Here’s something else everyone has these days: beef with Substack, the newsletter platform whose lack of content moderation has allowed TERFs, COVID-19 deniers and Nazis to thrive, with the seeming endorsement of the platform’s management. Queer and trans writers first left Substack en masse in 2021, after the company’s founders refused to moderate transphobic content. This winter, the Substackers Against Nazis campaign has prompted many more to leave the platform.
If you (like me) never felt right paying Substack, here is some great news: a whole bunch of writers just started newsletters that you can subscribe to without accidentally funding the next Goebbels. Here are ten great newsletters that you can read with a clear queer conscience.
To stay in the loop
Assigned Media by Evan Urquhart
Trans reporter Evan Urquhart has built his name on providing the kind of rapid-response, breaking-news coverage of trans issues that is perilously endangered in the current media climate. Subscribing to his newsletter Assigned Media keeps you on top of the news and preserves a vital resource in a sure-to-be turbulent election year.
See also: Extremism researcher Talia Lavin spends most of her time learning about the absolute worst people on the internet. At The Sword and the Sandwich, she shares what she’s learned—and also, you know, writes about sandwiches.
For fun down the rabbit hole
Empire of Dirt by Lissa Harris
The joy of the internet is how it allows us to drill down into highly specific fixations. Reporter Lissa Harris’s Empire of Dirt zeroes in on “queer, rural climate reporting from New York.” That doesn’t sound like a broad beat, but it’s intensely interesting to me, the queer, rural New Yorker who wants to keep up on climate news and doesn’t know where to start. Are there newsletters for your weirdly specific interests? Probably. Will their names be this good? Probably not.
See also: Brandy Schillace’s Peculiar Book Club does what it says: connects readers to books on weird yet fascinating topics. Also, speaking of weirdly specific: did you know that Substack, despite allowing Nazis and TERFs, does not allow sex work on its platform? Subscribe to Decriminalize Sex Work to put a little mud in their eye.
For your culture reads
Episodes by Emily St. James
Columnist, novelist and general internet delight Emily St. James has been an indispensable culture writer for as long as I’ve been reading the internet, and will be an indispensable creator of culture for many years more. (For one thing, she’s a writer on Yellowjackets Season 3.) Her newsletter Episodes collects recaps, essays (like the recent “Toward a Definition of Egg Cinema,”) and occasional dispatches from alternate Emilys in other timelines. You will be smarter and more interesting (and more aware of other timelines) after reading her work.
See also: If your culture-writing taste veers more toward music than visual media, occasional Xtra contributor Niko Stratis’s Anxiety Shark never disappoints.
To queer the fantastic
Happy Dancing by Charlie Jane Anders
The great joy of newsletters is that they don’t have to be about anything in particular—like blogs, the real fun is often just hearing from a writer whose voice you love. Science fiction and comic book writer Charlie Jane Anders’s voice is much beloved for a reason, and her newsletter, Happy Dancing—which, from week to week, might contain an update on her fiction, writing advice or a musing on why queer liberation is incompatible with capitalism—feels like a little gift each time it lands in your inbox.
See also: If you want to keep up with the queer speculative fiction community, newsletters are abundant and high value. Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup and Nino Cipri’s Cool Story, Bro! are both good places to start.