Pride, Inclusion and Maker Culture

Maker/hackerspaces that are leading the charge to make STEM fields less alienating for LGBTQ+ makers.

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On this particular Tech Talk Tuesday, I want to take a break from projects and talk about something near and dear to my heart. Don't worry, I've been working on some fun builds that I can't wait to share, and you'll hear all about them on my next T³ post. I know, I know, I'm supposed to be ruining a laminator or playing with poison, and we'll get back to that, but stick around this week and you might learn something cool anyway!

Note: As this is an ongoing cultural discussion and progress happens quickly and constantly, some terminology may fall in and out of favor. Please note that my choice in terminology such as LGBTQ+, Queer and Trans* come with only the best intentions and I apologize for any offense caused on present or future reading of this article. Thanks!


June, while first-and-foremost the month of my birth, also happens to be LGBT Pride Month! Okay, so my birthday isn't exactly a grand occasion, but Pride Month certainly is. This month, cities all over the world are holding parades, parties, workshops and conferences to commemorate the history of the LGBT civil rights movements and celebrate everyone's right to love whoever they choose. Here in Denver, PrideFest happened right alongside Denver Comic Con, a confluence the likes of which can only be explained (although not fully) via pictures like this:

intimidatingly costumed person wearing a rainbow-colored feather boa

photo courtesy of imgur user LetUsSpray

Times like these remind me how diverse and inclusive geek/nerd culture can really be. There is absolutely still a civil rights battle being fought, and certain vocal segments of nerd culture can be notoriously backward and cruel, but all-in-all I have to say that you (whether you consider yourself a nerd, a geek, a maker, or just a hobbyist) are a very diverse, cool and accepting group of folks. And why wouldn't that be the case?

A cursory glance at the cultural landscape reveals LGBT folks in all facets of geekdom: tech leaders like Apple's Tim Cook, Linux International's Jon "maddog" Hall, and the current Chief Technology Officer of the United States Megan J. Smith; nerd icons like Star Trek's George Takei; historic inventors like Alan Turing; even fictional icons like Professor Dumbledore or X-Men's Mystique. Queer leaders and icons from history and pop culture are helping both the tech and entertainment industry better reflect the diversity of the world we live in every day.

Still, the tech industry (and geeks in general) have a long way to come before we can declare an end to LGBTQ+ discrimination. While the tech industry as a whole is comparatively enthusiastic to embrace gay men, it still lacks representation from women and trans* people. In an era where tech companies are striving to repair a history of systematic sexism, it can be hard for any woman (including lesbians, bi/pansexual women and transwomen) to get a foothold in the industry without a strong support network.

So during this month, when logos Internet-wide are going rainbow, I wanted to highlight a few projects that are going the extra mile to reach out and help LGBTQ+ makers, hackers and entrepreneurs:

Safe Hub Collective Hackerspace

SHC logo

image courtesy of bgltq.fas.harvard.edu

This Harvard hackerspace meeting is an excellent model of how to conduct a hackerspace for people that may not always feel safe or comfortable in other tech spaces. Their community guidelines balance a spirit of inclusivity (dudes are welcome) with a genuine concern for safe space (if you are found to be making other attendees uncomfortable, they won't hesitate to kick you out!)

Queercon

queercon logo

image courtesy of www.queercon.org

Their About Us page says it better than I could:

"Queercon started 10 years ago as a hacker party inside of the annual Defcon hacker conference. Over the decade Queercon has grown into the largest social network of LGBT hackers from around the world. We continue to grow and now focus on outreach to the LGBT community within the IT Security and Hacker Spaces.

Our basic belief is that there are more queers in geekdom than most people might think, so if we can meet a few of them, maybe make a few new friends, that sounds sweet to us. Of course, anyone queer-friendly is equally welcome, and cheers to you."

Trans*H4CK

transhack logo

image courtesy of transhack.org

In the United States, trans*, gender non conforming, agender and non-binary people are unemployed at twice the national rate, and suffer discrimination when accessing health care, legal services and housing. TransH4CK is an organization that attempts to address those problems using technology, while also bringing visibility to trans tech innovators and entrepreneurs. Their code of conduct is also exemplary.

LOL! - Liberating Ourselves Locally

OMS logo

image courtesy of Oakland Makerspace

LOL! is a people-of-color-led, gender-diverse, queer- and trans-inclusive hacker/maker space in East Oakland. A creative space that's run by the community and for the community, LOL! isn't just a safe space, but a necessary one.

