When Gary Goldman was working as a consultant for the United Nations, he met activists and grassroots organizations that were working hard to change oppressive policies and create LGBTQ+ communities in countries where homosexuality is outlawed. Gary noticed a pattern: the organizations all needed technical support.
“They basically said ‘we know how to do our job; what we don’t have are websites and technical tools to fundraise more easily, report incidents of violence, and help people feel less lonely,’” Gary, who is the Senior Program Director at Out in Tech, says.
So, Out in Tech, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ nonprofit for people who work in the tech industry, formed the Digital Corps program to help support grassroots LGBTQ+ movements around the world with free web services and development.
“The goal is to support and amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ organizations and activists who operate in the countries where it’s explicitly illegal to be gay,” Gary says. To date, Out in Tech has built 230 websites in over 50 different languages — and volunteering with Digital Corps can be a rewarding way to help make a difference and get some valuable experience.
To help aspiring QTBIPOC programmers reach their goals, we donated 100 free Codecademy Pro subscriptions to QTBIPOC folx learning to code with Out in Tech. “This really goes a long way; investing in marginalized folks is important — especially when it comes to coding,” Gary says. “Even though there’s less representation for LGBTQ+ people in tech overall, people of color and trans folks are still the ones who have the most barrier to entry.” Want to get involved with Out in Tech? Here are a few ways you can lend your skills, support the mission, and start contributing today.
Apply to volunteer
Four times a year, Out in Tech gathers volunteers to help build 10 free websites for LGBTQ+ organizations in need. “It’s a really cool way for people to give back in a concrete manner, whether they’re engineers and developers who build the websites or UX designers who build logos and brand identities.”
Some of Digital Corps’ noteworthy achievements include building the website for the African Queer Youth Initiative and creating the website for Almas Cautivas, an organization that helps rehabilitate and advocate for trans people in the Mexican prison system. They also created The Lavender Book, a web app that helps cultivate safe spaces in the DC area for Black queer and trans people, in partnership with the National Black Justice Coalition.
Learn more here to get started.
Learn web development skills
Even if you aren’t a programmer, you can still lend a helping hand. “If you’re a graphic designer you can help with the visual identities,” Gary says. “If you know how to write, you can help with the user guides.” They also need volunteers who can operationalize processes, lead a team, and write documentation, so it’s worth it to apply and see how you might be useful.
And remember: you don’t need to identify as LGBTQ+ to join the Digital Corps. “We have incredible allies who have some connection with the community, whether it’s a family member or a cause they really care about, and want to give back to these organizations,” Gary says.
Build your network and experience
Along with making a difference, volunteering can also give you the opportunity to meet and connect with other like-minded developers. Not to mention, you’ll build relevant experience that can help you find a job. “Our events are a fantastic way to spend a day doing something meaningful,” Gary says. “You end up with a hundred friends and a website that you can add to your portfolio.”
It’s inspiring to see how code can make the world a better place. There are plenty of other ways you can give back to the LGBTQ+ community using technology. Check out these Pride-themed Python code challenges and open-source projects for the LGBTQ+ community that you can contribute to.