Jaria Jaug

jaria jaug profile

At 23, San Jose State University alumna Jaria (rhymes with Mariah) Jaug (pronounced “Haug”) is the youngest person on the Berryessa school board. She is also the first openly bisexual board member.

For the newly elected official, things still feel “surreal.” “I never thought I’d do politics this early in my life.”

With her election, she became only the fifth out LGBTQ person currently serving on a K – 8 or K – 12 school board in Santa Clara County.

The daughter of Filipino immigrants, Jaria grew up going to schools in the district she now represents. Equity is her top priority. 

Jaria aims to ensure student success across all income levels with after-school programs and additional resources. She is also looking to expand mental health services, an issue that is close to her heart.

As a child in the Berryessa school district, Jaria relied on resources like on-campus social workers for support for her anxiety. “My parents grew up in the Phillippines and mental health wasn’t a thing,” she explained. “I know other children of immigrants might have similar experiences.”

After coming out as bisexual at age 15, Jaria got her start in community by involvement volunteering for the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center. “My identity led me to this work and showed me that queer people can do great things for the community.”

At SJSU, Jaria majored in business with the intent to go into marketing, but her first marketing class changed her mind. “I knew I wanted to help my community, not market products for the rest of my life.”

It was Dr. Ken Yeager’s local government class that first sparked her interest in politics. “[His] class changed my world and opened so many doors,” she said. “I realized politics was the way I could create the most change.”

Friends, family, and colleagues encouraged Jaria to run for the school board. “It was my sister that really put the nail in the coffin,” she said. “She convinced me. She said ‘If you want to run you should, because all of these people think you would do a good job.’”

Three of the five seats on the Berryessa board were up for election in November. Incumbents were running for two of those seats. The third seat was vacant due to one of the trustees resigning earlier. This presented a great opportunity for Jaria to be one of the three top vote-getters.

When she did decide to file, it was a bit last minute, but as soon as she did, Jaria was met with overwhelming support from the Filipino community and candidates in other local elections. 

Fortunately, campaigning was nothing new for her. Before she was elected to the board, Jaria worked as a field representative for Assembly District 25 and campaign coordinator for Alex Lee’s re-election campaign.

She raised a total of $10,000 for her campaign through events, call time, and joint walks with political clubs and other candidates. The funds allowed her to print lawn signs, publish a website, and pay the exorbitant candidate statement fee. Her weekends were spent door-knocking with members of the Young Democrats and other candidates, such as Aisha Wahab who was running for state senate and whose district overlapped with Jaria’s.

As an openly queer board member, Jaria has been dedicated to centering the needs of the LGBTQ+ community since day one. She has done this by bringing questions to the superintendent such as, “How are we teaching kids about what’s going on in the LGBTQ+ community?” “How are we supporting trans children?” and “How are we creating inclusive classrooms?”

She has been warmly received by her board colleagues, especially Thelma Boac, who is Filipina as well.

In addition to serving on the school board, Jaria is the policy/legislative director for San Jose City Council member David Cohen.

Jaria hopes her presence on the school board encourages other young, queer people of color to run. “I know young people might not think they look like a typical board member, but they’re part of the community, so why not?”

On June 14, Juria proposed a resolution to the Berryessa Union School Board to have all the district’s 10 elementary and three middle schools raise the Progress Pride flag during the first week of June to celebrate Pride month. It also stated that all schools will include LGBTQ+ literature in their libraries and will have at least one all-gender bathroom for students. Her resolution passed on a 4-0 with one abstention.


Dani Castro

dani castro

Dani Castro, MA, MFT started doing drag in San Jose and throughout the greater Bay Area at the age of thirteen with her father’s support. He snuck her into bars, where she realized she could “not only perform and empower herself” but also feel seen and accepted for the first time. “I wanted everyone to have that experience, but everyone around me was dropping dead from AIDS complications.”

Dani’s own father is an AIDS survivor. She poured every tip she made from her local performances into saving his life and the lives of others around her. She later joined the Imperial Royal Lion Monarchy and was Lady in Waiting for the Absolute Empress Patrice 23 and Absolute Emperor 23 Eddie Tavares of The Court of Glitz and Glamor.

As a trans adolescent, drag was all Dani had because the word “transgender” did not exist at the time. She had to turn to medical journals to try to piece together what she was experiencing. When Dani called the Billy DeFrank Center for help, they told her they didn’t have any resources for “transsexuals” but would write down her information. When activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy came to speak at the Center, the staff passed Dani’s number onto her. Dani received a life-changing call from Miss Major when she was sixteen. Miss Major told her, “Honey, you’re not alone,” and recommended a book called My Story, a memoir by trailblazing trans model Caroline Cossey.

