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Celebrating the LGBTQ+ heroes who inspire us every day

June is Pride month — a time to celebrate LGBTQ+ icons who inspire us every day. Pride is more than parades and parties — it’s about recognising the individuals who have fought for acceptance and equality. From brave activists, to technical geniuses and talented artists, these people have made a huge impact.

In this article, we take a moment to honour inspirational LGBTQ+ people from our industry by sharing their stories, celebrating their achievements, and recognising the lasting difference they’ve made.

Chris Hughes by Pat

Co-founder of Facebook, Chris Hughes is known for his role in creating one of the world’s largest social media platforms. His success in the tech industry shows his talent and vision, but what makes him truly inspiring is his advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights.

He is openly gay and has been a strong voice for LGBTQ+ equality. By being open about his sexuality, he breaks down barriers and provides important representation for LGBTQ+ people in the tech world. His visibility and honesty inspire others to be true to themselves.

Alongside his husband, Sean Eldridge, Chris has actively supported many LGBTQ+ causes. They have worked hard to push for equal rights and have been vocal about the need for inclusion. Their efforts have made a real difference in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

Chris Hughes shows that you can be successful and make a positive impact by being true to who you are. His commitment to both his career and LGBTQ+ advocacy have been fundamental to causing wider social change.

By USV, CC BY 2.0, Link

Chris Hughes

Tim Cook by James

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is not only known for his business success but also as a significant advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. He took over Apple in 2011 after Steve Jobs, and has led the company to achieve incredible milestones, like becoming the first company to reach a $2 trillion market value. His leadership has brought great success to Apple, showing his strong strategic skills.

In 2014, Cook came out as gay in a public letter, becoming the first openly gay CEO of a major company. This was a brave move that inspired many people, as he said being gay was one of the greatest gifts in his life. His openness helped break down barriers and provide visibility for LGBTQ+ people in high-level positions.

Cook has also made sure that Apple is a welcoming place for everyone, pushing for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Apple regularly gets top ratings for its support of LGBTQ+ employees. Cook uses his influence to support laws and policies that protect LGBTQ+ rights around the world.

Tim Cook is an inspiration. He shows that being true to yourself is important and that leaders can make a big difference in creating a more inclusive society.

Austin Community College, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tim Cook

Lynn Conway by Simon

Lynn Conway is a transgender woman whose work has had a profound impact on the field of computer science and electrical engineering. In the 1960s, Conway made groundbreaking advancements in microelectronics and chip design while working at IBM. Her innovations laid the groundwork for modern computer architecture and helped pave the way for the development of the VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) technology that underpins today’s computer chips.

Despite her immense talent and contributions to the field, Conway faced discrimination and prejudice when she came out as transgender in 1968. She lost her job at IBM and was forced to start over in her career. Undeterred, Conway persevered, eventually joining Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), where she continued her pioneering work in computer design.

Conway has been a vocal advocate for transgender rights and visibility. She has shared her personal story openly, inspiring countless individuals and helping to raise awareness about the challenges faced by transgender people.

Conway’s advocacy has helped to break down barriers and create greater acceptance and understanding of transgender individuals in STEM fields and beyond. Her courage and resilience serve as a powerful example of the power of authenticity and the importance of standing up for what is right.

Lynn Conway fills me with admiration for her pioneering spirit and unwavering commitment to both technological innovation and social justice. Her legacy will continue to inspire future generations of engineers, activists, and changemakers.

Angelica Ross by Sue

Angelica Ross is an incredible role model. She’s a trailblazer, advocate, and an inspiration to transgender people everywhere; a crucial figure in the fight for equality and acceptance.

She has made a name for herself in Hollywood, an industry where it’s hard for transgender people to get roles. She starred in hit TV shows like “Pose” and “American Horror Story,” bringing transgender stories to a big audience.

But she isn’t solely an actress; she’s also a fierce advocate for transgender rights. She started TransTech Social Enterprises to help transgender people find jobs and get tech training. Her work fights against the discrimination transgender people often face and provides real support and opportunities.

She’s open about her own life and the challenges she’s faced. Her honesty is helping break down stereotypes and ignorance about transgender people. By sharing her story, she empowers transgender people to see their worth and potential. She talks about the importance of self-love and confidence, which is especially important for a community that faces so much prejudice.

Her story from struggling with homelessness to becoming a successful actress and entrepreneur is a powerful reminder that transgender people can achieve great things, despite the obstacles they might face.

Image: Miss Ross, Inc., CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Angelica Ross

Alan Turing OBE by David

Not only do we owe our careers to this British genius, but it is also no stretch to argue we could well owe our existence to him too, by shortening WWII.

Turing was a mathematician, and the founder of what we now know as Computing Science. It is his work during the Second World War that is most notable. Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park and was the driving force behind the successful breaking of encrypted German transmissions: the Enigma Machine.

Turing had the idea that, “from a contradiction, you can deduce everything” and thus could vastly reduce the number of possibly correct settings of the Enigma from 1019 possibilities, to just a few hundred, which could then be investigated.

Did you also know the ‘T’ in CAPTCHA stands for Turing? It stands for ‘Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart’. Long before the likes of ChatGTP and Google Gemini, Turing proposed that, if a user were to communicate with another human, and a computer but was unable to distinguish between the two, the computer would be “intelligent”, thinking for itself.

Despite Turing’s remarkable work cracking the Enigma and putting Britain on the leading edge of early computing, he was arrested in 1952 because of his sexuality. He was given the choice between prison and chemical castration, choosing the latter.

After being outed as homosexual, Turing’s security clearance was revoked, and he was barred from continuing his work at Government Communications Headquarters. He was found, dead, in 1954, with a partially eaten apple laced with cyanide next to him.

It is because of his astonishing work during World War II, his pure genius, and that he is the founder of Computing Science, that Alan Turing is my computing hero. A plaque laid in his honour at Whitworth Gardens in Manchester puts it so well, reading: “Father of computer science, mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker, victim of prejudice.”

Alan Turing
Jack and Simon sharing a laptop

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