Happy Pride Month! Last year, I shared resources and highlighted organizations doing awesome work in the LGBTQ+ community. This year, I’m excited to tell you more about Out in Tech, an organization that Automattic has partnered with for the past four years. I’m proud to say that this year, the Queeromattic Employee Resource Group — an employee-led collective for LGBTQ+ initiatives at Automattic — is co-sponsoring this partnership for the first time.
“We’re a global nonprofit community of 40,000 members working toward a world in which LGBTQ+ people are empowered, well-represented in the tech industry, and have full agency, from intern to CEO,” says Gary Goldman, the Senior Program Director of Out in Tech. As the Queeromattic Lead, I’ve been fortunate to benefit from the wonderful and empowering community Out in Tech has created through their Qorporate Roundtables, vibrant Slack community, and virtual hangouts in light of COVID-19. It brings me great joy to share more about Out In Tech with you all in this recent interview with Gary.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself! How do you identify? How did you get started with Out in Tech?
I identify as a cisgender gay man. Before Out in Tech, I worked as a United Nations consultant for five years in data management. During that time, I was a volunteer for Out in Tech as head of the New York chapter. It has been a dream come true to transition to being a staff member and work for my actual favorite organization out there.
Q. Can you share any exciting things Out in Tech has planned for Pride?
The unsung heroes of the LGBTQ+ community are the activists working on the ground in the 70+ countries where being queer is illegal (and sometimes even punishable by death).
On June 20, we’ll be building WordPress.com websites for 10 incredible organizations in these countries; they’re planning on using these sites to advocate for policy change, grow their community, and fundraise.
We’re also hosting a virtual Pride series the second week of June for those working in customer experience (June 10) as well as a day of workshops for folks currently navigating the job market (June 13). To learn more, visit outintech.com.
Q. Is there one person you’ve helped over the years (or a project you’ve worked on) that stands out in your memory?
I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the LGBTQ+ tech community have been eager to leverage their skills to make the world a better place.
Derrick Reyes was an early recipient of the Out in Tech Coding Scholarship. Since graduating, they’ve been leveraging their new skills to create an incredible company called Queerly Health, which helps you find and book LGBTQ+ friendly health and wellness practitioners. It was a real full-circle moment to welcome them as a panelist at an Out in Tech event back in January.
Q. Has partnering with Automattic helped your work?
This partnership has made all the difference in Out in Tech’s work, and that’s not an understatement. When I was a United Nations consultant, I traveled to dozens of countries where being LGBTQ+ is outlawed, and where activists needed a digital platform to amplify their voices.
WordPress turned that vision into a reality.
Since 2017, the Out in Tech Digital Corps has built over 100 WordPress.com websites for activists in 50+ countries.
Automattic provides these activists with hosting, themes, and domains free of charge. We also have Automatticians support us technically during the Digital Corps build days — a special shout-out to Mindy Postoff, who has been to over 10 build days!
Simply put, Out in Tech is powered by Automattic, and we’re incredibly grateful to Marlene Ho, Megan Marcel, and Matt Mullenweg for making it all happen.
Q. In this time when organizations have pivoted to digital events, can you tell us about your virtual events and other ways to participate in your community?
Out in Tech’s mission is to create opportunities for our members to advance their careers, grow their networks, and leverage tech for social change. During COVID-19, we’re still doing just that — but digitally.
Every week, members have an opportunity to hear from dozens of companies that are actively hiring and to network with each other during Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) socials and even RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties. We also have virtual events featuring prominent LGBTQ+ tech leaders, such as Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital, and Jeff Titterton, the chief marketing officer of Zendesk.
When it comes to leveraging tech for social change, 100 volunteers built websites for organizations in Senegal, Uganda, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe (among others), and we’re doing it again in June. This spring, our mentorship program connected 83 LGBTQ+ youth to tech mentors for eight weeks. They’re graduating at the end of this month, and we hope some of you reading this will hire them as interns!
Q. What do you look for when partnering with organizations and LGBTQ+ activists around the world?
Out in Tech accepts applications from LGBTQ+ groups on every continent on a rolling basis. When our Digital Corps leadership team reviews applications, they assess four main criteria:
- Does the LGBTQ+ organization have a good reason for needing a website? This can range from needing to crowdsource input from the community to applying for grants.
- Do they already have a website and just need a revamp? We only select organizations who either do not have an existing web presence, or whose website is very challenging to navigate.
- Has the organization been around for more than one year? We want to ensure that the groups we support are established and are going to stick around for the long haul after we build their shiny new website.
- Does the organization have at least a few volunteers to keep the website active and up to date once we deliver a user guide to them? We regularly track and monitor which sites are active and how they’re being used. This helps us to continuously improve our efforts to unite the global LGBTQ+ community.
Community is so important, especially in these times, and I’m doubly thankful for people like Gary who have helped the LGBTQ+ community remain strong. What organizations are you celebrating this month? How are you creating community from afar? Share in the comments below!
At WordPress.com, we strive to be a platform that democratizes publishing so that anyone can share their stories regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world. This month is a great reminder for why we work hard to expand the open web.
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