Lesbians Who Tech recap

This is primarily a travel and adventure blog, though it’s also my personal space that I like to think I have freedom with. And though my long 3 month European trip has been over for several months now I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of travel in the last few weeks. Some was for work, some for pleasure, some a little bit of both. It’s that last I want to talk about here.

Uber Brand officer Bozoma St John with musician Madame (Kiran) Gandhi in front of the Castro Theater. Photo courtesy Marisa Erin Photography.

I just got back from the Bay area in order to attend Lesbians Who Tech, the largest queer tech conference (and I believe they said perhaps even the largest queer conference in general?) in the world. It’s a whirlwind and a trip. I attended the first ever 4 years ago and went the next year as well (wherein I covered it for Autostraddle) but have missed the last 2 years. So it was interesting to see where it’s landed in its 5th year of existence.

In the spirit of tech innovation, experimentation, and also seeing where I want this blog to go and how I want it to function I’m also trying something new with regards to where I publish this story. Recently I’ve been trying out this new platform called Steemit, which is a place people blog, comment and interact with authoring and curation awards in the form of real (or, well, at least somewhat real) compensation. I’m sure even the most luddite among us has heard all the kerfuffle recently about cryptocurrency, the most famous of which is Bitcoin. Well, Steemit has its own cryptocurrency, STEEM, which this system is built on. So you earn this new money by participating on this platform. When other members vote up posts or comments you’ve written or you vote up things that have gotten popular you receive a bit of STEEM.

I’ve been on it for about 2 months so far and I’m not convinced it’s the place for me, there’s a lot to sift through and we’ve been struggling to get a queer community to really thrive (though it’s making progress). But I also haven’t posted what I consider a “real article” there yet and this seemed like the perfect time to try that. Unfortunately, you need to be a member in order to comment or upvote my post but I encourage you all to do so, if only to experiment yourself. That said, I wanted to make sure I linked from here in case you don’t want to go through that process so that you can still find the content and comment here.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article which you can read it in its entirety in my Steemit blog:

I attended this fifth anniversary of the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco with almost as much excitement and trepidation as I did 4 years ago attending the very first in 2014. And while I still found it an exciting and worthwhile conference I do still struggle with its place both in the tech world and queer community. In many ways this has always been fraught and perhaps that is not a bad thing. There are inherent difficulties in bringing a queer community that has more than the average anti-capitalist tendencies together with a tech one facing a pretty bad rep right now from SF to DC.  But founder and current CEO LeAnn Pittsford is all about the tough. She has always held the summit in the infamous Castro district to help lesbians stake a claim on the traditionally gay male neighborhood but also to embrace the queerness of the gathering, even though LWT has outgrown the venues and spaces available in this tiny ‘hood. So what is the purpose of all this struggle? I would say a dialogue but Pittsford would go even further by saying that one of the five overarching principles LWT has always espoused is, “The hard is what makes it great.”

When Tegan and Sara walked up, though, the crowd really went crazy. The Castro Theater had a hard time holding everyone in throughout the summit but this hour people were standing in every aisle. Despite them saying over and over that it was their first keynote the Quin twins were excellent speakers infusing their talk with the same humor you often hear between songs during a concert. Though I bet that crowd would have cheered even if they had been speaking pig latin or Ingsoc. But their foundation really does a lot of great stuff and they outlined several of the things they do including working with LWT and also with queer health initiatives. “I don’t like going to the doctor. It doesn’t change if you’re Canadian and don’t have to pay for it.” Zing Sara!

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