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Gary Goldman: Support and Representation for LGBTQ+ in Tech Communities

Gary Goldman: Support and Representation for LGBTQ+ in Tech Communities

Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! Today I’m excited to cruise around with Gary Goldman, Senior Program Director with Out in Tech. Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Welcome, Gary! What challenge is Out in Tech addressing?

Gary: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Out in Tech is a global not-for-profit that serves the LGBTQ+ tech community by creating opportunities for our members to advance their careers, grow their networks, and leverage tech for social change. We want to make sure that LGBTQ+ people are adequately represented and supported within tech, which is the defining sector of our time. An unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills (specifically those targeting trans people) have been proposed in state legislatures in the past year. Our work is to connect the more than 40,000 members we have with job opportunities in safe environments, as well as to work with our tech partners to ensure that they hire and retain top talent.

Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?

Gary: I was initially a volunteer for Out in Tech while working as a United Nations consultant. During my travels in countries where homosexuality is still outlawed (there are still 70 of those globally), I met with grassroots LGBTQ+ activists who said they needed a web presence to fundraise, grow their community, and amplify their voices. I started a program called Digital Corps at Out in Tech, which has helped build over 200 free websites for activists around the world. It's a fantastic way for folks in tech to use their skills for good, and support the unsung heroes of our community.

Spiffy: What can you tell me about how you and the organization are working towards a more equitable world?

Gary: Out in Tech is working to make sure that no individual faces a barrier to entering the tech industry due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Our small but mighty team is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ+ folks in the tech sector have access to the same opportunities, networks, and support as the rest of the population. Whether it is through our mentorship program, from which hundreds of queer youth have graduated, to our quarterly virtual career fairs connecting job-seekers to recruiters.

Spiffy: Here’s your chance to share a recent Out in Tech milestone. 

Gary: I'll cheat and provide two milestones! The first one is that our Slack community reached 20,000 members. The Out in Tech Slack workspace is free and open for all, and contains more than 100 channels based on geography, identity (e.g. for gender variant folks, another for neurodivergent people, one for Black mental health), as well as interests (e.g. pets, plants, and anime!). I love how vibrant this digital space has become, and how useful it has been to many to find their next job or internship. You can join it at outintech.com/slack. The second milestone is that we now officially have 20 local chapters of Out in Tech with new cities including Seattle and Charlotte. Digital spaces are fantastic, but a lot of magic happens in real life!

Spiffy: That it does—congratulations on those milestones, Gary! Now, tell me about a startup or project you’ve worked with that exemplifies the impact you’re striving to make.

Gary: A team of Out in Tech volunteers created The Lavender Book in partnership with the National Black Justice Coalition. It was designed with the same concept of Green Book, a historic guide for Black roadtrippers published during the Jim Crow era mapping safe spaces for Black people throughout the nation, but for BIPOC LGBTQ+ people. It's a crowdsourced search engine that generates safe and friendly establishments in different locations based on service (hair salon, restaurant, etc.) and a list of inclusive attributes, such as gender neutral restrooms, Black owned, LGBTQIA+ trained staff, transgender-owned, and more.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Gary: I'd encourage your audience to join Out in Tech by signing up at outintech.com/join, whether you are an LGBTQ+ person interested in tech or an ally eager to learn more (and perhaps recruit queer and trans people!).

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Gary—it’s been an honor!

Gary Goldman (he/him) is the Senior Program Director of Out in Tech, the world's largest nonprofit uniting the LGBTQ+ tech community. Through his work, he creates opportunities for the organization's 40,000+ members to advance their careers, grow their networks, and leverage tech for social change. Gary holds his Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and lives in New York. He is originally (and proudly!) from France. (First published on the Ladderworks website on July 5, 2022.)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.