20th Austin Pride Celebration will feature local, national artists

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Nathan James, director of entertainment for Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation, said the pride festivities are a way for the community to be itself. “We are simply people,” James said.

Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

With an established and growing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, this year will mark Austin’s 20th Pride Celebration.

The Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation, whose purpose is to educate, connect and strengthen the GLBT community, is organizing the celebration. The foundation anticipates this year’s event to be the most successful yet.

“Our ultimate goal is to bring the community together as a collective voice,” said AGLPF vice president Paul Huddleston. “We’re trying to be as together as possible, even through entertainment and event lineups.”

Indeed, the performers lined up for the festival reflect this sense of unity. Artists at the festival range from rap groups to techno, with some comedy in between. There will also be a mix of local artists, along with artists who will be traveling from the east and west coasts.

One such group, Ejector, will be traveling from San Francisco to join the festivities. With a very European-electro style, Ejector promises theatricality with dark latex and leather. Visually, the band is a breed of sci-fi mixed with James Bond, bringing prop laser guns to the stage. Lead singer Ben Holder said that the band will hook the audience with melody lines you can sing along to.

Ejector also brings to the stage a message of positivity and overcoming personal turmoil.

“We try to reach cities through music,” Holder said. “Though we have a great fan base at home, we want to see how people in Austin will perceive us. It’s the next step, a big music town with experience and attitude.”

Lil ‘P (Phyllis Charles) and Sweet LD (Djuana J. Johnican) of Oaktown’s 3.5.7, a female rap group created by MC Hammer, will also be making an appearance. Saturday will be their first pride fest and their first performance together since 1989. The duo said they are ready to make it happen and promises to exert a high, dancey energy, bringing fun and flashback to the celebration. They also hope to encourage audiences to be themselves.

“Humanity should be without categories — if we can understand we’re all beautiful spirits, we’ll be fine,” said Johnican. “You have labels and conditions, but it doesn’t make a difference. Nobody’s able to be blessed in these conditions, but you yourself can be a blessing for other people.”

Jacinta, a singer-songwriter and DJ, shares a similar message.

“Austin has a beautiful growth with an attitude that is realizing people are people, love is love, and we’re all individuals and need to respect each other.”

Originally from Australia, Jacinta has been living in Texas for nearly a decade. She has performed in pride events across the country and GLBT events in New York, Chicago, Seattle and Oregon, encouraging her listeners to follow the light from inside themselves.

Shunda K and Shon B plan to spread a more distinct message through their Christian yet sexually explicit lyrics. The rap duo goes by Yo! Majesty and strongly advocates its belief in God and its “what you see is what you get” approach to life.

“We are who we are. We are gay females. We talk about what’s real, so with us, it’s about being real,” Shunda said. “Pride is a great revolution. I’m gay too, so I’m obliged to be a part of it.”

While Yo! Majesty is grateful for the opportunity to spread their word at the festival, they are not just performing for Austin, rather, the whole world that seems to be spinning out of control. "We’re trying to create a balance," Shunda said.

Printed on September 8, 2011 as: Pride Celebration will feature artists in atmosphere of unity