Following up on the LGBTQ Meetup at PASS Summit

It’s been almost two weeks since the LGBTQ Meetup that I organized at PASS Summit, and I wanted to offer a bit of follow-up and commentary on the event. Why did I wait two weeks before writing this follow-up? Well, tomorrow is American Thanksgiving, so I wanted to take a moment to talk about how thankful I am for the community’s support.

Thanks to everyone who showed up

This might be obvious, but this event only happens because people show up. The event gives LGBTQ attendees a safe, open, and accepting place to spend a few hours, to meet new people, and to have some fun. It gives allies an opportunity to show support, to meet new people, and to have some fun.

I got to meet a bunch of new people–though, was also busy playing Party Planner, so didn’t get to talk to everyone as much as I’d have liked–and am thankful for every last person who showed up, because every single person contributed to creating that welcoming and accepting atmosphere. I hope to organize more events in the future, and I look forward to seeing everyone again.

Thanks to my coworkers

Andy Mallon, Bob Potter, Beth Kelleher, Lori Edwards, John Q Martin, Steve Wright

I recently started a new job at SentryOne. This event is 100% something I do on my own, but there are many awesome people at work who supported the event, and help make it a success.

A group of my coworkers turned up at the event as allies to show support to the LGBTQ community. There is no shortage of information about the lack of diversity in tech, and how difficult it is to solve. I’m proud to work at a company that recognizes how important diversity & inclusion is, and to have so many coworkers who are invested in showing their support, and seeking ways that they can make the tech community more inclusive, more diverse, and more accepting.

SentryOne also sponsored the bar for the event, ensuring that soft drinks and your first adult beverage were free if you came out to the meetup. Since I am organizing this event independently, this sponsorship ensures that we cover our minimum spend to get the event space, and removes the risk that I have to spend hundreds of dollars if people show up but don’t spend money.

Thanks to everyone who supported The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project provides life-saving crisis intervention & suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youths. In conjunction with the meetup, I also do a fundraiser for The Trevor Project. Brent Ozar (blog|twitter) matched the first $5000, and the community rose to the occasion. Community donations plus Brent’s match brings the fundraising total to $12,445 (as of now…but you can still donate)! That total doesn’t employer donation matching–those employer matches bring the grand total well over $15,000.

I want to give special thanks to both Ann Johnson (twitter) and Ben Weissman (twitter). Both gave personal donations so generous that I damn near fell out of my chair. They are shining examples of how members of the tech community are not only trying to make our community better, but also trying to make the non-tech community better.

Thanks to everyone who spoke to me personally

This is the most important thing for me. I had a bunch of people to came up to me and thanked me for organizing the meetup & fundraiser. People told me their personal stories of why they support the meetup/The Trevor Project. One couple told me about their son’s friend who took his own life–they had never heard of The Trevor Project before, and have pledged to support it on an ongoing basis. A coworker (who I didn’t know was gay, and he didn’t know I was gay) reached out to me, and we chatted about the company & community.

Since the first meetup, I’ve lost count of how many people have contacted me about their personal situations. Many have been parents of LGBTQ teens–sometimes seeking advice, sometimes sharing experiences, sometimes just looking for someone to talk to. I am proud that people feel comfortable coming to me to talk about these things, and am always here to help, if I can. I have no qualifications for giving advice beyond having grown up queer myself, but my DMs are open if anyone needs or wants to talk.

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