Across the Internet, devoted fans of the quirky feminist site The Toast are mourning its departure — and as the site prepared to go dark Friday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined them.
“I know that today is the final day of The Toast, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what this space — and spaces like it — mean for women,” Clinton wrote in a parting message posted to The Toast.
“In nearly every industry, from publishing to scientific research, women have had to forge their own paths against overwhelming odds and less-than-friendly welcomes,” she wrote. She saluted Mallory Ortberg, Nicole Cliffe and Nicole Chung for making The Toast a place where women could “speak their minds freely,” Clinton said. “They made us laugh and think along the way.”
Since its launch three years ago, The Toast has established itself as a singular presence online, a glorious trove of brainy weirdness, irreverent jokes, geeky listicles and daily puppy pictures — “a feminist humor site that is read by 99 percent of librarians and archivists in New England,” as Cliffe once put it.
Are you a fan of literary satire? The women of The Toast had you covered. Think possums are totally creepy? They understood. Curious about what it would be like to date Chris Pratt? The Toast had a checklist. And if you happen to be the kind of person who appreciates delightfully misandrist commentary on classic works of art, then The Toast was obviously the best/(only) place to quench your sense of humor.
It was also home to a unique online community, the kind that occasionally changed real lives. One “Toastie” donated a kidney to another devotee of the site. Another woman wrote about how the support she received from The Toast’s readers and contributors empowered her to leave an abusive marriage. For members of the LGBTQ community, it was an emphatically inclusive environment. When the site announced in May that it would go dark July 1, readers shared heartfelt stories about what The Toast had meant to them.
Loyal Toasties were saddened, but not very surprised, when the site declared that its days were numbered. The Toast was a labor of love and not a particularly profitable enterprise, as its caretakers had repeatedly made clear. And since November, Ortberg had been juggling The Toast with her duties as Slate’s new Dear Prudence advice columnist.
“We made something great for three years, and now we’re going to go do something else,” Ortberg said simply when the site announced its closing. (One silver lining: The Toast’s site and archives will remain online, and new posts may appear sporadically.)
In Clinton’s farewell ode, she wrote that she was excited to see what that “something else” would be. And she urged The Toast’s fans to continue to make their voices heard in other ways, in other spaces.
“Speak your opinion more fervently in your classes if you’re a student, or at meetings in your workplace. Proudly take credit for your ideas. Have confidence in the value of your contributions,” she wrote. “And if the space you’re in doesn’t have room for your voice, don’t be afraid to carve out a space of your own. You never know — you might just be the next Nicole Cliffe, Mallory Ortberg or Nikki Chung.”
And as Toasties flooded Twitter Friday with tributes and links to favorite stories, the site’s founders offered pitch-perfect final thoughts:
Are you still here? Get out of here! Go on! Get! You can’t stay here! What are you standing there for? Go! https://t.co/9Nq5f96FuZ
— Mallory Ortberg (@mallelis) July 1, 2016
If you didn't like The Toast, next week is going to be the start of a wonderful time in your life, and I am genuinely happy for you.
— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) July 1, 2016