And Others

There are so many organizations that are doing great work at the intersection of tech and LGBT rights that it would be quite a chore to list them all here. If you're interested in finding a safe space to hack chances are, there's a group in your area.

Some of you may be thinking, "Nick, what does it matter if someone is a 'queer maker'... aren't they just a 'maker?' I'm gay, but so what? It doesn't change the way I use the hackerspace." and to you I say: Heck yes. Lots of people are makers, lots of people are queer; those two facts have almost nothing to do with each other... just because you're gay doesn't mean you have to join a "gay hackerspace" or vice-versa. You're completely right... but... just like in the rest of society, there are still pockets of violent discrimination. Being LGBT in STEM is important in the same way that being a woman in STEM is important. One day, those distinctions will sound silly, but in the meantime it takes a concerted effort to level the playing field.

"I'm not LGBTQ+... should I do something?"

Hey, chances are if you're a considerate person then you're not contributing to the problem! If you want to go above and beyond in the fight for civil rights on behalf of your LGBTQ+ friends, you can support one of the groups I mentioned above. Otherwise, just be mindful of the language and culture at your local hackerspace, and take it seriously when someone says they feel uncomfortable. There's conflict inherent in joining a hackerspace; let's try to keep that conflict out of people's love lives and focus on who lost the 5/8" drill bit. We'll all get a lot more work done that way <3.

Thanks for reading!

I had hoped to list some of my favorite out makers for you all to follow on Twitter and YouTube, but I didn't get a chance to message any of them ahead of time to see how they might feel about it. If you'll settle for one queer creative tech, you can always follow me on Twitter @NorthAllenPoole to see what I'm working on. And, of course, you'll be hearing more from me right here on Tech Talk Tuesdays where we shall return to our regularly scheduled shenanigans. Happy Hacking!


Comments 71 comments

  • A well thought out, informative and welcome post, Nick!

    IMHO, an even bigger message is that a large corporate company allows and encourages postings like this!

    Sparkfun: Come for the electronics. Stay for the family.

  • Thanks Nick! It would be better if the norm was more inclusive and safe. Until then, thanks for highlighting these resources!

  • Hey folks, we're always in favor of open discussion and this comments section has actually been super nice today but we have hidden a comment because we felt it contained hate speech with no intellectual merit. You don't have to agree with us, but please be civil.

    Thanks!

    • To be honest, my initial reaction when I saw the topic of this post was "oh no, this is going to be pretty divisive, the comments will get ugly and have to get heavily moderated and maybe even closed altogether." I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised that not only has that not happened, but both you and Nate have doubled down on standing behind the message. And for that I thank you.

      I really hope the few negative responses don't discourage similar topics in the future. It never even occurred to me that these resources existed and I would never have known about them if not for you and this blog. :-)

    • Hey Nick, great post!

      The material was solid, the message was informative and speaking of a progressive culture. However I don't know if I agree with the censorship. Not sure how EFF would feel, and I always thought that was a strong moral foundation for SFE.

      Edit: I don't mean to name drop EFF. I feel that censorship is a very slippery slope with what should be a pure expressive forum such as the internet. Don't get me wrong, I don't care for hate speech, however I feel that everyone should have a voice. Perhaps the website should have a downvote button? Once you reach negative, you should be buried?

      • It was a difficult decision, but ultimately it came down to the fact that some of our employees were uncomfortable with the comments section becoming a platform for hate speech. If it does anything to assuage your fears, the hidden comment is two short sentences the second of which essentially amounts to a pair of homophobic slurs. The user in question wasn't banned and has several comments on display here.

        We don't believe in suppressing information here at SparkFun, but we also don't believe that there was unique information inherent to that comment that wasn't faintly less hatefully expressed in the user's other comments.

        As for the internet being an open forum for expression, I agree. But we don't run the internet, we run a private website and we get to control the content.

        Thanks for reading!

  • As an electrical engineer and a gay gentleman, I appreciate this very much. Engineering communities are traditionally very conservative which can make it very lonely at times. I was very surprised and happy to hear about the makerspace in Oakland - I recently moved to California and have been looking for a community with like interests, so this is a great place to start.

    Thank you very much for the post. Just another reason I love Sparkfun and will support them the best I can :)

  • Just gonna ignore the few haters posting here and say "Nick: FANTASTIC POST!" And to Sparkfun: what a great company to be this inclusive.

