image My name is David Lacho (Queer, Him/He/His). I’m a Junior Software Developer at QHR and I have a freelance business, too.

I’ve made quite a few career turns. I graduated with a Culinary Arts certificate from Winnipeg Technical College in 2010 and worked in kitchens and became a baker. Then, I went to the University of British Columbia Okanagan and did a degree in French & Linguistic Anthropology (specifically language revitalization). After that, I taught English for a year in France, and then I did a Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a heavy focus on language revitalization and technology.

I started teaching myself to code in 2013 by going on Treehouse, where I learned the basics of JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, a bit of Python, game development and C#. I started freelancing and began to land clients by building basic web pages. I was living the digital nomad life. The issue was that I never really had anything to validate what I was doing and I had a hard time making the connections to actually build something on my own. I was really lacking mentorship, and that’s something Lighthouse provided.

I first heard of Lighthouse because they launched a bootcamp in the Okanagan. It was a very different program back then, but it was on my radar because Kelowna was hungry for junior talent.

I knew I loved human and computer languages, but I was missing the language that job-seekers need to speak to land a job as a developer. Lighthouse was there to hone my skills so I could walk the talk.

It was challenging to move from Academia to the flipped model of education at Lighthouse. My definition of success had become so ingrained in a traditional grade model, and it was healing for me to break out of that pattern in a way. While working through Lighthouse Lab’s model of education, I eventually abandoned a lot of self-destructive behaviors related to my previous education.

To be honest, the dev space can be really scary for 2SLGBTQQIA folk. I’m a privileged, tall, straight- and white- passing Indigenous, non-disabled cisgender male & I recognize that I don’t experience discrimination in the same degree as others. I can really only speak from my experience. Toxic masculinity is alive and well in tech. In my experience, I noticed it’s especially prevalent with digital nomads.

Tech is giving 2SLGBTQQIA folk more outlets to express themselves. It’s challenging the status-quo and making spaces and outlets for those who have been othered by society… but it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, we’re getting more recognition and visibility. On the other hand, more people enter our spaces to gawk (so much so that Queer bars have to put signs up that say that we’re not animals in a zoo on display). On that front, our physical spaces that we hold to our survival are also being taken away by tech giants. In a lot of ways we’re being choked out by tech, but I believe in our resilience, ability to adapt, and survive in new ways.

My freelance business, Wise Wombat Media, is where a lot of my energy goes in my spare time. I have been working with Splatsin First Nation Elders, community members, and staff from the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn (Splatsin Teaching Centre) Society to build an augmented reality app in Splatsin First Nation’s dialect of Secwepemctsín. We formed a development team that involved community members as project members, and we rooted the project in community members’ knowledge, control, and ownership of the project, and we approached relationship and trust building as guiding principles of the app development process. This ensured that the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn retained ownership and control of the project at all stages of the app development.

My job as Junior Software Developer is pretty cool, too. My company, QHR is great. QHR is a Canadian Healthcare Technology Company, bringing innovation to the healthcare system for Providers and their Patients. As a leader in the industry, QHR operates on the fundamental belief that technology will change the way we all interact with healthcare. I work on one of QHR’s suite of technologies, Medeo Virtual Care. The Medeo platform allows healthcare providers the ability to offer secure messaging, file transfers, online booking and video visits for patients. I work on the API team, where we actively build out the endpoints for the product. For the most part, I work in Java and Ruby on Rails. My job involves coding features, squashing bugs, considering security and privacy, writing unit tests, and whatever is required of a dev on a day to day basis. I really appreciate that my company values cultural diversity. Women make up a big percentage of leadership, and that’s important to me. I have always felt at ease in being Queer in my office.

It’s so vital for allies who work in tech to do their homework on how to show up for 2SLGBTQQIA and marginalized people in the industry. It’s not 2SLGBTQQIA folks’ job to educate you, and when we share a part of who we are, hold space for us. Get involved in your community. Make a stand at your company when you see unfair practices directed at us (or any other human). Don’t laugh off toxic masculinity, and understand that we are doing a lot more heavy lifting just to be able to survive in this space.

For other 2SLGBTQQIA, my word of advice would be to be accountable to yourself, first and foremost. It’s not our job to diversify a company. We are not checkboxes for diversity. We are the “entire package.” We are beautiful.