8 LGBTQ+ Pioneers of Tech and Programming Languages You Should Know!

Finidi Lawson
20 Feb 20245 mins read
Languages, frameworks, tools, and trends

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To honor Pride Month 2023, we’re highlighting some of the top LGBTQ+ tech and programming language pioneers whose contributions played an integral role in developing modern computer technology.

Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to add your suggestions to the list in the comments section below. 

Let’s get started. 

Kudos to these brilliant LGBTQ+ tech pioneers

Named after Alan Turing’s vast scientific legacy, celebrates these LGTBQ+ community pioneers who surmounted persecution and gave invaluable contributions to science and technology.

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Timothy Donald Cook – Chief Executive Officer, Apple Inc.

LGBTQ+ tech innovators: Tim Cook

LGBTQ+ tech innovators: Tim Cook

Tim Cook is an engineer and American business executive. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc. Since becoming Apple’s CEO in 2011, his contributions have significantly reformed cybersecurity, American manufacturing, domestic surveillance, and environmental preservation.
Cook is a prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ tech community. In addition, he was the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay. Cook forsook his sexual privacy to help children struggling with their sexual orientation.

Chris Hughes – Entrepreneur, Author, Ex-Editor-In-Chief, The New Republic

LGBTQ+ Pioneers of tech Chris Hughes | Image source: Forbes

LGBTQ+ Pioneers of tech Chris Hughes | Image source: Forbes

Chris is one of the co-founders of Facebook (now Meta). Hughes was a spokesperson for the social networking site and also participated in Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign.

Hughes was also the publisher and editor-in-chief of The New Republic – an American magazine that comments on politics, arts, and contemporary culture – from 2012 to 2016. In 2016, Hughes co-founded the Economic Security Project.

In addition, Hughes is a famous philanthropist and has been happily married to his gay partner, Sean Eldridge, since 2012. Hughes is an exceptional entrepreneur that has inspired millions of people in the tech industry.

Megan Smith – Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Shift7

LGBTQ+ Pioneers of tech Megan Smith | Image Source: Inc.

LGBTQ+ Pioneers of tech Megan Smith | Image Source: Inc.

Megan is a famous member of the LGBTQ+ tech community whose work and life discovery has revolutionized the tech industry. Smith was the Chief Operating Officer and later board chair of Planet Out, an online LGBTQ+ community, in 2003.

Smith joined Google in 2003 and became the vice president of new business development, where she led pilot explorations and technology licensing across Google’s global engineering and product teams.

In 2012, Smith co-hosted and co-created Google’s Solve for X solution acceleration programs. She also led many early acquisitions, such as Where2Tech (Google Maps), Picasa, and Keyhole (Google Earth).

In 2014, President Obama named her White House’s new Chief Technology Officer to oversee IT initiatives and policies across every economic sector. In the office, she helped develop a tech-based solution to the Ebola crisis and instigated the president to come out in favor of free and open internet.

Peter Thiel – Venture Capitalist, Political Activist, Co-Founder, PayPal

LGBTQ+ Pioneers of tech: Peter Thiel

LGBTQ+ Pioneers of tech: Peter Thiel

Thiel was involved in some of the world’s most innovative technology companies. He was a co-founder at Confinity, which started PayPal in 1999.

Also, Thiel and a group of former PayPal founders and employees funded and developed other technology companies such as LinkedIn, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, Yammer, Yelp, and YouTube.

Besides, Thiel was Meta’s first outside investor, providing millions of dollars to modern research technologies through the Thiel fellowship and Thiel Foundation.

Thiel married Matt Danzeisen, a famous entrepreneur, and investor from Washington.

Jon “Maddog” Hall – Board Chair for Linux Professional Institute

LGBTQ Leaders in Tech: Maddog Hall

LGBTQ Leaders in Tech: Maddog Hall

Hall got his nickname from his students at Hartford State Technical College when he worked as the head of the computer science department.

Since 1969, Jon Hall has been a programmer, systems administrator, systems designer, technical marketing manager, product manager, author, and educator. Currently, he is an independent consultant.

Hall got interested in Linux while working at Digital Equipment Corporation. He’s also the Board Chair of Linux Professional Institute, the open-source movement promoting the use of the Linux operating system.

In June 2012, Hall published an article in Linux Magazine in honor of Alan Turing, announcing he is gay.

Joel Simkhai – Founder and CEO of Grindr

LGBTQ Leaders in Tech: Joel Simkhai

LGBTQ Leaders in Tech: Joel Simkhai

Joel is a celebrity in the LGBTQ+ tech community. He is the founder and CEO of Grindr, the largest location-based dating app designed solely for members of the LGBTQ+ community. With the app, Joel solved a significant problem in the LGBTQ+ community by helping LGBTQ+ members find one another and connect quickly.

He also founded Blendr, a dating community for straight and LGBTQ+ members with 500+ million users.

Lynn Conway – Inventor of Generalized Dynamic Instruction Handling

LGBTQ+ Pioneers of tech Lynn Conway | Image Source: The New York Times

LGBTQ+ Pioneers of tech Lynn Conway | Image Source: The New York Times

Conway is an American computer scientist who invented Generalized Dynamic Instruction Handling – a key advance utilized in out-of-order execution. Most modern computer processors use this key advance to improve performance.

Conway made tremendous contributions when she worked at Xerox, MIT, DARPA, PARC, and IBM. She also developed dimensionless, scalable design rules, simplifying chip design and design tools.

However, Conway saw quite a few ups and downs in her life. She was born male and suffered from gender dysphoria. She left MIT in 1957 after the medical climate did not allow her desired gender transition. IBM fired her in 1968 after she announced her intention to transition.

Eventually, Conway completed her gender transition in 1968, and her work on the VLSI microchip design revolutionized the tech industry.

Alan Turing – Creator of the world’s first computer: The Automatic Computing Engine (ACE)

LGBTQ Leaders in Tech: Alan Turing

LGBTQ Leaders in Tech: Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a British Mathematician and the father of artificial intelligence and theoretical computing science. He helped design the machines and algorithms that decoded German U-boats’ enigma codes and brought an end to World War 2.

Related Post: 5 Things Alan Turing Taught Us About Problem Solving.

Following the war, Alan Turing also created one of the world’s first computers, the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), and later improved to the Manchester Computers.

However, Turing’s career ended abruptly after the British government learned of his sexual orientation. In 1952, he was charged with “gross indecency,” lost his job at the Government Communications Headquarters, and had to accept chemical castration through Diethylstilbestrol (DES) injection.

Turing committed suicide and died of cyanide poisoning in 1954, aged 41. Today, people celebrate him as one of the world’s most influential scientists.

Finidi Lawson

Finidi is a writer who takes pride in writing meaningful and engaging content. He has worked for brands across verticals like Auslogics Software, Revioly, etc.

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