    This is why I totally continue to support Sparkfun and Adafruit! Both companies support freedom for everyone, not just the supposed 'mainstream'.

  • It's unfortunate that Sparkfun has succumbed as so many others have these days, to making sexuality relevant to every aspect of our lives. I've tried to have as neutral position as possible on the topic of LGBTQ+ issues, and keep an open mind. There are many outlets for a person to go to should they elect to learn more about the topic, and we are fed a continuous stream of educational material by the media.

    One of the reasons I visit various websites is to take a quick escape from the daily grind, and clear my mind of work and all the bad news and finger pointing that is occurring lately. I really find nothing offensive about the LGBTQ+ lifestyle, but I do take offense to people who disingenuously try to "educate" me on a topic while stating "I know there will be haters out there". The hidden message being "this is what you will now think, and if you do not comply, you will labeled a hater".

    I'd suggest that Sparkfun get back to what it was good at, and stay on topic. Leave the LGBTQ+ stuff to the general media. I believe that most of the people and potential customers that visit this site want to hack, rather than be threatened to be labeled a hater.

    • Here's the fun thing: no one is forcing you to read the blog ;)

      Also, nothing in the blog post said anything about you being threatened with the label of "hater" or was trying to "disengenuously educate" you. It was an inclusive article that listed resources. That was it.

    • Thank you for this excellent post. I agree with you completely. I used to thoroughly enjoy browsing Sparkfun seeing what cool stuff was available -- like a kid in a candy store. Well things have changed -- the thought police have arrived. Sparkfun has decided that offering a good selection of electronic hobbyist items is no longer an adequate rasion d'être. Will identity politics increase their bottom line? I doubt it. Will their LGBT customers feel better about themselves knowing that Sparkfun management feels compelled to bemoan their exclusion in the electronic hobbyist market place? Probably. Are those of us who prefer not to be subject to homosexual indoctrination considered valued customers? I'm withholding judgement for now, even though it's not looking good. Scan down this thread and look at the response from NPoole for my last post: **We are pretty fierce, tho, right? <3 ** What does the emoticon look like to you? Imagine the "<3" turned 90°. I imagine that is a very common emoticon amongst the delicate, fragile, and sensitive LGBT crowd. Is this a sign of things to come now that Sparkfun has embarked down the gay agenda path? I suggest the owner of the company may want to keep a close eye on the LGBT activists he employs. Once Sparkfun is known as not only a gay advocacy store front, but also as a place where vulgarity by employees is permitted (or encouraged?) just consider how many parents may forbid their children from frequenting their website? Kids get enough PC indoctrination from public schools. They surely don't need more of it from a website that should be like a "candy store" to them instead of like the bathroom of a gay bar.

      • I hear you. I just don't understand why LGBTQ issues need special consideration in the context of hacking. I never imagined as I browsed through the site looking at the cool stuff, that the topics and products might require special consideration for the LGBTQ community. I never even considered how the cool stuff might fit in with my own sexuality (that seems absurd in retrospect). I assumed that Sparkfun was an equal opportunity employer, who's management really didn't care what its employees sexual preference was.

        Mr. Electrical made the comment that "no one was forcing me to read the blog". He states the obvious. He also stated that nothing in the blog post "threatened with the label of a hater". If only it was that simple. Can you imagine if a someone from the NRA told an anti-gun activist "here's the fun thing, no one is forcing you to buy a gun". Or can you imagine if SparkFun ran a blog post on gun ownership, but prefaced it with carefully parsed sentences about "threatening the second amendment"?

        Just from pure business perspective, why even go there? This is hot-button topic that is going to raise the ire of some portion of Sparkfun's audience. Why bring up a topic that is absolutely irrelevant to hacking, when it might alienate some portion of an audience that you have literally worked years to attain?

        • I know. It doesn't make sense to me either. If nothing else it elevates the political/social standing of the owner, especially considering who must be his peers. Sparkfun is located in Niwot, Colorado (close to Boulder, their former location) an expensive area in which to live, a university town, and understandingly a hotbed of liberal/socialist ideology. I hope he realizes that virtually everything benefits from moderation and that his decision to politicize Sparkfun will alienate some customers. He has made it clear -- Sparkfun is politically correct and advocates the LGBT agenda. Now if he wishes to accommodate his less politically correct customers (rather than lose them) let him set some coders loose on adding a filter to web content. May I suggest: * Display only electronics related items * Display only LGBT related indoctrination * Display liberal/socialist talking points * Display Gay merchandise (PG rated) * Display Gay merchandise (MA rated, most items include a piezo)

        • Why does everyone always contrast gun ownership with gayness? Aren't there any LGBTQ gun owners out there?

