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On Queerness, Emancipendence and Belonging

The first week of August holds tremendous significance for Jamaicans. We celebrate our ancestors' emancipation from slavery (Aug 1) and gaining independence as a nation from the colonizers (Aug 6). Since 2015, the LGBTQ+ community has also been hosting pride celebrations during this eventful week.

Our motto, "Out of Many, One People", is reflective of a culture rich with contributions from people of many nations and creeds. As is the case with most things that are easier to say than do, I fear our practice of celebrating diversity has yet to align with our theoretical celebration of it.

I am not saying I expect us to be perfect. I am simply acknowledging that we have much work to do as a people before all of us can truly feel at home in a country we love so dearly.

As a queer man in Jamaica who works in tech, I tend to be given a front-row seat to the sexism, anti-queerness and toxic masculinity for which tech spaces have gotten a bad reputation. I am yet to work at an organization where I truly feel comfortable. Notwithstanding, I have been fortunate to encounter some amazing coworkers.

Still, I feel lonely in Jamaica's tech scene as an openly queer man. I can imagine other LGBTQ+ people feel similarly but given our context, stepping outside of the proverbial closet can have adverse effects on our job security.

Queer spaces for people in tech aren't novel. There are several communities and non-profits engaged in this work such as OutInTech, TransTech Social, WomenWhoCode, LesbiansWhoTech, and QueerJS just to name a few. These are all wonderful communities and I've had good experiences engaging with them.

While I can relate generally to the discrimination and other challenges we face as queer people in the global tech industry, a shared cultural context has been notably absent from these communities.

To this end, my friend Sam and I created a Discord server called "Qodescope" for LGBTQ+ Jamaicans in tech. Qodescope is intended to be a safe space for us to connect, share ideas, grow and learn from each other. And what better time to launch it than during Emancipendence and Pride week!?

So if you're LGBTQ+, currently working in the tech industry or intend to, and would like to connect, please reach out to us and we'll send you an invitation to join our server! We're looking forward to meeting you!

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