A dozen years ago, when I went from techno-dilettante to technophile, one of my living heroes was Jon “maddog” Hall, the 61-year-old writer for Linux Magazine and an early proponent for free and open source software. Today Jon came out as homosexual in honor of Alan Turing’s 100th birthday. His post on the Linux Magazine website is a stirring piece of writing by a man who has finally decided to stop hiding.
On the second point I have been extremely lucky in my life to have grown up in technologically advanced surroundings. Most of the people in my world of electronics and computers were like the mathematicians of Alan Turings’ 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.
In fact, computer science was a haven for homosexuals, trans-sexuals and a lot of other “sexuals”, mostly because the history of the science called for fairly intelligent, modern-thinking people. Many computer companies were the first to enact “diversity” programs, and the USENIX organization had a special interest group that was made up of LGBT people.
That is not to say that all computer science people are homosexual, or even non-homophobic, but for the most part the CS community and companies have been more accepting and accommodating than others.
Nevertheless, as I went through life I have sometimes found that the people that should be the most understanding and accepting are not, and I did not want this to reflect upon Linux or FOSS in any way.
Hall is the executive director of Linux International, a non-profit group dedicated to spreading FOSS. His sexual orientation is none of our business yet, just as he has dedicated his life to the expansion of free software, he is now standing up for the expansion of freedom itself. He did a noble thing – I don’t say brave simply because his act shouldn’t be cause for scorn or fear – and his efforts on all fronts are making the tech community stronger, smarter, and more connected.