Post Status Draft – Empowering LGBTQ+ folks in WordPress

Transcript

In this podcast episode, Michelle Frechette and Anne McCarthy discuss the development of a mentorship program and an empowerment grant aimed at supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the WordPress ecosystem. They highlight the need for a safe and inclusive environment, address financial barriers, and consider privacy for those not ready to come out. The episode covers the importance of genuine community support, the mentorship program’s timeline, and expectations for engagement. They urge underrepresented groups to apply, offer information on the LGBTQ press website, and invite feedback to improve the initiative. The conversation underscores the value of lived experiences and the commitment to financially empower individuals within the WordPress community.

Top Takeaways:

  • Queeromattic Mentorship Program: Anne McCarthy discusses the launch of the Queeromattic Mentorship Program, aimed at supporting individuals in the queer community within the WordPress ecosystem.
  • Financial Support for Queer Individuals: The program involves financial support for selected mentees, allowing them to focus on contributing to WordPress without financial constraints.
  • Collaboration with Mentorship Programs: The mentorship program collaborates with existing mentorship initiatives, leveraging their expertise and guidance in the selection and support of mentees.
  • Application Deadline: Interested individuals are encouraged to apply for the mentorship program, with a deadline set for February 7th, offering a six-week duration from February 19th to March 29th.
  • Feedback and Collaboration: Anne invites feedback, collaboration, and ideas from the community to ensure the program evolves to address the needs and challenges faced by queer individuals in the WordPress space

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Transcript

Michelle Frechette (00:00:02) – Hey, everybody. We’re here for Post Status today. And my guest is Anne McCarthy. Anne welcome. How are you?

Anne McCarthy (00:00:09) – Hi. I’m doing well. It’s a Monday morning and it’s sunny, so I can’t complain.

Michelle Frechette (00:00:13) – Um, you must not be in Rochester, New York, where it is very overcast and snowing right now, so. 

Anne McCarthy (00:00:19) – Oh, gosh. No.

Michelle Frechette (00:00:20) – But that’s okay. It is winter here. We’re used to it, you know. It is what it is. But, um, it’s always good to see you, and it’s always good to talk about all the really cool things that you’re doing. And I like to think some of the things I’m doing and some of the things that we’re kind of promoting together and those kinds of things. So, um, so yeah, this is very exciting. I’m glad to have you here and excited to talk about this. Uh, last year. It’s almost been a year since WordCamp Phoenix last year. And at WordCamp Phoenix. Um, I gave a talk about underrepresentation and why it matters.

Michelle Frechette (00:00:53) – And during that talk, I talked about, um, Black Press and how Black Press has really carved out a space for this group of underrepresented folks within the WordPress community and how they’ve got, you know, a Slack channel, and they’ve got the website that directs people to different places. They’re starting to do, um, meetups. So they’ve had meetups at different, especially flagship WordCamps and things like that.

Anne McCarthy (00:01:18) – Umhm.

Michelle Frechette (00:01:18) – As a result of that talk, first of all, I was so humbled during that talk because people were crying about some of the, like, so touched by some of the work that’s being done in the community. And I was so happy to be like the mouthpiece for that. Right. But 2 or 3 different people, I want to say maybe three people approached me one on one afterwards at three different times, like, not on masse, right? To say, um, is there a space like Black Press for the LGBTQ plus community? And I said, I don’t really know, but let me look around and see.

Michelle Frechette (00:01:51) – And it turns out there wasn’t. So that’s not necessarily at large. Right there is um, there’s Out In Tech, there’s other places that are outside of WordPress that encompass WordPress because it’s tech, but we didn’t really have some place for the LGBTQ+ community within WordPress. So we created one LGBTQplus.com. Um, we’ve invited folks to be there. There are a lot of people from the community in there. There’s a lot of there’s a couple of of us who are allies in there as well. And my goal and it’s a process, it’s a work in process. Right. So as an ally, I don’t want to be like, I’m building the website for you because that’s not my place, right? I want the community to build what they need. And we started a Slack channel on those kinds of things. And that was, to me, felt like the beginning of good things that could happen. And it’s a slow growth, I’ll admit that. And it’s you’re.

Anne McCarthy (00:02:41) – Creating the space for it to happen, which I think is possible. Yeah.

Michelle Frechette (00:02:44) – Yeah. And it’s exciting to watch. Like a black person can’t not be black when they walk down the road, right? Um, but for somebody in the LGBTQ+ community, you’re either out or you’re not. And if you’re not even joining, a space like that can feel scary because you don’t know who else is in it, that kind of thing. So I think that the growth for that might be a little bit slower just because it’s like, is it safe? Is it an okay place, what’s happening there? And so it takes a little bit of time, but what you’re doing and what you approached me with a few weeks ago, um, I think is one of those things that really moves the needle. So I’m not going to talk about it. I’m going to let you talk about it, and then we’re going to talk about it together after you, um, describe what’s going on.

