San Jose now has its own designated LGBTQ district
SAN JOSE, Calif. - San Francisco has the Castro. Sacramento has Lavender Heights.
But San Jose didn't really have a designated LGBTQ district, until now.
Community leaders have a new vision for Post Street downtown: A section of downtown, designated as a hub for the LGBTQ community.
They're calling it the Qmunity District.
"The project will ultimately be a pillar for LGBTQ folks within the community," says organizer Nathan Svoboda with Project More.
City officials chipped in 66-thousand dollars to get the project off the ground.
Phase 1 includes new LED lighting, banners, trees and art.
"This has been a labor of love for the last few years," says San Jose City Council member Raul Peralez.
Phase 2 will involve community input: deciding how to grow, bring in new businesses and plan events.
The owner of Splash Bar is hopeful the area will become even more vibrant.
"When you have things going on around you that help that energy, you can't go wrong," says TJ Bruce of Splash Bar.
Community members say for them, the District is about belonging and inclusivity and of having a permanent area to call their own.
"It really sends a message of how we are prioritized by our community, by our local leaders and that you are welcome here, you are safe here," says Adrienne Keel, Dir. of LGBTQ Programs for Caminar.
"With this space, we the LGBTQ community in San Jose, will not go back to the closet in any literal or metaphorical way. Instead, we will be infused in the heart of downtown," says Maribel Martinez of the SCC Office of LGBTQ Affairs.
Organizers of the district say they see great potential here: an area for shopping, dining, culture and more.
"We're not stopping here. We're just starting here," says Svoboda.
The Qmunity District is now looking for LGBTQ artists for a mural they're planning.
They are also organizing a series of town hall meetings to discuss what comes next.