At the time, the psychology field recommended that transgender women like Dani live as cisgender women and “erase their pasts.” 

“We burned pictures of us as children and we had ceremonies where we would do the strangest things in the name of transitioning.”

Dani’s own therapist walked her through a metaphorical “burial” for her penis. “It was so demeaning,” Dani recalled. “Honestly the system hasn’t progressed much, and we are still forced to jump through hoops to prove our identities to medical professionals. In my opinion that’s transphobia that’s infiltrated the medical industrial complex.”

“It was very complicated to make my way into blossoming into being myself. The struggle to exist was and still is very real.”

Dani, like many trans people in Santa Clara County, survived by engaging in the community whether or not she felt welcome. She volunteered on top of working full-time and set up the now-defunct TransPowerment program, primarily for transgender women of color and their partners. The 2002 murder of trans teen Gwen Araujo in Newark, California served as a wakeup call for much of her activism. Araujo was brutally killed at age 17 after men she had been intimate with discovered she was transgender. In one trial, a defendant used the “trans panic defense,” which was later banned along with other panic defenses in California courts in 2014. Dani recounted to her father David Castro Sr. as she watched the news horrified, “That could have and should have been me so many times. I have to do something to stop people from murdering and hurting us.”

Dani credits her work and survival to her “transcestors,” including the women of the Stonewall and Compton Cafeteria riots, and the Bay Area women she calls her “‘moms” like JoAnne Keatley originally a social worker for the Health Trust and Absolute Sovereign Dowager Empress Tiffany Woods of the TransVision healthcare clinic in Fremont. Of Woods, Dani said, “She looked out for me when the drag queens didn’t accept me.” Her father’s unconditional love and support were paramount as she navigated a transphobic world that didn’t want her alive – much less, empowered.

Dani noted that the DeFrank center didn’t recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance as part of their regular programming and her friend Shelly Prevost paid out of her own pocket to host the event. “It wouldn’t exist without her, but they made us pay in our own center!” The center later gave in to demands following a protest outside the DeFrank center lead by Dani. From that point forward the DeFrank center commemorates and honors all the lives lost to transphobic hate on November 20th as was intended by its founder Gwen Smith.

Today, Dani feels progress for transgender visibility, rights, and resources in Santa Clara County are not proportionate to the amount of advocacy trans people have initiated including the amount of trauma they have survived. “We laid the path for all of the queer community with literally our lives, blood, sweat, and tears, not just us, and for us to be at the bottom of the barrel today…we deserve far better.”

Most recently, Dani has been conducting a transgender needs assessment for the Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs. Through her surveys, she discovered many trans people are leaving Santa Clara County to get services in San Francisco, Fremont, and other parts of Alameda County because of the lack of resources and the transphobia experienced within existing organizations. There is currently only one clinic serving the trans population in Santa Clara County. “It’s a shame. We can and should do better here!”

Her hope is that the local LGBTQ+ youth will continue to recognize the work of their trans ancestors like Felicia Flames Elizondo, Therese Wannocott, Noriel Tejero, Claudia Medina, Jennifer Rodriguez and countless others to continue working for trans equality and parity here in Santa Clara County. 

“I want transgender, nonbinary, intersex, and gender-expansive youth to know we are gifted, we are powerful, and we are here in this universe to spread love and understanding because we literally exist on a different level of consciousness from other people. We exist beyond the gender binary. That’s a gift that comes with a great responsibility, and all you have to do is live your life authentically.” 

She hopes her pioneering legacy will help the Santa Clara County LGBTQ+ community move forward, together.

“Don’t ever, ever forget Dani Castro was here and Like Grandma Major said, ‘I’m still fucking here’. Even when I am gone, I’ll be here and you have my power and spirit to use in the work that you do.”

Fred Ferrer

fred ferrer featured

Fred Ferrer – former CEO of The Health Trust and now CEO of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley – talks about how he dealt with homophobia with his family, Santa Clara University and his career.

Frederick Ferrer grew up in Marin County, just twenty minutes outside of San Francisco, but to him the gay world felt “millions of miles away.” He knew he was gay as early as kindergarten, but it was the era of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t even think about it.’

Although Ferrer was unable to fully be himself growing up, he felt surrounded by love. “I learned to love from my family, from my church and from my government, but I also learned how to hate from those three places as well. I experienced this notion that it wasn’t even okay to think you were going to be gay.”

