Diversity and Inclusion, Debian Redux

So, today at Cambridge MiniDebConf, I was scheduled to do a Birds of a Feather (BoF) about Diversity and Inclusion within Debian. I was expecting a handful of people in the breakout room. Instead it was a full blown workshop in the lecture theatre with me nominally facilitating. It went far, far better than I hoped (although a couple of other and myself people had to wrench us back on topic a few times).
There were lots of good ideas, and productive friendly debate (although we were pretty much all coming from the same ball park). There are three points I have taken away from it (others may have different views):
  1. We are damned good at Inclusion, but have a long way to go on the Diversity (which is a problem of the entire tech sector).
  2. Debian is a social project as well as a technical one – our immediately accessible documentation does not reflect this.
  3. We are currently too reactive and passive when it comes to social issues and getting people involved. It is essential that we become more proactive.

Combined with the recent Diversity drive from Debconf 2016, I really believe we can do this. Thank-you all you who attended, contributed, and approached me afterwards.

Edit: Video here – Debian Diversity and Inclusion Workshop

Edit Edit: video link fixed.

Diversity and Inclusion

So this morning, along with a few other members of staff, I was filmed for a Diversity and Inclusion video for Ada Lovelace Day at work. Very positive experience, and I was wearing my rainbow chain mail necklace made by the wonderful Rosemary Warner, and a safety pin, which I had to explain the meaning of to the two peeps doing the filming. We all of us read the same script, and they are going to paste it together with each of us saying one sentence at a time. The script was not just about gender, it also mentioned age, skills, sexual orientation and physical ability among other things (I cannot remember the entire list). I was very happy and proud to take part.

My Personal Gender and Sexuality

A work in Progress

When I was a child, I often fantasised about switching gender. The net had only just been invented, and was not as pervasive as it is now. As I grew older, and became sexual, knowing nothing of non-binary gender, I compartmentalised myself. There was nothing I knew apart from male and female. Even feeling that I had aspects of both was weird and frowned upon – I remember strongly my mother having a go at me for dressing up in women’s clothes. Knowing no other course, I split myself into a male persona, and a female persona.

When I arrived at university, I discovered the net, and also came out to myself as bisexual. I still knew nothing of non-binary gender, I just could love and be aroused by “both” genders. The word “bisexuality” was new to me, and I only discovered it by hanging out on the usenet group alt.homosexual. Yes, it was that bad.

Non-binary gender was still unknown to me. I still separated myself into “Jon” (being furry, bearded and having a penis, this was my default), and “Lucy” (who I could only be rarely, usually on my own, and very rarely with a close friend or partner).

At university, a friend also introduced me to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and The Books of Magic. I cried when I read “A Game of You”. Then there is the sequence in Book 3 of The Books of Magic, when Doctor Occult takes Timothy into Faerie, and becomes Rose. It was the first time I had ever seen/read it in a way that really resonated to me. For the first time, I felt not alone in having this split gender/persona thing.

I now know about non-binary gender, and I wish I had known about it as a teenager. Having lived as two separate personas for over 20 years, my brain cannot repattern so easily. I have lived this way for so long, I do not know if I can recombine these two distinct personalities into one, and become a new “me”. I still identify as bisexual, as I have been a bisexuality activist for so long. As for my gender, I consider myself “third gender”, although my behaviour is bigender

I am Jon, and I am Lucy. In another age, we would be one.