‘Keep Lex filthy’: Users react to queer dating app’s new direction – TechCrunch
Lex, the hookup and social app that launched in 2019 with a nod to lesbian personal ads from the ’80s, is changing. Only, precisely how much will change is still an open question. Sure, the venture-backed startup behind the queer app gave it a new lick of paint last week, but in refocusing on “friends and community,” some users fear that Lex will also scrub away its beloved raunchy essence.
Home to personals both horny and wholesome, the text-based service grew over the past few years into a queer community newspaper of sorts — a place for women, trans, genderqueer and nonbinary people to announce meetups, find concert tickets, share poetry, crack in-jokes or simply cruise. Given its breadth and silliness, the app inspires smiles and eye-rolls alike among queer folks in my orbit.
Lex satisfies a need that is typically shunned by mainstream tech; Craigslist, which famously upended the newspaper classifieds business, shuttered its online personals feature a year before Lex launched. Social giants like Meta and TikTok, meanwhile, take a largely puritanical attitude toward sex and sexuality. Apple, which sets the ground rules for mainstream apps through its App Store, is also totally prude. Tech’s censorship-prone gatekeepers — as well as the broader pattern of businesses sanitizing, and then monetizing, queer culture — leave many LGBTQIA+ folks reasonably wary of social media.
So, it’s no surprise that Lex’s announcement of a “new look” and “new direction” has rubbed people the wrong way, even as thirsty posting continues on the app.
Lex publicized its redesign on January 26, emphasizing its role in helping people find “LGBTQ+ friends & queer community.” A press release laid out the app’s evolution “from a dating app to a vibrant social platform,” while an Instagram post from the company highlighted a shift from personal ads toward group chats and meetups. Using a how it started meme, the startup contrasted its origins (sharing lesbian imagery and personals on Instagram) with a post for a trans tea party with “scones and jam.”
But by omission, is Lex trying to tidy itself up? The uproar I observed in response to the redesign wasn’t universal, but it was swift.
“Wtf lex …queer fucking is sacred, not some commodity,” said one user in a public post. Another wrote: “Let’s keep it 🥵 😘. I appreciate the effort to make Lex better for platonic queer relationships, but I loathe the new culture of sanitizing the internet and washing our sexuality away from every platform.”
Others praised and critiqued Lex’s new look. One user said the redesign made the app more welcoming, while another called it cute. I chimed in on the app’s new color scheme, saying, “It ain’t easy being green. but at least it’s not twitter.” (I had totally forgotten that TechCrunch uses a similar hue… whoops!) I solicited more feedback on the new direction via the app itself, and I heard from about a dozen people, most of whom expressed some …….