In 1976, Ferrer left his Catholic Mexican family home life for a Catholic institution to pursue an undergraduate degree at Santa Clara University. He partied hard and studied harder to fit in, but noticed other queer men were missing from the social gatherings he frequented. They spent their days off making secret trips to San Francisco; their classmates oblivious as to what they were doing. Ferrer remained in the closet.

He went on to grad school at San Jose State to study to be a therapist. There, he worked with students who were coming out. But Ferrer felt emotionally unequipped to guide others on the journey he himself had not yet taken, and ultimately switched career paths. “I didn’t stay as a therapist because there was just too much internal pain, and I really wasn’t going to be a good therapist to somebody else if I couldn’t deal with this stuff myself.”

Instead, he entered the nonprofit world and began working with low-income Latino families in the early childhood care system, drawing on his education in child development.  Though he was still not out at the time, colleagues often assumed Ferrer was gay, but he did not confirm it. Still, the support from those around him, which included out gay executives, made him feel welcome in the valley as an advocate and leader who served on nonprofit boards. 

While he was growing more comfortable with this identity in his professional life, it wasn’t until tragedy struck in his early thirties that Ferrer began to reckon with his struggle to come out to his family. When his mother died of cancer at age 54, he knew it was time to come out, and he entered therapy to help him do so. “It really helped me come to grips with who I was, what I wanted to do, and what I was doing that wasn’t helpful to my personal and spiritual growth as a gay man.” 

Ferrer’s father’s reaction to his being gay was as he always expected: He immediately began seeing his son through the lens of demonizing stereotypes.  With his family situation rocky, Ferrer missed a few years of family events and tried to make up for lost time by socializing in the bars of San Francisco and San Jose. “It was like I was celebrating my twenties all over again.”

Coming out in the nineties brought its own challenge. Ferrer lost many high school and college friends to HIV. “I was going through all kinds of turmoil with dealing with the death of my mom, the aftermath of dealing with my father, and then dealing with this incredibly sad pain of losing high school and college gay friends to HIV and not having anyone to share that with.”

Despite that trauma and isolation, after he came out, he began advocating for LGBTQ-inclusion in early childhood settings. He taught a curriculum called: Makng Room in the Circle to help involve LGBTQ+ parents.  Ferrer pushed on with his LGBTQ advocacy. As vice chair of the Santa Clara County United Way board in 1992, he led efforts to defund the Boy Scouts because the local chapter would not sign a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation. This debate led to conducting a needs assessment of the LGBTQ community and the ultimate funding of programs like the Billy DeFrank Center.

His work with the United Way showed him the power of putting money where your mouth is and walking the talk when it comes to fighting discrimination.

When Ferrer entered his new role of CEO of The Health Trust 1987, he was upfront about being gay from the start.  He ensured HIV services were a top priority, and transformed and expanded the programs based on the best practices and highest standards of care. He upgraded the food baskets that HIV-positive clients were given, allowing them to choose products themselves from stores like they would if they ahopped at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. “I was able to have Michelin star chefs come in and do cooking projects with us. It was great.”  Later he would co-chair a county-wide LGBTQ+ Health Assessment that would also lead to funding LGBTQ programs. 

Ferrer’s identity remains deeply intertwined with his work in the nonprofit sector, being it was the first safe community he found after experiencing a homophobic culture in college.

In 1995, Santa Clara University graduates wanted to form an LGBTQ alumni group, but the school prohibited it, thinking it would somehow be approving of homosexuality. It brought back memories of the pit Ferrer had in his stomach during his four years of undergraduate enrollment. “It brought back all of the homophobia that existed when I was a student and why it wouldn’t have made sense for me to come out. It also inspired me to make a difference and to work in the world of nonprofits.”

In 2014, then president Father Michael Engh invited Ferrer to chair a Presidential Blue Ribbon Task force on Diversity and Inclusion at the school.  “To have a gay latino man come back as the chair of the presidential commission, I think it showed how far the university has come.”

In 2010, the university established the Rainbow Resource Center. Ferrer now serves as a mentor at the Rainbow Center, working with young gay undergrads who share similar backgrounds. “I see the power of mentorship and the power of having the university recognizing you, and giving you a place to fit in and find like-minded people so that you can continue to develop in ways that may not be normative but in ways that you become more authentic.”

Today, in his role as CEO of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, Ferrer advocates for the LGBTQ+ children in the foster care system, who make up a disproportionate part of the population. He is grateful for the opportunities he has had to work with children, given that one of the biggest arguments against gay marriage concerned children and their development.

