Silicon Valley Pride is ready to shine

  • by Heather Cassell, BAR Contributor
  • Monday August 21, 2023
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Pride marchers filled the streets of San Jose for Silicon Valley Pride. Photo: Courtesy Silicon Valley Pride
Pride marchers filled the streets of San Jose for Silicon Valley Pride. Photo: Courtesy Silicon Valley Pride

Silicon Valley Pride is ready to shine in the South Bay this weekend.

Festivities culminate with the Pride parade marching down Market Street to the celebration at Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park in the heart of San Jose Sunday, August 27.

Silicon Valley Pride organizers anticipate about 15,000 Pridegoers will fill the heart of Silicon Valley throughout Pride weekend to "Live Out Proud," which is this year's theme.

Nicole Altamirano, chief executive officer of the Gay PRIDE Celebration Committee of San Jose, which produces Silicon Valley Pride, said the theme takes her "back to the root of what Pride was and what Pride is."

"Pride was started not out of a need to celebrate being LGBTQ+. Pride was started out of the need to live authentically, with freedom from persecution and judgment, and harassment and penalty," Altamirano, a 41-year-old lesbian, said, pointing to the record number of anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures across the United States.

In May, the Human Rights Campaign reported that over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, a record. Over 220 bills specifically target transgender and nonbinary people, which is also a record.

So far this year, a record 70 bills have become law. They run the gamut from censoring books and school curricula to providing a license to discriminate to targeting drag performances. Others allow for misgendering transgender students and banning gender-affirming health care for transgender youth.

"We really are a notable festival, as we should be as the 10th largest city in America," Altamirano said.

Events throughout the week include: a Drag Cooking Showdown with Diamond Dior and Jade Amethyst, Monday, August 21, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Tetra Hotel in Sunnyvale; Drinks and Drag Bingo with Jackie Layshun and Tori Tia, Tuesday, August 22, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at S27 Brewery in San Jose; and the Hey Girl Black and Pink Dance Party with DJ Danny G, Wednesday, August 23, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in downtown San Jose. All are free admission.

The Pride flag will be raised outside San Jose City Hall Tuesday in a ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m.

'Living out proud'

"Living out proud is a radical act of defiance," Altamirano said. It's a "defiance of the system that was built to oppress us. Defiance of those that would see us going back into the closet. Defiance of those that would take away our right to marry and take away our right to be equal status of the white males that live in the United States of America.

"The LGBTQ+ community, it's unique in that we don't just encompass one skin color, one gender, one orientation, one ability, one attraction," Altamirano said. "We encompass everyone."

To that end, Pridegoers can expect events geared toward all.

"Silicon Valley Pride is very intentional about making sure our festival is diverse, making sure that everybody has a place in our festival," she added.

Singer, songwriter, and performer Frenchie Davis will headline Silicon Valley Pride. Photo: Courtesy Frenchie Davis  

The Silicon Valley Pride headliner is Grammy-nominated Broadway singer and 2003 "American Idol" season two contestant Frenchie Davis. She said this year's theme is "so important," thinking about the queer youth who need to see LGBTQ people living openly with pride.

"Our young people are watching," Davis, a 44-year-old bisexual woman, wrote in an email to the Bay Area Reporter. "There are young people who are thinking about ending their lives because they're different. Seeing us, who are also different, living out proud and unapologetically can encourage and strengthen them."

Emerging bisexual singer and songwriter Grant Knoche is also headlining the Pride celebration. Hailing from Texas and now based in Los Angeles, Knoche agreed with Davis, reflecting on the effects of his music on his audience.

"I had so many people coming and saying, 'Oh my gosh, you just changed my life,'" the 20-year-old musical artist said in a phone interview about meeting fans. They've told him how his songs influenced them to come out or just inspired them to love themselves even more regardless of sexuality. "It just helped so many people get the courage to be themselves 100%," Knoche said.

He said that it gives him the chills thinking about it.

"I think that's so important, especially today with social media and everybody feeling like they have to be perfect and be flawless," he continued. "I think what's amazing about human beings is that we can just be ourselves and not have to be perfect."

For Davis, taking pride in who you are is what living out proud is about.

"Living out proud means to me the decision to be unapologetic about who you are and to take pride in who you are," Davis wrote, adding that being kind to oneself and others "empowers us to exercise kindness toward others."

"Self-acceptance and pride help us create a better world," she added.

Transgender singer, songwriter, and actress Adore Delano will also headline on the main stage August 27. Delano appeared on two seasons of "American Idol" (sixth and seventh) and placed in the final three in the sixth season of "RuPaul's Drag Race."

Bigger and better
Altamirano said she is "super excited" about this year's Pride parade and celebration.

"Year-over-year I get more excited," she said. The parade and celebration gets "bigger and better each year."

"We definitely are bringing in a lot of talents to our stages this year," Altamirano said. "We try to highlight all of our community on all of our stages, so it's always a great time."

The parade and celebration is produced by an all-volunteer team of 10 pulling off the event with an annual budget of $175,309, according to the organization's 2022 IRS 990 Form.

