Pride 2021: Out in Open Source
Joomla is the phonetic spelling of the Swahili word "Jumla" which means "all together" or "as a whole". However, open-source projects have historically not been as inclusive as the users they serve.
Since June is pride month for LGBTQA+ individuals in many parts of the world, I wanted to take the time to reflect on how we can be more accepting in open source.
Last year I wrote a blog titled "Do we make an impact?" in which I publicly came out as pansexual. Many of you knew this already or may have heard me identify as bisexual throughout the years. But the truth is I did not feel like I could be my whole self in Joomla and WordPress.
I even felt like a failure as I was speaking and serving on teams. Other community members were out in the project, and I saw some people get attacked or made fun of. But others have inspired me. So that is not to put pressure on people who are not ready to come out, but we should do whatever we can to accept the project.
How to be an open-source ally:
- Educate yourself. Take time and learn about things you have questions about or don't understand. Don't rely on the queer community in the project to do this for you.
- Use gender-neutral language. Note that assuming anyone's gender can cause someone to feel uncomfortable. Phrases like sir, madam, his or she should be avoided. This can take some practice, but language evolves with the times. Webster's Dictionary has added they, their, them, and themselves as singular pronouns.
- Uncover your own bias. Everyone has prejudices and preconceptions. At many open source events, I have heard negative things about developers from a particular country. That is not fair to those developers who do fabulous work in and out of the project. The same can be true about the queer community. The Harvard Implicit Association Test can be a great place to start.
- Attend an event. Events can be a great way to educate yourself and network with a diverse group of people. Out & Equal Workplace Advocates have events worldwide, including India, Brazil, China, and the Southern United States.
Mental health is a big concern as well in the open-source community. Unfortunately, we lose too many talented contributors each year. However, if you or someone you know needs help, organizations exist to help people in open source. Open Sourcing Mental Illness and Big Orange Heart are good places to start, whether you are LGBTQA+ or not.
Joomla is a global community with people of diverse nationalities and views. But we should be able to agree to Wheaton's Law when working together. By respecting everyone, Joomla can be all together as a whole.
What are you doing to celebrate pride this year?