San Jose's Gay Community Self-Segregates Along Racial Lines

San Jose's Gay Community Self-Segregates Along Racial Lines

Story tools

A A AResize


When I was growing up in Walnut Creek, Calif., the community is usually either white or Asian with specks of Black and Latino. I’m Black and my best friends were Filipino and white. Of course it's easier to hang out with your own race, but easy isn’t fun. I hung out with everyone that I could relate to on one platform or another.

When I realized I was gay, I started to go to gay-oriented youth groups that brought together all backgrounds with the same understanding. Race again didn’t matter. If anything did matter, it was our individual struggles with our sexuality that brought us together in such a way that bonded us. Everyone knew everyone. Better yet, everyone accepted everyone. The smaller community within the community was mixed, mingling, and very open. When I say a smaller community, I'm not just talking about Walnut Creek or Concord. I’m talking about ALL of the 925 area code.

When I moved to San Jose about five years ago for college, I was ready for change, city lights, and expected the same open armed welcome that I had been accustomed to. But I found it odd that the only welcome arms I saw were the ones the same color as mine. For a couple of years, trying to not be the odd man out, I silently conformed. When I asked my friend if he saw San Jose’s gay community as being divided, he quickly admitted that it is. He laid out the rules, “The Asians hang out with Asians; the Latinos are glued to the Latinos; the whites are clicked up with the whites, and the blacks are the same.”

Whenever I’d go to the Brix or Crave in San Jose, which are described as the popular gay clubs for the younger generation, it seemed like each race intentionally segregated themselves. I’ve never seen anything like it really. Each group takes up a section of the club. The only mix is when you get to the bar, and that's only because seating is random and people are just trying to get more drinks.

When I was younger and used to go to a club called Cribs in San Francisco, the vibe was way more relaxed, and people weren’t afraid to talk to people. I danced with all different kinds of girls and boys. It was fun knowing that I was free. In the San Jose community, I feel way more confined and restricted to talk to a certain group of people.

I’ve been in situations where I was only accepted by a group of Hispanic girls because someone pretty much had to vouch for me. Because I was brought in by one of their “own” was the only reason my presence was validated.

I think there are a lot of things that are lost by sticking to your own race, perhaps particularly so in the gay community here in San Jose. There is enough of a sense of separation and isolation that the gay community deals with, and no need to bring more fragmentation on ourselves. At the end of the day, relationships should not be based on race, but on a mutual commonality regarding likes and dislikes.
I wish that San Jose could be as free and open as other parts of the Bay Area’s gay community. I know that things won’t change overnight. But I think in order to begin change, the acknowledgment that there is a problem that needs solving is the first step.

Kasha Covington is a writer and musician for Silicon Valley De-Bug.

Kasha Covington is a writer and musician for Silicon Valley De-Bug.