Not a drill
Back on Valentines Day, we introduced you to Kelly Rakowski, creator of @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y – the must-follow Instagram account for lesbian history and culture. Her spinoff account Herstory Personals was making waves for helping queer women, trans and nonbinary people find love via the sexy, texty medium of old-school personal ads – short, picture-less paragraphs that were often funny, always intriguing, and occasionally downright filthy. Now, Rakowski is taking things to the next level: she’s launching an app, and she needs your help.
Called simply Personals, the app is set to be an antidote to the limited (and limiting) options currently available for queer people – many mainstream platforms, for instance, only allow you to declare as male or female, and search within the same gender binary. “I want to create an independent online space for queers to meet!” Rakowski surmises. “An app that is made by queers and for LBTQIA+ (people) specifically tailored to our needs.”
Everything you already love about the Instagram account – a radically positive space of self-definition and desire, where Rakowski is inundated with monthly submissions with titles like “super nice triple Scorpio” or “genderqueer andro cyborg” – isn’t going away. Rather than submit to @_personals_, people can create their own ads on the Personals app, linked to their IG profiles. The best will be highlighted on the original account, which will continue to promote some of the most compellingly composed flirtations in 45-words-or-less.
With the Personals app, users can look for love based on their location (it’s available worldwide) or search by more specific tags. “For example, you want to see all the self-identified butches? Click the ‘butch’ tag,” Rakowski explains. And while dating apps have bred a sometimes scathing ‘yes/no’ culture based on a few carefully selected profile pictures and little else, the image-free nature of Personals means that the first impressions made are more intellectual. “Text only allows you to be direct about who you are and what you're looking for using your wit, charm, and sexy,” she says. “It's also great just to read how people choose to express themselves, a lot of younger queers find this very helpful while exploring their identity.”
“I want to create an independent online space for queers to meet! An app that is made by queers and for LBTQIA+ (people) specifically tailored to our needs” – Kelly Rakowski
So, what’s standing in the way between the world and queer dating app utopia? Right now, money – launching apps is expensive! Hence the Kickstarter, which as of today, has a week left to raise another £10k (FYI, if it doesn’t reach the goal, Rakowski won’t get any of the cash). The founder is also looking for an NYC based engineer. “So if you're experienced, devoted to queer culture and looking to help build the next hot queer dating and community app” hit her up here. And tell all your friends – if you’d use Personals, donate if you can!
With June being Pride month (and the London parade taking place this weekend), chances are you’ve been bombarded by pink-washed ads by giant corporations who have just discovered that gay people exist and have disposable incomes. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to support queer-owned and run operations like Rakowski’s, especially when they are going to help us find love, friendship, and build our communities. If you fancy your cold dead heart being warmed, check out the #metonpersonals hashtag (ahhh!).
If you’re in NYC, head to Fredericks and Mae in Crown Heights, Brooklyn on Friday July 13 from 9pm - 2am for a Personals crowdfunding party, including dramatic readings of queer personals and live match-making! More info below.