25 Pictures Of The Lesbian Internet, 1997-2007

clarissa

hey clarissa, let’s meet up later on technodyke.com

The internet changed everything for a lot of marginalized, disconnected groups of human beings, especially the gay ones. Lesbians took to the web in droves and with great passion and enthusiasm, some establishing their own dykey webnooks but mostly creating pages and pages of links to various dykey webnooks. (Remember when Google didn’t exist yet and the only way to find what you were looking for was to wade through the corresponding Yahoo! Directory?) PlanetOut.com was the primary destination for internet LGBTQs for the first few years, even obtaining millions upon millions in financing which we’re not even remotely jealous of. Now, PlanetOut has been absorbed into Here! Media, which also owns Gay.com, SheWired, OUT and The Advocate.

The other day Laneia and I were playing lesbian website portal bingo on Wayback Machine for funsies and I thought we’d share some of these throwbacks with you. For the record, some of these sites still exist — AfterEllen, obviously, but also Lesbian.com is now under new ownership (very lovely new ownership, if we do say so ourselves), GO Magazine and Curve.


25 Pictures of The Lesbian Internet, 1997-2007

floppygirl_1280

Planet Out – Feb 22nd, 1997

Planet-Out


Girlfriends Magazine – Jan 10, 1998

Girlfriends-Jan-24-1998


Bad Attitude – Feb 10, 1998

Feb-10-1998


Lesbian.com – December 12th, 1998

lesbian-dot-com


Anything That Moves – November 24, 1998

anything-that-moves-nov-24-1998


LesbiaNation – December 12, 1998

LesbianNation-Dec-12-1998


Women Loving Women Webring- Jan 17, 1999

women-loving-women-webring


The Girlie TV Network – April 16, 1999

girlie-network-april-1999


Lady Lovers – April 28, 1999

lady-love-personal-ads


Butch-Femme.com – May 5, 1999

butch-femme-dot-com

[visit butch-femme dot com]


Planet Out’s Dykesville – October 4th, 1999

DYKESVILLE-1999


Gay.com – October 10, 1999

gay-dot-com


Girlfriends Magazine – October 13, 1999

girlfriends-oct-13-1999


Lesbian.com – November 3, 1999

lesbian-dot-com-front


Dyke Diva – November 28 1999

skaterdykes


Dyke’s World – November 16, 1999

dykes-world-nov-16-1999


Dyke Test – January 23, 2000

are-you-a-dyke-test

click to enlarge


DykeDiva.com – August 17, 2000

dyke-diva


Wishing Well – August 19, 2000

wishing-well-august-19-2000


F2F Dungeon – October 14, 2000

F2F-dungeon-Oct-14-2000


Dyxploitation – June 5, 2000

dykesploitation


Shoe.com – November 19, 2001

ShoeDyke


AfterEllen – June 1, 2002

afterellen-june-1-2002


AfterEllen – October 12, 2002

afterellen-earthlings


Lesbian.com – March 22, 2004

lesbian-dot-com-2004


PlanetOut Women- September 19, 2004

planet-out-sep-19-2004


Afterellen.com – December 10, 2004

afterellen-2004


GO! Magazine – July 14, 2007

Go-Magazine-July-14-2007


OurChart- July 30, 2007

oruchart


and then this happened…

Autostraddle.com – March 16, 2009

autostraddle-march-16-2009

And here we are today.

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Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3228 articles for us.

119 Comments

  1. Thank goodness the Dyke test gave me +10 points for shaving my partner’s head after taking all of them away for shaving my legs and painting my toenails.

    • yes i think i ended up somewhere in the -20 range (ETA: -28), i lost a lot of points for shaving and makeup and haircare. who knew not owning a car or tools would make me not a dyke

    • Seriously tho. At one point I was up to around 35, and then hit those things that the quiz maker clearly have strong feelings about, and that number plummeted. End score: -26

    • I horribly failed the dyke test. Horribly horribly horribly. What am I even doing on Autostraddle? Clearly I’m not at all gay. I’d better go buy a vehicle to remedy this situation asap.

