Today, the tech industry is hailed as a model of inclusiveness. It is considered to be one of the most LGBTQ-friendly industries in the U.S. The CEO of the world’s most valuable tech company, Apple, is gay.
This reputation did not happen naturally or overnight. It took years of struggle by LGBTQ engineers, programmers, and other tech workers. The late Rick Rudy played a key role in that struggle.
Rick was born and raised in New York City. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from MIT and afterwards began a career in the tech industry that brought him to San Jose in the early 1970s.
In June 1982, more than two years before BAYMEC was founded, Rick was one of a handful of tech industry workers who met in San Jose to form a South Bay chapter of the San Francisco-based Lesbian and Gay Associated Engineers and Scientists. By the following February, the organization had separated from San Francisco and was renamed High Tech Gays. Rick would be its first president and help write its by-laws.
Rick was a board member of BAYMEC from the very beginning. He hosted some of the earliest meetings at his house, helped write their by-laws, and provided them with early publicity in the High Tech Gays newsletter. Rick made the time for BAYMEC when he was busier than ever. He had gotten involved in gay rights at a national level, joining the board of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 1985. This led to interviews both locally in the Mercury News and nationally in the Advocate and the Wall Street Journal.
Sadly, Rick was one of the more than 2,000 Santa Clara County victims of the AIDS epidemic. His life was tragically cut short in 1990 at age 44.