Queer Silicon Valley


November 2nd, 2020

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 residents, the percent of queer people serving on elected boards is almost zero. There are an estimated 298 local elected offices in the county that candidates can run for (city, county, school board, community college, special districts). Currently, there are 6 out LGBTQ elected officials. That’s 0.07 percent.

This is why we must continue to amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ people, by sharing our stories, and making sure to vote in local and national elections.

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October 31st, 2020

Day 31 of LGBTQ History Month

Keep it moving with BayLands FrontRunners!

BayLands FrontRunners (BLFR) is a Santa Clara and San Mateo County LGBTQ running, walking, and social club of men, women, family, friends, and pets. The club was founded in 1991 in Palo Alto and is one of a network of 110 FrontRunner clubs spanning six continents.

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October 30th, 2020

Day 30 of LGBTQ History Month

The first year that the San Jose City Council passed a resolution for a Gay Pride Proclamation was in 1978. The resolution generated such a tremendous backlash among the city’s Christian conservative population that the council rescinded their vote when 800 opponents show up at City Hall. Unbelievably, it would take 23 years before the full city council would again issue such a proclamation when Councilmember Ken Yeager introduced it in 2001.

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October 29th, 2020

Day 29 of LGBTQ History Month

San José State University (SJSU) looks out for their LGBTQ+ students. The SJSU PRIDE Center was founded on September 22, 2008, in order 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 members at SJSU.

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October 28th, 2020

Day 28 of LGBTQ History Month

Silicon Valley is perhaps best known lately for its tech industry. The LGBTQ+ community that lives here was instrumental in building this reputation from the very beginning. High Tech Gays (HTG) was a Silicon Valley LGBTQ social and activist organization that operated from 1983 to 1997. It held monthly business meetings attended by hundreds. Members enjoyed social outings, assisted each other in job searches and some became very active in the LGBTQ rights movement.

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October 27th, 2020

Day 27 of LGBTQ History Month

While the dangers of being a young LGBTQ+ person run high, the risks of depression, suicidal ideation, substance use and HIV/STD contraction significantly decrease when queer youth have family acceptance and community support. Outlet, a Silicon Valley based youth space founded in 1997 is committed to developing LGBTQ+ affirming individuals, schools, families, work environments and communities.

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October 27th, 2020

Day 27 of LGBTQ History Month

LGBTQ+ youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide than their heterosexual peers (via The World Health Organization). It is crucial that the youngest members of the LGBTQ+ community are provided with the resources they need to feel safe, seen, and supported.

That’s where the San Jose LGBTQ Youth Space comes in. The Youth Space is a community drop-in center and mental health program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and ally youth and young adults ages 13-25 who live in Santa Clara County. The center is committed to running a participant-driven program focused on youth empowerment strategies.

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October 26th, 2020

Day 26 of LGBTQ History Month

The Health Trust is the largest provider of non-medical services to people living with HIV/AIDS in Santa Clara County. As a nonprofit operating foundation, The Health Trust tackles health inequities using a multifaceted approach: providing direct services, making grants to community-based organizations, and advocating for policies and initiatives that advance its mission to build health equity in Silicon Valley.

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October 26th, 2020

Day 26 of LGBTQ History Month

The 1970s and 1980s were a harrowing time for the LGBTQ+ community. The battle against the HIV/AIDS crisis continued to ravage people’s lives, and the lack of support for HIV positive individuals was dismal. Recognizing this, The AIDS Resources, Information & Services (ARIS) Foundation formed in 1986 to provide information, resources, and support for AIDS & HIV positive patients in Santa Clara County.

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October 25th, 2020

Day 25 of LGBTQ History Month

In 2003 Silicon Valley was the only major metropolitan region in the country without an LGBT Democratic Club, and Clark Williams was committed to changing that. With an anti-LGBTQ “marriage” amendment to the U.S. Constitution on the horizon, Williams pulled together a group of activists including David Parker, Evan Low, Doug Winslow, and Ray Mueller at the Billy DeFrank Center to organize. This was how the Silicon Valley LGBT Democratic Club, later known as the Silicon Valley Stonewall Democrats, was born.

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October 24th, 2020

Day 24 of LGBTQ History Month

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 gender identity. It was a combination tearoom, beauty salon, boutique, and social center that became popular worldwide within the transgender community.

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October 24th, 2020

Day 24 of LGBTQ History Month

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,” she recalled.

