Sounding like the name of a superhero group, the MAVEN 5 are pretty much just that. They are a group of super LGBTQ youth who are taking on Washington. Or at least they hope to with your help. See these kids have the drive and passion to actually tackle something as large and sinister as the 2nd Annual LGBTQ Tech Summit but they need the help of every member of the community to get there. Now while these super heroes aren’t wearing masks they are still a little mysterious to us, that’s why this modern day Lois Lane hunted down the story and got the once in a lifetime scoop of an interview with two of the group’s members.
What got you interested in technology?
Humaira – “My father. He introduced my siblings and I to the Xbox 360, the nintendo gamecube and DS, the PS3. Everyone in my family has always been into tech, really. When my dad started taking computer science courses, he suggested we do the same. Even though it was really hard at first, the more I did it the more I realized how big the possibilities were when it came to what I could build as I gained more computer science knowledge.”
How did you get involved with Maven?
Kiernynn – “I went to their very first LGBTQ+ youth tech camp in San Francisco. I met some really cool people there, had some crazy new experiences and felt closer to an actual job in tech than I ever had before. It was also when I met Matt, Toni, and Phillip. I came back for the second year, and that’s when Monica informed me I was on of five being nominated for the Summit. I guess Monica likes me. :)”
For all the other LGBTQ youth out there interested in getting into a tech field, what advice do you have for them?
Humaira – “Be resourceful. You can’t be a coder and not be resourceful. This could mean scouring the internet for answers to a problem you have, finding someone experienced in tech to teach you, or asking for advice on stack overflow. There isn’t going to be someone there to hold your hand all the time, and you need to know how to figure stuff out for yourself, or at least know how to research online and ask the right questions. All the knowledge is out there on the internet and at your fingertips, you just have to realize it’s right there. Also, don’t give up too easily.”
Kiernynn – “Just do it. Think of the Shia Lebouf meme and take it to heart. Your best in is actually participating in some form of technology whether you like robots and participate in battle bots or you leave a comment on a youtube video. You’d be surprised who talks to you and what they’ve done in their lives. I’m not sure I’m the best person to tell you how to get a job because I’m still working on that, but if you’re interested in technology, use it and play around with it. You have to be a consumer first.”
Why do you feel its important for LGBTQ youth to attend the tech summit?
Humaira – “Youth make up a huge part of our LGBTQ community! If the goal is to bring together people in the LGBTQ tech community to think of ways to solve problems members of our community face, then as youth, our problems and opinions need to be heard too. ”
What do you hope to achieve by attending?
Kiernynn – “The goal is more freedom, more equality, and more (as cheesy as it sounds) love and understanding. We want to create romance between minorities and the majority that leads to a healthy marriage and three kids. I honestly don’t know what the issues are that we’re tackling and what, exactly, they want us to do to solve them, but I think as long as I keep my goal in mind and act with my goal in mind, I can end up doing some good at this Summit. It’s not going to solves everyone’s problemS (I doubt it will even do noticeable change in an average community) but we’re there! We’re in D.C., we’re in a Summit specifically designed for our input, and that’s something at least. Who knows, maybe we can have a third recognized gender soon?”
Is there a plan to continue over what you learn from the tech summit into other Maven activities?
Humaira – “Most definitely! I’ll be attending Maven’s tech camp next year, and I plan on volunteering to help teach one of their programming class. I’ll have more experience after working on the projects after the summit, so that will definitely help. Also, the other members of the “Maven 5” and I are working on a LGBTQ themed game together that we plan on submitting to Maven’s national game jam, though we’ll continue working on it even after game jam.”
What is the biggest thing that you all would like to see come out of this tech summit?
Kiernynn – “The big things I would like to see come out of this are all government-based. I’ve come to terms with knowing others’ opinions of me and my family and my friends are not going to change in a couple of days or even a couple of years or even at all. My goals are all focused on limiting what those people can do with their opinions and not changing the actual opinions themselves. As a youth, I would like to focus on what I can do for other youth who don’t necessarily have the opportunity to do something like go to a tech summit and tell the government how to lessen oppression like I do. At my school, I’ve been focusing more recently on getting gender neutral bathrooms in every school in every district in San Diego County and getting mandatory sensitivity training in every school in every district of San Diego county.”
Humaira – “Honestly? I’d like for people at the summit who have the power to change things to listen. Really listen when the issues are brought up. Try to empathize with the real people who face these problems every day, and use that as motivation to help them. The White House can hold all the summits and events in the world, but at the end of the day, if people up the chain aren’t really listening and are just using this event to show the world that ‘Hey, we support the LGBTQ community!’ without actually trying to help, then it’s all for naught.”
As you can see these super youths are ready to go to bat for the community. If you’d like to help send them and their team to Washington then go check out their IndieGoGo page now to donate. Or if you’d like to donate your time to the organization you can find the information for that here on their website.
Ready and waiting with a cape in the wings