100 Women We Love: Class Of 2018

Each one of these women, in her own unique way, is a role model who exemplifies the best of the LGBTQ community.

Kelly Rakowski

Photo by Cait Oppermann

A child of the ‘90s, Kelly Rakowski got on the internet just as it was starting a revolution by reaching into people’s homes for the first time. There, she found “a space to find friends and connections with people.” Later, in her career as an art book designer and photo director, Rakowski loved researching and producing “compelling, informative imagery to share with the world.” Those two interests merged when she came out at the age of 34, and soon after, launched the Instagram account @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y. The account presents “herstoric” images: black-and-white portraits and high school yearbook photos of lesbian legends; photos of protest signs, pins, and posters; archival documents and manifestos; and other relics of our collective lesbian past. Rakowski started the account “partly because I love old photographs and learning about lesbian culture,” she says, “and partly to feel a connection with people, even if it’s strangers on the internet.” From there, she spun off another Instagram account, @_personals_, and now, she’s going full retro with PERSONALS, a text-based LGBTQ dating app inspired by old-school newspaper personal ads. It’s all about bringing people together, and it still gets her feeling all mushy inside. “So many stories have come through my DMs or emails about people finding each other via @_personals_ Instagram,” she says. “Heartwarming is an overused but applicable word that comes to mind. So, so, so sweet.” —SEJ

What Do You Think?