Culture & Community

Culture & Community Timeline

image

Kathy Wolfe

PIONEER OF LGBTQ+ VISIBILITY Kathy Wolfe, Founder and CEO of Wolfe Video, remembers a time when movies about our LGBTQ lives were not readily available through multiple media outlets. Today’s LGBTQ+ younger community may not know that Kathy played a vital role in kickstarting the visibility of our community in …
Read More
ted sahl profile 2

Ted Sahl

Ted Sahl began his 30-year career photographing the gay and lesbian community in the South Bay in 1978 “through a combination of curiosity and accident.” After the San Jose City Council approved a proclamation for Gay Pride Week, the photographer stumbled upon a confrontation between members of the Moral Majority …
Read More
scu sv pride parade august 2019

The Awakening of Santa Clara University Toward LGBTQ+ Students and Alumni

From Rejection to Support Being out and proud isn’t always an easy feat at any university, let alone on a Catholic Jesuit campus. Santa Clara University has slowly progressed to make that experience easier, from rejecting a gay alumni group in 1995 to founding a Rainbow Resource Center in October …
Read More
Elizabeth Birch HRC event

Elizabeth Birch

As a lawyer, corporate executive and open lesbian, Elizabeth Birch helped coordinate LGBT company policies and guide cultural perspectives of the queer community on a national scale throughout the 1980s and 90s. While activists and LGBTQ+ workers pushed for civil rights, she used her legal expertise to solidify changes and …
Read More

Digital Queers

If the South Bay was home to changing internal policies, San Francisco became the hub for disseminating those ideas beyond Silicon Valley. Larger conventions and gatherings emerged in the early 1990s, including the first Out and Equal workplace conference in October 1991. From there, collectives like the National Lesbian and …
Read More
gender clinic interview featured

Santa Clara County Trans Leaders In Conversation

Supervisor Ken Yeager interviews Sera Fernando, senior management analyst in Santa Clara County’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, and Jules Chyten-Brennan, medical director of the Gender Health Center, about Santa Clara County’s efforts in ensuring healthcare for transgender, gender-non-binary and gender expansive people. Sera Fernando Jules Chyten-Brennan Office of LGBTQ Affairs …
Read More
Song That

Song That Radio

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 …
Read More
slug

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 …
Read More
bennet marks kim harris google

Kim Harris and Bennet Marks

Kim Harris is a computer scientist and gay rights activist based out of Sunnyvale, California. Born in 1946, he studied physics at Louisiana State University, later earning his masters in computer science at Purdue. The Texas native moved to the Bay Area in 1974 to work on a super computer …
Read More
sjsu pride

San Jose State University PRIDE Center

The San José State University (SJSU) PRIDE Center was founded on September 22, 2008, initially as the LGBT Center, to cultivate an inclusive campus climate for LGBTQ+ students. The center supports student’s identity growth, leadership development, and cultivates a community to support the safety and well-being of all LGBTQ+ community …
Read More
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 …
Read More
colectivo ala header 1

Colectivo ALA

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 …
Read More
de ambiente pride

De Ambiente

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 …
Read More
Aejaie

Aejaie Franciscus

Aejaie Franciscus’s story starts with a letter to Santa Claus at five years old, “I asked Santa, to make me a little girl for Christmas, as I was born a boy. To say the least, that present wasn’t under the tree, but it did set me on my life’s journey,” …
Read More
carlas logo

Carla’s

In 1985, it was unsafe to be trans in public. As a response, private salons were opened for people in the community to dress as their true selves. Carla’s Salon opened in 1985 by Carla Blair, a heterosexual woman. Those who attended would have a private place to explore their …
Read More
jules chyten brennan

Jules Chyten-Brennan

Jules Chyten-Brennan is the medical director of the Gender Health Center, where they are building a medical center for trans, non-binary, gender expansive people. Before moving to the Bay Area, they worked in New York City reforming health care for people incarcerated in jails …
Read More
sera fernando bio

