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“I was fascinated by how people wrote about themselves and what they desired in such a direct way,” she says.
“And then I was like, ‘We have to start doing this today.’”She put out a call for @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y followers to write their own ads; soon, she was overwhelmed.
“But it’s sort of refreshing for both the people writing the ads and the people reading them.”With more than 23,000 followers to date, the account has proven that there’s a real audience for this type of content — a little risqué, a little self-indulgent, and very to the point — and a growing contingent of the queer population in search of an alternative to the soul-suck of dating apps.
(Rakowski herself ditched the app scene a couple years ago and met her current partner in real life, or what she likes to call “slow dating.”)In many ways, dating apps have made finding romance easier than ever for the modern queer woman — we don’t have to leave our couches to find a whole party bus of lesbians within a 10-mile radius who might want to go on a date with us.
One day, she asked for Lula’s address so she could mail her a book of poetry; a few months later, in June, Dot sent Lula 32 long-stemmed red roses for her birthday, along with two records and tickets to see her favorite band.
At that point, they hadn’t even spoken on the phone. They’ve been dating ever since, and they’re starting to talk about relocating to each other’s cities.
As she scrolled through the xeroxed back pages, she discovered the women-seeking-women ads that would become the inspiration for @herstorypersonals.
For past generations, lesbian bars filled the dual role of romantic fishbowl and community center — a place where you could find unequivocal acceptance, a bathroom makeout, or maybe just a drink and a knowing look from the bartender.
At some point last year, Leola Lula, a 32-year-old living in Seattle who organizes a monthly queer party called Night Crush, concluded that Tinder was a barren wasteland.“It was really bleak,” she says.
“I’d already met or matched with everyone, or everyone I saw was already a friend.”So she decided to try something different: a personal ad on @herstorypersonals, an Instagram matchmaking experiment for the lesbian, queer, trans, and nonbinary community.
In an era when being openly queer was dangerous, even illegal, the On Our Backs personals provided a safe, anonymous space for women to express their desires — the weirder, the better.
Some of the ads were blatantly horny (“Wanted: Frenetic Mons Grinder …