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Rakowski, who has an eagle eye for queer social media catnip, began posting some of the vintage ads on @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y.“I was fascinated by how people wrote about themselves and what they desired in such a direct way,” she says.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.“It was the first time in my life that I was ever courted,” says Lula. Lula and Dot aren’t the only happily-ever-afters who met through @herstorypersonals: A little more than a year into its existence, the Instagram throwback to the days of lonely hearts ads has successfully matched dozens, if not hundreds, in romantic relationships, and connected countless others in various forms of simpatico queerness — from long-distance pen pals to mutual photo-likers to real-life friends and hookups.
“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.The inspiration for @herstorypersonals, On Our Backs, whose name was a suggestive play on the “off our backs” mantra of ’80s feminism, was first and foremost an erotica magazine.But it wasn’t all photos of whip-wielding dykes and handcuffed femmes; it also published groundbreaking stories about queer life and culture, including some of the first reporting on the AIDS epidemic within the lesbian community.Def gonna check out Nightcrush next time I’m up there.” From that point on, Dot waged a low-key but persistent wooing campaign, responding to Lula’s Instagram stories, liking her photos, and sending her pictures of flowers and sunsets.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.