It may look like fairly simple on its face, but it's different from all the other dating apps you've used before
If you’re a cisgender, heterosexual person and you want to date online, your options are pretty endless, no matter what you’re looking for. Dog lover? There are multiple sites with others looking for puppy love. Are you a doomsday prepper? In just a few clicks, you can find someone to share your bunker with. But if you’re part of the LGBTQIA+ community, finding dates online can truly feel like trying to find love in a hopeless place — a place with cishet men in your feed for some reason (even if you've marked that you're a lesbian), where you're dealing with constant harassment, or where you have to worry that your profile is going to be flagged, depending on who you are. Thankfully, apps like Lex are slowly changing that.
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The text-based dating app, which launched in November of 2019, wasn't always Lex. It started on Instagram as @personals, where it lived from February of 2017 until October of 2019. “In the beginning, it was very free-form. I posted when I had the time, and as it gained momentum and popularity, I started to take it more seriously,” says founder Kell Rakowski. Then, it’s kind of snowballed. “We started having a monthly open call for submissions. That was two days per month, and in that time, we would gather hundreds of submissions.” At that point, she started thinking that perhaps Instagram wasn’t a sustainable platform, and the idea for an app was born.
While it’s billed as a dating app in the Apple store (the full title is “Lex: Lesbian and Queer Dating”) it actually serves myriad purposes. “It's really more than just dating. You can get hot sex, you can get long-term relationships, but you can also find groups of people to hang out with, make great friends,” says Rakowski. “There are also collaborations that are formed from people that have started teams together, made murals, started bands, along with political action groups, and protest sign-making. It just really runs the gamut. We came in as a dating app, but really it's beginning to be a whole social platform.”
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Considering how simple the app looks on its face — it’s entirely text-based, inspired by newspaper personals — that might seem like a huge accomplishment. However, when you do away with all the visual and auditory accompaniments that other dating and social apps offer and are left with just language, personality shines through. Thus, genuine, lasting connections are made.
“You read about the person, who they are, what they're looking for, kind of get a sense of their personality, and then later check them out visually,” Rakowski explains. While there is an option to link out to Instagram accounts, not everyone chooses to do so, and unlike other dating apps, Instagram photos aren’t loaded into Lex profiles.
“I think language is really key in queer communities. We use words to describe ourselves in ways that hetero-straight people don't. We’re more accustomed to describing ourselves with words,” explains Rakowski. She continues, “But then I also think it's just fun, like maybe a relief to not have to just show yourself visually and be judged on face value.” We both agree that we’ve had instances (both on the app and elsewhere) when we’ve met folks who we may not have been attracted to if we’d just seen a photo but our conversations have greatly increased the potential for attraction. Often, you see someone differently once you get to know them, and Lex offers the ability to do that without the pressure of curating a certain aesthetic first.
And if you’re not yet convinced, there are success stories to back up the method. “There's a hashtag called #metonlex. We get a lot of stories, from people just finding really great partners on Lex, having orgasms, finding love,” says Rakowski. (There's also #metonlexfriends, as well as #metonlexwedding — it only has two posts for now, but I'm willing to bet there are more to come.)
Then, she tells me one of her favourite stories so far — and of course, it becomes one of mine, too. “We have this really amazing story about this woman who's based in Berlin that flew to LA to meet someone for the first time, and the date — or whatever you want to call it — lasted two weeks. Now, they're working to figure out how the woman in LA can move to Berlin, so she can move in with her and her wife there.”
On that note, I’m gonna log off and go write another ad, because it’s Pisces season and I’m feeling cuddly as hell. If you’re looking for love, you can download the Lex app here.
This article was originally on Allure.