Queer Politics, Ayn Rand and Hackers

The participants all linked their Queer identities with wider left or far-left politics. Many of them thought this was at odds with the politics of the wider computing community, which was perceived as more right wing. Lisa describes her image of the archetypal professional programmer, and how this clashes with Queer identities:
‘The industry expects you to be healthy, to turn up on time, to work every day in a consistent manner…to be this…twenty something computer science graduate sitting at their desk in silicon valley with a Linux computer, a copy of that Ayn Rand book and a thing of Soylant, don’t go eat, sit here and work…Start-up culture is inherently not queer. This concept of we are going to make a million pounds and we are going to be rich…that is not really compatible with a left wing queer identity.’
Lisa (Application developer)

ayn-randAyn Rand

Henry feels that being in a well-paid computing job is a threat to his Queer identity:
‘I very much associate [being queer] with being left wing. I am struggling to think of how you could be right wing and queer but I sometimes feel like a bit of a sell-out calling myself a leftie because I have this well-paid middle class job…Programmers are notoriously not unionised at all and very well paid, so tend to be quite conservative.’
– Henry (Application developer) 



This may explain why the participants were hesitant to describe themselves as ‘computer people’, although Robyn and Sarah did identify as hackers. Robyn saw the hacker identity as being about ‘curiosity’ and Sarah saw it as related to her identity as an anarchist. Hacking, curiosity and anarchism are perceived as meshing more easily with being Queer than right wing corporate computing cultures.

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