          • I'm sure there are. And once again, you tried to couple the trait of LGBTQ preference to something that has no relevance. What does sexual preference have to do with gun ownership? You are only enforcing my point.

            I could have just as easily used climate change, or some other hot button topic. Would you then have asked if LGBTQ people not also believe in climate change?

            Very sophomoric.

            • Give it a rest. I've let this dummy account stick around a lot longer than a lot of people would like.

      • Every usage of that emoticon that I've seen is as a heart. Rotate it 90° counter-clockwise and you should see the heart. I see what you are trying to do (it took me a couple reads to get it tho because you didn't specify which direction to rotate the emoticon...), but I think it is attributing the wrong intent to NPoole's post.

      • Wow, reading this I have trouble figuring out where to start...

        How about, "Where does the vitriol come from?" You need to look inside your <3 and decide if that's the person you strive to be.

        I'm both proud of Nate making a public statement of inclusion and sad that an owner would need to do that.

        BTW, how do you know what the bathroom of a gay bar looks like ;-)?

        • “Where does the vitriol come from?”

          Sparkfun has been one of my favorite websites for the last four years. I am surprised and disappointed to learn that it is apparently destined to become a platform for political causes instead of what I thought was a non-political place to veg while reading up on what Sparkfun has to offer. With all the pro-LGBT changes in our culture recently, are LGBT folks really so insecure and/or selfish that their agenda has to permeate every aspect of public life? Does their lifestyle really need to be accepted and approved by everyone? Are you welcoming and inclusive of all political points of view? Would you mind if a conservative Sparkfun employee (as if such a thing could exist) were to post a blog on Sparkfun praising the right to bear arms, the virtues of Capitalism vs. Communism, etc. Something tells me both you and Nate would agree that such political promotions are not appropriate here, regardless of how many customers agreed with them. As far as the "vitriol" goes, you have my blessing to ignore my comments. It matters not.

          I’m both proud of Nate making a public statement of inclusion and sad that an owner would need to do that.

          Why did he "need" to make a public statement of inclusion? Did a gay person complain about not feeling included? Does shopping for electronics require a sense of inclusion. Does political correctness elevate "feeling" above all else? What does Nate think we are? A bunch of limp-wristed sissies? I wish a few macho lesbians would stand up and tell Nate with a strong and steady voice, "We don't need no stinkin' inclusion. Our LGBT ancestors endured throughout the ages under much harsher circumstances. Thanks for the platitudes and patronizing, but we don't need or want any pampering."

          BTW Do you think Nate would proclaim Sparkfun's support of the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms if I whined to him that I would feel more included if he did so?

          BTW, how do you know what the bathroom of a gay bar looks like ;-)?

          Would you believe me if I were to say I was using my imagination? I thought that comment was pertinent based on my apparent misreading of an emoticon. My bad.

    • Its interesting. I find one popular political strategy is to not take a stance on the issue but take a stance on a participial person or company talking about the issue. They then claim they are not attacking the issue just who is allowed to talk about the issue. Same argument of "hollywood stars shouldn't get involved in politics".

      This is a clever strategy but I see through it.

  • Thank you for this excellent post. As a bi person, the engineering space can be very isolating. Thanks for doing your part to help.

    Also, my birthday's in June, too.

    Keep up the great work.

  • At the end of the day, hacking is hacking is hacking is hacking. Thanks, Nick!

  • I like to think of myself as a generally accepting and kind to those who might have different viewpoints from my own. That being said, I don't appreciate this type of post on a business website that should be neutral regarding things unrelated to its business. If you are having discrimination or some other kind of trouble internal to sparkfun, by all means, institute appropriate policies to remedy the situation. That type of behavior is unacceptable and wrong. Sparkfun, please don't advocate support for a movement that many consider to be amoral and wrong. In my many years of support for sparkfun, I don't recall seeing posts regarding abortion, gun control, border control, or any of the other many political topics that are not related to electronics. I feel that this post is inappropriate and offensive.

