On December 29, 2003, L-word.com launched.
Which means we are are approaching our 16th anniversary!
In Internet longevity, we’re a miracle!
I had read about The L Word and seen a float (yes a float!) advertising The L Word in a parade in Provincetown, MA during Carnival Week in August 2003.
From August until just after Christmas, I had the show in the back of my mind, thinking of it once in a while, knowing that it had the potential to be very popular. I had not thought of doing a fan site in that time–just that this show had the potential to be really big. It was just after Christmas 2003 that I woke up one morning with the idea of “I need to do a site for this new lesbian show –and it must have fan fiction and discussion”.
As some of you know, my only experience with fan sites and fan fiction dated back to the “Kim and Kerry” story on ER. That was the inspiration for this fan site. I fell in love with “K&K fanfic,” and I just knew it would be popular with The L Word.
So, I called a friend and said, “Do up something FAST with these links….” the ones you see at the left below. I didn’t know how I was going to populate the pages, but I figured once the show got started, all of you would help me do that. Boy, was I right on the money with that one.
On December 29. 2003, we went live with what you see below. Just over 2 weeks later, January 18, 2004, the show premiered.
In the early days, I literally cut and pasted every fan fiction story into an html page and created a link to it. It was cumbersome! I then paid the same friend to come up with a “database” for people to submit their own stories. That was L-word.com fanfic, and it was wonderful.
Over a few years, a site member with the screen name COWGIRL proposed a new site design. She became a close friend and did so much work on the site! She came up with this beautiful design:
(Cowgirl, if you ever see this, I’d love to hear from you! It’s been too many years!)
Remember that?! That was our site look through the end of the show.
Over the years, we held some awesome L-word.com parties in New York and Provincetown (and at my house!). Ilene Chaiken was graciously appreciative of our site and support of the show. Several of us got to meet Jennifer Beals, Laurel Holloman, Leisha Hailey, Erin Daniels, Kate Moennig, and others. There was an event in New York City that a bunch of us went to. We had to leave because of a blizzard, and we’ll always regret not getting to accept invitations from Erin and Leisha to an event that night. There was Olivia The L Word cruise. I was on it and travel blogged the whole time! It’s been 16 years of amazing memories!
With the show ending, I was so terribly concerned that we would lose all our site visitors, making it impossible to keep the site online. It was a huge site, and the hosting was brutally expensive. I will tell you now that at one point, I was paying more than $1000 a month. Thank God, ads were covering it (usually), but with a huge drop in visitors, I feared we might have to shut down.
I bit the bullet and had the site converted to a WordPress site, and I had a custom fan fiction archive built. This served several purposes, starting with more reasonable hosting options. WordPress is still what powers the site and fan fiction here. With that transition, L-word.com became LesFan.com in 2014. Bette0Porter did the new site logo and colors – orange/pink – to honor both The L Word and also acknowledge the changing TV landscape that was ushered in by Orange is the New Black.
Bette0Porter is now re-vamping the look of the entire site to reflect The L Word Generation Q colors, which, of course, include the signature The L Word pink and a new logo. We hope to have the new site online for our 16th anniversary at the end of the month.
Thanks for following this trip down memory lane. It’s been a journey many of us have traveled together. There were ups, downs, panic attacks (we were hacked once; a crappy developer wiped out the site once; we changed hosting companies more times than I can remember). With the help of amazing site members, we are looking forward to many more years online hosting this amazing community of women – and some awesome guys. THANK YOU for being a key part of my life for the past 16 years!
PS All my work on this site, combined with my other experience led me to open Atlantic Online Services. We design, develop, and manage websites for small to medium businesses in addition to working on social media postings and analytics. Contact me if you are in need of help with a new or existing website.