Silicon Valley Not Immune To Anti-LGBTQ Violence

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5/8/21

Three years ago, San Jose lawmakers voted to fly a rainbow flag over Chick-Fil-A—an effort to proclaim LGBTQ residents were welcome in one of the world’s most progressive cities. But not everyone shares that sentiment. “I was walking my dog, had my hair down but was wearing my normal boy clothes and someone drove up (and said), ‘Hey f-word’ and then just drove off,” said KP Eugenio, who identifies as queer, referring to the homophobic slur. Eugenio, co-founder of the burlesque variety show Circus of Sin at the Caravan Lounge, says he was targeted because he had his long hair out. The venue is one of a handful of queer-friendly shows and bars in San Jose where people can build community without having to alter their identities. But it’s a different story when the drag queens take the main stage; they take their identities and transform them into larger-than-life character performances for the crowd. Some queens take on a stage name when performing, but not Natalia Smüt Lopez—she wanted everyone to know exactly who she was. Smüt, who was beloved by her friends in the drag community, was killed last month by her boyfriend. He faces murder charges from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. The advocacy group Human Rights Coalition lists Smüt’s killing as at least the 16th transgender and gender nonconforming person killed in the U.S. this year. The coalition reported four more killings since Smüt. If the rate of killings continues, this year will surpass 2020 in the number of transgender and gender nonconforming people killed. More than 100 people celebrated her life at a City Hall gathering with flowers, posters and emotional testimonies from those who knew her. Overlooking her candle-lit mural, two people hung a pink, blue and white transgender rights flag along the stairs leading to the rotunda reading “End The Violence.”

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