9 Ways Being a Junior Developer Is Like Being a Baby Gay

I learned how to code before I learned how to lesbian. I feel like I’ve figured out how to lesbian, yet some days I feel like I still don’t know how to code.

Being a junior developer (a programmer who is just starting out in the development industry) can be overwhelming. New things to learn are always popping up, demanding that you learn them or risk becoming irrelevant.

I polled queer programmers on Twitter to see what they think is more bewildering: being a junior dev or being a baby gay. It was a close race. “Being a baby gay” was in the lead for most of the polling period, but “being a junior dev” ultimately won.

Being a coding newbie can be difficult. Figuring yourself out all over again when you come out can be difficult. Here are eight ways being a junior dev is like being a baby gay.

1. You’ll feel like an imposter

So you just set up your own web server and are using it to host a fully functional website that you coded yourself? Awesome, how are you feeling?

“I’m feeling guilty because I couldn’t have done it without googling; ergo, I must not be a real developer.”

Nonsense! The reason the internet has so many answers is because lots of other programmers have the same questions you do. If you’re a junior dev who’s struggling with the endless tools, languages, and frameworks, here’s an essay I read this week that might make you feel better.

Also, it’s fine if you’ve never kissed a girl. It’s okay if you had crushes on guys growing up (and if you still do). You’re allowed to go to your school’s Pride Alliance meeting or change your settings on dating apps. You don’t have to chop your hair off if you don’t want to. You are not a fraud.

2. All your friends move to San Francisco or Seattle

I would need more than two hands to count the number of friends that are queer, in tech, or both who have moved to the West Coast in the past year. San Francisco and Seattle are especially attractive to my queer and techy friends.

I’m from the West Coast myself, so I understand the attraction, but we can’t all live on North America’s west coast. The sheer power of that many cute queers in one place would probably reverse the earth’s magnetic poles or something.

3. Patches are important

In programmer terms, a patch is a piece of software that is released to fix or improve the code in an executable program.

In baby gay terms, a patch is a piece of fabric that is attached to bags or clothing (preferably denim vests) to signal one’s membership in the LGBT League.

Either way, you’re gonna want to make sure you have the latest ones.

4. Forums are your friend

Got questions about Git, sticky footers, or SSL certificates? It’s likely your question has already been discussed many times on forums such as Stack Exchange, Reddit, and Google Groups. Slack groups and Facebook groups can also be good places to get your questions answered.

Got questions about coming out, “alternative lifestyle haircuts,” or whether you should tell your straight best friend you have feelings for her? Search old posts on /r/actuallesbians, or post your own question. It’s also a good place to gush about your firsts and have people celebrate with you. Check out these sexy stock photos of bullying while you’re there.

5. No one gets what you do.

Sure, you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. But other people don’t know what you’re doing even more. If we are to believe Hollywood, a programmer’s duties consist of hitting a few keys on a keyboard and saying, “I’ve hacked into the mainframe.”

That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works!

If you’re coming out to your family, be prepared for someone to cry about how they’ll never get to see you have children. Not only do people not understand how lesbians have sex, but they also don’t understand that it’s possible for lesbians to have kids.

6. Your dating pool is smaller

Apparently there’s a saying among women who date in Silicon Valley: “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.” Translation: There are a lot of single men in Silicon Valley (or “Man Jose,” as some call it) but they’re socially awkward or think they’re the next big thing. I’m a freelancer living in St. Louis, so I have not experienced this. Freelancers and remote workers have their own issues, however, because they spend a lot of time alone.

Lesbians have a small dating pool by nature of being in the minority. You’ll probably end up dating your ex’s friends or your friend’s exes.

7. Unicorns

A unicorn developer is someone who is skilled in several fields. They know all the popular programming languages, they’re good at design, and maybe they’re data scientists too, just to make it interesting. The demand for unicorns is high, and so are the standards. I once saw a job posting that required 15 years of experience with a programming language that is only 10 years old.

Unicorns are in high demand on dating apps as well. This kind of unicorn wants to join a couple for a threesome. Now that I think of it, this unicorn is also in high demand in the tech industry.

8. Nobody told you it was an option growing up

Even though the first computer programmer was a woman and black women took us to the moon, programming is often thought of as a man’s job.

It’s likely you never had the opportunity to learn how to code growing up. Maybe you didn’t have anyone to push a robot or a Raspberry Pi into your hand as a kid.

The love stories you saw on TV were about heterosexual relationships. “The gays” are only mentioned in negative contexts.

When you finally discover the joys of software and sapphism, you ask, “Why didn’t anyone tell me sooner that this was possible?”

“Sorry,” straight people say with a shrug. “We didn’t think you’d be interested.”

9. You have to learn the lingo

Let’s play a game. Choose whether each of the following words is programmer jargon or a lesbian sex term: front-end, grunt, responsive, waterfall, back-end, agile, master, putty, bootstrap, raw socket

Answer: It was a trick question. It’s all programmer jargon related to web development.

The queer community has its own terminology, and new words are always being added to the vocabulary list. 2017 gave us Mommi and Babadook. Who knows what 20gayteen will bring?