Sera Fernando

Sera Fernando was born and raised in San Jose, and now works as a senior management analyst in Santa Clara County’s Office of LGBTQ affairs. As a transgender Filipino woman, she focuses on economic empowerment for people who are transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming and gender diverse. Office of LGBTQ Affairs …
Read More
gender health center opening group trans pride

Gender Health Center

While activists and politicians continue to advocate for transgender rights across the country, people who are transgender, non-binary and gender diverse in the South Bay never have had specialized access to healthcare for years. Santa Clara County established the Gender Health Center in November 2018—the first of its kind in …
Read More
sal accardi featured

Sal Accardi and the Watergarden

In the Spotlight: Sal Accardi By John Follesdal, Esq. From South Bay Times, February 1989 Sal Accardi is the President of the Board of the Watergarden bathhouse in San Jose. Throughout the AIDS crises, his position on keeping the Watergarden open has raised controversy in our community. South Bay Times …
Read More
folclorico 1

Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí

Arturo Magaña attended a ProLatino meeting in 1992 where he first experienced, at 18 years old, a folclórico performance. He witnessed men dancing together to express stories, and he joined immediately. For two years, the group was invited to Washington to dance for the Peace March as well as San …
Read More
mega lunch sign 1991

LGBTQ+ Tech Employees

The diverse, liberal work climates touted by Silicon Valley’s high-tech companies first began with a push for increased civil rights by gay and lesbian employees in the 1980s. As companies like Apple and HP advocated for internal nondiscrimination policies and domestic partner benefits, news spread through the software, hardware and …
Read More
rick-rudy

Rick Rudy

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 …
Read More
splash

The Drag Queens of Silicon Valley

Currently in San Jose, Drag Queens participate in pageants or shows, where they express themselves through their performances.  There is a strong partnership between the San Jose and Santa Clara County Queens and Kings and the San Francisco scene as well, making the community stronger with so many participating. Since …
Read More
amy caffrey

Amy Caffrey

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 …
Read More
trans day of visibility flag raising

Trans Pride Flag

On the 6th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 22, 2016, the county raised the Transgender Pride Flag at the County Government Center, making it the first county in the nation to do so. Afterwards, it was decided to fly it under the rainbow flag everyday as well …
Read More
royal members the annual imperial court event scaled

Imperial Courts

Kevin Roche, a member of the Imperial Courts, remembers that it was over fifty years ago when groups in Portland and San Francisco first started drag balls. “This is when being in drag was a more transgressive activity than it is considered nowadays,” he said in an interview. This was …
Read More
pride trans bi flag county center

Raising the Rainbow, Transgender, and Bisexual Visibility Flags

The month of June holds special meaning for many people because it is known around the world as LGBTQ Pride Month. In San Jose and Santa Clara County, the governing boards issue pride proclamations and raise the rainbow flag, usually at their first meeting in June. Ken Yeager was the …
Read More
rudy galindo profile

Rudy Galindo

In 1996, San Jose was the site of one of the biggest upsets in American figure skating history when Rudy Galindo became the oldest male national champion of the modern era at age 26. Galindo was also the first openly gay figure skating champion, having come out before the competition …
Read More
rachel crowning scaled

Ray Aguilar

Aguilar always urged family members to celebrate holidays together. He was a founding member of The Imperial AIDS Foundation, which provided hot meals, paid rent, prescriptions, and provided transportation to medical appointments for people living with AIDS . Ray Aguilar died due to complications from AIDS in February 1995 …
Read More
SBQA pride 2009

South Bay Queer & Asian

In a history written in 2017 about the founding of the South Bay Queer and Asian, Roger Chow remembers meeting Dino Ago in the fall of 1991 to discuss the need for a gay Asian support group in the South Bay. After some planning, on February 19, 1992, the first …
Read More
grupo prolatino pride

