30 Under 30: Lori Adelman, Writer and Advocate

Photo by Nicolas Maloof
Photo by Nicolas Maloof

This week marks the release of our annual 30 Under 30 issue, and because each of these individuals is so interesting, we thought we’d further highlight them by running some brief interviews with them.

Name: Lori Adelman 
Age: 29 
Neighborhood: Crown Heights 
Occupation: Writer and advocate 

Who would be your choice for a 30 Under 30?
Oscar Nuñez, founder of the Brooklyn-based monthly dance party Papi Juice. I love that he’s created this incredible space for queer people of color to celebrate Brooklyn and each other.

Who are your role models in your industry?
Janet Mock. Jamilah Lemieux. Audacia Ray. [Feministing founders] Jessica Valenti and Vanessa Valenti, and [former executive editor] Samhita Mukhopadhyay. Tavi Gevinson. Ta-Nehisi Coates.

What was a turning point for you, when you realized you could make a career out of something you loved to do?
A turning point for me was when colleagues in “traditional” office work environments started seeking me out not in spite of but because of my work within online feminist communities. It was this revolutionary thing because when I first started blogging [~7 years ago], writing on the Internet—about controversial subjects like gender and race and reproductive rights no less! —was considered almost career suicide for someone who might eventually want to land at a “respectable” job in some well-known non-profit. Thankfully, I feel the world is catching up and these days, having multiple affiliations, blurring the lines between passion projects and professional endeavors, and doing so publicly, is not only accepted but in many ways is becoming the norm and is even seen as a plus by certain employers. It is this kind of stereotypically millennial way of moving through the world that I happen to find very exciting and rewarding.

What’s some advice you’d have for people looking to get a foothold in your industry?
Do believe in yourself and trust your instincts. Don’t be too proud to reach out to people whose work you like or look up to and give them shine.

It’s really easy to burn out when you do this work, and progress can sometimes be slow. You have to remind yourself that even if you can’t see it, you are making progress.

Do you feel Brooklyn is still a viable place for young people to build a career?
Yes. The rent is too damn high of course, which is frustrating and prohibitive for too many. But there are still so many thoughtful creative people in Brooklyn, especially young people of color. It’s a great place to find community in that way.

Have you ever felt like leaving your career path?
I always thought it might be fun to try my hand at different media—fiction and film are two areas of interest. But I think on some level my work will always be about race, gender, and justice issues no matter what field or medium I’m working within because that is my lived experience.

What’s felt like your biggest professional accomplishment?
I couldn’t begin to say. I think time can only tell with some of these things. One thing I’m proud of is that Feministing has consistently been ahead of the curve when it comes to covering trans issues, and I’m proud of the way we’ve influenced that conversation within feminism and in pop culture more broadly. Reaching our goal on Kickstarter last year [to redesign Feministing and make it sustainable] was a huge milestone and a win for the whole crew. Personally, being published in print for the first time [in the Feminist Utopia Project] felt pretty great. And my mom gets excited when I’m on TV, which is nice.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I could stay in New York and specifically Brooklyn forever. I could be living here in 10 years and have no regrets about that.

Career wise in 10 years I hope that a lot of the issues I work on now will be somewhat less pressing. I really hope we will have gotten somewhere on some core issues around gender equality—I don’t want to be battling these same fight to say hey, stop killing trans women. Stop enforcing all these ridiculous and ill-informed restrictions on reproductive autonomy. Stop shaming and pathologizing black women. I hope at some point people will start to realize they are on the wrong side of history with some of these things. So I would see myself being able to move on a bit and focus my advocacy efforts elsewhere and maybe even have some fun and channel my creativity in some more aspirational ways.

Follow Lori Adelman on twitter @ladelman


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