National Coming Out Day: 9 LGBT people who have made a difference in technology

Check out these positive LGBT role models in technology:

1. Chris Hughes

Hughes co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, when the two were roommates at Harvard.

Hughes graduated two years later and moved to Palo Alto.

In 2012, Hughes married Sean Eldridge and bought a majority stake in The New Republic, becoming the Washington, D.C.-based magazine’s editor-in-chief for a brief period.

He also helped organize Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign online in 2008, according to Vanity Fair.


2. Peter Thiel

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, 47, who landed on the 2015 Forbes 400 list at No. 234, was early investor of Facebook after its initial public offering in 2012.

Founders Fund, Thiel’s venture capital firm, aims to invest in companies that can make a dramatic technological impact in the world, Forbes reported.

As of Oct. 9, 2015, Thiel’s real time net worth is $2.8 billion.


3. Megan Smith

In September 2014, President Obama appointed entrepreneur and engineer Smith as the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, focusing on technology policy, data and innovation.

Before that, Smith served as vice president at Google and as chief executive officer of media company PlanetOut.


4. Leanne Pittsford

As founder and CEO of Lesbians Who Tech, Pittsford “makes s— happen,” according to her Twitter bio.

She was the head of operations for Equality California – the largest statewide LGBT nonprofit organization in the country.

Pittsford also co-founded the Lesbian Entrepreneur Mentoring Program before launching Start Somewhere – digital agency which helps nonprofits and social enterprises.


5. Lynn Conway

Conway — known for her pioneering research of microelectronics chip design at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the 1970s — became a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest recognition an engineer can get.

In 1967, she began medical treatment and became one of the first transgender women to undergo hormonal and surgical sex reassignment, according to the University of Michigan’s website.

Unfortunately, Conway was fired the following year from IBM for being transgender.


6. Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler

In 2013, Dr. Ziegler launched Trans*H4CK – a hack marathon and speaker series that features transgender entrepreneurs, innovators and emerging technologies.

He is also a filmmaker, writer and the first student at Northwestern University to receive a Ph.D. of African American Studies, according to GLAAD.


7. Tim Cook

The current Apple CEO and Steve Jobs’ successor was recently honored with the visibility award by the HRC at the organization’s 19th annual dinner in Washington, D.C.

During the speech, Cook referred to a 2014 Bloomberg piece in which he spoke out publicly about his sexuality, writing, “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”


8. Jon (maddog) Hall

Hall, the executive director of Linux International, was an early advocate of free and open source software, TechCrunch reported.

Much like Cook, “maddog” came out in honor of Alan Turing’s 100th birthday in a piece he wrote for Linux Magazine in 2012.

“On the second point I have been extremely lucky in my life to have grown up in technologically advanced surroundings,” he wrote.

“Most of the people in my world of electronics and computers were like the mathematicians of Alan Turing’s time, highly educated and not really caring whether their compatriots were homosexual or not, or at least looking beyond the sexuality and seeing the rest of the person.”


9. Alan Turing

This entire list would not have been possible to compile if it weren’t for pioneering British mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing.

Known as the inventor of the modern computer, Turing had an important role in the Allied Powers winning against Nazi Germany in World War II after breaking the Enigma code.

One part of Turing’s life that is often overlooked is his sexual orientation.

He was prosecuted for having an affair with a younger man and convicted for gross indecency in England, where homosexuality was considered illegal until 1967.

Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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