Cover Story

Inspirational Relationship: Teresa Oyos & Rose Ruybal

By JP Emerson

From our first dance at The Flame to Gloria Estefan’s “Conga” there was Passion! When we left the bar walking down Park Blvd, our authentic selves connected. The conversation flowed easily and natural…our love affair had begun. I started my activism in the early 1970’s with the Chicano Movement and the United Farm Workers Union. After coming out I became involved with a group of Lesbians who organized a woman’s coffee house “Las Hermanas”.

While working at “The Gayzette”, a local gay paper as a graphic artist I co-founded the first LGBTQ Latino organization “Orgullo” with Adam Brisuela and Franko Guillen. It was at this time Rose started participating in community activism. In 1986 the Pride Festival almost didn’t happen! With Chris Kehoe’s leadership a space was secured at WCPC. The day before the festival Rose was sweeping the parking lot and I was making posters inside.

Our first year together was exciting, fun, and meaningful. In the fall of 1987, we made the decision to get Clean and Sober. The Live and Let Live Alano Club on 4th Ave became our focus of community involvement .This time in our lives was very challenging and laid a strong foundation for our life together.

In 2001 Bienestar (a provider for LGBTQ Latino Social services) opened. Being a part of preparing for the Grand Opening is one of many special memories we have of helping Carolina Alcoser Ramos. The laughter, painting, decorating and excitement was exhilarating. When Latino Services started at the Center it was a natural transition for us to continue our service to the Latino Community.

Through the decades we have had the privilege of marching in Pride with many organizations in our LGBTQ community. Over the last 38 years we have built a life around common interests such as dancing, music, travel, reading, the arts, friends, and family. We have learned to balance our relationship, our family and community involvement. Three principles that have sustained our relationship are communication, compromise, and compassion. We are deeply honored to be given this recognition. Muchisimas Gracias!

Please tell us about yourselves: 

We met at the Flame on May 19th of 1986. As soon as we exited the bar, we felt a strong connection and moved in together 6 months later. We celebrated our commitment ceremony at the center on Normal Street on our 10th Anniversary. In December of 2016 we were legally married at the County Court house. It was important to us to take this milestone step while then President Obama was still in the White house.

What does Hillcrest mean to you?

(Teresa) When I started working at the San Diego Gayzette with Chris Kehoe and Julie Warren it opened up the opportunity to become more involved with the community and make lasting friendships. Later I met Nicole who encouraged me and Adam Brisuela to start Orgullo, the first LGBT Latino Organization in San Diego. These and many other personal and professional endeavors enriched my ties to the Hillcrest Community. Numerous experiences ended up strengthening my connections with HIV/Aids outreach.

Can you talk about the evolution of the community throughout the years?

(Rose) When I first encountered the LGBTQ Community there were numerous Women’s bars and Shirttail’s Women’s dances. Now 38 years later there are very few Women centered bars and Dances. There are events such as SheFest and Lez Days for us to enjoy.

What are your feelings on being named Inspirational Relationship for this year’s Spirit of Stonewall Awards?

We feel honored and excited to be recognized and celebrate our relationship.

What is your secrete for a long-lasting relationship?

We have had many ups and downs and round and rounds over the past 38 years. We are very different in many ways and yet share the same sentiments regarding family, friends and community. We try to balance or individual needs and the needs of our relationship. Four concepts that have helped us tremendously over the years have been Communication Compromise, Compassion and Commitment. And always remember to have fun, laugh and dance!

Share your hopes for the future of our LGBTQ+ Hillcrest community?

In these challenging times it’s important to remember that United we Stand and Divided we fall. Respect one another’s differences, continue to fight for all of our rights and freedoms. Always lead with love.