Anne McCarthy (00:03:24) – Yeah. I do want to just give you a major props for starting that space, because I think whenever, you know, I’ve been in the last year as well, trying to figure out ways to empower the queer community within WordPress and have tried a couple different things and fits and starts and haven’t really found a place to properly land.

Anne McCarthy (00:03:41) – And as I was working on this next idea, I was like, oh my gosh, I’m in this Slack channel. I think there’s a website. Like I was like, I know I’ve shared it before, um, with different folks. And for you, you just completely for folks who don’t know, like Michelle just completely was like, here’s access to the site. What do you need? How can I help? Um, whatever you need. And that’s huge. Like, as someone who’s like, you know, to create a website to do all this or stuff to build the community, it takes a lot of work. Community building is a lot of work. Um, and to be able to use what you have created and to step in there and to step into that container, um, has been super helpful. And I’m really excited because it’s one thing that happens, in my opinion, with DIY efforts, is they can get to scattered. So you have like different groups going in different directions rather than like a concerted effort.

Anne McCarthy (00:04:25) – And as much as possible, I try to have a concerted effort, um, go where people already are. Um, further, what folks are already doing, find areas of overlap, build in intersectionality as much as possible, because ultimately, if I go off in a weird direction and no one follows, it doesn’t help anyone. And so that’s kind of where, um, things have landed and it’s it’s more behind the scenes stuff. This idea actually originally started because I’ve been on various release squads, and when I first started on the release squads and with the, uh, 6.4 underrepresented genders release, um, there was a lot of behind the scenes questioning that was happening where it was like, is this what we’re supposed to be doing? How do we do this? And I suddenly realized I was a more tenured release team member. Um, and I kind of had this idea of like, wouldn’t it be cool if if I could, you know, hold a Zoom meeting during release parties and, like, talk to people about what’s going on and, like, create a safe space to ask those questions from folks who are underrepresented and who are queer.

Anne McCarthy (00:05:21) – So the idea originally started to sponsor folks as like a, a sponsorship format rather than a mentorship format of come on in, we’re going to get you into the release, I will be your like guide, and we will help you contribute to the release. We will, like, show you behind the scenes stuff, talk about what’s happening each week and kind of bring folks into the release process. And as I’m brainstorming this idea, um, I went to Queermatic, which is our. I work for Automattic. It’s the, uh, we call it the Automattician Resource Group. But ARG um, for more like corporate terms. Uh, and I started talking to some of the leadership there, and, um, I’m one of the group of leads. We have a very informal leadership group and a group of us who are just kind of trying to keep things going. And everyone was like, that would be awesome, let’s do it. And as I started to get the funding together, um, I started kind of looking around the WordPress space and I started talking to Hari and Naoko, who are also colleagues, Automattic.

Anne McCarthy (00:06:16) – And they mentioned this wonderful mentorship program that they were restarting, and it kind of was like the stars aligned. It was like, I’m like, I’m going to do this again. Me going rogue. I’m going to do this brand new thing so we can get money to group people. We can get people into the release squads, like we can actually sponsor people, give them real, tangible, real world experience that could help them with their career. They could get excitement about WordPress, give them access to stuff. Um, and then they were like, we’re doing this mentorship program. Like, how can we help advise you on this? So I could learn from them. And then as we start talking, we’re like, why don’t we just merge? Like, like I was like, yeah, that’s a really, uh, let’s just like, again, kind of doubling each other’s efforts. How can we, um, empower more folks? And so the whole Empowerment Grant is essentially anyone who wants to, you know, go and do the mentorship program can still do that, um, for, for LGBTQ+ folks, um, they can also apply to this grant to get paid to do that.

Anne McCarthy (00:07:13) – And, um, I think why that’s important is a lot of times, underrepresented folks face a lot of financial barriers, and it’s not a perfect system. What I have set up. So like again, feedback is welcome. This is like V1, you know, open box open enhancement requests. I want to know how we can make this better. And like right now, um, I’ll say that we don’t have someone who has applied yet. And so this is part of what I’m trying to figure out. This is part of how these efforts work is like, okay, maybe next time we need to announce it way sooner or next time we need to go out and to different spaces. And so I really appreciate you, um, holding space for this. And I want to encourage anyone who is not queer to share this, because we need to get it to the right people. If it’s not for you, it’s for someone else. Maybe someone will see it. Um, but the whole point is to help folks who are excited, who want to contribute to WordPress, um, to have the chance to get paid to um.

Anne McCarthy (00:08:02) – And a lot of that comes from my own lived experience where I had people take a chance on me. And I have learned a lot in different jobs, um, where I’ve been paid to learn. And not everyone gets that luxury. And so this is like a very small way, um, $500 for a six week program. Um, at the end of the program, you’ll have set up the entire program. You’re set up with a mentor, someone who’s experienced in seasons and WordPress. Um, and at the end you come up with, like, a contribution, um, plan. So you’re able to move forward with support. And part of my secret hope is that we could hold some calls with the with folks who are part of this program who are with other queer, um, core contributors. So people who have been long time sponsored and get them kind of connected with, again, like, not just like seasoned leadership, but, um, folks who are also part of the community, um, and who are seasoned leaders.

