‘The Walk-In Closet’

Trends Reporter

Photo by: 

San Marcos resident Silvia Sandoval has made it her mission to bring the first LGBTQIA bar to town and help bring overall awareness to the public about the diverse community in the process.

Sandoval had planned on opening San Marcos’ first bar aimed at the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual and ally communities earlier this year. Plans for The Walk-In Closet, a name Sandoval said was aptly suited to the bar’s location a block south of The Square at 169 S. LBJ, were postponed indefinitely after an unsuccessful Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign wrapped
last month.

The space, to which Sandoval still has a key, was to be converted into a small lounge with the $20,000 the campaign aimed to raise. The $20,000 would have covered construction and materials costs, including the installation of a second restroom, the first month’s rent and an alcohol license.

“I wasn’t going to push it on anybody except the gay community. I was doing it for them,” Sandoval said.

A hospital stint for one of the bar’s investors, however, was the final nail in the coffin for The Walk-In Closet.

“This is not meant to be right now—this is not our time,” Sandoval said.

Although plans for The Walk-In Closet have been temporarily put on hold, Sandoval is still making an effort to create new events catering to the LGBTQIA communities in San Marcos, which has not been easy.

Sandoval began walking door-to-door in San Marcos pitching the idea for Rainbow Nights in 2010. The themed nights eventually made their debut on Thursdays at Gold Crown Billiards that year.

The reoccurring parties were specifically not called “gay nights,” Sandoval said, because she did not want them to be exclusive to one sexual orientation or to “throw people off.” Instead, the event’s name stemmed from the idea of a “rainbow soup,” where everyone is welcome to mix, mingle and sway to the beats of local DJs.

Sandoval said she no longer wanted her “undercover” friends and others to feel forced to hide their sexual orientation. Sandoval was married to a man for three years and remembered being slapped by her mother when she told her she was a lesbian.

“I felt like I got on a scooter with a rainbow flag, a rainbow cape, rainbow skates,” she said. “I didn’t really leave him for a woman—I left him for me.”

After a successful month-long run at Gold Crown Billiards, Sandoval said the bar’s management told her they were beginning to lose money because of its newfound reputation as a “gay bar.” The bar was fined for serving alcohol to a minor during a Rainbow Night.

Rainbow Night then made unsuccessful jaunts to Taxi’s, Triple Crown and Picasso’s, which is no longer in business.

The Triple Crown gig ended after one outing, Sandoval said, with management saying they didn’t “need that here.”

In an effort to bring awareness to the public and safety to the LGBTQIA community, Texas State offers organizations and resources that work to promote equality through educational events and parties.

Sandoval said some San Marcos residents who are not able to take part in the Texas State organizations and events are left feeling isolated.

“In San Marcos we have nothing that says it’s okay,” she said.

Kyle resident and long-time friend of Sandoval, Gilbert “Gia” Garza, said today’s young people are seeing the LGBTQIA communities in a different, more positive light than in his generation.

“Times have changed,” Garza said. “It’s not so taboo.”

The 35-year-old said he began dressing in drag as a late teen and did not have any friends who he knew were gay until his mid-20s. It was seven years later when he performed in drag for the
first time.

“There’s always going to be people who are against it, (but) Rainbow Night has helped so many people in so many ways,” Garza said.

After bouncing around the San Marcos nightlife scene, Rainbow Nights seem to have found a home at the Full Moon Saloon off Interstate Highway 123. The next monthly event will take place Feb. 6.

For the time being, Sandoval said she is focusing her efforts on organizing an inaugural San Marcos Pride parade and festival to coincide with the events held in San Antonio and Austin, scheduled to take place this year with a grant from the San Marcos Arts Commission.

“It’s been quite a journey,” she said.