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Why San Jose celebrates LGBTQ Pride in both June and August

Why San Jose celebrates LGBTQ Pride in both June and August

At the flag-raising ceremony for SV Pride Week on Tuesday, San Jose City Councilmember Pam Foley noted that San Jose and Silicon Valley were fortunate to be able to raise the flags and celebrate its LGBTQ community twice a year — during the traditional Pride Month in June and again in August. The sentiment was echoed by other speakers including Mayor Matt Mahan and Councilmember Omar Torres.

Of course, it raises the question of why SV Pride happens in August, two months after the big celebrations in other cities including San Francisco and when corporations slap a rainbow flag onto anything they can sell. You only have to delve into a little history of San Jose’s event to find out why, and the BAYMEC Community Foundation website, queersiliconvalley.org, is a great resource for that.

San Jose’s first Gay Pride event was at San Jose State in June 1975 and events were held in June at venues including St. James Park, the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds and Discovery Meadow for the next 35 years. The festivities eventually drew tens of thousands of people and big names like RuPaul and Cyndi Lauper. June, of course, is when the Stonewall Riots in New York City took place, considered the start of the gay rights movement and has been dedicated as Pride Month nationally since 1999.

The Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus performs the National Anthem during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Silvanna Danniels, from Gilroy, performs during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Silvanna Danniels, from Gilroy, performs during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Councilmember Omar Torres speaks during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan speaks during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata, left, chats with Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez before Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Silvanna Danniels, from Gilroy, holds a rainbow colored fan during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

From left to right, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Ken Yeager, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, and San Jose Councilmember Omar Torres, participate in the flag raising during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan wears a Pride sticker on his suit before Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan smiles before Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, left, chats with San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata before Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Councilmember Pam Foley speaks during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan speaks during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, left, chats with Ken Yeager before Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Ken Yeager, left, chats with Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez before Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

From left to right, San Jose Councilmember Omar Torres, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan and Silvanna Danniels, from Gilroy, listen to the National Anthem during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Councilmember Pam Foley speaks during Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

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But San Jose’s celebration changed dates 2010, mostly because of two factors: San Francisco and money. Activities in San Jose were being overshadowed — and rightly so — by the huge goings-on in its neighbor to the north. It wasn’t just tough to compete for attention but for corporate sponsorship dollars. (Remember, this was just after the economy tanked and everyone was pulling back on spending.)

So SV Pride, as its been known since 2014, is in August and nobody seems to see any good reason to change that. This year’s corporate sponsors include Amazon, Santa Clara network security firm Infoblox and a bunch of other tech companies like Google, Applied Materials, Intel, Microsoft and Samsung. San Jose’s not alone in not celebrating in June, either: San Diego’s Pride festivities are in July; Savannah, Ga., holds theirs in October.

Ken Yeager — the former San Jose city councilmember and Santa Clara County supervisor who started the Pride flag-rising ceremonies at City Hall two decades ago — said moving the Silicon Valley celebrations made sense on a cultural level, too. “San Jose has a unique LGBTQ story to tell that is separate from San Francisco,” he told the Rotary Club of San Jose on Wednesday.

The week’s festivities include a movie night Thursday at Pruneyard Cinemas in Campbell and a kickoff party Friday night at the Glasshouse in downtown San Jose. That leads up to the big two-day SV Pride Festival, Saturday night and all day Sunday at Plaza de Cesar Chavez, and the SV Pride Parade in downtown San Jose on Sunday morning starting at 10:30 a.m. You can get more details on everything this week — as well as other events throughout the year — at www.svpride.org.

YEAGER SPEAKS OUT: Speaking of Ken Yeager, the groundbreaking politician has put his experiences into a new book, “Run!: My Story of LGBTQ+ Political Power, Equality, and Acceptance in Silicon Valley.” It’s hard to think of anyone who could match Yeager’s breadth on the subject, given his four decades in public service and continuous fighting for LGBTQ rights, following voters’ rejection in 1980 of two measures to protect gay rights in Santa Clara County and San Jose.

Ken Yeager stands at San Jose City Hall before Silicon Valley Pride’s flag raising ceremony in downtown San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Yeager really lays out the way his sexual orientation was used — unsuccessfully — against him as a city council candidate, and some of the worst stuff borders on the unbelievable, at least until you think about the anti-LGBTQ attacks happening today. At its heart, “Run!” is a good local history book told from a perspective we rarely get, and it’s also a good how-to for candidates considering their own campaigns.

You can purchase it online (tinyurl.com/YeagerGoodReads) or at shops including Books Inc. in Campbell and Palo Alto, Recycle Bookstore in San Jose, Reach & Teach in San Carlos and Bookshop Santa Cruz.

NAME THOSE PUPS: Remember the red-ruffed lemurs born on May 19 at San Jose’s Happy Hollow Park & Zoo? Well, they still need names and the city is turning to the public for its opinion.

There are six names on the table for the male pups, which all have special meanings in Malagasy, the national language of Madagascar: Záza (kid); Fiti (love); Fiaro (that which protects); Maharo (protect/defend); Toky (confidence); and Noro (light/source of life). The public can cast a vote for their favorites through Aug. 28 at happyhollow.org.