Dera Luce is a Nigerian-American writer who was born in England, grew up in Utah and Southern California, and currently resides in St. Louis. A graduate of applied linguistics, she continues to shake up her sense of place by learning as many languages as possible. She's passionate about public libraries and mass transit and is starting to sense a theme here about words and place. You can find more of her writing at The Billfold, Riverfront Times, and Medium. She's also on Twitter and Instagram.

Dera has written 2 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. as a baby gay and also a junior developer, this article was literally perfectly tailored to me?? are you psychic? how did you know this was exactly what i needed to read right now???

  2. I work with a lot of programmers but I’m not one myself.
    For financial reasons and job opportunities, I’m thinking about learning how to code.
    Do you recommend it? What should I expect? How long will it take? Should I crawl under the sofa and just stay there?

    Strangely, I never heard anybody mention the *joys* of coding before this article.

    • I’m not a professional developer (yet… who knows?), but I’ve really enjoyed the (free!) classes on OpenClassrooms.com – and the instructors certainly love what they do.

      As far as what to expect learning to code, I think one thing you can expect is to start off quite impressed with what you can do quite quickly… only to hit more of a wall as you get into the more challenging stuff. Not an insurmountable wall, for sure, BUT expect it to get far more challenging after the initial basics. And also, be prepared to power through the frustrations of not being able to figure something out only to realize after pulling your hair out for hours that the mistake was, in retrospect, ridiculously small and simple.

      That said, coding is one of my main hobbies because it’s pretty damn cool to see your code turn into something useful. I’ve always loved a good logic puzzle and that’s kind of what development is…

      As far as how long it takes, that is impossible to answer. It depends on how much time you commit, what resources you have, what exactly you want to learn… and as this article says, there is ALWAYS more to learn, so it can be hard to decide when you’ve learned enough to through yourself out there into the job market. I’d recommend using some free resources to test the waters before you put much cash into anything and trying to attend some local meet-ups to talk to developers who are passionate about what they do and open to sharing their experiences.

    • yes! join us! as someone who codes for a living, i’d recommend starting to learn python if you’re thinking about it 🙂

      programming is 90% thinking your way around a problem, and 10% FUCK YES I DID IT I’M A GENIUS in my experience haha, which is the joy of coding for me definitely! it’s a completely different way of creating stuff to every other art form (using ‘art’ loosely), which is my favourite way of thinking about coding!

    • I at least recommend that you try it so you can know if you like it! 🙂 There are some great sites that you can start learning with right away, for free. Freecodecamp and Codecademy are two that are good for beginners, although you’ll need more resources than that to become proficient. Luckily, a lot of those resources are also free!

      You’ll probably figure out early on if coding is for you. If you start and you’re like, “Wow, there’s no fun in this.” then go with your gut and run awayyy. If you start and you find yourself having a good time, maybe even slipping into a “flow state,” then keep going! And hold onto that feeling, because you’re going to need it when it gets difficult and you want to quit.

      As for how long it will take, it’s hard to answer, but it will definitely take longer if you don’t start 😉 Go for it!

  3. This was hilarious and relatable.

    And OMG that sexy bullying stock photo. haaaa It goes along with the question I’ve been asking myself since Sunday: why does it always feel like sexual tension every time Kelley O’Hara gets angry?

    Exhibit A:

  4. Ok how is this somehow more helpful than the other 5000 articles I’ve read about being a junior dev??? Please write a longer series of articles with a larger selection of weirdly hot stock photos.

  5. Super article, thanks !

    I’m a part-time data munger, which is not coding but I do need to have some scripting knowledge. I’ve shied away from actually learning how to code because I often feel like my brain is shot to pieces and can’t remember anything – I’m constantly googling for answers. But knowing that this is also a coding staple makes me feel better ! I’ll definitely check out Openclassrooms.com right after I read all the Carol goodness from Erin.

  6. DERA THIS IS PERFECT especially number 8 i keep looking at the kids coming after us and I’m like…..maybe they won’t have to wait, maybe we can get them to who they are sooner! This is so exciting! I love this

  7. Oh my god I feel this so much. I didn’t major in comp sci although I started building simple web pages in high school in the 90s. I have been doing full time Web dev/engineering work for over 6 years now and I still feel like an imposter. Worse, I feel like I should be faster at coding at this point, even self-taught I should be a “coding ninja” by now. I know everyone Googles, and Stack Exchanges etc but I still feel like sometimes I come to solutions more slowly than I should.

    Never had a problem with gay lingo or being a baby dyke though…haha

  8. another important similarity: unsure when to stop calling oneself junior/baby. I’ve been in this first programming job for 9 months, so I’m probably still a junior dev right? (I’ve been out and gay for 18 years (!) so I am sure I’m no longer a baby gay.)

  9. I have been a developer for 10 years but I’m currently a baby gay and I feel so seent 🙂 Thanks for writing this! I love that Autostraddle is like the Stack Overflow of queerness (any question you have, others have had it an there’s nothing wrong with needing help).

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