‘People saw her as a matriarch’: San Antonio woman leaves lasting legacy as LGBTQ+ pioneer

Nickie Valdez, 80 was one of the first openly gay women in the Alamo City

Nickie Valdez, 80 was one of the first openly gay women in the Alamo City.
Nickie Valdez, 80 was one of the first openly gay women in the Alamo City.

SAN ANTONIO – Many would call Nickie Valdez an inspiration to others. She dedicated her life helping others live freely.

“People saw her as a matriarch, a mother-figure,” said her wife, Deborah Myers.

She said Nickie was one of the first openly gay women in San Antonio. She came out in the 1960′s during a time when it wasn’t readily accepted.

“She had this courage and this strength about her that allowed her to just be herself,” Deborah said.

Nickie’s activism started early on. In the 1970′s she co-founded Dignity San Antonio, one of the longest running LGBTQ+ organizations in the city.

Their mission is for inclusion for LGBTQ+ people in and out of the Catholic church. Deborah said it was Nickie’s life-work.

“She wanted to create a space for other people to recognize they were created in God’s image and they belonged,” she said.

On Christmas day, Nickie died in her home after a long battle with multiple myeloma. However her legacy is being remembered.

Robert Salcido, Executive Director with the Pride Center of San Antonio said in a statement sent to KSAT:

“Nickie Valdez was a pioneer in the LGBTQ+ movement, especially at the intersections of civil rights and faith. San Antonio and the world was a much better place with Nickie advocating for inclusion in and out of the church. She was passionate about her community and that was evidenced by her steadfast support of many LGBTQ+ organizations, causes, and initiatives. Pride Center San Antonio celebrates her life and share our condolences with her family, friends, and her partner Deb”.

Deborah believes Nickie’s legacy will live on through the acts of others she helped.

“I think people are energized and motivated to continue to make a difference in other people’s lives,” she said.

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About the Authors:

Steven Cavazos is a traffic anchor and general assignments reporter in the weekday mornings at KSAT 12.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.