Customers react to queer courting app’s new path • TechCrunch

Lex, the hookup and social app that launched in 2019 with a nod to lesbian personal ads 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 “buddies and neighborhood,” some customers concern that Lex will even scrub away its beloved, raunchy essence.

House to personals each attractive and healthful, the text-based service grew over the previous few years right into a queer neighborhood newspaper of kinds — a spot for ladies, trans, genderqueer and non-binary folks to announce meetups, discover live performance tickets, share poetry, crack in-jokes or just cruise. Given its breadth and silliness, the app conjures up smiles and eye-rolls alike amongst queer of us 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 characteristic a 12 months earlier than Lex launched. Social giants like Meta and TikTok, in the meantime, take a largely puritanical angle in direction of intercourse and sexuality. Apple, which units the ground-rules for mainstream apps by way of 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+ of us fairly cautious of social media.

So, it’s no shock that Lex’s announcement of a “new look” and “new path” has rubbed folks the fallacious method, whilst thirsty posting continues on the app.

Lex publicized its redesign on January 26, emphasizing its position in serving to folks discover “LGBTQ+ buddies & queer neighborhood.” A press launch laid out the app’s evolution “from a courting app to a vibrant social platform,” whereas an Instagram post from the corporate highlighted a shift from private advertisements in direction of group chats and meetups. Utilizing a how it started meme, the startup contrasted its origins (sharing lesbian imagery and personals on Instagram) with a publish for a trans tea celebration with “scones and jam.”

However by omission, is Lex making an attempt to tidy itself up? The uproar I noticed in response to the redesign wasn’t common, but it surely was swift.

“Wtf lex …queer fucking is sacred, not some commodity,” stated one person in a public publish. One other wrote: “Let’s hold it 🥵 😘🫦. I admire the hassle 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. Old Lex was blue.

Others praised and critiqued Lex’s new look. One person stated the redesign made the app extra welcoming, whereas one other known as it cute. I chimed in on the app’s new shade scheme, saying, “it ain’t straightforward being inexperienced. however at the very least it’s not twitter.” (I had completely forgotten that TechCrunch makes use of an identical hue… whoops!) I solicited extra suggestions on the brand new path by way of the app itself, and I heard from a couple of dozen folks, most of whom expressed a point of concern.

Lily, a Lex person, advised me she hated the shift. “Queer areas making an attempt 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 have to encourage “social” use until you’re making an attempt to discourse different makes use of (i.e. intercourse).” One other person stated the app appeared extra subversive earlier than the redesign. “I’m def within the ‘hold Lex filthy’ camp,” they added.

One person advised me, “there’s sufficient social media on the market. what I most popular about unique lex was the craigslist feeling.” Yet one more person cautioned, “There’s way more at play within the sanitization of 1 queer former courting app. Simply have a look at the annual no kink at pleasure debate and the way typically it’s stated that there must be no indicators of sexuality in areas if we wish to be deserving of our homosexual rights.”

Afterward, a brand new person who joined after the redesign advised me she noticed the complaints and felt like she “missed out lol.”

Requested in regards to the path of the app, Lex founder Kel Rakowski advised TechCrunch that the corporate “surveyed 1000’s of Lexers and located that the overwhelming majority needed a platform to search out queer buddies and neighborhood of their space.” Rakowski pointed me to a user research sign-up page and stated Lex pays customers for suggestions. The founder and CEO went on to say that Lex’s “all queer group” is “answerable for all product choices.” 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 searching for dates and hookups to proceed attractive posting on Lex! It’s their house to attach, for love, friendship and extra.”

In keeping with the underside of Lex’s Terms 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 comprise “obscene, pornographic, violent, or sexually express materials.” Lex’s phrases outline content material as “all textual content, photos, video, audio, or different materials.” In different phrases, the corporate maintains its skill to take down horny posts, nonetheless 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 rules 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 “high cities are NYC, Chicago [and] LA.” The ten-person group behind Lex has raised at the very least $1.5 million thus far, from traders resembling Corigin Ventures, Bumble Fund and Bonobos founder Andy Dunn.

Know one thing about Lex’s new path? Attain out to this reporter by way of Twitter or email.

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