Anne McCarthy (00:08:49) – So that’s like my I could rant about this for like two hours.

Michelle Frechette (00:08:53) – Go for it. I’m very excited about it. It’s a very exciting thing. It’s, uh, the mentorship, uh, program itself is an exciting thing. And I remember asking at WordCamp, uh, Europe last year, like, it’s funny because they don’t do it this way anymore, where you line up at the microphones and things like that. But as a disabled person, like, I couldn’t even get to the floor of that venue. So the only place I could be was at the very top, like like third mezzanine or whatever you call it. And all of a sudden I look to my left and somebody’s standing there with a microphone. I’m like, oh, they’ve got my number. They always know that I have a question to ask. And I asked about mentorship because people are always asking me, you know, one on one if the what if I would mentor them and I just don’t have capacity to mentor like 50 people and I get probably 50 requests a year.

Michelle Frechette (00:09:43) – Um, but how we could start to build something like that? Like I built WPSpeakers, dot com last year and people are like, oh, is there a way to do mentorship through there? And I’m like, well, no, not yet. But I have limited capacity for things that don’t bring money, right, that aren’t aren’t my full time job. Um, but it’s like so I asked a question about that. And uh, and Josepha was like, as a matter of fact, we have this thing launching like in two weeks. And I was like, did I tee that up for her without even knowing or what? Uh, but what is exciting thing just to have the mentorship program available, period. And then for, for you to come in and say, hey, we’re also going to sponsor people, um, who apply. So you do have to apply for both the mentorship program and the grant. It’s that one or the other. If you want the grant, you have to be accepted to both, right? So that’s the first thing.

Michelle Frechette (00:10:35) – Um, but to be able to say, I want to do this so much and people believe in me enough to actually sponsor me through this, there’s a financial incentive. To get through this and to contribute, I think is a beautiful thing. So kudos to you for even thinking it up and your whole team for backing it. 

Anne McCarthy (00:10:56) – It’s been a huge effort. I have to say. Like, um, folks on the community team also really sharpened the idea to like, um, I brought the idea to the community team and during one of our meetings, and Gus brought up really good feedback about how we could set up funding structure. Um, Patricia also chimed in, Naoko and Hari have been super helpful. Like, it really has been this like books from the Queermattic side because of course, you know, I’m dealing with like the Queermattic side. How do we do? We need a contract. Like there’s a lot of behind the scenes there. It’s a huge number of folks who have, um, come together and have like, yes, and it in yourself included, where it’s like, how do we make this happen? Yes, this is a good idea.

Anne McCarthy (00:11:31) – And especially with a lot of the layoffs happening, like in the future, I would love to like give more money or like in different forms. Or, you know, maybe we have like a sponsorship for a queer person to contribute to Core. I don’t know, like there’s all these things that I, you know, as someone like yourself who’s been in the space for a long time, I’d love to know what’s on your mind too. And I’d love to, like, also find ways to collaborate with Black Press because, like, you know, there’s a certain point where I don’t want someone picking an identity. Like, I want this to be something where someone can kind of show up in the WordPress space who was underrepresented, period. And get support, um, for all of who they are, you know.

Michelle Frechette (00:12:07) – For sure. And one of the things that we talk about in underrepresented in Tech.com is that you aren’t necessarily underrepresented in just one area, right? So, like, I’m an older woman in WordPress and in tech and that that’s true right there.

Michelle Frechette (00:12:19) – Plus I’m a disabled person. And so like, oh, I check three boxes of underrepresentation, you know. And so there are there are black queer people. There are black disabled people. They’re black, queer, disabled people, like all of that exists. And you don’t have to choose one, um, you know, one pillar to, to cling to. You can be in more than one area and creating resources that are open to people across different areas that might also, um, you know, tick more than one box, for example, I think is is just brilliant. And I, I as soon as you told me the idea, I mean, we were texting back and forth through Slack, you couldn’t see the grin on my face, and I was just like, oh my gosh, this is so exciting. Um, it’s exciting to see things grow and prosper, right? So like when you launch a little project and like, people start to use it and start to work with it and the excitement for watching like this little baby that you, this little egg that you laid or whatever seed that you planted, um, start to really grow and flower and everything is very exciting.

Michelle Frechette (00:13:20) – One of the.

Anne McCarthy (00:13:21) – It’s huge.

Michelle Frechette (00:13:23) – it really is, right? To be able to and to and for it to feel like a safe space and be it and I feel like. But be a safe space so that people feel safe within it, um, is super important. And to be able to say, I mean, I’m sure there are queer people in the world who wouldn’t even apply for this because they’re not ready for the world to know that that label applies to them. And for those people, that’s fine. Nobody’s trying to make you do anything that you don’t want to do right? Yeah. Um, super important to acknowledge that first and foremost. But the idea of just supporting people in another financial way. Um, Ally and I did an episode of Underrepresented in Tech in the fall, where we talked about how much more expensive life is as an underrepresented person. You know, so if you are an underrepresented person and you have to buy shoes, for example, her, her, her whole thing was work boots, and you need work boots to get a job because you’re unemployed.

