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lusting for sweaty dyke athletes, pumped-up bodybuilders, and handsome, hot women in uniform to quell the ache in my loins”); others were more cerebral (“Thinking Lesbians …I like everything from Vixen to Wagner”).“We thought they were so clever,” says Bright.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 …She’d already been following the account just for fun; she enjoyed reading what people wrote about themselves (e.g., “local scammer, pretty boi femme & intermittent wig wearer”) and what they were looking for in a relationship (“sexy, thoughtful extroverts to deep dive into romance,” or, alternatively, “just looking for queer friends willing to talk about experimental music, anti-capitalist ideas, Greek food & cute dogs”). “I’ve been trying to figure this stuff out for a minute.” And she liked the idea that anyone in the world might see it and write back, like sending a message in a bottle.That clarity appealed to her, especially after a recent streak of underwhelming dates. With the help of some close friends, Lula came up with her own ad (a snippet: “31 y/o watery & sassy black femme looking to be spoiled, spanked & appreciated like I deserve”).
After she culls through them, nixing the ones containing hate speech or needlessly graphic solicitations of sex, she still ends up with enough to post a few at a time until the next call.“I’m kind of shocked that people are willing to be so vulnerable and present themselves in such a public way,” she says.“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.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.