Customers react to queer relationship app’s new route •

Lex, the hookup and social app that launched in 2019 with a nod to lesbian private adverts from the ’80s, is altering. Solely, exactly how a lot will change continues to be an open query. Certain, the venture-backed startup behind the queer app gave it a brand new lick of paint final week, however in refocusing on “mates and group,” some customers worry that Lex may also scrub away its beloved raunchy essence.

Dwelling to personals each sexy and healthful, the text-based service grew over the previous few years right into a queer group newspaper of types — a spot for ladies, trans, genderqueer and nonbinary folks to announce meetups, discover live performance tickets, share poetry, crack in-jokes or just cruise. Given its breadth and silliness, the app evokes smiles and eye-rolls alike amongst queer people in my orbit.

Lex satisfies a necessity that’s usually shunned by mainstream tech; Craigslist, which famously upended the newspaper classifieds enterprise, shuttered its on-line personals function a yr earlier than Lex launched. Social giants like Meta and TikTok, in the meantime, take a largely puritanical angle towards intercourse and sexuality. Apple, which units the bottom guidelines for mainstream apps by its App Retailer, can be completely prude. Tech’s censorship-prone gatekeepers — in addition to the broader sample of companies sanitizing, after which monetizing, queer tradition — depart many LGBTQIA+ people fairly cautious of social media.

So, it’s no shock that Lex’s announcement of a “new look” and “new route” has rubbed folks the improper manner, at the same time as thirsty posting continues on the app.

Lex publicized its redesign on January 26, emphasizing its position in serving to folks discover “LGBTQ+ mates & queer group.” A press launch laid out the app’s evolution “from a relationship app to a vibrant social platform,” whereas an Instagram put up from the corporate highlighted a shift from private adverts towards group chats and meetups. Utilizing a the way it began meme, the startup contrasted its origins (sharing lesbian imagery and personals on Instagram) with a put up for a trans tea get together with “scones and jam.”

However by omission, is Lex attempting to tidy itself up? The uproar I noticed in response to the redesign wasn’t common, however it was swift.

“Wtf lex …queer fucking is sacred, not some commodity,” stated one consumer in a public put up. One other wrote: “Let’s maintain it 🥵 😘🫦. I respect the trouble to make Lex higher for platonic queer relationships, however I detest the brand new tradition of sanitizing the web and washing our sexuality away from each platform.”

A screenshot of the new Lex design, which features a large green bar two posts. The first is titled, 'ISO queer birders" and the second reads, "Will you BEE mine?"

New Lex is inexperienced. Previous Lex was blue. Picture Credit: Lex

Others praised and critiqued Lex’s new look. One consumer stated the redesign made the app extra welcoming, whereas one other referred to as it cute. I chimed in on the app’s new shade scheme, saying, “It ain’t straightforward being inexperienced. however not less than it’s not twitter.” (I had completely forgotten that makes use of an analogous hue… whoops!) I solicited extra suggestions on the brand new route through the app itself, and I heard from a few dozen folks, most of whom expressed a point of concern.

Lily, a Lex consumer, informed me she hated the shift. “Queer areas attempting to maneuver themselves away from centering intercourse = giving in to a homophobic society,” she stated, clarifying: “Folks have been utilizing this app for every kind of issues earlier than, so there’s no must encourage ‘social’ use except you’re attempting to discourse different makes use of (i.e., intercourse).” One other consumer stated the app appeared extra subversive earlier than the redesign. “I’m def within the ‘maintain Lex filthy’ camp,” they added.

One consumer informed me, “There’s sufficient social media on the market. What I most well-liked about authentic lex was the craigslist feeling.” Yet one more consumer cautioned, “There’s way more at play within the sanitization of 1 queer former relationship app. Simply take a look at the annual no kink at satisfaction debate and the way usually it’s stated that there needs to be no indicators of sexuality in areas if we need to be deserving of our homosexual rights.”

In a while, a brand new consumer who joined after the redesign informed me she noticed the complaints and felt like she “missed out lol.”

Requested concerning the route of the app, Lex founder Kel Rakowski informed that the corporate “surveyed hundreds of Lexers and located that the overwhelming majority wished a platform to search out queer mates and group of their space.” Rakowski pointed me to a consumer analysis sign-up web page and stated Lex pays customers for suggestions. The founder and CEO went on to say that Lex’s “all queer staff” is “accountable for all product selections.” She added, “Our traders by no means intrude with the imaginative and prescient of Lex.”

On the subject of intercourse, Rakowski stated, “We encourage Lexers in search of dates and hookups to proceed sexy posting on Lex! It’s their house to attach, for love, friendship and extra.”

In accordance with the underside of Lex’s Phrases of Use web page, the corporate final up to date its insurance policies on November 1, 2022. The phrases state that customers agree their content material won’t include “obscene, pornographic, violent, or sexually express materials.” Lex’s phrases outline content material as “all textual content, pictures, video, audio, or different materials.” In different phrases, the corporate maintains its capacity to take down attractive posts, however that doesn’t imply it’s actively doing so. That is fairly regular, boilerplate language so far as app phrases go. Within the founder’s phrases, “One of many causes we constructed Lex as an app and moved away from internet hosting on Instagram was to be impartial and keep away from the laws of Meta.”

When requested, Lex declined to say how many individuals use its app, however Rakowski stated the service is “rising quickly in cities throughout the US,” and its “prime cities are NYC, Chicago [and] LA.” The ten-person staff behind Lex has raised not less than $1.5 million up to now, from traders resembling Corigin Ventures, Bumble Fund and Bonobos founder Andy Dunn.

Know one thing about Lex’s new route? Attain out to this reporter through Twitter or electronic mail.

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