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I decided to totally cash in on the foreigner thing and this time make it work for me rather than against me.

I figured it would get people interested and I would get a bit of writing practice before they figured out that I wasn’t that interesting or it was too painful to read my badly written emails.

“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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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”).

The day after it went up in late January 2017, she woke up to “like, a billion follow requests.” After a week or so of exchanging messages with a few people (including someone in Copenhagen, with whom she’s still pen pals), she heard from Dot, a 33-year-old woman in Los Angeles: “Not in Seattle but love your profile!

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.

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

But for the first time ever, I’m finding writing in German fun rather than a chore.