[OutVoice] Bethlehem, PA: "One-Man Performance Celebrates Gay Historical Figures"

thechorusboy at aol.com thechorusboy at aol.com
Tue Mar 27 01:55:52 EDT 2007

The Brown and White


By Brandon Sherman
News Writer

March 27, 2007

Read it online:

Gay Latin-American comedian and actor Jade Esteban Estrada performed a 
one-man show depicting famous gay and lesbian figures in history on 

The show, “ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 2” was 
held in the Asa Packer Dining Room.

The performance depicted the lives of six gay and lesbian historical 
figures, including Alexander the Great, Queen Christina of Sweden, 
Susan B. Anthony, Billie Jean King, San Francisco politician Harvey 
Milk and Flight 93 passenger hero Mark Bingham.

Estrada depicted the lives and accomplishments of the characters 
through original music, dramatization, comedy and dance.

The performance sought to educate the audience by highlighting the 
historical significance of a diverse selection of lesbian and gay 

“The more you look at the differences, the more you realize that we’re 
all the same,” Estrada said. “The differences, once you get down to it, 
are very small. For people who are like, ‘Well I don’t know any gay 
people,’ let me introduce you to people who changed history.”

Estrada performed “ICONS, Vol. 1” at Lehigh in October 2005, portraying 
individuals such as Michelangelo and Ellen DeGeneres.

Mike Texter, ’08, was impressed after seeing Estrada for the second 

“I was amazed at how he could change personas so quickly,” Texter said. 
“The characters didn’t overlap; it was like a new person was taking the 
stage each time.”

Estrada said “ICONS, Vol. 2” differs from the first volume because it 
pursues subject matter with greater emotional depth and maturity. San 
Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk’s assassination is depicted, as 
well as Mark Bingham’s actions on Flight 93.

Estrada said he wanted to emphasize the impact the characters had on 
human history, rather than merely details related to their sexuality.

“What I like about ‘ICONS 2’ is that you only hear the word ‘gay’ once 
throughout the entire show,” Estrada said, “because each of the icons 
that I chose were prominent in history for something they did on a 
larger scale.”

Estrada is a trained stand-up comedian, but said he is careful not to 
sacrifice his integrity as a performer or his subject matter for a 

“Once you get past a certain amount of laughs to be satisfied with 
audience participation and audience appreciation,” Estrada said, “you 
do want to have that message, and mine is to convey understanding.”

As a touring gay Latino performer, Estrada has encountered cases of 
intolerance and ignorance in his audiences. Even predominately LGBTQA 
audiences have been apathetic in the face of Estrada’s attempts to 
illustrate LGBTQA history and culture.

“Prejudice happens even within the minority groups that we’re trying to 
promote and preserve,” Estrada said. “I’ve been disrespected by my own 

Estrada said the xenophobia he encounters as a product of his Latin 
descent is surprisingly more pronounced than the homophobic behavior he 

While performing at a diversity conference in Kansas, a heckler yelled 
out, “Speak English!” as Estrada depicted a Spanish-speaking woman.

Although the experience was infuriating for Estrada, he feels it’s his 
duty as a performer to ignore such distractions in favor of continuing 
to educate and entertain the rest of the audience.

“I’m never going to say that anything has been tough because I’m pretty 
strong in what I do when I do it,” Estrada said. “One of the reasons I 
make my shows interactive is to keep my control over the presentation 
and over the performing situation.”

Having written seven solo performances, including three volumes of 
“ICONS,” Estrada stressed the infinite nature of lesbian and gay 

“Any good book or any good documentation of a community or a life, it’s 
just like dropping a bucket into the ocean,” he said.


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