Politics & Activism

Politics & Activism Timeline

Political Campaigns

first gay pride proclamation

23 Years Waiting for a Gay Pride Proclamation

The politically charged story behind San Jose’s Pride proclamation reflects the local struggle for LGBTQ rights and the community’s long ...
baymec prop 64 media scaled

The Fight Against Prop. 64

By Ken Yeager Efforts to Quarantine AIDS Patients The early to mid-1980s was a time of widespread misinformation and hysteria ...
awaiting measure a and b results

Measures A & B: Local Anti-Discrimination Attempts

Measures A and B. Anita Bryant. Rev. Marvin Rickard. The Los Gatos Christian Church. Saying these names today is likely ...
palo alto 1981 headline

Measure B in Palo Alto

In the 1980s, even liberal Silicon Valley cities voted against LGBTQ+ rights. In the mid-1970s, being openly gay often meant ...
city hall recognition

The Debate over Marriage Recognition

Read how the City of San Jose voted 17 years ago to recognize marriages of all city employees—not just straight ...
judy rickard torn apart

The Struggle to Gain U.S. Citizenship for Legally Married Couples

Long distance relationships are never easy, even when two people are in the same country. Living in different countries separated ...

wiggsy flyers

Wiggsy Sivertsen

By Ken Yeager Born Aimee Devereaux Sivertsen in Southern California, she has gone by Wiggsy since early childhood, after her sister mispronounced “wiggles” to describe her rambunctiousness. She graduated from San Jose State University in 1962, and later received a master’s degree in social work from Tulane University in New …
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Ken Yeager

Ken had come to San Jose when he was 18 to start a new life away from conservative Riverside, where he knew he could not be openly gay. He graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in political science and held numerous jobs working on public policies to …

alysa cisneros sunnyvale

Alysa Cisneros

When Alysa Cisneros won election to the Sunnyvale City Council in November 2020, at age 33, she became the first openly queer woman to serve on a city council in Santa Clara County since Jamie McLeod sat on the City of Santa Clara council from 2004 -2012. When her council …
jr fruen profile

JR Fruen

Cupertino elected its first LGBTQ+ councilmember in 2022, but it wasn’t easy. Winning took a lot of thick skin to withstand the high level of homophobia prevalent in the campaign.  J.R. Fruen, 43, an attorney, and third generation Cupertino resident, ran for a seat on the city council to evoke …
richard mehlinger profile

Richard Mehlinger

Only a handful of cities in the Bay Area have managed to elect one LGBTQ+ representative to their city councils. Even fewer cities have elected two. Sunnyvale joined the first group in 2019 when openly bisexual Alysa Cisneros won election. But it reached the second group when openly bisexual Richard …
jaria jaug profile

Jaria Jaug

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 …
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Judge Jonathan Karesh

In January 2019, Jonathan Karesh became the second LGBTQ judge ever elected to be the presiding judge of the San Mateo County Superior Court. At the time, he was the only out LGBTQ presiding judge of a county Superior Court in California. He is one of three LGBTQ judges on …
cindy weintraub profile

Cindy Weintraub

Silicon Valley/San Francisco LGBTQ Employee Resource Group Alliance founder Cindy Weintraub moved to Santa Clara from her hometown of Brooklyn, New York in 1979, seeking a place where she and her girlfriend could live together without fear of reprisal. At the time, Cindy didn’t know anyone in California. She had …
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 …
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Judge Shawna Schwarz

In the fourth of a series, read about Santa Clara County’s first out lesbian judge, Judge Shawna Schwarz. Although Judge Shawna Schwarz made history as the first out lesbian judge in Santa Clara County in 2006, her LGBTQ+ identity has been fairly irrelevant in her legal career. “The bench has …
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Judge Randy Rice

A reflection by Ann Ravel, I first met Randy Rice when I was a sophomore at Willow Glen High School and he was a junior. We met because he was friends with my brother, Paul, who was in the same class as Randy. Soon Randy was a staple at our …
Delgado 2022 profile

Judge Jessica Delgado

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 …
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Judge Julie Emede

In the second of a series, read about Julie Emede, an openly lesbian judge who has served on the bench since February 2010. Even when members of the LGBTQ community feel comfortable in their own identity, fears can still seep in about being accepted and respected in daily life. Stemming …
charles adams profile

Judge Charles Adams

Not much is known about the six LGBTQ+ judges that serve on the bench in Santa Clara County. In the first of a series, read about Charles Adams, an openly gay male judge who has served since 2018. Judges often lead lives of privacy, as they strive to unbiasedly guide …
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Speaking up About Marriage Equality

A diverse group of leaders in Silicon Valley in 2010 explain why they strongly believe that the civil right to marry should be extended to committed same sex couples. These leaders come from business, government, law, religion, the arts and community service organizations. Their comments can help us articulate a …
judy rickard torn apart

The Struggle to Gain U.S. Citizenship for Legally Married Couples

Long distance relationships are never easy, even when two people are in the same country. Living in different countries separated by an ocean makes it even more challenging. Prior to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, another layer of hardship existed for same sex couples because the main criteria for granting citizenship …
city hall recognition

