Op-Ed: South Bay Leaders Must Do More to Lift Up LGBTQ Voices

As we celebrate and recognize National Coming Out Day, while at the same time keeping our eyes on cases before the Supreme Court this week that have the potential to set us back decades, it’s clear we need elected officials and policymakers who represent and lift up the voices of all our communities.

In Silicon Valley, we may pride ourselves on our progressive values. But as a candidate for Campbell City Council, many conversations I’ve had with those of us in the LGBTQ+ community have demonstrated that we have more work to do to truly lead in this area.

There are many ways in which our region has been ahead of the curve: Santa Clara County’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs is a national model, and we have a vibrant LGBTQ+ nonprofit community which works closely with local government.

Yet problems persist.

LGBTQ+ individuals, for example, are disproportionately more likely to be homeless or housing insecure. And despite questions about methodology, the latest Santa Clara County Homeless Point-in-Time Count showed a clear increase in the number of LGBTQ+ individuals in the South Bay, particularly among younger people.

Just this year, the county opened a shelter to serve LGBTQ+ individuals. With 20 beds, the shelter is regularly filled, with a waitlist to get in. We should expand support for this resource, but our cities also have a responsibility to work aggressively to attack housing insecurity and affordability issues at the root. You can’t call claim to be a progressive on gay and queer rights, while fighting against housing policy that has the potential to make a transformative impact for the community.

Especially critical in these conversations about job security and housing are the ways in which non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals are changing the face of the LGBTQ+ movement. While folks outside the gender binary have always existed, study after study shows a growing number of youth who identify as trans and non-binary.

It’s important that local government and service providers have the training and education to serve this population, especially as California has started issuing state IDs with a nonbinary marker this year thanks to recent legislation. And as the Supreme Court hears cases that will affect the employment rights of this population, our local governments can do their part by increasing hiring of folks from this community.

If there’s one common thread to the many conversations I’ve had, it’s the lack of queer and gay spaces in the South Bay. It’s something I’m working on personally, because while we have incredible resources such as the Billy DeFrank Center, and events like SV Pride that draw people from around the Bay Area, there remains a need for other spaces for LGBTQ+ folks to build community on a more casual, ongoing basis. Local businesses could host weekly or one-off events, while cities and nonprofits can collaborate on bringing people together for larger ones.

As trans historian Susan Stryker has documented, these kinds of spaces have been critical in helping build broader gay, queer, and trans movements which have driven policy and social change. And at the same time, they’ll enrich and strengthen our South Bay culture and community as a whole.

There’s one last thing. Campbell’s City Hall has never flown the pride flag in all the city’s history. As council member, I’ll make sure that changes.

Sergio Lopez is a nonprofit leader and candidate for Campbell City Council. He graduated from Yale, works in youth leadership and civic engagement, and sits on the Board of Directors of the Campbell Historical Museum Foundation. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].

12 Comments

  1. > As trans historian Susan Stryker has documented, . . . .

    Perhaps Susan Stryker could document . . . “How many “trans” are there, actually?”

    It is constantly hinted that the “trans” special interest is of cosmic importance to planet earth and we should drop everything and spare no expense to provide whatever it is that they are demanding.

    So, members of the white working class, as well as members of the black, Hispanic, and Asian working classes who have valid white privilege cards, would like to know: “How many ‘trans’ are there for whom we should feel obligated to provide some government benefit? How much is this going to cost us?”

  2. Where does tribalism end? If separate homeless LGBT facilities are warranted, then of course separate schools, dorms, community centers – ad infinitum for every minority as advocated by self-appointed virtue-signaling leaders.

    If “disproportional” homelessness matters, shouldn’t we fly a Black Power flag since Santa Clara’s homeless population is disproportionately African-American per the 2019 survey?

    Oh, and let’s not forget that the DeFrank Center only survives due to the $1.00 / year rent by property owner City of San Jose. The center went from over a dozen employees to all-volunteer because of plummeting membership. The same phenomena has occurred across the country. Virtually nobody cares – one survey even ranked opinions of LGBT persons above the French.

    Equality and acceptance achievement is a pyrrhic victory. Great for society, but horrible for those that feed or aspire to dine at the public trough by whining about manufactured causes.

    Do tell us how “Uplifting LGBTQ Voices” makes any difference to Campbell residents, businesses, workers, and visitors. Or impacts the disproportionate rates of suicide, substance abuse, and STDs among LGBTs.

    Public safety, jobs, schools, transportation, cost of living, and quality of life matter to everyone. These affect all of us regardless of our sexual orientation, race, gender, or ethnicity.

  3. The LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ community is like 2% of the population but produces about 65% of the “we demand a freebee noise”. We would be much better served by a local government that could find a way to keep the lights on, water flowing,
    and traffic unjammed, so we can all get to work to pay our taxes, so a bunch of ungrateful freeloaders can sit on there asses and demand more free stuff !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I still wonder when local LGBTQ organizations will embrace all types of LGBTQ candidates not just ones that check mark boxes on an agenda. Tolerance is seeing all points of view and recently it felt one sided on their endorsements and support of candidates while bending more to special interests and practicing selective inclusion.

    • > Tolerance is seeing all points of view . . .

      Well, maybe — just maybe — LGBTQ organizations are NOT about “tolerance”.

      Maybe they’re about power. Ya think?

      I’m wondering, where are all those heroic activists who believe in “speaking truth to power”? The LGBTQ tribe sure seems to have a lot of power. They can force sJPD to raise the LGBTQ flag at police headquarters.

      The Boy Scouts don’t have that kind of power. The PTA doesn’t have that kind of power. The NRA doesn’t have that kind of power.

      The LGBTQ tribe can promote their sexuality preferences on the publicly funded SJPD flagpole. Can Playboy corporation promote their sexuality preferences by raising the Playboy bunny flag?

      The LGBTQ lobby is very powerful and very secretive. They can choose when and where to assert their power. They seem to want to assert their power to “bend to special interests and “practice selective inclusion”.

      If someone feels the urge to “speak some truth to power”, the LGBTQ lobby has an awful lot of power that should be subject to a lot more “speaking”.

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