Gay San Jose & Silicon Valley

LGBTQ Travel Gay San Jose & Silicon Valley, United States


Capital of Silicon Valley and the gateway to Northern California, the city was founded in 1777, as El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe, the first civilian town in Spain's Nueva California. The mostly farming community was established to supply San Francisco and Monterey military installations. Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited by several groups of Ohlone Native Americans.

The big boom came as housing for World War II veterans was needed and the city expanded into surrounding areas. Stanford, the research university 20 miles northwest of San Jose, was a major player and catalyst in the transformation of the local economy from fruit orchards to high-tech entrepreneurialism, as Stanford Industrial Park was established in the 1930s. Hewlett-Packard was founded in the garage of Stanford graduate David Packard.

In 1953 William Shockley left Bell Labs in New Jersey to found a research powerhouse in Mountain View to develop the silicon transistor. He recruited some of the world's best scientists and engineers - many of whom would soon break away to found their own start-ups. In the 1980s, Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center worked to develop graphical user interfaces, the Ethernet, PostScript, and laser printers.

Today the area is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations including Adobe, Apple, eBay, Google, HP, Intel and Yahoo!, along with thousands of small independents, now extending far beyond the original Santa Clara Valley boundaries. Silicon Valley has the highest concentration of high-tech workers of any metropolitan area, and is said to have the most millionaires and billionaires in the United States, per capita.

With a Subtropical Mediterranean climate San Jose has over 300 days of sunshine per year. The resident population is around 40% foreign-born, including East Asian (the largest Vietnamese population of any city outside Vietnam), South Asian, Eastern European, as well as Latin American immigrants. Consequently, a wide variety of global cuisines at restaurants of all kinds can be found here.

Performing arts companies include Opera San Jose and Symphony Silicon Valley, both performing at the California TheaterBallet San Jose at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, City Lights Theatre Company, the Tabard Theatre Company, and the San Jose Stage Company.

The San Jose Museum of Art is among the top US modern art museums, and the annual Cinequest Film Festival has become an important showcase for independent cinema each March. The Caamfest San Francisco Asian American Film Festival is another annual event, hosted in San Francisco, Berkeley, and San Jose each September. The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest also takes place each year, in August with jazz, blues, salsa, Latin, R&B, and more. Click for links for these and more at our map & listings pages.

The first Gay Rights rally in San Jose took place in 1971, with a few dozen people. Today Silicon Valley Pride takes place each August with a parade on Market Street and a festival on Almaden Blvd from San Fernando to Park Avenue, Downtown, attracting many thousands. Stockton Street, a quiet west-downtown neighborhood, was home to many gay-owned businesses in the 80s. Of late there's been a shift Downtown to The Alameda, and the intersection of Post and North First Streets.


Getting here

San Jose's Mineta San Jose International Airport, two miles (3km) northwest of downtown, is so central that there are height restrictions on downtown buildings. Flights come in here from regional carriers such as Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and subsidiaries. The Reid-Hillview Airport of Santa Clara County is a general aviation airport in the eastern part of San Jose.

For long-distance flights, people use the San Francisco International Airport, 35 miles (56km) to the northwest, and the Oakland International Airport, 35 miles north.

CalTrain operates commuter rail services between San Francisco and Diridon Station on Cahill Street in San Jose, the city's central depot and main transit hub. The BART system will soon connect to San Francisco, by way of Milpitas, Warm Springs/Fremont through Oakland, from the new VTA Berryessa Station in North San Jose, scheduled to open in June 2018.

Amtrak provides rail service to San Jose from Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pleasanton and Stockton California, and Seattle, WA - with connections to and from points across North America.


Getting around

Santa Clara VTA operates area buses and light-rail in San Jose, Mountain View, Milpitas, Campbell, and Almaden Valley. They also have direct Highway 17 Express bus service to Santa Cruz. Interactive maps on their website include one for Bikeways, and historic streetcars from History Park operate on the downtown light lines on holidays.

Ford GoBike bike-share program, with hundreds of bikes at over 40 stations in and around San Jose, offers single rides for $3 per trip or $9.95 day passes. See their website for details.


Media & resources

A number of gay papers cover the whole Bay Area, from San Francisco and Oakland/Berkeley to the Santa Clara/Silicon Valley area. See: Bay Area Reporter and San Francisco Bay Times; Gloss Magazine, an every-other-week entertainment magazine; Larry Bob's Queer Things To Do, and the Pink Spots LGBT directory.

The Metro Silicon Valley Weekly has area news, features arts and entertainment listings and restaurant reviews for San Jose and surrounding towns. also has a&e listings and upcoming events, plus restaurant and hotel suggestions.

The Billy DeFrank Silicon Valley LGBT Center (938 The Alameda), serves a large and diverse community with information, resources, programs and events. Hear and meet guest authors at their book events in the Library.

ACS/ Outlet provides safe/confidential environment services to support the emotional, physical, and social development of youth, with locations in Mountain View and San Mateo. The associated De Ambiente is a community space for bilingual Spanish-speaking LGBTQQ youth in the Bay Area.

For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Silicon Valley listings pages.


Going out

San Jose is more than a world center for the software industry south of San Francisco; there's plenty of gay social life here in Silicon Alley too.Kin

King of Clubs (893 Leong Dr, Mountain View), mixed neighborhood dive/ karaoke bar, Friday/Saturday Island Beats, Industrial music nights.

Mac's Club (39 Post St), old-time neighborhood bar of many years, games, gay mix of many ages & types, TV sports, back patio.

Renegade's (501 W Taylor St), neighborhood gay bar, bears & leathermen, students to retirees, pool games, beer Club busts.

Splash (65 Post St), gay club dancing on two levels, rooftop smoking patio, videos; Tuesday Latin Nights and home to Club Papi San Jose, and Sunday beer busts.

The Watergarden (1010 The Alameda) - CLOSED Permanently after 43+ years due to Covid-19 - spotless "not-shame- based" destination men's club -- more like a resort than a bathhouse; sex educators on hand.

The Continental (349 South 1st St), mainstream crowd craft cocktails lounge, TV sports, live music sets, DJs. Site of former Brix Nightclub and The Metropolitan gay clubs.

CLOSED: Tinker's Damn (46 North Saratoga Ave), Santa Clara neighborhood bar, jukebox, pool games, drag shows, older crowd.


Restaurants and Shopping

See a sampling of two dozen local restaurants at our maps & listings page.

Leather Masters - CLOSED their 969 Park Av store, but plans to offer leather apparel and accessories, S&M gear, erotic toys and lubes online.

- staff - 2020