Michelle Frechette (00:14:16) – So you, you spend 20 bucks to get a the cheapest pair of work boots you can. But somebody who’s privileged and coming from money could afford the $200 pair of work boots. But as a $20 pair of work boots, I’m going to replace those ten times before that person who spent 200 might replace theirs. So I’ve spent so much money along the way and I have to keep spending money. So having the support like this to and yes, is it life changing money? It isn’t thousands of dollars. That’s life changing money. It’s not going to pay your mortgage, but it is going to help. And it’s going to give you that support that feels like it’s not just in, in, uh, in words. It’s not just speak, it’s not just lip service. It’s actually that’s what I like.

Anne McCarthy (00:14:58) – And that’s what I’d like to know from folks. If they’re like, I need, you know, for this to be reasonable, I need more money. Like, that is also something I can go back and say, okay, right now I can sponsor up to four folks for this.

Anne McCarthy (00:15:08) – What if we only do two and instead give $1,000? Like there’s ways of of getting feedback and interacting with this that like I really want to hear from folks and like, I think you bring up such a good point around like the cost of it and also people who may not be ready to come out like, and if you’re not ready and you still want support, like ping me and Zazu, connect via Slack, nomad.blog is my website. Like reach out to folks, um, you don’t need to be, um, out to get support and to, like, learn more. Like, I don’t, you know, I get I’m lucky that I was able to come out. Um, I think it’s a huge, huge privilege. Um, and so, yeah, that is like, I’m glad you brought that up, because that is something I’ve, I’ve wondered. About two is like, what about the folks, whether country or family or social situations or whatever that they can’t like. They wouldn’t want that stamp of like the announcement, you know, like it might just be maybe we announce it privately.

Anne McCarthy (00:15:58) – Maybe that’s how part of it goes. It’s like, you don’t know who has this grant. Um, 

Michelle Frechette: Right. 

Anne McCarthy: You know, there’s a lot of ways and there’s a lot of ways this could work.

Michelle Frechette (00:16:05) – So over the last year, I raised over, I want to say, close to $6,000 just through my selfie challenges that I do at WordCamps. Right. And it started as a silly thing. Like, I want pictures of people, but I don’t want to always be the one to ask people to take pictures of me. Well, this way people want to take pictures and I’m donating money towards sponsoring people toward camps. Right? So I sponsored over 12 people, maybe 12 or 13 people, partially, you know, into WordCamps last year all over the world. And my goal was never to write publicly that these people needed money because that was not my business to share. So people got that money without I mean, some people think publicly to the group of people who donated, and that was wonderful.

Michelle Frechette (00:16:47) – But other people, their finance is not my business. They need a little help. I was able to do that through the money that other people supported this with as well. So I think this is like that. It’s like you can be part of this without having to out yourself as needing support, as being part of the queer community. Any of those things. Right. So, I mean, yes, there will be people who know, you will know. Whoever else is evaluating will know, um, but you are safe people to be able to know that. And you are not looking to out people as part of this.

Anne McCarthy (00:17:18) – No. Definitely not. Yeah. I’m curious, like from your perspective, what other avenues, if you could like, dream up, you have a pot of gold kind of thing, like how would you what other ideas have come up or areas that I don’t maybe know about or that you’ve seen like tried in the past that maybe would make more sense now? Like I’m always curious about those like reoccurring problems and opportunities that come up.

Anne McCarthy (00:17:39) – I don’t know if anything comes to mind.

Michelle Frechette (00:17:41) – I think people attending events is another one. Right? So sponsorship through mentorship, things like that. There are so many people who want to speak, who want to organize WordCamps or even just attend them, who just can’t afford to do that. And sometimes it’s underrepresented status. Sometimes they’ve been laid off. I mean, there’s so many things, and attending a WordCamp might be the place where you find your next job or opportunity. And so that is definitely another place. And I think being able to sponsor specifically underrepresented folks to that. And and that’s what I was doing. Right. So like I wasn’t sponsoring no offense white guys, but I wasn’t sponsoring straight white males to WordCamps. Right. It was it was all underrepresented folks from around the world. And in some cases, it was 100 bucks and and others that was up to 500, depending on the needs of how far they were traveling to be involved in those things. And they were all either organizers or speakers, so helping to get them to those places.

Michelle Frechette (00:18:38) – Um, so I think there are definitely other opportunities. The challenge is raising the money usually, and finding the ways, finding the people and sponsorship this year is really difficult to get sponsorship for events, but I think people, individuals are much more likely to help other individuals than to ask companies to constantly be giving handouts. I love when companies want to. Absolutely, and there are companies who have given me money to help sponsor those people through the selfie challenge, and I give them props and I thank them and they get, you know, they get their their payback in a way for helping out. Um, but individuals, I’ve raised far more money from people saying, I want to donate and I don’t want my name associated with it. I just want to do good. And I think that that’s been phenomenal. But raising the money has always been the challenge, which is why I asked you, like, so if companies want to contribute, how can they do that? And you’re like, nope, it’s not open for that yet, at least not at this point.

