funding.

While the online landscape has changed so much in the past 14 years as social media sites allow for a new type of community, the AfterEllen forums and comment boards were an important place for a lot of isolated LGBTQ women to find a sense of community for the first time.

As a bisexual woman growing up in a small town in the Midwest, there were no queer spaces in my city, no out people my age to talk to, and no place to share my teenage angst and confusion about the fact that I might be into girls. For me, AfterEllen was one of the first places where I felt like I was being directly spoken to with news that I was interested in and a voice that I could relate to. It was a great resource to learn more about the TV shows I couldn't access (looking at you, The L Word) and a space to talk about my feelings with others who were either going through the same thing or had already been through it. The loss of this space for expression and of AfterEllen as a resource explicitly for queer female news is very disappointing.

This loss is not new, the past few years have seen the closing of several smaller outlets which cover the LGBTQ community as well as the closing of LGBTQ women-centric physical spaces. It is important that as we achieve new legal and cultural changes, we continue to support each other and those spaces sharing our stories. If you're looking for new LGBTQ women-focused news sites, check out GLAAD Media Award recipient Autostraddle (where several AfterEllen writers will continue their work) and Curve Magazine.