New York Cool: In this Issue
submit listings
New York Cool:


What's Up For Today?

New York Cool - Ask Miss Wendy

New York Cool - About Town

White House Arrival Ceremony
To Honor Mexican
President Felipe Calderon
May 22, 2010

Written by Jade Esteban Estrada

Opposite Photo: Jade Esteban Estrada
Photo Credit: Jerry Solis

Welcome to America, Senor Presidente

San Antonio entertainer Jade Esteban Estrada was among the celebrities and politicos invited to the White House to welcome Mexican President Felipe Calderon for his first state visit to the U.S. The following is Estrada’s first person account of his experience amid the pomp and circumstance of the nation’s capital.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - My father believes that every young man should serve his country. Knowing this, I understood his dismay when, years ago, I announced to him that I wouldn't be following in his footsteps to join the Army.

Show business, tuxedos and boas were mercilessly calling my name. But, somewhere between the honor of being commissioned the title of Kentucky Colonel by Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher and being the recipient of the "Premio Estrella" from LLEGO, (the Washington D.C.-based LGBT Latino/Latina organization) my name started to appear on the invite list for certain events in Washington.

Undoubtedly, being a gay Mexican-American comic has its privileges. I was reminded of the various ways one can serve their country when I received the invitation to the White House arrival ceremony to welcome Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico and First Lady Margarita Zavala which took place on May 19. (I never got the invites to the ceremonies welcoming Queen Elizabeth II in 2007 or Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 during the Bush administration, but perhaps those just got lost in the mail.)

Due to recent security issues, getting onto the White House grounds was a long process that included three checkpoints. "Oh-oh," I thought. Surely if they're going to make any cuts to the master guest list, the gay comic is going to be the first to go. But I made it though and made quick friends with Raul Salinas, Mayor of Laredo and Chad Foster, Mayor of Eagle Pass (a Spanish-speaking diva) who both jokingly made a fuss about why there were no breakfast tacos and suggested punch lines I could try out on stage. "Where do you live?" Mayor Salinas asked me. "San Antonio," I replied. "Where's that?" he said. Badda-boom. Everybody's a comedian.

After we were ushered into place, top-level officials, who included a sprightly Vice President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden, took their spots near the podium. Next, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took her place.

It was Clinton who mesmerized me. Beautiful and powerful, I was in awe of being in the presence of such a historically significant woman. At times, it seems she may not attain appreciation for her role in public office until many years have passed. For the record, let it be known that I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Under overcast skies, the ceremony got started after a full display of military might, grandeur and a majestic rendition of "Ruffles and Flourishes" and "Hail to the Chief." Finally, a regal introduction of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama brought the first couple front and center.

After the 21-gun salute, the national anthem of Mexico was played. President Calderon mouthed the words to the song and I could see other Mexican dignitaries proudly sing out as well. Then, the National Anthem of the United States was played. It was seemingly reserved singing from my section which had Rev. Al Sharpton placed at my left and Congressman Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX) to my right, but don't think I didn't go all "Whitney Houston" on the "home of the brave" bit. I am a trained professional, after all. I had to represent.

To me, the most meaningful part of the affair was when both presidents made remarks about their goals for a good relationship between the two countries.

President Calderon spoke frankly when he said: "I know that we share the interest in promoting dignified, legal and orderly living conditions to all migrant workers. Many of them, despite their significant contribution to the economy and to the society of the United States, still live in the shadows and, occasionally, as in Arizona, they even face discrimination." Yep, he totally went there.

Respectfully noting the year of two celebrations, the bicentennial of Mexican independence and the centennial of the Mexican revolution, President Obama quoted Nobel Prize-winning poet Octavio Paz when he said, "between tradition and modernity, there is a bridge."

I left the ceremony with renewed respect for the traditions of our country and a hope that relations between the United States and Mexico will strengthen and adapt to the needs of the 21st century. By spreading this message of goodwill and diplomacy, perhaps every American has the opportunity to serve their country, regardless of their profession.

I'd like to think that's something I learned from my dad.

Jade Esteban Estrada is a comedian and human rights activist. He has appeared on "30 Rock" (NBC) and "The Graham Norton Effect" (Comedy Central). Find out more about him at Click him as a friend on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.




© New York Cool 2004-2014