A new LGBTQIA+ tech meetup called Pride & Tech DC plans to exclude straight allies from certain meetings, but according to meetup founder Lindsey Dragun, that might actually help the group become more inclusive.
“There are a lot of meetups that default to a cis/straight crowd and this is about creating a space beyond that,” explained Dragun in an email to us.
While Lesbians Who Tech hosts sporadic meetups and General Assembly sponsored an LGBTQA happy hour last month, the 31-year-old Dragun said that #dctech lacks a group that intentionally creates an inclusive space for all LGBTQA+ individuals. Her hope is that Pride & Tech can provide that space.
The next Pride & Tech DC meetup, a volunteer night at the DC Center, is on Nov. 15.
Dragun lives in Arlington and works as full-stack web developer at PBS. As a gay woman herself, the motivation to launch Pride & Tech stems from microaggressions she’s experienced.
“I and others have had a few men flirt with us at tech events — which is both inappropriate and a waste of their time,” Dragun wrote, adding that, at social events, “the use of an unexpected pronoun or the like can derail a conversation, making everyone trail off awkwardly before picking up another thread.”
At the first meeting earlier this month, Dragun said the group discussed ways to make Pride & Tech an incubator for a new and more tolerant kind of culture. One of the ways discussed was creating some events only for LGBTQA+ members.
“I’d say for the smaller meetings, allies aren’t encouraged to attend,” Dragun said.
She emphasized that support from allies is a powerful resource, but that it’s important to give LGBTQA+ individuals “a place to network safety and to discuss their issues and accomplishments without having to worry about the audience.”
Interested allies are encouraged to join any events described as open to them, Dragun said. She also suggested allies keep an eye out for upcoming panel discussions that will share information and resources about LGBTQA+ issues in the tech world.
According to Dragun, Pride & Tech is planning a mix of regular meetings and panel discussions. The focus will be to provide local resources, products and companies that cater to LGBTQA+ needs.
The only thing attendees aren’t likely to find at Pride & Tech meetups? Happy hours.
Dragun explained that networking events are difficult for those hesitant to disclose their identity or struggle to articulate it saying that “they might feel like they have to edit their conversations which isn’t very conducive for enjoyable networking.”
Being inclusive of LGBTQA+ folks from all walks of life – including the introverts – is a necessary part of making the meetup run smoothly, according to Dragun.
“I think each individual will probably have many reasons for coming and not all of those will be the same,” she said.
Dragun holds a master’s in international peace and conflict resolution from American University. (She got her web development training from General Assembly in 2015.)
Ultimately, Dragun told us the goal of Pride & Tech is to get #dctech to keep LGBTQA+ individuals in mind and for the community to have a voice: “Even slow improvements, such as people considering pronouns in their presentations or not assuming that people are in straight relationships, will be an improvement.”
Dragun told us she’s hoping to “leverage [her] experience” volunteering for Women Who Code to get Pride & Tech off the ground.