Obituary: Remembering My Friend, Omar Goméz

Long time San José community member recalls the friendship he had with Omar Goméz, revealing more insights about the life he led. Omar "Chilo" Goméz passed on this past Dec. 24, 2014.


I'm guessing I knew Omar for about thirty years, plus or minus five or so. I say Omar because that's how he introduced himself to me. Never knew him by any other name. I guess a lot of people in the Stockton Street area called him "Chilo." I learned that in northern Mexico that's slang for "Cool." Fitting nickname. 

I first met him in a gay bar called the Renegades, that at the time was on Stockton Street at Cinnabar. He didn't speak any English and kept quiet and to himself. I think he was a little bit embarrassed about his education. I liked him from the get-go and told him not to worry, that the people there were very tolerant and they didn't have a problem with his lack of English. I'd help him out if I could, I knew a little Spanish and we could get by.

I wouldn't swear to it, but from our conversations this is what I got: He was born in Matamoros, Mexico where he went to school through the eight grade. He also served in the Mexican army.

He had a partner, Phil, for many, many years but when Phil retired and decided to move back to Kansas they separated. I'm guessing that Phil thought Kansas wasn't ready for Omar. He was probably right. Omar didn't much care what other people thought. They continued to stay in touch and Phil would help Omar out from time to time.

He really enjoyed dressing up in women's clothes on occasion and was quite a sight. He made no effort to be glamorous. Any dress, any wig, any shoes and too much makeup and he was ready to go, proud as a peacock. I can still hear him saying loudly to anybody in earshot, "Look me!" If you wanted to see him break into a dance all you had to do was give him a pair of high heels. He wasn't much of a dancer either, but he sure enjoyed it.

He apparently still had family in Mexico and tried to visit them several times, but that came with a lot of risks. Getting back across the border was difficult and expensive. The last time he went he got stuck in Mexico for several months. I never once heard him raise his voice in anger and knew him to be honest to a fault. As rough as a time as he had living on the street I never knew him to ever steal anything. He knew where we lived and would stop by occasionally, but never asked for anything more than a shower. He was a very strong, very proud, and very honorable man.

His passing will leave an empty place in the neighborhood. It won't quite be the same without him around. He will be missed.

Image by Jean Melesaine from the Dec. 8th vigil to honor Omar's life.

Help Omar's body find peace

Related Media:
Chilo: My “Neighbor” Who Found a Home in Community

Visit here to see how you can donate Chilo's memorial fund, helping to preserve his ashes

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