Michelle Frechette (00:19:33) – That’s not something we’re looking to do. So talk a little bit about the decision of how you were going to raise the money and how that’s happening.

Anne McCarthy (00:19:40) – Yeah. And that’s a lot of the I’m deferring to Gus, who’s a part of the Open Collective group. I don’t know as much about him. He’s just been hugely helpful, um, with navigating this and, um, at times being like, I think we need to set up a funding structure first before this. And I’m like, I hear you, but there’s a deadline in this. Money is for us. Let’s use it or lose it. And I’m like, maybe this can be the pioneering thing, that then there’s momentum for us to set up a funding structure, because there’s people being like, I want to donate too, I want to donate too. And I have heard from one person who emailed me who, um, already is like, let me know how I can help. And so I’m kind of keeping a list of those folks, um, because it’s not meant to be exclusive.

Anne McCarthy (00:20:17) – It just honestly, it’s one of those things like, we’re trying this because ultimately, I don’t want to take money if we don’t have something that’s like, if we get no one to apply to this, that’s something to be aware of. We need to we need to pivot. And I would rather, um, you know, put money that like I am a part of with an Automattic on the line rather than someone else’s money. Like that is something that we can be a bit more. Um, I’ve worked at Automattic for almost ten years, like I can. I know how that works a bit better. So I know how to kind of navigate that internally and also hopefully more in the community. Like the whole aim, though, is to kind of pave this path, see how it goes, see if it’s something we can kind of build up, and then I can imagine in the future, like the mentorship program, um, similar to, I think Gus mentioned. Maybe Drupal? I don’t know the details.

Anne McCarthy (00:21:03) – It’s an area that I. I jump into a lot of areas within WordPress, but don’t always go as deep as I can, especially during a WordPress release cycle, which we’re in right now. Um, but there’s other major reasons.

Michelle Frechette (00:21:13) – When are we not in the WordPress release cycle? 

Anne McCarthy (00:21:18) – I know it feels like it’s never ending. Um. But yeah, like that, to me, the hope in the future is like, imagine, um, maybe all the mentorship stuff is paid. Maybe there’s different, um, levels based on, like, what you need or what you don’t need. Like, you could kind of choose the I don’t really know how that’s going to work in the future. And that’s something that the folks who are running the mentorship program, I’m deferring to them. Um, but I’m very game to help, um, as much as possible for setting up funding properly, giving funding, um, facilitating that in the future. Um, and kind of, you know, keeping that list of folks and being like, hey, we’re ready.

Anne McCarthy (00:21:49) – This is how you go. This is how you give, this is how you can share about it. This is a language you can use. Um, here’s what we’re looking for. So it’s kind of like a not yet. It’s like we don’t really have a place for that money to go within this specific initiative. Um, but I think kind of like when things are ready, we can get that momentum going. And so I feel like we’re in that building phase where it’s like, what is the appetite for this? And also, um, as you were talking about the sponsoring speakers to go to WordCamps, I’m remembering that years ago Queeromattic, we set up a fund to sponsor queer folks to go to WordCamps, and then Covid happened. So I was a part of that initial setup years ago. Um. And yeah, we I think there’s even like a landing page or we had I think I had to take down the landing page on Automattic.com because we had a whole thing set up to sponsor folks for the flagship events and all this sort of stuff.

Anne McCarthy (00:22:41) – We’d pay for hotel and flight and everything. Um, and I’m like, man, we gotta bring that back. Like, you know.

Michelle Frechette (00:22:48) – That’d be awesome.Yeah.

Anne McCarthy (00:22:49) – We also, like, reach up to someone like yourself who’s already doing the work and say, like, hey, we can contribute X amount of money to this. And so I yeah, we should follow up afterwards and see what we can do there because that’s again, we have this money to use. And I want to make sure it’s, it’s going towards stuff that benefits the WordPress community. Um, and right now, um, we do have sponsorships with folks like Out In Tech. Um, I’m on like the board, a squad board for Lesbians Who Tech. So there are different areas that we’re involved in. Um, but ultimately, like WordPress has very much changed my life and I think changed the lives of a lot of folks, um, that I work with within Queeromattic. And I think everyone was just stoked about like, yeah, let’s do it.

Anne McCarthy (00:23:29) – If you have the capacity to make this happen, let’s go. Um, so yeah, that’s I think in the future we’ll see a lot more of this stuff pop up. And I’m just seeing this as like the beginning and trying to find areas where there is momentum and we can align with, um. Initiatives where the funding would be helpful.

Michelle Frechette (00:23:46) – Yeah, pilot programs are like that. Right. So we’re not looking to get everybody all in. We’re looking to figure it out. How does it look this time and then grow it from there for sure. Which makes perfect sense. So there might be opportunities for people in the future to contribute to this. I think one of the things, and this is one of the things that I have, I don’t want to say worried about, but considered, I guess is a better question in the past, is I don’t want people supporting things because they want to look good for supporting things. Right? So there are companies who have wanted to, um, contribute to UnderrepresentedInTech.com in the past, but it wasn’t a good fit because they just wanted to say, look at look at how, you know, accepting we are look at how we’re supporting, you know, something like that.

