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But designer Kelly Rakowski is building a thriving online dating community for lesbian, queer-trans, and non-binary queer people where there are no photos involved at all.Right now, it’s an Instagram account called Personals, where Rakowski (who, full disclosure, used to be ‘s photo editor) posts short, pithy descriptions that people send her about who they are and what they’re looking for.The lack of images certainly hasn’t stopped people from meeting each other through the platform: Rakowski tells me of several engaged or married couples who met on Personals; there’s even a hashtag devoted to it.
“Maybe there’s a rejection of the Tinder culture, because you’re just looking at a person’s kind of shitty, badly lit selfie,” she says. “It’s almost like a code language.”The personals, each limited to 45 words, are also similar to a familiar form of modern communication: the text message.But how do you design an app with no images that stays true to the DIY vibe of the original Instagram community?The key to Rakowski’s vision for the Personals app is that it remains text-only–though users will still need to log in through Instagram, a measure that Rakowski hopes will keep the trolls out.Today, about a year and a half later, the account has more than 30,000 followers. This week, Rakowski launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to transform the Instagram feed, which she ran using only Google Docs, into a truly independent meeting space for queer people.Rakowski says the decision is motivated in part to escape from the confines of Instagram’s corporate overlord–Facebook–and also to give her some relief from the very manual process of formatting and uploading all the submissions.