    • I took that quiz with all my dyke friends while in college in the late 90s, all of us hanging out at the same time. I was terrified I wouldn’t pass and get my dyke card revoked. Fortunately, none of us fared well. It’s not easy to score many of those points when you are still in college — no one owned drills or had knives on their belts.

  2. I was not going to gay sites in the 90s, but that AfterEllen 2004 looks very familiar…

  3. Hah! I am so glad that I live now, it seems like it’s the best of times for being a gay girl (your own way).

    (I’m pretty much -30 gay, apparently)

    Also, lol at dyxploitation, the only one out of those (exception for AS <3, obvs) with any sense of humour.

  4. ok ok seriously we HAVE to find the owner of skaterdykes* and make them be our best friend.

    *dyke diva. i can’t read sometimes.

      • she was a sk8erdyke
        she said “see you l8er, dyke”
        she wasn’t butch enough for herrrrrr

        • She’s just a rad grrl, and I’m just a rad grrl, because we both self-identify as such, can I make it any more obvious?
          We are in luv, haven’t you read, how we rule each other’s world?

    • The Diva is awesome. She lived in Chicago and went by the name of Ronit, if I recall correctly. Her site even had an advice column called I <3 My Clit. Also on there, a legendary group known as the Chicago Kings.

  5. Wow, the dyke test totally solves the mystery of femme invisibility: If you wear pretty tights, high heels, make-up, and when you own tons of nail polish, your score might turn out to be a negative number.

    It’s -22 for me. Which makes my crappy old bicycle and my fancy, fancy ass more invisible and less existent than zero… Interesting.

    Now, where is my Nobel Price? Or my honorary Sherlock Holmes badge or something? (I will also be fine with Lucy Liu licking across my face…)

    :)

    • -49. The only things I got points for were driving a manual foreign car but thats the norm in Ireland anyway.

  6. This is a really fantastic article. I love it. I remember when Autostraddle looked like that!

  7. These are all hilariously designed and brought me back to 2003.

    Giving that dyke test major side-eye due to all the femmephobia though.

    • Is a female “femmephobic” by virtue of not being femme? Because that kinda sounds heteronormative.

      Being gender non-conforming was harder a decade ago than it is now. Context.

      • no it’s ‘femmephobic’ because it seems to suggest femme women can’t be lesbians.

        Which is ridonkidonc as we all know.

        Context is probably rly important though, I feel you.

      • no, but that test is femmephobic for refusing to acknowledge that one can be both stereotypically feminine and gay at the same time

      • It’s not a gay test or a lesbian test. It’s a dyke test. Dyke was, at one time, a particular identity within the lesbian community that also included gender non-conforming aspects.

      • On the upside, it would seem “dyke” is not so stigmatized as it once was. Some lesbians would be offended if they were even called dyke let alone identify as one. And frankly, it was usually femme lesbians that were offended by “dyke”.

        So, I guess it’s interesting that it’s being read the other way around. Where dyke identified lesbians were once marginalized and stigmatized as “wanna-be-men” and radicals, now some think that expression of gender rebellion and resistance is being femme-phobic. Totally takes all the history out of it though.

        • No one is saying that *being* more masculine or gender-non-conforming is femmephobic. You do you. What people are calling out is the idea that being femme = not being a lesbian, which fuck that noise.

          • Unfortunately, that was the vibe I got when I came out, in 89/90. If you could “pass” then maybe you weren’t really in it for the long term. I’m glad things have changed.

            Of course, now I’ve come out as (theoretically) bi again. :)

  8. I can remember just being so incredibly grateful that there was ANY LGBT presence on the web circa 1997. It was huge. Even if there was no real information…it just existed…and that, at the time, was plenty.

  9. awww i feel like the people behind the wishing well would be really proud us! like, all of us here. our little community.

  10. Oh man, this is the best! I remember so many of these from when I was coming out circa 2006. There was also this really scary FAQ on how to have lesbian sex for the first time…I think it involved looking at your partner’s junk and whispering about how beautiful she was.

  11. Such a blast from the past. I forgot all about PlanetOut.

    I got a 43 on the Dyke test. I would’ve gotten a higher score in the 90s though. I don’t have my 5 speed manual pickup truck anymore.