The Debate over Marriage Recognition

Read how the City of San Jose voted 17 years ago to recognize marriages of all city employees—not just straight ones—that were certified by other jurisdictions so their spouse could receive full city benefits. The council chambers were packed on March 9, 2004, with 103 pro- and anti-marriage residents speaking …
Amy Brinkman Katie Viall wedding ceremony

Before Marriage, a Fight for Commitments

Same-sex couples who made lifelong commitments to each other never found the occasion printed in the pages of non-LGBTQ publications in the South Bay. That changed on Nov. 7, 1992, when the San Jose Mercury News began publishing announcements of same-sex commitment ceremonies within the paper of record’s pages — …
palo alto 1981 headline

Measure B in Palo Alto

In the 1980s, even liberal Silicon Valley cities voted against LGBTQ+ rights. In the mid-1970s, being openly gay often meant facing prejudices in facets of everyday life, from housing to employment. A handful of cities and counties began granting protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, in the absence of …
laura parmer lohan swearing in

Meet Silicon Valley’s First-Out Lesbian Mayor: Laura Parmer-Lohan

An historic first occurred in the City of San Carlos on December 14, 2020, when Councilwoman Laura Parmer-Lohan was sworn in as mayor. Although it was not reported anywhere, when she raised her hand to take the oath of office, she (surprisingly) became the first out lesbian mayor of any …
Oak Grove School Board members in conversation with Ken Yeager

Oak Grove Trio

The November 2020 election saw a historic “rainbow wave” of LGBTQ+ candidates running for office nationwide, but a Santa Clara County district school board took that one step further: a majority of its members are queer.` Jorge Pacheco Jr., Carla Hernández and Beija Gonzalez will each openly serve as part …
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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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Santa Clara County LGBTQ+ Equality Leaders in Conversation

Supervisor Ken Yeager interviews Maribel Martinez, Director of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs, and David Campos, Deputy County Executive, about the county’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs and Division of Equity and Social Justice. Office of LGBTQ Affairs Yeager Proposes Office Ken Yeager …

Marriage Gallery

This gallery contains many of the first same-sex weddings performed in Santa Clara County in 2013. If you would like to watch the first ceremonies in Santa Clara County, click here.    Ken Yeager …
awaiting measure a and b results

Measures A & B: Local Anti-Discrimination Attempts

Measures A and B. Anita Bryant. Rev. Marvin Rickard. The Los Gatos Christian Church. Saying these names today is likely met with blank stares. But in 1980, they were at the center of a battle for local policies protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public services. In …
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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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The Fight Against Prop. 64

By Ken Yeager Efforts to Quarantine AIDS Patients The early to mid-1980s was a time of widespread misinformation and hysteria about AIDS. There were public fears that AIDS could be transmitted through the air like the common cold or by mosquitoes. Into this atmosphere stepped Lyndon LaRouche, a one-time Marxist …
first gay pride proclamation

23 Years Waiting for a Gay Pride Proclamation

The politically charged story behind San Jose’s Pride proclamation reflects the local struggle for LGBTQ rights and the community’s long fight with the Religious Right. Although the first U.S. Pride marches and parades were held in June 1970, it wasn’t until 1975 that leaders in San Jose’s LGBTQ community asked …

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Crime

Content warning: transphobic and homophobic violence …
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BAYMEC

Provided by BAYMEC In 1984, the local LGBTQ community was still reeling from the 1980 repeal of city and county ordinances which would have given gays and lesbians protection in housing and employment. In a mean-spirited and homophobic campaign, the fundamentalists used such slogans as “Don’t let it spread,” “Vote …
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Silicon Valley Stonewall Democrats

Provided by the Silicon Valley Stonewall Democrats The Silicon Valley Stonewall Democrats was founded in 2003 as the Silicon Valley LGBT Democratic Club. At the time, Silicon Valley was the only major metropolitan region in the country without an LGBT Democratic Club, and Clark Williams was committed to changing that …
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Elected Officials

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION IN SANTA CLARA AND SAN MATEO COUNTIES Updated January 2023 to reflect recent election results It’s hard to come up with a group that is less represented in public office than LGBTQ people. If you take Santa Clara County, for example, with 2 million people, the percentage of …

first gay pride proclamation

23 Years Waiting for a Gay Pride Proclamation

The politically charged story behind San Jose’s Pride proclamation reflects the local struggle for LGBTQ rights and the community’s long ...
baymec prop 64 media scaled

The Fight Against Prop. 64

By Ken Yeager Efforts to Quarantine AIDS Patients The early to mid-1980s was a time of widespread misinformation and hysteria ...
awaiting measure a and b results

Measures A & B: Local Anti-Discrimination Attempts

Measures A and B. Anita Bryant. Rev. Marvin Rickard. The Los Gatos Christian Church. Saying these names today is likely ...
palo alto 1981 headline

Measure B in Palo Alto

In the 1980s, even liberal Silicon Valley cities voted against LGBTQ+ rights. In the mid-1970s, being openly gay often meant ...
city hall recognition

The Debate over Marriage Recognition

Read how the City of San Jose voted 17 years ago to recognize marriages of all city employees—not just straight ...
judy rickard torn apart

The Struggle to Gain U.S. Citizenship for Legally Married Couples

Long distance relationships are never easy, even when two people are in the same country. Living in different countries separated ...