    • As the person that owns said business website I feel it's my duty as a human and as a business person to push for positive change. I hear you and greatly appreciate your generally accepting nature but I respectfully disagree that a business should be neutral. One of the values of SparkFun is 'Protecting Diversity: Respect each other regardless of creed, color, orientation, age, etc. We also push for respect for diversity outside of these walls.' If we don't speak up we aren't true to what makes us what we are.

      "It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference." -Tom Brokaw

      • You imply that you have diversity inside your walls. Before reading this thread I never worried about Sparkfun's political correctness or lack thereof, but now I'm curious so I took a look at the Sparkfun employees group photograph. Looks like about 99% white folks to me. What's up with that? Are we racially diverse there at Sparkfun? Maybe before you preach the diversity sermon, you should make sure those walls aren't made of glass.

        • One thing to remember is minorities are in the minority. A quick google search listed Colorado as about 85% white meaning that if we hired just based on population that would give us about 20 non-white folks. We are probably about at that number. Could we try to be higher? Yes, but remember, not everyone can be higher, for everyone higher another company ends up lower. I'm one of those people who believes you should encourage everyone to excel in the field they are interested in, make sure you are not leaving people out when recruiting and then hire the best person for the job (even if that means less diversity). Sometimes you will end up with more white folks, sometimes more black folks, sometimes more LGBTQ+, sometimes less, sometimes more people with certain beliefs sometimes less, sometimes more people with blond hair, sometimes more people with brown. We are not perfect in anyway but remember lack of diversity is not the same as discrimination. We'll keep those wall glass and be willing to work on and discuss differences (respectfully).

        • Just as one does not have to be LGBT or trans to be tolerant and supportive of LGBT and/or trans people, one does not have to be a POC (person of color) to encourage and tolerate racial diversity.

          And as an open source company, their walls ARE pretty much made of glass! LOL!

          • Okay. So how do we encourage Sparkfun to hire more minorities so that Sparkfun can not only tolerate diversity, but actually BECOME more diverse. Don't forget, diversity is Sparkfun's biggest strength. I hope to come back in a few weeks -- look at the new Sparkfun employees group photograph and marvel at all the new faces of color. Is that what I can expect from a politically correct company like Sparkfun? Please fire at least half your white boys and replace them with obese Lesbian African women. Trust me -- this one change will increase your productivity multi-fold.

            • how do we encourage Sparkfun to hire more minorities so that Sparkfun can not only tolerate diversity, but actually BECOME more diverse.

              This is a question that we struggle with, but if I had to spitball I'd say step one would be to assure the community that we are not the kind of people who become upset at the mere mention of a marginalized people during the one month internationally dedicated to improving our relationship.

              Today, I wrote a blog post in an attempt to assure queer makers, hackers, and engineers who may not have my straight-passing privilege that large parts of our industry are making an effort not simply to ignore their cultural differences but to actually include them in the discussion that shapes our culture. What I got in return was mostly love, but I was also called a pervert and a degenerate. If that isn't symptomatic of a problem worth talking about, I don't know what is.

              We are hypocrites in many respects, and we do actively struggle to practice what we preach. Real work hours go into it, I promise you. But even if we were preaching entirely impotently, I'd want us to be preaching this.

              • In my comments I never used the word 'hypocrite'. I guess my sarcasm got the point across. I consider myself a loyal Sparkfun customer and really enjoy browsing your site. I'm very happy with the service from your staff, so please don't fire any of them to hire obese lesbian African women -- I was only kidding! In reality I have absolutely no problem dealing with a 99% white company like Sparkfun -- you guys are great at what you do even while burdened by your whiteness. But by the looks of your employees, I venture to say you have met with extraordinary success in recruiting homosexuals. Keep up the good work and keep reminding us of how politically correct Sparkfun is and will remain.

                • But by the looks of your employees, I venture to say you have met with extraordinary success in recruiting homosexuals.

                  We are pretty fierce, tho, right? <3

        • In case you missed, we addressed this on the blog a few weeks ago.

      • ^^And this is why I love your company. I've met you, your wife, and nearly all your staff and I have to say that all of them are wonderful.

    • Sparkfun is advocating the inclusion of all communities and making resources known to underserved communities, not making a specific moral stand. By showing support for the LGBT community, they can only be serving their demographic. Your counter examples are erroneous as well - until Sparkfun shows you how reanimate a fetus with an Arduino, create an automated illegal immigrant detector, or how to stop bullets Magneto style, they will remain irrelevant to engineering and the Maker community.

