Popular art history humor website for queer librarians, The Toast, officially shut down last Friday. There have been many words said about it happening, and one particularly impressive goodbye letter, but I know it wouldn’t feel real until right now. The time that I would normally be waiting for my tea to cool and clicking over to the site to check out the link roundup and get my work day started with a healthy dose of procrastination in the form of opening about eight tab’s worth of recommended reading and following the wonderfully intelligent and spectacularly moderated comments. Today that won’t happen. Today the loss is real. Today we will not get an update on a dog named Sansa many of us are likely unhealthily attached to.
It’s almost impossible to talk about all the ways The Toast was exceptional. It was a site that was both intelligent and hopelessly silly. Irreverent and completely sincere. It was a place that invited you to relax into who you were, while challenging your understanding of yourself and your worldview. The site was never concerned with reacting to news, or being “on trend”. They published interesting pieces by thoughtful people and trusted that their audience would appreciate them. And we did. The work of Mallory Ortberg, Nicole Cliffe, Nikki Chung, and many others will continue to circulate the internet for years to come.
One of my prouder accomplishments this year is that I successfully pitched and wrote for The Toast. The many contributors and staff writers who have come through The Toast dwarf me in intellect and talent, and I would have said that before Friday when Secretary Clinton was added to their list of freelancers. That I have a connection with the first woman to run as a Presidential candidate for a major party is astonishing. That it happened because of The Toast makes perfect sense.
For three years The Toast showed us the best of what the internet could be; smart, funny, challenging, unexpected, and enlightening. Friday, it showed us that sometimes that’s not enough. It was a miracle while we had it, and the archives will stand as a permanent reminder of what the internet can create when it wants to. Feel free to mourn, to commiserate, and to share here.