Michelle Frechette (00:24:29) – And so it really needs to be, um, I don’t know, it’s not really tokenization at that point, but something like that. Right? It’s like it’s it’s giving them a badge of honor that’s not deserved in a way. So there’s got to be some vetting of the people who want to contribute and why they want to contribute instead of being a look what I do. You can’t say that. We don’t, you know, we’re not all inclusive because we’ve given money to somebody. But then you look at their at their company and they’re like 98% white straight males. Right. So that it’s like, ah, but are you really. So some of those questions and it’s not that we don’t want them to grow. And it’s not that we don’t want them to be able to participate in things. But you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is too. So it’s not just about the money. Um, so yeah, there’s a lot to consider for sure. For sure. So you mentioned a little bit about what’s expected, what is expected of somebody.

Michelle Frechette (00:25:20) – What does the application process look like? Not for the mentorship program. They can look at that on their own. They can look at this this post as well. Of course we’ll put all of this in the show notes. But what does the the point of I’m, I’ve, I’ve arrived at the form to I’ve just finished the mentorship program. What does that timeline look like?

Anne McCarthy (00:25:38) – Um, it’s about six weeks, so it’s. I let me pull up. Exactly. Um, the dates. But it’s February 19th to March 29th. Um, and the whole the programme lasts that duration. And then I imagine, um, I would like to do this is me kind of riffing, but it’s in the back of my mind is like, I would definitely want to do a, uh, post, you know, program. Was this helpful? What would you change? Um, what support did you need extra that maybe wasn’t thought of that like we could provide? Um, because I do, you know, I run hangouts.

Anne McCarthy (00:26:11) – I do have some capacity to help mentor folks. Like, my original idea was going to be me single handedly every week, mentoring or grouping people. So, like, this is actually way scaled back from what I was, um, originally thinking. So I have extra capacity and, um, ultimately, I, I want to have that, um, I could see like another week added on if people want to async or, you know, getting, getting on a Zoom call. Um, but yeah, it’s a, it’s a pretty like packed. It aligns with the release really well, I think the release. It’s like March 26th. I have a lot of dates in my head right now. Um, March 26th I think is when the next release goes out. Um, don’t quote me on that. 

Michelle Frechette (00:26:50) – No worries. And sometimes those things move.

Anne McCarthy (00:26:52) – Yeah. Yeah. Um, hopefully not this one, but yeah.

Michelle Frechette (00:26:55) – What would be the requirement of somebody at the end? So they go through the mentorship program.

Michelle Frechette (00:26:58) – Do they have to attend every mentor meeting? Um, oh like what does that look like?

Anne McCarthy (00:27:03) – Yes. Thank you for directing me. Um, in my mind, I would expect and this is something I’d actually want to rely on the mentorship program owners to be like, is this person in good faith, completing enough of the contributions that you would say they completed? Are you counting them as someone who has completed the program? And so that’s where I think there is like a nice partnership here where like we’re providing the funding, but I’m not trying to be overly prescriptive. I’m trying to lean on the folks who are doing this work, um, to speak to whether it’s been completed. And so in terms of even selecting people in terms of lots or stuff, it will be done in joint collaboration. Operation with them. And by the end, in terms of selection, I will tell you like I am always on these side of, um, you know, not be super strict like I don’t believe in like, um, I believe in a good faith effort, and that can look like a lot of different things for a lot different people.

Anne McCarthy (00:27:54) – And I don’t like to be overly prescriptive on it. Um, and so I think the mentorship program can, like, default to what they think is true. And I also think there’s a certain point of, um, you know, that’s something we’ll have to figure out as we go. Like, I can’t say exactly. And also the mentorship program is new. Um, so it’s it’s kind of an all around new thing, but I would err on the side of like, um, good faith effort, if that makes sense, and what that looks like. So I would say, yeah, that’s more than 50% or 60% of the sessions kind of thing.

Michelle Frechette (00:28:21) – So you’re not asking them for like a capstone project. They don’t have to write you up a report at the end or anything like that.

Anne McCarthy (00:28:26) – No, I don’t I if they wanted to write a blog post at the end and kind of talk about the experience, but also again, that goes back to like, do they want to be out like and they might be brand new to the WordPress community.

Anne McCarthy (00:28:37) – Um, in my mind, I think getting feedback and helping pay it forward in that way, um, honest feedback is the best. Um. To me.

Michelle Frechette (00:28:45) – So yeah. And how does that payout work? Is that at the beginning when they’ve selected or is it at the end when they’ve completed.

Anne McCarthy (00:28:51) – It is at the end. So it’s upon completion. And I went back and forth on this. But yeah, I was like, ultimately I don’t I want to give money to folks who show up as much as they can. Um, and I don’t just want to be giving out money where there’s not follow through, and then we end up in this messy, like, I could end up spending time tracking down folks who we gave money to, who weren’t able to, to actually participate during this period of time. I’d rather spend time on other stuff if I’m going to pick my battles. 