      By the way, if you are going to hate on Sparkfun for this, go hate on Adafruit as well - they are VERY outspoken about LGBT issues and change their logo to a rainbow theme every June in support of LGBT month.

      • But really wanna see a magneto-based (magnetic ?) bullet stopper. Oh, never mind - did a rough calc to determine power. Would require a huge battery pack.

        As for hating - the only thing that bothers me about the 'LGBT community' is the number of very smart people that will probably not reproduce. The guy sitting two cubes down is gay and it really pisses me off that such a smart and creative engineer will not be making more.

        Ok - there is your ultimate ardy product - asexual repro for humans.

      • Jus because they didn't say "Go support the LGBT community" in so many words doesn't mean that they are not saying that. There is no reason why not taking a position on this prevents Sparkfun from serving that demographic. You are right, my examples are obviously other topics that are not related to electronics and as such are also irrelevant to Sparkfun and its business. I'm sorry if my post was difficult to understand.

        • I understood your comment perfectly. You are wanting to depoliticize electronics. However, the Maker community is inherently political as it reaches to bridge the gap between cold hardware and a warm, vibrant community. Given there ARE LGBT folks in engineering and they ARE alienated, putting out a small blog post about inclusion is a fantastic thing.

          • [this was a comment in support of Mr. Electrical's observation that the maker community is inherently political]

            I've edited this post only because I'm not able to delete it. I wish to delete it because I'm not interested in spending more time on this.

            • AKA,

              Think carefully about your post, you are suggesting that because someone is questioning the reasoning behind this blog post, they are "ultra-conservative" and have the desire to patronize only like thinking "ultra-conservative" vendors. Incorrect; I had no expectations of a fellow hackers political stance.

              You are correct, there are no ultra-conservative electronics prototyping retail stores. Perhaps because conservative see no connection between hacking and politics, and because until political correctness set in, there was no place for a political agenda in electronics prototyping stores. But sadly, you have now gone the route of injecting politics into something that was once fun, pitting individuals who had a common interest against each other. Exactly the opposite effect of what you intended.

              Or maybe not?

            • I think it more likely that you edited it because you thought about it and realized it was ignorant. However it does show that you learned something, and perhaps maybe in the future you will give more consideration to a topic before posting a knee-jerk comment. In the future try to remember that you will not always have the convenience of being able to "edit" your comments away.

              • Nope, it's because interacting with you is a waste of my time. Goodbye!

            • Indeed. If you think about it, gay lifestyle is central to almost every human endeavor. Electronics: gay. Technology: gay. Biology: gay. Mathematics: gay. You're surrounded by gay. Stop hating on diversity, racist!!

        • Why shouldn't they take a position? Because you disagree with that position?

          And just because it's not relevant to your maker needs doesn't mean it's not relevant to other Sparkfun customers. Guess what, this one just ain't about you.

    • Then feel free to take your business and attention elsewhere (but not Adafruit of course since they've had MANY posts supporting Pride and the LGBT community this month). What was not neutral about hacker/maker resources that many, myself included, didn't know existed? And when is gun control pride month btw?

      Thank you Sparkfun for continuing to provide resources to ALL members of your community.

      • Funny, I didn't notice Adafruit making hackers into an LGBT issue. What I did notice is that Adafruit has had a lot more interesting new products than SF in the last few months.

        • 1) You are wrong: https://blog.adafruit.com/2016/06/26/a-neopixel-necklace-to-celebrate-lgbt-pride-her_nerdiness-pride2016/

          2) If you've actually been watching Adafruit, the only new, exclusive products are the Feather line which are arduino clones which they have been making for years, just a different form factor. And if you want to get nitty gritty, a lot of those feather shields are charlieplexed LED shields based off of an attachment Shawn Hymel made for his Badgerboard that given away at Makerfaires and maker cons.

          • The feathers arent just an arduino clone. They have built in battery and charging support. which is great for small portable projects. The feather line also make it easy to add wings(their version of a shield).

            The charlieplexed led shields might not be ground breaking but its a product that wasnt out and now it is easily available.

            Both are great uses of the open source philosophy, taking a product and improving it or customizing it to suit your needs. There is nothing wrong with more choices being available when trying to design a product.