Over his lifetime, Ferrer has seen Santa Clara University grow from a place where he had to remain closeted to an institution that seeks out his queer leadership. In 2014, Ferrer was granted an honorary degree from Santa Clara University for Public Service, the first gay man to ever receive this prestigous award.  He saw HIV begin as a death sentence that ostracized the gay community further, and later become a chronic health condition that has lost much of the heavy stigma it used to carry.

“I keep thinking what are the ways that we, as a community, can come together to end the kind of discrimination, homophobia, and now transphobia that exists and then work to change it. I know we will have a better community when those things no longer exist it.”

Judge Jessica Delgado

Delgado 2022 profile

In the third of a series, read about Santa Clara County’s newest LGBTQ member of the bench, Judge Jessica Delgado.

One of six LGBTQ+ judges in Santa Clara County, Jessica Delgado draws from her experience of being on her own at a young age and her intersectional identity as a queer Latina to handle cases with a nuanced and empathetic perspective.

Outed in high school in central Texas in the mid-eighties and rendered homeless, Delgado said she came into her queerness the only way that existed back then: through bars and soccer teams. In 1991, she and her girlfriend at the time decided they wanted to move to a place where they could be safe and out. They chose Santa Cruz.

With the encouragement of teacher and mentor Sam Marian, Delgado eventually went to Berkeley to study law after completing her bachelor’s degree through Cabrillo College and UC Santa Cruz.
Although Delgado swore she would never be in criminal defense, she became a public defender in Monterey County. In 2001, she joined Santa Clara County, where she worked as a deputy public defender for twenty years.

Former Santa Clara County Public Defender and now State Appellate Court Justice Mary Greenwood had told her that it is always important to re-examine your career, so in 2019 she thought it was time to think about a new thing. “I was deeply invested in public service, so being a judge seemed like another way in which I could continue to serve the community,” Delgado said.

As fate would have it, it was Governor Gavin Newsom who appointed her a judge in April 2021. Though they have never met, Delgado and Newsom have a connection that made his appointment of her that much more meaningful. When Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, he defiantly allowed gay marriages on February 12, 2004. It happened to be a court holiday, so she and her partner, along with other lesbian couples, rushed around and drove up to San Francisco to get married.

“Newsom’s action had a tremendous impact on us personally,” she said, “because we felt a sense of hope that our family finally might be recognized.”

Delgado’s marriage, along with all the others, was ruled invalid by the California Supreme Court, but Newsom’s bold move had given her hope. She and Diana, a public defender, have remained domestic partners and have a 16-year-old son.

Delgado felt it was very rewarding to have Newsom evaluate her as a judicial candidate. “To be fully out from the very beginning of the application process all the way through the interview—I felt like a whole person in the process,” she said. “I felt like all of the parts of me and all of the work that I had done over the years was all valued in a way I don’t think any official process had ever felt before. It was special for me to have someone appoint me who had given my family dignity.”
In her work as an out Latina judge, Delgado witnesses the impact of representation on a daily basis. “Just my being up there and who I am means something to the people who are in front of me. I see it all of the time. I see it in the Latinx community when I pronounce someone’s name correctly.”

Despite the neutrality required of judges, joining the bench has been an extremely personal process for Delgado.

“It’s a sacred relationship you have with the public. You should really be asked challenging questions about who you are and who you will be in that position. It’s like an autopsy of the soul, while you’re still awake and alive.”
The experiences of her youth-built resilience and a strong work ethic, and at the same time, gave her high expectations for herself and everyone around her. Delgado has had to learn to manage those expectations when sentencing young people in her courtroom.

“I remember what it was like to be that age and be completely on your own, and there’s a way in which bringing that perspective and that empathy is very powerful from now sitting in this position of deciding what is your sentence going to be, what discretion might I exercise? How can I include this context?”
Delgado brings that same understanding when it comes to racial equity and LGBTQ issues in the system, but she wasn’t always out at work. During her first ten years as a public defender, she worried her identity might harm a client’s case.

Although it has been over a decade since then, the landscape is still far from ideal. “It’s still a very heteronormative criminal justice system and justice system at large.”
Delgado also said she sees students of color struggle with the same challenges she faced as a law student almost thirty years ago.

Delgado works to foster inclusivity by using her intersectional identity to bridge worlds. “I like to bring a little queerness to the table when I’m in the Latinx world. And I like to bring a little bit of a discussion of race and equity when I’m in the LGBTQ world. I try to remind both of those groups that trans women of color should be our priority. They are the most vulnerable in our community and I believe that to be true in Santa Clara County as well.”

