Today, we remember and honor our hero, Edie Windsor
I am devastated to hear that of one my personal heroes, Edie Windsor, has passed away. Edie is an icon, a hero and technologist. From her days at IBM to her epic fight to overturn DOMA, we’ve been blessed with her courage, her spirit, her humor and her beauty. And as I sit here, in Washington Square Park, blocks away from where she courageously lived her whole life, I’m overwhelmed with the magnitude of her life, her story and what she did for every LGBTQ person in this country and what her story means to the Lesbians Who Tech community.
As a global community of queer women and trans/nonbinary people in tech, Lesbians Who Tech and Allies has held Edie close to our hearts as a leader and a celebrated figure in our movement. She blessed us by attending many of our annual summits in person, and we honored her by creating the Lesbians Who Tech Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship for Queer Women. The scholarship fund honors her legacy as a pioneering programmer (she worked her way up to senior systems programmer, the highest technical ranking at the time). She was one of many women programmers at IBM, and she always made sure we knew that she was not the only woman programmer at IBM.
Edie lived the story of our movement for queer inclusion in America: She and her wife Thea were brilliantly in love and committed before marriage was legal in the United States. Edie cared for Thea in sickness and in health. And when Thea passed, Edie fought for marriage equality and won. Her Supreme Court win was a victory for all LGBTQ people in America, a victory for civil rights and a victory for equality. Her cultural leadership and advocacy has been legendary ever since.
Edie Windsor is timeless. She spoke in the same parlance as today’s emerging queer leaders whose identities are more fluid than the acronym LGBTQ can describe. Edie treated new leaders as a continuous extension of her own struggle and triumph. She connected queer people across generations. Edie not only knew how to be a mentor, a leader, but also a friend. I will never forget how one year she had a long conversation with my conservative mother, went home and read her book and came back the next day to tell me, “Leanne, I told your mother, God did right by both your children.” She knew exactly what to say and how to say it.
Lesbians Who Tech sends our deepest condolences to her close friends and family upon her passing. We will continue to celebrate her legacy by supporting Edie Windsor Coding Scholars by telling her story to current and future generations. In her honor we will continue to promote the visibility and leadership of queer women and trans/nonbinary people in tech and cultivate a community that continues to fight for equality.
I was lucky enough to hear from Edie a few days ago. She apologized to me for not being able to attend this year’s Lesbians Who Tech + Allies New York Summit. She said, “Please send a message to everyone from me, how proud I am of them and proud she is to be part of such a wonderful group of smart talented motivated beautiful women.”
We sent her this video on Friday. And my heart is so happy to report that she saw the video. Her wife Judith sent me this message today, “That video of Lesbians Who Tech you sent the other day brought her so much joy. She showed all the nurses & doctors. Please tell your community in lieu of flowers, please donate to the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship.”
Edie Windsor lives forever in my heart and the Lesbians Who Tech community. We honor her legacy by fighting not just for queer women in tech, but for all the diverse and nontraditional talent we need in our global tech sector. We all owe Edie a great debt, one that I will spend my life honoring.
With so much love,
Founder, Lesbians Who Tech