            I also like both companies, each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes one might have some better products, but the other might have fun events or sometimes a tutorial that really helps understand something.

    • "this type of post on a business website that should be neutral regarding things unrelated to its business."

      so I assume you don't shop at Target either?

      https://corporate.target.com/article/2016/04/target-stands-inclusivity

      and also don't support the other 379 companies that took a political stance by filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court on gay marriage?

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-05/from-goldman-to-google-companies-back-gay-marriage-in-supreme-court-brief

      I understand that, as an electronics hobbyist, you probably don't read Target or American Airline's corporate blogs that much...just a heads up that, if this is your position, you have way more companies to be angry with than just SparkFun.

  • When I saw this, my knee jerk reaction was to be incensed. Why is Sparkfun pushing an agenda that has nothing to do with electronics? How is this necessary? I quickly calmed down, and thought I would ask that they keep matters of a political and/or social nature off of their site, out of respect of their customers that disagree with their views.

    BUT...

    Then I thought, "What would I do if I owned Sparkfun?" As a Christian, I would make a similar post, but I would tie my beliefs into the business (Are there Christian hackers? No idea!). I would expect the same type of comments, but from a different crowd. I wouldn't remove the post or change it in any way just because a few were offended. I have heard time and time again how Christian business owners need to keep their beliefs to themselves and I get upset by that thought. And yet, I was very close to making the same assertion here.

    Disagree, but act in the same fashion that you would want to be treated. If you cannot be respectful, remain silent.

    • Thanks for the honest post. As a Christian hacker and SparkFun employee I assure you there are at least a few of us out there. As someone once said, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you". We would do well to remember and heed that.

  • I'm upset you let someone with a June birthday post.

  • Hi Nick - terminology question, especially since you mentioned at the very beginning that this is evolving and may change in the future. The most common acronym I'm used to seeing is "LGBT." I tried Googling some of this and couldn't find clear answers, so I figure here is as good a place to ask as any since you seem up to date on the topic. So:

    • What exactly is the definition of "queer"? Is it sort of an "any of the above" umbrella term? Or does it have a specific meaning? e.g. can you be gay and not queer, or vice versa?
    • What's the "+" at the end? Is that to cover things that might not have a letter in the acronym? (asexual, pansexual, etc)
    • Why the * after trans* when you use it in writing? I was expecting a footnote at the bottom but didn't see one.
    • I noticed that the Harvard website has the letters switched around - BGLTQ. Any reason you're aware of for that?

    • Hey! I'm definitely not an authority on nomenclature but I think I can answer your question:

      • Queer is usually used interchangeably with LGBTQ+ (which is confusing, I know, because of the 'Q' in LGBTQ+ but when you have a bunch of people trying to make everyone feel included in a movement, you often get mishmash terminology) As you're probably aware, the word 'queer' literally means 'strange' and is still used in parts of the English-speaking world as a pejorative term. People who identify outside of the letters LGBT tend to be more enthusiastic about adopting the label of "queer". If I had to guess, it probably has to do with two factors: 1) They want to identify as an 'other' without encouraging people to play 'guess which letter I am'; and, 2) They are often from a group that has straight-passing privilege (a pansexual person who is dating someone of the opposite gender encounters very little discrimination, for instance) so it's easier for them to convert the word. I identify as queer (i'm pansexual) because using the word 'pansexual' puts the word 'sex' in people's heads and I don't always mean to invite that mental exercise, lol. The use of the word "panamorous" would be better, but that's a Greek-Latin mashup word. The use of "queer" has gotten some institutions in trouble and is still somewhat contentious but I think it sounds less like a sociology textbook than LGBTQ+, which is getting unwieldy.

      • You nailed it in regards to the "+" sign. There's obviously contention about how many letters you need if you're just gonna "+" the rest of them on. This is why I like the use of the word "queer". There are also arguments to be made about who are the targets of discrimination and who all can be said to belong to the same cohesive movement.

      • The asterisk in trans* has to do primarily with the separation of gender and biological sex. "Trans" alone could stand for either "transsexual" or "transgender" and although these two words are used interchangeably in a lot of contexts, they're actually very different because one refers to cultural gender and the other to biological sex.

      • Swapping the letters around in "LGBT" is just a way that certain people will symbolically move a specific group to the "forefront". For this reason, and for the alphabet soup reason, be on the lookout for the use of "GSM" (Gender and Sexual Minorities) which is sometimes employed to avoid these issues.