    Is Dyke even still it’s own identity? It seems like folks here believe it to be synonymous with lesbian or gay.

    • I think the term is generally accepted to be synonymous with lesbian nowadays, rather than relating to gender presentation. Butch and boi and masculine-of-center and so forth have sprung up to take the place ‘dyke’ used to hold.

  12. Does anyone else find it hilarious that The L Word was originally called “Earthlings”??

  13. Wow, this article makes me feel really young. I don’t think I ever did any internet surfing in the 90s. When I was a little kid in school we’d only use the internet to play supervised math games. I didn’t have a home computer till the year 2000 (when I was still in elementary school). The internet has really grown up! And so have I!

  14. Oh those late 90s graphics, they really were horrible.

    I’ll always remember the original Autostraddle design fondly.

  15. Thanks for this– yall are always the best at finding and sharing the best and most fun parts of our history.

    • No i don’t. And i never ever possibly had cat whiskers on any profile piccy. I never believed in the degenerative poison that is the religion you all still do – and came into this world with my present knowledge already. And was never young, never weak, never a kitten.

      Leave a light on in the night for me
      That, I can find you
      Remember when we both where young
      And reckless and so curious

      Now you’re hiding from your child
      A new day’s dawning
      Remember that you felt alive
      Sometimes

      /Wolfsheim – The Sparrows And The Nightingales/

  16. There’s so much going on in the lesbiandotcom one from 1998. Boys!

    I got a 6 on the test, thanks to tattoos and sleepwear. My favorite question is: “45. Do your friends call you by your initials?” (The answer, sadly, is no. For now.)

    Great post. I’m glad we’re here today (winks forever).

  17. So I got all the way up to 50, but by the last question I landed at 0.. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

  18. sorely tempted to respond to one of the personals from Lady Lovers. 14 years later, here’s hoping Agnes is still looking for an assertive woman…

  19. Wow! Autostraddle looked so cool in 2009!
    …Not that it doesn’t look nice now, but that, I thought to look quite visually literate. I never had to use it, though, so I imagine this iteration’s probably easier to use. :)

  20. soooo definitely wishing those girlie network shows were real things i could watch right now

  21. I lived on the world wide web when I was a kid, so this post makes me ridiculously nostalgic… I was too young to know what being a lesbian was, so I never visited these sites but it’s soo interesting to see what they looked like!! My fav places were bust.com & gurl.com :)

  22. Failed that Dyke Test miserably. Who the hell exercises to Jane Fonda & Richard Simmons? I know that test came out in 2000, but they would’ve played out even then. I think Tae-Bo was popular during that time. I remember Girlfriends magazine. I used to be so embarrassed to go up to the checkout with it, hoping the cashier wasn’t judging me.

    • HOLLA. I haven’t ever met anyone else who was on Bolt. That was where I first tentatively started calling myself bi. I loved that site. Until Myspace came along and killed it.

  23. This is so cool! And re:the quiz – I went and found page two out in the web, and got 13 which would make me a “Bumbling Bisexual” I’m apparently getting a lot of points for wearing my watch the way I do, and I have no idea why. Is the watch-face worn on the inner wrist a thing? Am confused. Also, I remember being a young thing stumbling onto Bad Attitude (I remember a slightly different page, but that could just be my brain) and wishing I could subscribe. I had forgotten all about that! Ah, nostalgia.

  24. About the Dyketest… I wonder if, given the date, it means the gender identity “dyke” not dyke as in lesbian. A few of my friends who grew up in the 90s see “dyke” as pretty synonymous with tough, soft butch.

    If it’s not… then yeah. All the femme invisibility. And I’m a -44 lesbian.

    • I was wondering this while Abby was reading me the questions while I was driving my car. Thanks for being on my brainwave with me, Launa!

      • Oh, Ali. I like being on the same brainwave as you. Like a mental “Come to my bosom” moment.

        And yeah, that’s the only acceptable conclusion I could come to after reading the test. I have a few self-professed Dyke friends who would ace that test. One is even a carpenter. Like… one who has tools *and* can carve you stuff by hand. I feel like this is the kind of dyke this test is about.

