Even think you could mean your life partner just by reading a personal ad? Kelly Rakowski believes so, and that’s why she created Personals, an Instagram account/dating site for LBTQIA persons to meet their match.
Starting from a simple lesbian culture page to finding the US’s first lesbian erotica magazine, Our Back Books archives to now close to a brand new dating app launch, Rakowski is taking the LGBT+ dating scene by storm.
Check out everything you need to know, from how the account started to how Rakowski sees it growing and more.
Where It All Began @_personals_
NYC-based photo director and photo editor for Metropolis magazine, Kelly Rakowski has always had a nitch for her lesbian culture and history. In 2014 she created the Instagram account @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y, a page where she posts queer imagery from portraits to early pride marches and everything in between.
A few years after the account was in full force, Rakowski came across a digital collection of Our Back Books, the US’s first erotica magazine for the lesbian reader launched in the 80s. As she scrolled through the pages, Rakowski found women-seeking-women ads that later became the inspiration for @herstorypersonals and now @_personals_ created in 2017.
“Throwing up a quick selfie or some photos to a dating app, it’s very reflexive and noncommittal,” Rakowski said to the Huffington Post. “Reading how people describe themselves and learning about what they are looking for from the beginning helps to make the dating experience more honest and true.”
How Does It Work?
Since the launch of the account, Personals has reached almost 40,000 LBTQIA followers and is continuously growing because of the unique atmosphere it offers. The account provides a two-day open-call period each month where Rakowski receives 200-500 responses within the 48-hour time frame. However, she only posts a few of the submissions, “Next call 4 submissions is early AUGUST,” as sited on the page in July 2018.
Another unique factor to Personals is that it is for the LBTQIA community leaving out one of the letters, G. “LBTQIA (not the G) don’t have many options in the dating app world, she told the Huffington Post. “Many of the apps just add queers on their platform, but they are not thinking about us in the beginning.”
With dating apps like Grindr and SCRUFF, gay men have had the luxury of specific dating apps, however, for the rest of the community they are categorized into one “queer” cluster and end up running into trouble trying to find their perfect match. Personals does just that, with the platform only at the Instagram level now, Rakowski has been planning and saving for a trick up her sleeve.
What’s Next For Personals?
Personals drastic growth over the past year, Rakowski decided to take the account to the next level, a dating app. With help from articles in Wired, the Huffington Post, and Kickstarter as well as Tweets from New York Times best-selling essay collection “Bad Feminist,” Roxane Gay she was able to reach her $40,000 goal in early July 2018.
Rakowski is now hoping to raise an additional $10,000 to help launch her beta version in the Fall of 2018. She has already worked with a team to create the app’s design where users will log in through Instagram to use the app.
Users will be able to scroll through Personal listings based on location and even scroll through a “missed connections” section for those who were too shy to say hi. For the cost of the app, Rakowski is working on a “freemium” method, similar to Tinder or Bumble. The app itself is free, but you can pay for added benefits.