      I would argue that no one should be afraid of using the wrong word as long as their intentions are good and they don't argue too hard with people who try to correct them, especially if they're not part of a community that 'owns' that word. These kinds of things annoy people who are concerned about "Political Correctness run amok" but considering our recent history with people who are different, I think it's probably okay for those "others" to make a little bit of a stink about how they want to be addressed.

      • That actually helps a lot - thanks!

      • Regarding the term "queer", Wikipedia actually has a pretty good history of the word (until someone changes it...) from the origin of the word in the 16th century just meaning "strange" or "odd", to it's use as a pejorative in the late 19th to mid 20th century, to the reclamation of the term by organizations like Queer Nation in the '80s up to now.

        OOps, forgot to include the link (though It should be easy to independantly find): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer#Etymology

        I was first introduced to the Queer Nation when I went to college in '90 in western Massachusetts. I always thought of them as loud and obnoxious, but recognized that was a smart tactic at that point in time just to get on the social consciousness of the general population of which I was a part. The LGB (they were only using 3 letters at that time) Student Organization (or did they call themselves an Alliance, I've forgotten that detail) always put on the best campus dances.

  • How did I miss this post? Thank you for bringing Lol! to my attention, it's in my area and I'd never heard of it.

  • Gahh, Statistical disparity does not discrimination make! Before making sweeping statements like this do some research and come up with sources that actually prove that it is discrimination rather than many women and trans people not wanting to join STEM fields especially when women outnumber men in university admissions and specifically in medicine and biology (they come under "S" in STEM if I'm not mistaken), are doing better in schools and universities in general. (source - "https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/21/gender-gap-university-admissions-record", "http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/06/womens-college-enrollment-gains-leave-men-behind/" & "http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/gender-gap-widens-as-women-graduates-outpace-the-men/news-story/654602edef0f1d3ee230fa82cc58a798" UK, US and AUS) So the notion that there is widespread discrimination and sexism and any other -ism in STEM is unfounded and frankly ridiculous. Arguing that there isn't a support structure in place for women is also ridiculous, they have the exact same support structure as men do in the field, no support system will say yes to a man and no to a woman with gender being the reason, they can't. (Civil Rights Act of 1964) If a woman needs extra support then they can't compete in the field and aren't going to get jobs purely because they can't compete, not because they aren't men, that's how meritocracy and in it's current state, capitalism works. Now without arguing for equal outcome (which is entirely immoral for a plethora of reasons from removing personal agency and choice to actual discrimination based on sex, race or sexual orientation) and instead arguing for equal opportunity, there is no way you can argue that the disparity is indicative of discrimination. I am aware that I'm about 2 months late to the party (I didn't have to read it, yada yada), but I feel this perpetuating of a rhetoric must be called out when it crops up and this is an important discussion to have in the modern climate, thus; I'm happy to discuss points further and provide sources. I also realise I’ve gone off on a tirade about women in STEM rather than LGBTQ+ but you can't legally ask someone their sexuality in a job application and you can't spot a LGBTQ+ by looking at them so the propensity and likelihood of discrimination drops even further. EDIT: Punctuation.

    • Hey Arthur, I won't argue with you since I'm sitting at a restaurant in rural Virginia on vacation. But, for your sake, I did want to respond before I forget.

      The argument you're making here isn't novel, no one has overlooked the facts you outlined, it's just that your conclusion is flawed. And I can't blame you, I'd much rather believe your story. But I've seen discrimination happen one on one, in front of me, several times.

      I know that what you've rolled out here seems reasonable, because it's something that I heard a lot (and, indeed, even believed) before I started spending more time with people who are directly affected. And I can assure you, they're not deflecting or blaming others for their shortcomings.

      The claim that technology related fields are an actual meritocracy has been so thoroughly trounced that it's nearly made the word unusable in serious circles. Much like the effect of gamergate on the phrase "ethics in journalism"

      Thank you for reading and participating, no matter how late :)

  • Thank you SparkFun for opening my eyes to the Lesbian / Gay lifestyle - for which I can only express warmth and acceptance if not veneration. Excellent diversity SparkFun, and we all tolerate with a smile!!! :-)

    • Every version, every edit, every comment you write goes straight to my inbox. Watching you work is almost enough to keep me from swinging the banhammer.

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