On this day in history six years ago I wrote the very first post on The Sin City Siren. Six years. Six Years!
I’ve been staring at the computer screen for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out just how to elucidate what The Sin City Siren has meant to me. How much it has changed me. And how much the world around us has changed while we were getting lost in discussions, debates, and even arguments about feminist politics in the 21st century. Do you realize that the very first iphone had not yet debuted when I launched The Sin City Siren? Britney was still growing her hair back. And the Virginia Tech shooting made us all wonder how we could make sure that never happened again.
The SCS origin story, so to speak, is familiar to many long-time readers. I had a day job as a staff writer at Las Vegas CityLife, but I wanted to stretch my legs a bit. After years in newspaper journalism, I wanted to jump into an online community that was coalescing around big-name feminist sites like Feministing and Bitch Magazine. There was a big, wide community out there, even if it seemed invisible in Sin City — and that excited me.
And as fate would have it, I didn’t have to wait long to find an opportunity to grow as a grassroots organizer and writer. I’m sure after all the fag bug stuff last month, you’re sick of hearing about it. So, I’ll just point you here, if you want to know how and why the fag bug may be the epicenter to my current career and the reason why I’m an activist today. It kind of says it all.
Let me take a second here to thank the one person without whom I could not do this project, my husband. How a non-activist, engineer-type ended up with an artistic-writer-activist-type, I will never know. But make no mistake, he has been my biggest booster, best volunteer, delivery boy, IT genius, crack research team, miracle-worker, and the enduring emotional (and sometimes financial) support system behind The Siren. Of course, our best collaboration is our marriage and the parenting partnership of our daughter. That comes above all. The fact that he has enough heart and generosity left over to help me with my job, too, well, that’s how I know I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet. And why I fight for everyone to have the same right to be lucky enough to marry their best friend.
I think I could write for days about so many wonderful people and great organizations who have been my partners, my inspiration, my solace in the stormy times. If the 10 years I spent in traditional journalism left me feeling disconnected by way of “unbiased” witness, what I have found through The Sin City Siren is an embarrassment of riches in connections, experiences, and life-affirming work. And while I have never turned a profit in six years — it is a fate I am resigned to as a journalist and writer — what SCS and all of you have given me has made me “wealthy” beyond measure. Because what I have found here is my community, my feminist family, my home away from home unlike any other. And most of all — best of all — I have found love.
Yes. Love. I know it may sound strange to say that. After all, we’re talking about feminism and equality and progressive change here. I’ve written more than my fair share of expletive-not-deleted posts filled with anger, tears, heartache… The kind of love I’m talking about at SCS is the love you have given me in the small kindnesses — with each soul-baring comment, tweeted link, and “like” — and the Big Love straight from your hearts.
Let me show you what I mean. In the past six years SCS readers and supporters have:
- Donated more than $5,000 in goods, services, and mostly straight-up cash-money donations to help fund abortions, fight hate crimes, fight cancer, help people with AIDS, and collect crayons and coloring books for sick kids.
- SCS partner organizations helped change a “contributory conduct” rule of the Nevada Victims of Crime Compensation Program that penalized and slut-shamed victims of sexual violence by denying claims based on allegations of conduct that may have contributed to getting raped or assaulted (i.e. being drunk, being at a bar, wearing certain clothes…).
- Hundreds of you — like nearly 2,000 of you — have shown up, rallied, marched, and made your voices heard from fag bug to Rally for Choice, to calling on the UFC to enact a code of conduct…
- …. And by the way, the UFC totally did enact a code of conduct, and they used it to suspend a fighter for transphobic comments earlier this year.
- You supported me when I became the lead (pregnant) plaintiff in the personhood case in 2009. (Which we totally won.)
- Most recently, you made the #FierceFlores campaign go viral — getting hits across the globe — in order to stand up to anti-choice bullies who threatened Assemblywoman Lucy Flores after she shared her story of getting an abortion at age 16, during an April 1 hearing on the comprehensive sex education bill (AB230). (Let me put it this way, within six hours of posting #FierceFlores, it had nearly 10,000 hits. It went on to get picked up by ThinkProgress, The Huffington Post, the National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and many, many more!)
Look at that. Just look at all you did. There’s not one thing on that list that I did alone. My name may be the one that gets the attention, but you are the ones who put your shoulders to the boulder and make it move. And every time you show up, every time you donate to a fund that really needs it, every time you answer the call and stand up and get counted … Every time you do that, it is an act of love. That is an act of love for our community and for our fellow human beings. And when I see you do these things, support these campaigns, do this work … I feel such an overwhelming sense of love. And that’s so much bigger than hate. Every time.
After all, I’m just a ring-leader. I make a spectacle, drawing you in with the stories. But what happens next is up to you. I have no more control over that than I do an elephant. So when you take some little thing I write about and turn it into action in our community or even in our world… it’s the highest compliment you could ever give me. After all, what is more precious to any of us in this busy world than time?
It’s a funny kind of work, being a writer. So often, I never meet or hear from the people who read my work. (It’s actually kind of disconcerting and jarring for me on those rare occasions when it does happen.) And try as I might, I still don’t have ESP. So, I try to decipher your moods by what gets hits and shares and comments. Every email I get — the good and the bad — I figure is a proxy for who knows how many others who feel the same way. But, for the most part, it’s a one-way relationship. I sit here at 2 am typing away while my baby and husband sleep. And you wake up sometime tomorrow and find it in your inbox (if you’ve signed up for automatic email alerts) or on your Facebook feed or somewhere in your twitter feed … or click on over during a lull at work (I’m on to you) … However you get here, you get here. And I am humbled and grateful for it, every day.
In a way, celebrating the anniversary of The Sin City Siren is like celebrating a long-distance friendship. I never get to see you but I think about you all the time. I’m always jotting down little notes to you or tagging articles that I read to remember to send to you. I wonder what you’re thinking. Are we connecting? I hope that as we both grow and change that we can keep growing and changing in the same direction — like when I became a mom and had to figure out the whole work/life balance all over again. And I wonder how it can be that we’re still together after all this time, through the good and the bad. You manage to over-look my faults and quirks, which is the hallmark of the very best kind of friends. You help me up when I am down. (It wasn’t easy mourning two loved ones who died of cancer in the first year of SCS.) And I do my best motivate and inspire you, too. (More than one reader has told me that they started running because of this blog!
And somehow, I feel like we’re just getting started (she says with a sly grin).
But let’s focus on the here-and-now for just a tick: Today, May 6, is the Nevada State Senate hearing for the comprehensive sex education bill (AB230). Submit your comments online. Better yet, join me (Carson City or Las Vegas) at the hearing, which starts around 3 pm! That would be a great way to celebrate what SCS is about! Then, we can head over to the Pinball Hall of Fame on Tropicana Avenue to celebrate The Sin City Siren’s 6th anniversary! (The 6th anniversary is the iron and sugar anniversary. Pinball was the natural choice!) Pinball starts around 6 pm (on 6th for the 6th anniversary… get it?).