On Sunday, Pridegoers will enjoy headliners Davis, Knoche, and Delano on the main stage in Plaza de Cesar Chavez, August 27.

"I am so excited!" Davis wrote about performing. The California-raised self-described vocalist, thesbian, warrior, professor, and goddess wrote, "being able to come to my home state, and do what I love... Celebrating pride with my community... It's very meaningful to me."

Pridegoers can "expect me to sing my heart out, laugh out loud, and take them on a journey of songs that they love! We are going to have a great time!" she added.

Knoche's hit TikTok song, "First Hello," went viral with more than 40 million views and 1.5 million streams within a single month in 2022. His debut album, "Color Me Blue," has received accolades from New Music Friday to Today at Apple and more since its 2020 release.

"This year has been great with all the Prides and just feels really awesome," he said, explaining that he came out last year and missed the Pride circuit.

"It's gonna be a high energy, very fun performance," Knoche told the B.A.R. "I can't wait for everyone to come out and have a great time."

Silicon Valley Pride isn't the only South Bay LGBTQ organization celebrating this weekend. San Jose's the Qmunity District, a collective of queer retail and nightlife businesses in the heart of the tech capital, is also offering a number of events. The activities are in line with this year's Pride theme and recognizing the attack on the LGBTQ community while celebrating the community, officials said.

"We are very excited about this year's Pride," said Nathan Svoboda, president of Project MORE Foundation, which stewards the Qmunity District in downtown San Jose.

Svoboda noted the anti-drag bills and other legislation proposed across the country, which inspired the Qmunity District's Pride opening party, Cocktails & Queens, presented by the LGBTQ+ Council The Royals. Taking place Saturday, August 26, at 4:30 p.m., it honors and supports the South Bay's drag queens with performances by The Only Tala, Diamond Dior, and Vendetta at the Silicon Valley Capital Club, a members-only club that is opening to the public for the event, at 50 West San Fernando Street, Suite 1700 in San Jose. Tickets are $45.

"We really want to support our local performers," he said. "We want to make sure that our drag queens this year are really supported and highlighted after various legislation ... across the country.

"It's something that can really rally community around," Svoboda said.

The Qmunity District is also having a Pride parade viewing celebration at "Poppin' with Pride," Sunday, August 27, from 10 a.m. to noon on Post Street at First and Market streets. The event is for adults 21 years of age and over. Tickets are $30.

The Qmunity District hosts LGBTQ community events throughout the year.

Project MORE Foundation is an organization that strives to improve the quality of life of the LGBTQ community by empowering inclusion within a compassionate and safe environment through cultural activities, outreach, education, and advocacy, according to the organization's website.

Other Pride events
This is the fifth year that the South Bay's Pride is hosting a variety of events leading up to the weekend celebrations and parade.

There will be a Pride Movie Night Thursday, August 24, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Pruneyard Cinemas in Campbell. Tickets are $60.

The LGBTQ+ Council hosts the sixth annual "Pride in the Penthouse," a cocktail mix and mingle for community members to learn more about the council's plans for the rest of the year. The free event August 24 is open to the public from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Silicon Valley Capital Club, 50 West San Fernando Street, Suite 1700 in San Jose. Club members can RSVP via the club's app, non-members can RSVP here.

Silicon Valley Pride's official pre-festival kickoff event with disc jockeys Moscone and Lexapeel is Friday, August 25, from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Corinthian Grand Ballroom, 196 N. Third Street in San Jose. The party is free and open to the public.

California State Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) will hold an Assembly District 25 Pride celebration co-hosted by Project MORE Foundation and the Qmunity District August 25 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. For more information, contact [email protected]

A Night Festival takes place Saturday, August 26, from 6 to 11 p.m. at Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park. Entertainer Robin S.("Show Me Love") will headline the main stage, along with performances by Tryn on the Liberation stage.

Cocktails & Queens takes place the same evening, hosted by Diamond Dior and The Only Tala with a performance by Vendetta. It's from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Century Club. Tickets $45 per person. Club members can RSVP via the club's app, non-members can RSVP here.

People can continue celebrating Pride Sunday at the Qmunity After Party, an outdoor block party with disc jockeys, go-go dancers, and more happening after the Pride celebrations. The party is free to the public to attend.

A family affair
The Pride festival also features an expanded Family Garden with family-friendly events this year.

"Silicon Valley Pride has always been unique in that we are a family-friendly event on mainly Sunday," Altamirano said. "We've always prided ourselves in really being able to welcome families and kind of expand that to a Pride for everyone, including those that have young children."

Partnering with Cosplay with Pride and the San Jose Public Library, the Pride festival has been able to create an array of activities for kids and their queer parents.

"I don't want to give away all our secrets, but we're definitely going to have stuff for the family this year," Altamirano said.

Additionally, there will be live visual art exhibitions, a cocktail lounge, food trucks, and many vendors for Pridegoers to peruse.

The parade starts Sunday, August 27, at 10 a.m. at Julian and Market streets. The parade will march down Market Street into the festival at Plaza de Cesar Chavez. The festival runs from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 a day and are available at the gate.

For more information, go to

Updated, 8/21/23: This article has been updated with additional events and comments from the Qmunity District in San Jose.

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