[OutVoice] Fredericksburg, VA: "'America's Prince of Pride' Sees Life Getting Better for Young Gays"

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Thu Aug 24 05:50:34 EDT 2006

Fredericksburg Free Lance Star


August 24, 2006 

Read it online:

Jade Esteban Estrada sees things changing for gays and lesbians in America--for the better.

Recent years have been politically problematic for the community, with the gay marriage issue used as an electoral wedge.

Despite that, the comic, singer, dancer and actor NBC News has called "America's Prince of Pride" sees a positive change in public attitudes. And, he said, that change has allowed young gays to lead easier lives than those who lived alternative lifestyles in previous generations.

Estrada, who headlines this week's Pride in the 'Burg festival in Fredericksburg, has appeared on Comedy Central's "The Graham Norton Effect" and on the PBS series "In the Life," and his music has been included on the soundtrack of the TV show "The Shield."

Pride festivals are held annually in cities around the world--some on the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots spurred by a police raid of a Greenwich Village gay bar. The reaction to that raid is considered by many to have been the beginning of the gay liberation movement.

This week's event features music, comedy, worship, food and more.

Estrada told The Free Lance-Star in a telephone interview from San Antonio, Texas, where he's working on the film "The Bad Singer," that he believes fewer young gay people are forced to grow up with adversity and identity problems related to their sexuality.

Because of that, he contended, Pride events such as the one in Fredericksburg this week have become more about celebrating diversity than making a political statement.

Estrada described a "post-gay" phenomenon he said is similar to one in which young female professionals don't spend much time thinking about their mothers' and grandmothers' struggle for equal rights.

This will be the 183rd Pride festival Estrada has appeared at across the country over the past five years. And he's spoken on many college campuses, he said.

Based on those experiences, he believes young gays and lesbians are "approaching equality from the different angle of the 21st-century experience." 

Estrada credited what he called an "open dialogue about homosexuality over the past 50 years" with making life easier for this generation of gays and lesbians.

He cited Mary Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, as an example of a "post-gay."

He plays her in his solo series of musicals, "ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World." He also portrays Alexander the Great, Billie Jean King, Susan B. Anthony, Sept. 11 hero Mark Bingham, Oscar Wilde, Michelangelo, King James, Gertrude Stein and others.

"People ask, 'Why Mary Cheney--what has she ever done for the gay community?'" Estrada said. 

Some gays and lesbians have criticized her for not speaking out.

But, Estrada said, "Why should she be forced to join the march? Mary Cheney to me is a beautiful example of post-gay," he said, "although her reasons might be a little different from others."

He said of post-gays: "They have loving and accepting friends and family. They don't have to spend all their time being gay--it's not something that identifies them." 

He acknowledged that attitudes can vary around the country.

"Sometimes I go to a city or a campus and I think, 'Wow, have you guys been [paying attention]?' But it doesn't happen a lot. Obviously, there's going to be a huge difference in smaller cities."

Estrada's early days in show business included acting as a choreographer for "cuchi-cuchi girl" Charo and as a scratch singer for the Backstreet Boys--meaning he recorded sample tracks so the band could decide what songs it wanted to perform.

He'll do his "ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 1" at 9 p.m. Friday, at the Colonial Tavern, Home to the Irish Brigade. Tickets are $30. 

Then he'll headline Pride in the 'Burg at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, with a free performance on the festival's main stage at Sophia and Charlotte streets in downtown Fredericksburg.

Other highlights of Pride in the 'Burg include:

l Suzanne Moe's film, "A Love Story in the Face of Hate," Friday at 6:45 p.m. at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library at 1201 Caroline St. Barbara Kenny and Tibby Middleton, who are the subjects of the film, will appear. 

l Main-stage acts at Saturday's street festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the main stage at Sophia Street between Wolfe and Charlotte streets, will include Estrada, the Christian pop duo Jason and DeMarco, comedian Vickie Shaw, the Gadget White Band, Roddy Barnes, Derek and Romaine, and Saffire--The Uppity Blues Women. 

l Pride Ride V on the City of Fredericksburg paddleboat boards at the City Dock on Sunday, leaving at noon and ending at 4 p.m. The ride will feature "Gilligan's Island Revisited" with Andra Faye and The Mighty Good Men, and John and Mary Vreeland. Tickets are $50 and are available at Caroline Street Cafe, Feast-O-Rama, Corky's, Sammy T's and Pinnacle. 

Isn't it time you got jaded?
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