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As she scrolled through the xeroxed back pages, she discovered the women-seeking-women ads that would become the inspiration for @herstorypersonals.

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.

“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.

We recently had matching tattoos done, hers above, on her hip. 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.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.

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