In the courtroom, Delgado announces her pronouns and uses gender-neutral phrasing in standard scripts. Outside of court, she has a special focus on mentoring transgender applicants. Currently, there is only one trans judge on the bench in California, and Delgado wants that to change.

“I have my own work to do around being affirming to my trans brothers and sisters. We have to have the capacity to have empathy and compassion for people who are different to be a good ally.”

Song That Radio

Song That

A haven for Vietnamese members of the LGBTQ+ community could be found every Sunday night on Song That Radio, the nation’s first Vietnamese gay and lesbian radio show broadcast out of KSJX in San Jose. Translated as “live truthfully,” the hour-long program was founded in March 1999 by Vuong Nguyen. She was known as the “Eldest Sister” of the ST family, who also founded one of the country’s first Vietnamese gay and lesbian groups in San Jose in the late 1980s.

This wasn’t Nguyen’s first radio gig, previously working as a news writer and reader for American military radio while living in Saigon. Born in 1943, she advocated against Communist Hanoi while a college student early in the Vietnam War. She brought a Vietnamese-style broadcasting mix of news, contemporary music, poetry and letters from readers to Song That Radio, focusing on messages of anti-homophobia and equality in the community and society.

A slogan of the program has been documented online as, “Live true to your biological nature, and live well together, with everyone around and proud of your own. Your natural nature, that of a homosexual, is useful in society.”

The mission of Song That Radio included advocating for acceptance in the Vietnamese community, bridging gaps between heterosexual family members and educating about HIV and AIDS. These goals proved especially vital for closeted LGBTQ folks who weren’t fluent English speakers.

The most recent programs still accessible online date back to August 2013, when discussion topics ranged from a French woman providing breastfeeding services to homosexual parents and Amsterdam’s Gay Pride festival, to Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge?” stance on gay people and ABC Family airing a lesbian wedding on TV – the first after the Supreme Court struck down the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. In addition to radio programming, they hosted in-person shows, where packed audiences would watch nights filled with song, dance, comedy and fashion, sometimes with standing room only. Song That Radio’s location in San Jose wasn’t happenstance.

According to a 2011 report on the Status of Vietnamese Health, Santa Clara County’s Vietnamese population grew from 11,717 in 1980 to 134,525 in 2010 – the second largest of any county in the country. The City of San Jose had the largest Vietnamese population of any U.S. city. At the time, there were no Vietnamese words to clearly, respectfully talk about the LGBTQ+ community. The idea was that by building understanding, that would lead to love, openness and freedom by building a bridge between Vietnamese roots and queer life. This work blended into politics, including marching against Prop 8, which temporarily halted legal same-sex marriages in California. On May 15, 2012, Song That Radio received a commendation from the San Jose City Council.

Visit their website songthat.com in Vietnamese or read their mission in English.

South Bay Leather and Uniform Group


South Bay Leather and Uniform Group (SLUG) had their founders meeting in September of 1988. Don Queen, David Carranza, John Esqueda and his partner Todd, Rafael Montejo and his partner Stan, and Jill and her partner, were the founders. SLUG was started as a social club for the leather community. 

Graylin Thornton was new to the leather community in 1993.  Graylin was about 26 years old when he, along with others, hosted the first Leather Pride Festival in San Jose. Shortly after this, Graylin became the first African American man to win the title of International Mr. Drummer in San Francisco. 

The Drummer contest, now known as International Leather Sir/Boy, spanned a diverse range of fetish communities and included rubber, leather, and cowboys.

Since that early win, Thornton went on to receive the Leather Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, as well as a Pantheon Award from the Leather Journal.

“We don’t do these things for ourselves as leaders, we do them for the community itself,” he said. “And I think that the younger people who are coming up … need to understand that you don’t just go to a beer bust and do one event. You keep going because you’ll always be a part of that community.”

But due to the toll of HIV/AIDS on the leather community over the years, Thornton said, “many younger members aren’t able to look up to as many role models as previous generations have. When I was 25 and 30, I had people there steering me the whole way,” he said. “Unfortunately, they don’t really have that. So those of us who are 50, 55, have to mentor our younger people.”

Mentorship was a key component of Thornton’s entrance to the community, and it still plays an important role.

SLUG disbanded in the mid-1990s, but the group Santa Clara County Leather Association(SCCLA) took its place. SCCLA still hosts leather nights at Renegades.

