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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 …

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.

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.

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.In 2014, she started the Instagram account @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y, a hit reel of iconic queer imagery featuring portraits of Audre Lorde, candids from early Pride marches, and probably every photo in existence of Jodie Foster as a baby gay.A couple years later, Rakowski stumbled across a digital collection of On Our Backs, the first erotica magazine for a lesbian audience in the US, which ran from 1984 to 2006.But that increased online visibility, along with greater societal acceptance in some parts of the country (not to mention gentrification, which prices out both queer people and queer businesses) have all contributed to the decline of LGBT-specific spaces — witness, for example, the disappearance of lesbian bars from every major city.Therein lies the problem: Finding a queer date or even a relationship might be less complicated now than it was in the days of On Our Backs, but in the age of dating apps, the search for love and sex has been downgraded from a bar-going, club-hopping, social-energy-requiring activity to a mostly solitary pursuit.

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