The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

Moving downtown helped me come out as a lesbian in the best possible way. It was also a time that I felt that my 20s started, or at least that’s when it felt it had more depth and meaning to it. 

Looking back on how I arrived in downtown San Antonio, it makes a lot of sense, though at the time it was incredibly daunting. I know that we all like to refer to San Antonio as a big city with a small-town feel, but how San Antonio is set up really stops the natural flow of people of resources from district to district.

Growing up on the Northwest Side of San Antonio was an experience that in a lot of ways stopped me from venturing out to see more of the city. I had dipped my toes into the downtown area after attending the University of the Incarnate Word for my undergraduate degree and later on would frequent Geekdom for the community and learning experiences it brought. 

After the pandemic and the winter storm, I started to feel like I had been going through the motions, rather than living life the way I really wanted to. I just wanted to be everything that I am, unapologetically.

As a tech professional and entrepreneur I’ve traveled to different parts of the United States and Mexico on occasion, and always envied the walkability of downtown locations in the cities I visited. I went through an experience of self-discovery and realization around my own life which brought me to downtown, what I consider the most walkable area in San Antonio.

Every morning I wake up to a windy morning that carries a familiarity to it, but with sounds and smells that remind me that I am not in the northwest suburbs where I grew up.

Working from home can be an isolating experience. Living where I did was like being in a bubble. Downtown allowed me to venture out in a city I thought that I had known, and I found a beautiful community filled with wonderful friends, food, and experiences that didn’t carry the weight and expectations of what felt like an old life.

Being able to step outside and find myself on the River Walk, walking down the street to go climbing at Armadillo Boulders, and stopping by Kapej for arepas are oddities. I grew up in a part of San Antonio where you’d have to drive 30-45 minutes to get anywhere that wasn’t La Cantera or The Rim area.

Jacqueline Suttin enjoys taking mental breaks during the day to challenge herself physically with a climb at Armadillo Boulders, a climbing gym and fitness studio.
A climb at Armadillo Boulders lets Jacqueline Suttin take a mental break during the day to challenge herself physically. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

One of the most beautiful qualities of downtown is how it brings you closer to everything. Southtown is 10 minutes away. The airport is 10 minutes away. Almost everything is no more than 15 minutes away. Stopping by Brown Coffee, Gold, Estate Coffee, and Brother Franks are easily the top choices in the area that are quite honestly so good they could compete with anything in Chicago.

With the experience that came with finding myself, I was able to find a part of San Antonio that didn’t alienate me. The queer community in San Antonio, both older and newer, really has a place to thrive and grow from my apartment complex to down the street at the Gay Strip. 

This year I enjoyed and walked in my first pride with my partner as a member of my synagogue, Temple Beth-el. Seeing the appreciation in my partner’s eyes as I taught her how to pronounce the bolded letters spelling “ga’avah” (pride in Hebrew) on our tie-dye shirts was incredibly validating. To feel that all of the parts of my identity are a means for celebration with further discovery is a core memory that I’ll always cherish.

Jacqueline Suttin (left) and her fiancé Roel James (right) prepare a Sunday afternoon snack in their downtown apartment with their new puppy Beatrice.
Jacqueline Suttin (left) and her fiancée Roel James (right) prepare a Sunday afternoon snack in their downtown apartment with their new puppy Beatrice. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

I went to a high school that didn’t make me feel safe to come out, and I look back on that time as a period of survival for many reasons. I’m grateful that I can now live rather than simply survive each day.

If you told me that I would be living downtown with my little family of two dogs and a beautiful partner I wouldn’t believe you. I’ve been living a dream that keeps growing and shaping itself in a way that I can’t believe is my reality. I’m forever grateful for the leap it took to get me here.

I know that wherever life takes me, the gratitude I feel for being able to fully experience living at the center of this city has healed so many parts of myself. The heart of San Antonio lives here, and so do its people. I hope that I can give back to it in the same ways that it has poured into me.