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October 23rd, 2020

Day 23 of LGBTQ History Month

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.

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October 22nd, 2020

Day 22 of LGBTQ History Month

For 15 years, ENTRE NOUS provided an opportunity for lesbians to speak out in print. News, profiles, book and movie reviews, discussions of controversial issues and much more were contributed by a large number of talented writers. Original staff members found community in group mailing parties hosted to distribute the publication.

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October 22nd, 2020

Day 22 of LGBTQ History Month

Check out all the vibrant content that has been published by the Silicon Valley LGBTQ+ community! We are thrilled to present a brief history of ENTRE NOUS, Our Paper/Your Paper, Lesbian Voices, OutNow, and more. Are we missing your publication? Send us a message! We’d love to include you.

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October 21st, 2020

Day 21 of LGBTQ History Month

Arturo Magaña first experienced a folclórico performance in 1992 when he was 18 years old, and it inspired him to keep dancing for the rest of his life. He has fought long and hard for a space where the LGBTQ+ community could express themselves through this type of dance, and it was with this spirit that Ensamble Folclórico Colibri was born. 

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October 20th, 2020

Day 20 of LGBTQ History Month

Content Warning: Police Violence and Transphobic Language

On May 4th, 1986, a young Black man named Melvin Truss was shot and killed by a member of the San Jose Police Department. He was 17 years old. The SJPD claims that Truss was an armed robbery suspect. The community, however, was outraged over the murder of this young person’s untimely death. They fought for his justice.  BAYMEC was successful in having the San Jose City Council approve of LGBTQ sensitivity training of the police department, led by Wiggsy Sivertsen.

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October 19th, 2020

Day 19 of LGBTQ History Month

Content Warning: Homophobia

The 1980s were a decade wrought with homophobia fueled by the public’s fear of the growing HIV/AIDS crisis. Many people believed that the virus could be transmitted by mosquitoes, from public toilet seats, and through the air like a common cold.

In November 1986, Proposition 64 went on the ballot, calling to quarantine AIDS victims by forcing those with positive test results to publicly disclose their health status and enforcing limitations on these people’s access to education and travel. A Los Angeles Times poll published the previous summer found half of the public favored quarantining AIDS victims, and a quarter believed that “AIDS is a punishment God has given homosexuals for the way they lived.”

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October 18th, 2020

Day 18 of LGTBQ History Month

Curious about how, where and when San Jose/Silicon Valley Prides have occurred? After much research, Queer Silicon Valley has the answers! Check out the website to learn where the first local Pride was held in 1976 and all the other 44 Prides since then. Do you know when Harvery Milk spoke or when RuPaul performed? Were you there? Curious about the parades? Have you marched? There is an interactive map to view the locations of the parades and all the Pride festivals.

We’d love to see your Pride pictures. Tag@queersiliconvalley and we will add them to our gallery!

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October 17th, 2020

Day 17 of LGBTQ History Month

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.

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October 16th, 2020

Day 16 of LGBTQ History Month

In pursuit of building a strong community amongst the gay Latinx community of San Jose, 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.

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October 15th, 2020

Day 15 of LGBTQ History Month

Santa Clara County established the Gender Health Center in November 2018—the first of its kind in the nation. The Center provides access to specialized health care for all trans, non-binary and gender diverse folks. The need for the health center came after then-President of the Board of Supervisors Ken Yeager called for a health assessment of the LGBTQ+ community in his January 2013 State of the County address. Unsurprisingly, the report found that 28% of transgender, gender non-binary, and gender expansive people had experienced healthcare discrimination, while 38% were unable to access medical care at all.

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October 14th, 2020

Day 14 of LGBTQ History Month

The first county-level office of its kind nationwide, the Santa Clara County Office of LGBTQ Affairs opened its doors in January of 2016 under the advocacy of Supervisor Ken Yeager. Since then, the office has provided support to the LGBTQ+ community, as well as acting as a central resource hub on LGBTQ+ issues and concerns. Because of its innovative work, other government agencies throughout the country have created similar offices.

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October 13th, 2020

Day 13 of LGBTQ History Month

Ray Aguilar was a local San Jose drag queen whose activism played a crucial role in promoting the inclusion and health of LGBTQ+ people in the drag community. Without Ray, the Imperial Court of San Jose would never have come to be. Ray Aguilar passed away due to complications from AIDS in February 1995 but is legacy lives on.