      • That would make sense but the results say the following:

        Below 0: Hopelessly heterosexual
        1-25: Bumbling bisexual
        26-75: Faux femme fatale
        76-125: Alluringly androgynous
        126-175: Brassy dyke
        176-225: Decidedly diesel dyke
        226 or above: Testing transexuality using hormone therapy

        Source: http://www.oocities.org/mtnlvr11/test2.html

  25. Dear Riese –

    This is like an internet time capsule. Thank you for making it exist.

    Love, Ali

  26. -39 on the Dyke Test (and I’m pretty middle-of-the-rode when it comes to femme vs butch).
    Also, the design of early 90s websites is the greatest thing and I wish I had been an internet user in the 90s to properly appreciate this

  27. Oh jeez, the internet. I have to say I laughed harder than I should’ve with the lesbian.com one. And that it’s still not a porn site is awesome!

  28. crap, i feel ancient now.

    “Hey Clarissa let’s meet up later on technodyke.com” made me snort-laugh.

    and you had to unplug the phone to use AOL to spend 10 minutes waiting for the planetout website to load – that was patience.

      • AOL was the first provider we had in our house, on my Mum’s ancient apple mac. I can remember thinking “the woman who says ‘welcome’ when AOL starts up sounds just like that drunk woman off ‘absolutely fabulous'”… I was a smart kid.

  29. -42 for me. I was doing SO well until the last few questions!

    Also, as a designer, these make me want to cry.

  30. I got -81 on the dyke test. Does it mean I’m straight?

    And I didn’t know english that well until like.. 2005 maybe.. So I don’t know any of these pages. But still enjoyed looking at the amazing webdesigns!

    • Obviously! You better find yourself a men to marry, young lady.

      Or … Just turn your watch around, start working out (preferably outdoors), put a f-o-l-d-e-d dental dam into your wallet and purchase a fancy vehicle + some tools. That should be enough to make you gay again.

  31. That skaterdyke website looks so rad.

    On a related note. I loved Geocities so much when I was a kid. I had so many accounts. The best site I made was one dedicated to female skateboarders that included very bad photos of me attempting to do kickflips and stolen images of Elissa Steamer.

  32. Man I always thought sexuality based websites always sucked graphically and design wise, and now i have proof :D hahahha

  33. after everybody scoring low scores in the dyke test i feel worried about my score i got 104… i guess i better start building that time machine to be sent back to the 90s :(

  34. Wow, this made me super nostalgic. I was still feeling out my sexuality in the 90s, and the internet just made it all the easier to figure out what I liked. That is, when my parents weren’t monitoring my AOL account.

  35. I feel like the “dyke test” is out dated and based on stereotypes. I don’t wear flannel or know how to change oil or drive a truck. But I do date women, kiss women, sleep with women and the male genitalia is not for me. So i guess I’m pretty much a dyke.

  36. okay, the simple fact that any kind of bisexual community/support/pride/etc. existed on the internet as early as the 90s is kind of making me tear up because it’s so awesome

  37. i miss all those sites. even the webrings, gack.

    but what i really miss? IRC

    (totally met my first girlfriend in a chatroom)

  38. Everyone’s negative scores on the dyke test makes me question my 41… did I subconsciously cheat?

    My favorite part was definitely on Lady Love Personal Ads when Debbie from Upstate New York claimed that she was looking for a long term relationship but wanted to “take things slow at first” .. and she said this immediately after detailing the activities in which she and her partner would partake during the long term relationship. Slow at first indeed, Debbie. Slow at first indeed.

  39. Oh my god OurChart!!!!! I had an account!

    Also super-shoutout to the Livejournal communities for lesbians/queer folx….birls was my fave comm. And Myspace’s “Not Your Everyday Lesbian” group page.

  40. Hahah 38 on the dyke test even tho I’m girly as a unicorn in diamonte encrusted high heels? I guess that’s what you get for growing up in a mechanics family tho

  41. God, I wish I could of been older so I could of seen all those sites!
    The L Word was originally called Earthlings? That’s too funny.

  42. This is genuinely beautiful, wild, and chaotic AF. Where did these pictures even come from? This is my kind of sorcery for real.

    Also I’m lowkey salty about having been too young for this version of the web…

Comments are closed.