Gay San Jose
San Jose Pride is pulling out all the sequins, tall wigs, fake eyelashes, and super stilettos for this year’s LGBT Pride celebrations.
"We are very, very positive it’s going to be an absolute riot for people to come," said Steve Bass, San Jose Pride president. He described their collaboration with local businesses and entertainment venues as a representation of the community moving forward together.
"It’s more just a representation of what we mean by moving forward together," said Bass.
Jen Beehler, vice president of the board of San Jose Pride, agreed, adding that this year’s women’s stage, which has a carnival theme, is going to be "colorful and ostentatious. It’s Pride and that’s the way it should be."
New York drag star Lady Bunny plans to "electrify the crowd and leave them gasping for more," on the main stage, she said about her famously raunchy performances. Sherry Vine, Bunny’s partner in shocktainment, will join her on the main stage and after-performance Sunday night at Renegades nightclub. Other acts include Xavier Toscano, 80s band The Cheeseheads and Unity Dance Troupe.
Drag kings take the women’s stage on Saturday starting at noon with the Gender Queer Society, Fella Fem and Friends, and others, said Beehler. A midwestern transplant to San Jose who was formerly the creative director of Cleveland Pride, Beehler, 30, also chairs marketing, special events and the volunteer committee for San Jose Pride.
Events kick off August 14 and culminates Pride weekend with the women’s stage on August 20 and a Pride Festival on August 21 at Discovery Meadow Park. The week provides a host of events from a karaoke competition, a pub crawl, and even drag softball.
There won’t be a parade this year, due to budget constraints, according to the city’s Pride officials, but this year’s theme, Moving Forward Together, is suitable. San Jose’s LGBT and straight-allied communities worked closely together this year to produce an event that is operating in the black for the first time in three years. In previous years the organization operated with an estimated $37,000 annual deficit, according to Bass.
The efforts of the 11 volunteer board members’ leadership has brought the community together more than ever before and is rebuilding community trust, according to Bass. "We are feeling like this is a new possibility," he said.
Over the past nine months, San Jose Pride worked closely with the Billy De Frank Center, the local Human Rights Campaign office, along with the city’s biggest names in sports and entertainment venues, such as the Sharks, San Jose Giants, Golden State Warriors, and Great America to produce this year’s Pride event. The organization rounded out the collaborative venture working closely with local business owners. This year marks the first year in three years that the city’s Pride event will operate in the black.
Drag queens and men won’t be the only ones celebrating Pride. Fire and Ice is back for its second year, ready to get women grooving and the dance floor steaming for one hot August night. Last year’s Fire and Ice Pride party attracted an estimated 450 women, according to Christine De La Rosa, co-owner of Movement Productions and co-producer of the event. "Last year was a great success," she said. De La Rosa is excited to "bring it back again this year for San Jose Pride." De La Rosa anticipates the numbers of women will double this year.
Major sponsors of San Jose Pride Rod Sichisler, co-owner of Brix Nightclub, with his wife, Cindi Sichisler, have long supported Pride events. "We are proud to do it," said Sichisler. "We like having fun, and it’s a fun time. It’s a celebration."
Luis Sarmento, owner of Renegades, agreed with Bass. His popular nightclub is hosting a number of parties, along with their ongoing events like Butch.
"We’re starting to take a little bit more pride in our own community," said Sarmento. With the loss of some important community resources, he added that it’s time to start "taking care of things at home. It’s always a great time. It’s a fantastic time, actually."
Entrance to San Jose Pride is free on Saturday. Tickets for Sunday’s events are $10- $15. www.sanjosepride.com.
The Gay Way to San Jose
Brix - 349 South 1st St. (408) 947-1975. www.brixnightclub.com
Fire and Ice - Women’s party. 9 p.m. - 2 a.m. August 20. Location to be announced. (510) 842-6315. www.movementinthebay.com
Lido’s Nightclub - 30 S 1st St. (408) 674-6286. www.lidonightclub.net
Mac’s Club - 39 Post St. (408) 288-8221. www.macsclub.com
Renegades - 501 W. Taylor St. (408) 275-9902. www.renegadesbar.com
Splash - 65 Post St. (916) 441-6823. www.splashsj.com
Tinker’s Damn - 46 North Saratoga Ave. (408) 243-4595. www.atinkersdamn.com