Amy Caffrey’s father was in the military so she grew up moving around the country, but eventually settled in Virginia. She remembers growing up in Virginia as “a terrible place to come out. They’re still fighting the Civil War. I was dating a black woman and that really didn’t go well.” After doing research to find safer areas to live as a lesbian, she landed on moving to California and moved to San Jose in 1982.
A strong lesbian and women community existed at this time but they needed somewhere to meet. Amy had been collaborating with students at SJSU around the time that Sisterspirit was being born. “One of the reasons why Mary contacted me was due to my work at the San Jose State radio program, which I worked on with Kathy Carter. We played women’s music, which was a different type of music in the world at that time.” From there she met the other women and formed Sisterspirit alongside them.
Amy works in counseling, focusing on the LGBTQ community, and teaches at SJSU now. She advocates to have more conversations about same sex domestic violence and works with LGBTQ youth at SJSU to help them find community. Noticing that students come to her to try to find community, that it is not easy to get into groups, or it feels exclusive and not as open to everyone as it was previously. Amy does what she can to help guide them into the organizations she knows are still operating.
Reflecting on her time in San Jose, Amy said in a recent interview, “I’ve been here 37 years, which is cool because I’ve been with my partner for 36 of those, and it’s very cool that we still like each other. What’s interesting to me is that it’s a long time, but I’m not sure how much actually happened during that time in terms of progress. We have a lot further to go but how do you really get people interested again in fighting for rights when they think they already have them?”