Culture & Community

Culture & Community Timeline

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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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,” …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 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 the …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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Organizations

Browse organizations, in their own words …
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