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October 13th, 2020

Day 13 of LGBTQ History Month

In the 1960s, San Jose drag performers only had an informal community. Together, they would travel up to San Francisco to world-famous drag shows. But everything changed once Ray Aguilar, a local drag queen, requested permission to form an IICS chapter in San Jose, which formed as Casa de San Jose of Santa Clara County Inc in the early 1970s. In 1990, the organization was reincorporated as The Imperial Royal Lion Monarchy, Inc. of San Jose. Casa de San Jose elected a full royal court every year: an emperor and empress, crown princes and princesses, czar and czarina, and grand dukes and duchesses.

The Imperial Court of San Jose was unique in that people of all gender expressions and sexual orientations were welcome to join. Any San Jose resident could vote for their favorites on the court. Winners were then escorted on stage to be crowned by the host emperor and empress.

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October 12th, 2020

Day 12 of LGBTQ+ History Month

Content warning: homophobic violence & graphic language.

On June 11, 1991, 42-year-old gay, civil rights activist William (Bill) Kiley was tending to the lawn of his San Jose rental property, just across the street from his home, when he became the victim of a hate crime. As Kiley finished watering his tenant’s lawn, he was approached by Joshua Huff, the swastika-sporting 17-year-old who lived next door with his parents. Huff began to verbally assault Kiley, eventually punching him in the face. Kiley sprayed Huff with his hose to get him away, but Huff only removed his jacket, and yelled, “Come on fucking faggot!” over and over as he slammed his fists into Kiley’s face, and his feet into his chest and stomach.

Kiley had already suffered at length at the hands of his neighbors who repeatedly verbally harassed him with homophobic slurs and damaged his property without consequence. But today was different. Knowing that he needed a way to prove the hate crimes, Kiley placed a handheld camera in his living room window and set it to record as he managed his rental property.

That day, he caught the whole attack on tape.

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October 11th, 2020

Day 11 of LGBTQ+ History Month

This past Monday, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito levied an attack on the 2015 decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry under the 14th Amendment.

Now, more than ever, it’s time for us to declare our love proudly in the face of bigotry. We are thrilled to present you with a brief history of marriage equality and a gallery of LGBTQ+ wedding ceremonies.

We’d love to see your wedding too! Tag @queersiliconvalley in your wedding photos and we will add them to our gallery!

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October 10th, 2020

Day 10 of LGBTQ+ History Month

Remember when we used to go out on Saturday nights? We miss it too, but in the meantime, you can fix yourself a drink at home and explore our historical gay bars & clubs map! Did you know that in 1986, San Jose had 13 gay bars in operation? We still have three: Splash (@splashsjc), Renegades (@renegadesbar), and Mac’s Club. Be sure to check out they’re reopening status and support your local businesses!

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October 9th, 2020

Day 9 of LGBTQ+ History Month

Content warning: discussion of transphobic and homophobic violence.

On October 3, 2002, San Jose resident Gwen Araujo attended a house party with Michael Magidson, Jaron Chase Nabors, and Jose Merel. Upon discovering Araujo was trans, the three men, along with a fourth unnamed assailant, brutally attacked Araujo before strangling her, hitting her over the head with a shovel, and burying her body in a shallow grave in the El Dorado National Forest, four hours from her home.

At Araujo’s funeral, her mother Sylvia Guerrero released 17 butterflies, one for every year of Gwen’s short life.

The proceeding trial was a landmark case in “panic defense” tactics. The panic defense has robbed LGBTQ+ folks of justice for decades by excusing their murderers for reasons like “heat of passion,” effectively suggesting that the deaths of people like Gwen Araujo are somehow justified.

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October 8th, 2020

Day 8 of LGBTQ+ History Month

Roger Chow’s fight for representation began in the fall of 1992 when he met with Dino Ago to discuss the dire need for a support group for Asian LGBTQ+ people. It was from that meeting that Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) was born. AACI would later grow into South Bay Queer and Asian, or sbQA, a safe space for the pan-Asian community to receive support and counseling as well as help with family, financial, immigration, and mental health issues.

sbQA has never stopped fighting for their community. Through the years, they have overcome controversy and membership crises with determination to continue providing fun events and crucial services for pan-Asian LBGTQ+ people and their families. In 2020, that means helping many people face the very real threat of deportation, which would mean losing their homes, jobs, and way of life.

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