Nicole Altamirano is Silicon Valley Pride’s Chief Executive Officer, and has been working year-round with her team to put on South Bay’s largest Pride celebration happening this weekend. 🏳️🌈
We asked Nicole 12 questions about her work with LGBTQ+ youth, and her vision for Silicon Valley Pride’s future. Keep reading to find out her thoughts about how our Pride celebration differs from San Francisco’s, as well as her can’t-go-without local dish.
These answers have been condensed for formatting purposes.
Q: Being born and raised in San Jose, what is it about the city that makes you stay?
A: I have just always felt connected to San Jose — I love the community I live in, work in, and serve. It’s just home and where my roots are, I can’t ever see myself leaving San Jose.
Q: Since first being involved with Silicon Valley Pride, what would you say is its (or your) biggest accomplishment?
A: I would say, it would have to be “Hey Girl!” — a collaborative subcommittee of Silicon Valley Pride that produces and promotes events to women and femme-identifying individuals across the entire spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community.
I am co-chair of this committee alongside Liz Asborno who came up with the idea of bringing more “women” — all inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community — to Pride, and it developed into us producing year-round events to our targeted audience, of which hasn’t been present in many years in the South Bay.
Q: What are you most excited about for this year’s Pride Festival and Parade? What makes this year different from years past?
A: Silicon Valley Pride always tries to build upon what we’ve done in the past. This year, our theme is “Proudly Authentic,” encouraging all to live their proud, authentic lives. It really speaks to where we’re at in this day and age, and looking back at where we’ve come from. We need to stay consistent with our fight, and being proudly authentic in of itself is an act of radical defiance against those that would see us oppressed.
Q: Could you speak on the significance of Silicon Valley Pride, as opposed to the popular San Francisco Pride?
A: There is no doubt that San Francisco is a more notable festival, however Silicon Valley Pride brings its own individuality, with a family-friendly event and focus on our local talent + diversity. We bring in a lot of community partnerships with the City of San Jose Fire Department [...] we work with the Youth Space, we work with The Q Corner, we work with the library, so we really gear our Sunday events towards all. I think if San Jose had the rules San Francisco did, we might see a little bit more skin.
Q: How important is it for people outside of the LGBTQ+ community to also join in on this celebration?
A: I think visibility is important always and any support is welcomed.
Q: Since assuming your position in 2019, what has been the best part about it?
A: I do this work for the community. It is a lot of work, but it’s rewarding. I would say the best part is seeing the community coming together for Silicon Valley Pride, makes it all worth it. I also love to bring the greater message of Pride to the community, which is, Pride was not born out of the need to celebrate, but rather out of the need to live free of oppression. I think it’s always important to bring the message back to how it was all started, and not to forget that the fight is not over until all are afforded equal rights. We are only as free as our most marginalized community members.
Q: What do you hope Silicon Valley Pride is like in 10 years? 20 years?
A: I want to be bigger and better every single year. I have a vision of a ferris wheel. Our former CEO who passed away in 2019, Thaddeus Campbell, bless his heart, he was my mentor and somebody I still look up to and be like, ‘I hope I’m making you proud.’ He always wanted a ferris wheel, so that ferris wheel is happening. It’s not happening this year, but it will happen. It will be dedicated and that’s awesome.
At the festival, we also have a scholarship fund for LGBTQ+ youth and we just started that two years ago, and that’s in his name. I hope that we grow that fund and we can continue to give back to the community that means so much to us.
Q: What’s an improvement you’d like to see in San Jose?
A: I think that there’s a lot more work that needs to be done not only for the LGBTQ+ community, but for all marginalized groups. I think I would like to see tangible results, and not just ‘hey, we’re working on it’, you know? What are we going to do? What are we going to do about stereotyping? What are we going to do about over-policing? What are we going to do about sexual assaults? What are we going to do about redlining? What are we going to do about making our communities better? What are we going to do about equal pay within organizations? But I think it’s important that we see tangible results.
Q: Name some local leaders, influencers, or movers + shakers you’re watching.
A: Marissa Hemstreet of the Indian Health Center, she has a dedication to the community and it is refreshing to see. Gabrielle Antolovich, she is a good friend. Saldy Suriben, he is Pride’s Chief Marketing Officer. Shay Franco-Clausen, she is always inspiring. And Omar Torres, I would like to see him win D3, he has a passion for his community.
Q: What are 3-5 things you want people to know about you?
A: I love dogs, I think there is no greater love than that of a dog. I have an identical twin sister named Athena, she’s 45 seconds older than me. I am a very loyal person, and my mama, Dr. Elena Hernandez is my hero.
Q: What local dish do you crave + rave about?
A: My sister’s picadillo and beans.
Q: Describe San Jose’s personality in three words.
A: Brown + proud, expensive AF, and home.