Michelle Frechette: Makes perfect sense to me.

Anne McCarthy (00:29:20) – Yeah. 

Michelle Frechette (00:29:22) – Absolutely. And like you said, it’s one of those things where you want people to go through it. If they are taking full advantage of the mentorship program, the money’s a bonus. What they’re really gaining is the insights from their mentor, um, into the program. And so it’s it’s the incentive for them to actually do that work as opposed to here’s money, do what you want with it.

Anne McCarthy (00:29:42) – Yeah. Yeah. 

Michelle Frechette (00:29:45) – Makes it makes perfect sense. Um, so we are up against the deadline for this mentorship program because the deadline to apply is February 7th. We are recording this on January 29th. I still have to get this over to get it all processed and post it up. So, um, by the time you see this, you may have just a few short days, you know, up to a week, um, to apply. So I encourage you to do that. We’ve been putting it out on socials through Post Status. We’ve put it out and I’ve put it out in a bunch of different places as well.

Michelle Frechette (00:30:11) – Uh, we’re going to put it out on Underrepresented In Tech this week so people can see all about that, of course. And, uh, because we want to try to get as many people applying for this as possible to at least 2 or 3, right? So we can get a decent, decent cohort in through this mentorship session. Um, this this cohort, I guess, is the right word. Um, if we don’t get anybody this time because of the short turnaround time, I assume this is going to hold over to the next mentor application process.

Anne McCarthy (00:30:40) – Yeah, I really appreciate you asking with that. I definitely am committed to seeing this done a couple of times. Um, and I don’t see any like pushback from the Queeromattic folks. Um, as you can imagine, queer people are not, like, thriving right now. Like it is a tough time in the world, especially, you know, in different countries where there’s laws being passed. So, like, I think if anything, our Queeromattic, um, group is like, still there, um, proud and queer, but also like, you know, I think everyone’s dealing with a lot like, personally.

Anne McCarthy (00:31:08) – So right now this was a big initiative that folks were like, if we have the capacity to do it, great, because I think we are on lower capacity with everything going on. I think a lot of folks are spending time in their respective communities, um, trying to fight the good fight. So I see this as something that we can continue doing, like budget wise, if that makes sense. Like I feel comfortable speaking to that. Like if it doesn’t happen now, it could happen in the future. We could change the money amounts. Um, we can mess around with this stuff. So, um, I think when you see this initial idea, I know that it’s like meant to be, uh, given feedback onto.

Michelle Frechette (00:31:39) – Excellent. So if people are interested in learning more, how do they find out? And if they’re interested in giving you feedback and maybe having a, you know, some interaction with you to talk about it? How does all of that happen?

Anne McCarthy (00:31:51) – Yeah. So you’re a lovely site, the LGBTQpress.com. There is a post about this. So if you go to news.

Michelle Frechette (00:32:00) – It’s the only post so it’s hard to miss.

Anne McCarthy (00:32:02) – For now.

Michelle Frechette (00:32:05) – There will be more.

Anne McCarthy (00:32:06) – There will be more. Yeah. You’ll see a link where there’s actually a link in there. It’s like if you want to talk to someone, you can contact me. But my, my site is nomad.blog. Um, there’s a contact me page. I think it’s like, say hi in the menu. Um, I am not always the fastest responder because I don’t believe in, like instant response times. It’s just like a philosophy of mine. But I will give you a real response and I will respond, um, genuinely. And I try to, especially for this kind of stuff. When we’re on a short deadline, get back to folks really quickly. Um, but yeah, I’m very dedicated to figuring out ways that we can get money and resources and connections for queer people in WordPress. So, um, please share what what comes to mind, what you see.

Anne McCarthy (00:32:45) – Um, and especially around, like, intersectionality, like I have I’m extremely, um, white. I don’t always see everything. And so I think one of the things that I’ve been thinking about is how we can potentially, um, use this as also a way to kind of start, um, hammering away at that because I don’t want that to be missed either. Um, but yeah, otherwise, just even if it’s like a word of encouragement that’s also helpful.

Michelle Frechette (00:33:11) – Always.

Anne McCarthy (00:33:12) – You know. Like that’s also I love those too. I’m like, oh, great. Um, but yeah, please reach out. Please. Like anyone who engages deeply on this stuff, it means a lot like I fear disengagement more than anything else. And so when people, even if it’s just like I had someone write me a message that was just like, I don’t, you know, I wish you well, but here’s all the reasons why. Like, it’s hard for me to, you know, be game with this.

Anne McCarthy (00:33:34) – This was my experience unless for stuff. And I was like, yeah, thank you for sharing this. This is something I need to consider is like, maybe queer people have been turned away in the past and I miss that. And like, I don’t know that experience like. Thank you for giving me that insight. Um, how do we work on that? Um, and there might be doing it. So all of it.