ProLatino

The first meeting of ProLatino was held in February 1992 at the Billy DeFrank Center. Thirteen people attended. The group formed out of the need for a safe environment for gay Latinos to meet and discuss their community, health, and HIV/AIDS. J Alejandro (Alex) Campos Vidrio was the first president …
Read More
alejandro 1

Alejandro Campos

In the late 1980s, J Alejandro (Alex) Campos Vidrio was a 21-year-old gay Mexican college student at San Jose. Like most Latinos, he grew up in a homophobic community, where he found that the stigma of being gay and the stigma of HIV was widespread enough for him not to …
Read More
sisterspirit storefront

Sisterspirit

In 1984, students at San Jose State University, Mary Jeffrey, Marilyn Cook, and Karen Hester, met with Amy Caffrey to discuss the need for a women’s bookstore and coffeehouse where women could socialize and enjoy live music by women. After several meetings, the group named this project Sisterspirit. The group’s …
Read More

History of Silicon Valley Pride

The celebration of pride in Silicon Valley can be characterized as a series of struggles and triumphs. Whether it was presiding over one the largest pride events in between San Francisco and Los Angeles to staving-off bankruptcy and uneven organization, Pride in Silicon Valley has persevered and evolved into a …
Read More
ray aguilar crown

Casa de San Jose

In the early days of Casa de San Jose’s informal association of drag queens, they would travel to San Francisco for the city’s world-famous drag shows. Ray Aguilar, a San Jose drag queen, requested permission to form an IICS chapter in San Jose, which formed as Casa de San Jose …
Read More
El Camino Reelers 2021

El Camino Reelers

Square Dance calls to “Do-Si-Do,” “Promenade” and “Roll Away To A Half Sashay” became a welcome pastime for the LGBTQ community to socialize, stay active and sometimes even find love. The El Camino Reelers is a modern Western Square Dance club in the South Bay, formed in Palo Alto in …
Read More
rafael sf pride 1988

Bartending at Mac’s with Rafael

Rafael Cuilan was a very popular bartender at both Mac’s Club and later Renegades. Rafael was always great with faces and drinks, so no matter how long it had been since you’d been in the bar, he’d remember your drink and be busy mixing it up before you even sat …
Read More
Pam Walton profile

Pam Walton

In 1989, documentarian Pam Walton released “Out in Suburbia,” a 30-minute short film about the lives of 11 lesbian women – aged 25 to 67 – living in the South Bay. Pam, who lived in Palo Alto and Mountain View, featured friends, neighbors and other local women in one-on-one and …
Read More
Kelli Collins 1

Jeff McGee AKA Kelli Collins

Jeff was an integral part of the gay community in the 80s and 90s. His performances as Kelli Collins in innumerable drag shows raised thousands of dollars for many causes, primarily for early AIDS victims who had no financial or medical support at that time. Jeff moved to the South …
Read More
claudia intro paragraph photo

Claudia and the Savoy

For more than twenty years Claudia Thomas was the house DJ at The Savoy, a women’s bar located in Santa Clara. In addition, during the 1990s Claudia played at several of the mobile clubs for women including the G Spot in San Francisco and The Office in San Jose. Claudia …
Read More
darlene lutz profile

An Insight Into the Bar Scene With Darlene

Known throughout the gay community for her signature “beehive” hairdo and fundraising skills, Darlene Lutz Montalbano became a member of the San Jose area LGBTQ community in 1969. She began working as a bartender for Mom and Pop, the original owners of The Savoy (women’s bar) in 1972. Over the …
Read More

billy defrank here to stay

Billy DeFrank Center

The Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center Provided by the Billy DeFrank Center The Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center was established in 1981, and incorporated as a nonprofit in 1983: The Center has been an incubator and catalyst for new and ongoing groups and organizations, reflecting the needs of the community …
Read More
Organizations Header

Organizations

Browse organizations, in their own words …
Read More