Read more about Graylin and the Leather Community here: https://www.ebar.com/news/pride//248569

Teatro Alebrijes

teatro alebrijes

A one-of-a-kind LGBTQ Latinx Theater ensemble located in San Jose. The plays produced are inspired by the queer Latinx experience. Rodrigo García and Ugho Badú direct the ensemble in addition to writing the plays that the ensemble performs. Every year the ensemble performs an originally written Christmas play that performs at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, Billy Defrank Center, and in Watsonville. In 2016, they produced a four-episode web series titled “SiemPrE Por Ti” funded by the Health Trust as part of the Getting to Zero strategy. Another project funded by Getting to Zero is “Canción de Cuna para Un Niño Herido/Lullaby for a Wounded Boy” which was met with great success. For three consecutive years, Teatro Alebrijes produced “Carlota” an original play by members of the ensemble, which performed to sold-out audiences that included English-speaking folks who attended despite the fact that the play was spoken in Spanish, but had subtitles projected on a screen in English. In 2019, Teatro Alebrijes was invited to perform at the historic El Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista for its Day of the Dead celebration. The ensemble used to rehearse 2-4 days a week at the School of Arts & Culture, and it’s now holding virtual rehearsals through the Zoom platform.

Colectivo ALA

colectivo ala header 1

In pursuit of creating strong leadership and community within local gay Latinos, Rodrigo Garcia and Omar Nuñez founded Colectivo Acción Latina de Ambiente, ALA, as a volunteer-run grassroots organization in 2011. Before this, Rodrigo had founded De Ambiente, a youth support group for young gay Latinos at Outlet. Having been involved in this and at Aguilas (an intervention program for bisexual and gay Latinos in San Francisco), Rodrigo had already seen the benefits of creating a Latino-based LGBTQ support group. Seeing the lack of organizations — especially in absence of ProLatino — Rodrigo linked up with Omar, who was working at the PACE Clinic and former ProLatino organizer. Together, along with the assistance of AACI (Asian Americans for Community Involvement) and the Billy DeFrank Center, Colectivo ALA was formed. The first meeting was on August 1, 2011. Ugho Badú (a.k.a. Hugo Badillo) was the first program coordinator. The mission of Colectivo ALA has and continues to be about providing a space for the freedom of expression, individual growth, and community building for LGBTQ Latinos and Latinas. 

Colectivo ALA offers group sessions covering a wide array of topics. From HIV/PrEP, Sexual Health to Cultural Traditions and Identity to Social Media and Political Asylum, the organization has done their best to provide assistance for any issue the community brings to the table. They host a number of different programs and activities such as ALA, which is a bi-weekly meeting at the Billy DeFrank Center (on Zoom now due to COVID-19). Furthermore, there are many single-event activities to promote community participation, social interaction, and advocacy for the group, through participating in Pride and an annual summer weekend retreat for 40 gay or bisexual men members. As for art production, Teatro Alebrijes is a theater ensemble put together that creates LGBTQ Latinx-themed productions. Another part of Colectivo ALA is to welcome others into the group, including those from outside of the area to make everyone feel welcome while celebrating their cultural uniqueness.

You can learn more about Colectivo ALA at their website.


“And now we have in these meetings not only folks from the Bay Area, we have folks from Puerto Rico and Mexico. We have a guy from Boston, another guy from Michigan. So it has expanded… because there were places like De Ambiente like Colectivo ALA, where LGBTQ Latinx people have the opportunity to, to practice and become confident and feels empowered. You know, with people like that, these guys are able to take on leadership roles. And I hope that one of them, one day, feel inspired to do something more — but it starts from there, from nurturing those two spaces. When we came up with the idea of Colectivo ALA, we didn’t have anything, but there were allies who were supporting us with the resources that they had.” — Rodrigo Garcia

De Ambiente

de ambiente pride

Jóvenes De Ambiente was a safe space for Spanish speaking and multilingual youth under the age of 25. Not exclusively for Latinx youth, this group was a safe haven for over 50 youth from all over the peninsula and South Bay. This safe haven provided sexual health awareness and leadership development for those interested in activism. Youth participated in rallies, pride parades, retreats, dances, and panels in different schools and medical facilities to bring visibility and awareness about LGBTQ+ youth. Many of the participants today say that De Ambiente was and continues to be a family where they can find comfort and support. This group of individuals was an outlet that kept many away from isolation, depression, drugs and alcohol, and for some, it was a space for individual growth.

Learn more about the organization on their Facebook page.