Michelle Frechette (00:33:51) – And like you said, all of the different backgrounds and the different cultures, the different countries and all of that that people come from. And there’s different culture in my town versus three towns over. Right? As far as how people, um, work with any underrepresented group but the LGBTQ+ community, for sure. Um, I always say that queer community sounds so much easier. Faster to say. So I’m gonna switch the way I talk. Um, but but our lived experiences are never invalidated by people in the groups that you and I are talking about. By me, by you and the people that we represent.

Michelle Frechette (00:34:24) – Um, you’re we don’t ever invalidate those kinds of experiences. We are not always aware that they exist. And so learning from people who have those lived experiences is one way that we can help make the world a better place. So if you are somebody that wants to have those conversations, please have those conversations so that we can learn and make things better for sure.

Anne McCarthy (00:34:42) – Yeah. And I just yeah, I deeply appreciate all the support and all the support from you. I do just want to like, reiterate that like, it’s been really, really, really helpful to when I was first thinking about this idea, I was like, oh, I’m gonna have to set up this. I’m going to set up that. And I was like, oh my God, wait. Or maybe yes. Yeah. And I was like nervously.

Michelle Frechette (00:35:01) – That’s what it’s for.

Anne McCarthy (00:35:02) – Yeah.

Michelle Frechette (00:35:03) – No, that’s what the whole space is about. Absolutely. Oh my pleasure. The other thing. The other my pleasure. The other thing I did want to point out is this is for mentees, not for mentors.

Michelle Frechette (00:35:14) – At this point in time, I don’t know, maybe someday you’ll open it up for mentors as well. But this but this first pilot program, and as we work through this first one is for mentees. So if you are somebody who wants to join to be mentored, that is the way to do that. Then, um, and then I think that was I don’t I don’t think I have any other questions for you unless there’s anything else you wanted to add. I’m just super excited about it. And I thank you for, you know, being the the voice of your group of people who are bringing this out for the for the world and for people to consider, uh, consider joining. And I love I’m going to say it selfishly in a way, but I love that it’s like we’re doing this thing, and it’s not because we’re trying to raise money to do anything else. We want to help people. And I think that that’s really an amazing thing for for you and Queeromattic folks to be able to and just come and do that.

Anne McCarthy (00:36:06) – We have funds and we want to use them and we want to figure out how to help folks. So like, I’m always, um, yeah, here to hear ideas and to figure out what we can do. And, um, I do. It’s just really important to me that we, like, start turning the tide where like rather than underrepresented gender releases, which is great. I love that initiative. It’s like I want every single person who was on that release squad to like, be on future ones, like, how do we keep people, how do we like, empower people? And I do think a lot of this stuff is financial and like, maybe that’s something we do in the future. We sponsor someone to be on a release. I don’t know, we’re just making stuff up this week. But yeah, I’m very excited.

Michelle Frechette (00:36:43) – Sky’s the limit. You have ideas? Yeah. Bring us the ideas too, because you never know who might be somebody who’ll be like, I love that.

Michelle Frechette (00:36:50) – How can I help? Right. So. Yeah. Um, so yeah. 

Anne McCarthy: Or that would help me.

Anne McCarthy (00:36:53) – Like, that’s also super helpful to hear. It’s like, this is a blocker for me, can this. I’m like, yeah, let’s talk about it. You know.

Michelle Frechette (00:36:58) – Oh that’s a great point. Yeah, absolutely. So whatever your ideas are, whatever your blocks, whatever your experiences are, bring them so we can make things better for underrepresented folks and especially for the queer community. Um, and thank you so much for taking the time to kind of talk through this, too. Um, I love, like I said to you at the beginning, like, I don’t have any questions. I’m going to think of them as we go. We’re just going to shoot from the hip and have a conversation. I think sometimes those are the best ways to get information to people, because you can hear the passion, you can hear everything about what people are doing and why. It’s important to those of us who are involved, um, allies and otherwise, of course.

Michelle Frechette (00:37:32) – So, yeah. So let us know if you’ve got ideas. Um, hit us up with them and we’re going to be as able to be as responsive as possible. I am not somebody who’s behind this. It is Anne and Queeromattic, uh, but if you can’t get in touch with somebody and you want to get in touch through me, I am always available to help make those connections as well.

Anne McCarthy (00:37:48) – Thank you for being open to that too, of course.

Michelle Frechette (00:37:50) – Of course, that’s what I do. Um, but yeah. So thanks for being here. We’ll see everybody I don’t this my podcast I guess is what we call it through Post Status Status is sporadic. It’s what I have ideas and things that I can help with. So I won’t be able to say like on the next episode of because I do that on my other shows. But, um, but it’s been a pleasure to have you here and to learn more and to be able to be part of the voice that gets, um, gets things heard.

Michelle Frechette (00:38:13) – So thanks so much for joining me today. And we’ll see everybody else out and about in the WordPress community. Until then, stay cool.

This article, Post Status Draft – Empowering LGBTQ+ folks in WordPress, was published at Post Status — the community for WordPress professionals.

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