Over the last six months, a movement has been underway in the South Bay to generate acceptance and provide safe spaces for LGBTQ musicians and fans.
San Jose’s Think and Die Thinking Collective, which was founded in 2012, has organized to help marginalized musicians advocate for themselves. Bean Kaloni Tupou, a founding member of Think and Die Thinking, explains that the typical bar show in San Jose can be a hostile environment for LGBTQ communities.
In February of this year, members of the Collective met with the owner of the all-ages club at San Jose Rock Shop and neighboring Back Bar to discuss a controversial sign posted outside of the bar. In a picture posted on the bar’s Facebook page, a handwritten message on a Back Bar sign reads, “Ladies… If you want a man to leave you alone at a bar, don’t tell him you have a boyfriend. They don’t care. Tell him you have a penis. Your [sic] welcome.”
This prompted San Jose musician Richard Gutierrez to write an open letter to San Jose Rock Shop and Back Bar on Facebook. Acknowledging the “trans / non gender-conforming folks who contribute to the San Jose music scene and have supported the Rock Shop since its inception,” Gutierrez stated, “what you are implying with that ‘joke’ is something very transphobic, hurtful and creating a dangerous space.”
Gutierrez continued, “I realize not everyone is well-versed in these issues and a lot of information about these topics have been suppressed throughout the years and allowed for stigmas to grow. I myself was never taught about these issues until much later.”
Gutierrez ended the letter with a call to action: “I hope you take this opportunity to learn and maybe step up as a great example to the community of making a mistake and truly owning it and attempting to better yourself and bring some light to this […] subject.”
Owner David Nevin quickly apologized, and wrote on Back Bar’s Facebook page
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